Ten years of Ukraine Hockey League - Part 2

Ten years of Ukraine Hockey League - Part 2

23 Jul 2021 | Katerina Shepel
 

Full analysis of the last 10 seasons of the Ukrainian ice hockey championships

 
 
 
 

Season 2017/18. Organizer: Ukrainian Hockey League

For the first time in the last 7 years, the Ukrainian championship was distinguished by stability in terms of the number of participating teams. During the second season, under the auspices of the UHL, the same number of clubs remained - 6, which also played 120 matches in the regular season. Of the 167 Ukrainian players announced for the season, a record number of hockey players played more than 10 matches - 142 of Ukrainian hockey players, or 80% of the total number of players announced for the season.

At the same time, the number of foreign players turned out to be minimal - 12 foreign players or 7% of the total number of athletes announced for the season. But 11 hockey players representing the UHL in the 2017/18 season went to the Ukrainian national team, which took 4th place in Division 1B of the World Championship.

Season 2018/19. Organizer: Ukrainian Hockey League

Six teams again took part in the UHL 2018/19 regular season, each of which played 40 matches. 147 Ukrainian hockey players were included in the applications of these teams for the season, 76% of whom played more than 10 matches in the regular season. The number of foreign hockey players in the season was 47. It is worth noting that 10 hockey players representing the UHL played in the national team of Ukraine.

Season 2019/20. Organizer: Ukrainian Hockey League

For the first time in the history of the Ukrainian championship, for four seasons in a row, the UHL managed to maintain a stable number of teams participating in the League, playing an equal number of regular season matches. At the same time, the number of Ukrainian hockey players declared for the season turned out to be high - 152 players, 108 of whom have played more than 10 matches. The number of foreign players has increased to 88 foreign hockey players, due to which the quality of the Ukrainian championship has significantly increased.

In February 2020, the Ukrainian national team went to Kazakhstan for the Olympic qualification - the national team included 18 hockey players representing the UHL. And the World Championship in Division 1B, which was supposed to be held on April 2020, was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Season 2020/21. Organizer: Ukrainian Hockey League

The growth of the league in the 2020/21 season is evidenced by the increase in the number of participants, which for the third time in 10 years has grown to 8 teams. The League was joined by two newcomers and the revived Sokol Kiev, which has not taken part in competitions at the professional level for 6 years. As a result, each of the 8 clubs played 42 matches in the regular season, having played a total of 168 matches. There were 137 Ukrainian hockey players in the squads, 114 of whom have played more than 10 matches in the championship.


At the same time, the lineups of the clubs reinforced 116 foreign players. Nevertheless, 29 players were called up for the national team, which met for the first time since February 2020 - 27 of them represent the UHL.

Trust in Ukrainian hockey players in the Ukrainian ice hockey championships

If we analyze the percentage of Ukrainian players who have played more than 10 matches in the Ukrainian championships, in relation to the rest of the players, an interesting dynamic emerges.

The largest percentage of our compatriots who had a real playing practice in the Ukrainian championships was recorded in the 2015/16 HEL and 2017/18 UHL seasons - 82% and 80%, respectively. At the same time, the worst indicator of the involvement of Ukrainian players in the Ukrainian championship was recorded in the 2012/13 season, when the national championship was held under the auspices of the PHL - 39%.

In addition, a low percentage of trust in Ukrainian hockey players was noted in the 2013/14 season, held under the auspices of the FHU - only 44.9% of our compatriots played more than 10 matches. This speaks of the real development and dynamics of the championship, within which Ukrainian players grow and develop.

Average age of teams

Since 2014, there has been a tendency for the rejuvenation of the national championship in Ukraine. At the same time, from 2011 to 2014 the situation in the championship was reversed - the age of the players grew steadily. And if in the 2011/12 season the average age of the championship players was 26.25, in the 2012/13 season it reached 27.5, and in the 2013/14 season - 28 years. This indicates that there was no place for young hockey players in the team, and aging and stagnant players did not want to give way to reservists.

Since the 2014/15 season, the situation has changed - the national championship has noticeably rejuvenated and the average age was 24.25 years. The trend continued into the following year, in the 2015/16 season young players gained even more confidence and the average age of the teams was 22.5 years. During 2016/17 season, the league's average age was on the level of two years ago - 24 years. But already in the 2017/18 season, the championship was rapidly rejuvenated again with a league average of about 20 years. This factor has become a serious help in the development of pupils of Ukrainian hockey, who for the first time in 10 years have been given such significant trust.

Thanks to this, young Ukrainian hockey players were able to gain a foothold on the basis of their clubs and, starting in 2018, the average age of hockey players playing in the main championship of the country began to increase. In the 2018/19 season he was 21.25 years old, in the 2019/20 season he was 23 years old, and in the 2020/21 season he was 24.4 years old. This means that in the season now the average hockey player in the Ukrainian championship is almost 4 years younger than in the 2013/14 season. In addition, in the 2020/21 UHL season, there were 54 players under the age of 20 in the applications of UHL clubs, for whom this was the first opportunity to try their hand at fighting professional hockey players.


Broadcast matches

The main goal of the organizer of the national championship of the country is its popularization and all-round development. Of course, the more spectators watch the matches, read the news in the Ukrainian media and follow the championship games, the sooner hockey will become a mass sport. Therefore, an important component of drawing attention to the national championship is the broadcasting matches.

It is important to note that from the 2011/12 season to the 2015/16 season, the broadcast of matches on TV and the work with contractors was chaotic and not systematized. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to collect data on the exact number of broadcasts of matches of those years. But with the formation of the UHL, the situation in the Ukrainian championship changed for the better. First of all, there was a standardized graphic picture, broadcasts of virtually all matches, live broadcasts and full coverage of the championship. Moreover, since the 2018/19 season, 100% of the championship matches have been broadcast live on the XSPORT.ua website.

In the fifth season of the UHL, viewers again saw the legendary confrontation between the flagships of Ukrainian hockey: Donbass - Sokol. The rivals met in the final round of the playoffs, and about 1,000,000 hockey fans watched 4 matches of the final series of different platforms. It should be noted separately that almost 350,000 people watched the decisive game live. Including on YouTube the match was watched by 17.5 thousand viewers. In total, more than 3.8 million viewers have watched the 2020/21 UHL playoffs on all XSPORT platforms.

Such an increase in interest in UHL matches directly testifies to the fact that hockey in our country has become much more popular over the past 5 years and has reached a completely new level.


Conclusions:

Based on all of the above facts, a number of conclusions can be drawn about the path of development of Ukrainian hockey over the past 10 years. First, since the 2011/12 season, the national championship of the country has significantly rejuvenated. Young hockey players received maximum coaching confidence and playing time, moreover, most of them were able to justify it and firmly gain a foothold in the backbone of their teams.

Second, Ukrainian hockey players got more and more playing practice within the championship every season. Proof of this is the decrease in the percentage of hockey players who played less than 10 matches per season.

Third, with the founding of the UHL, the national championship has a stable marketing foundation. Moreover, the League is stable in terms of the sports component - a stable number of teams and matches, and a stable number of high-quality broadcasts. This is evidenced by the fact that for three seasons in a row all matches, without exception, have been shown live, and every year the number of fans is growing rapidly. In many ways, the reason for the popularization of hockey is precisely the marketing component of the League's work.

Over the past 5 years, the Ukrainian ice hockey championship has become competitive in Europe - it is recognized and praised by many foreign experts. Moreover, it was the 2020/21 season that, according to many hockey players, coaches, managers and foreign hockey experts, became the best over the past 10 years.

It is precisely such high marks of European functionaries, as well as the qualitative growth of hockey players within the championship, that served to the fact that the Ukrainian Hockey League and the current champion of the country - HC “Donbass”, were issued a wild card by the Board of the Champions Hockey League, and HC “Sokil” Kyiv, as the vice-champion of the country will be able to take part in the IIHF Continental Cup.

Therefore, if the trend of development and growth of the national championship continues due to the increase in teams and the growth of competition within the competition, then Ukraine will be represented on the European arena by two worthy and fighting teams.


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