2022 World Junior Championship Team Austria Final Roster

If any team benefited from the lack of international promotion and relegation last year, it was Team Austria. Without a Division 1 tournament, the Austrians have been given a second chance to prove their worth and stick around in the top level of U20 hockey. They return to the World Junior Championship minus some recognizable names, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some interesting players. Yes, they will be the underdogs in every game, but they will arrive in Edmonton looking to prove something to themselves and fans around the world.

Goaltenders

Lukas Moser, Leon Sommer, Sebastian Wraneschitz.

When you are a goaltender on a weak team, you have two choices. You can sink, no one would blame you. The team around you is struggling, and expecting the goaltender to keep them in the game would be crazy. The other option is to swim. To do something special despite the team around you. That’s the route that Sebastian Wraneschitz took in the 2021 tournament and now, he comes back for a second tour of duty with the U20 team.

He’s best remembered for a 61 save performance against Sweden and a 54 save performance against the Czech Republic. The 5’11 native of Wien hasn’t played much hockey this season, just two games with the Victoria Royals in the WHL and one game with Vienna Capitals Silver in the AlpsHL and it has been a struggle for him. Despite that, we know what he is capable of, and if he can play the way he did at last year’s tournament, he could give Austria a chance to upset someone.

The backup position will be contested between Leon Sommer and Lukas Moser. Sommer has played 12 games with Steel Wings Linz in the AlpsHL, where he has a .912 save percentage (SV%) and a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.28, but he has since been called up to Black Wings Linz of the ICEHL. He is yet to play a game there, but he should serve as the backup goaltender on this Austrian team. Their third goaltender will be Moser, who has been on loan to Kitzbüheler HC of the AlpsHL this season. He has been solid with a 3.65 GAA and .890 SV%. The Austrians will be hoping things don’t come to him because if they do, it means something has gone wrong.

Defensemen

Luca Erne, Lukas Hörl, Lorenz Lindner, Matteo Mitrovic, Lukas Necesany, David Reinbacher, Tobias Sablatting, Christoph Tialler, Martin Urbanek.

With the forwards and the goaltending boating some interesting and talented players, their defensive core will likely be their weak point. This is a very inexperienced blue line that could make their goaltending work a little bit harder with only one 19-year-old, Martin Urbanek. He has been playing in the AlpsHL this season and hasn’t faired terribly there. The only returnee on the roster is Lukas Necesany, who failed to score a single point in the Austrian’s four games last time around. This year, they will need him to play a bigger role on the backend.

Luca Erne is another player who could impact the back end for the Austrians. Currently playing in the USPHL, Erne has proven to be a threat offensively, scoring 17 points, including six goals in 21 games with the Fresno Monsters. If he can provide any additional offense to this team, he will be an important member in the hunt to ensure Austria is playing at this tournament again in 2023.

The defense will be rounded out with names like Lorenz Lindner, David Reinbacher, Lukas Hörl, all of whom most hockey fans won’t recognize too well. Hörl has spent the season in the AlpsHL and is a bigger body for the Austrians to use in tougher situations. Linder has also spent the season in the AlpsHL but has failed to register a single point this season. Reinbacher has earned himself to the top league in Switzerland and has shown to be dangerous with the puck on his stick. With ELC Kloten in the Swiss League this season, Reinbacher has scored eight points in 17 games.

Forwards

Luca Auer, Mathias Bohm, Tim Geifes, Max Hengelmüller, Marco Kasper, Oskar Maier, Senna Peeters, Vinzenz Rappold, Vinzenz Rohrer, Lucas Thaler, Johannes Tschurnig, Finn Van Ee, Leon Wallner.

Of course, the Austrians come into this tournament as one of the lesser-known nations. Many people have heard of the top players on the Canadians, Russians, Americans, Swedes, and Finns, and even some of the other teams such as the Czechs or the Slovaks have recognizable names. That isn’t the case for the Austrians more often than not, especially not after Marco Rossi has moved onto the American Hockey League.

Even though they might not boast any household names, they have some players who can certainly make an impact. That list would certainly start with Senna Peeters of the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Peeters has scored 13 points, including three goals with the Mooseheads in 26 games. However, in the shortened 2020-21 season, he was scoring at over a point per game clip.

Senna Peeters Halifax Mooseheads
Senna Peeters of the Halifax Mooseheads (Trevor MacMillan)

On the more intriguing side of things, Marco Kasper, who is currently ranked inside the first round of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, is representing his nation for the second time at the World Juniors. While it’s not exactly the same situation as some of the younger players who have played with some of, the better teams at this tournament, but when you represent your nation at this level at such a young age, people will take notice. He looks to add his name to a very exclusive list alongside Thomas Vanek and Rossi as the only two Austrians to be taken in the first round of the NHL Draft.

Related: 2022 World Junior Championship Austrian Players to Watch

The talent won’t stop there with the Austrians. Another player who has the potential to be a first-round pick is Vinzenz Rohrer of the Ottawa 67’s (he is currently a B-grade prospect). At the Christmas break, Rohrer sits in second on the team in scoring with 22 points in 28 games and has otherwise been a key contributor to the club.

“When people ask me this question, even my parents and especially my teammates, you look at the results and how Austria is playing, the results aren’t the best,” said Rohrer. “I always think about our head coach right now, Norm Milley (who is filling in for Cameron while he is away at the World Juniors). He said a few days ago in the locker room, as a team, you shouldn’t be looking at the results, you should be looking at what you can control.”

Vinzenz Rohrer Ottawa 67's
Vinzenz Rohrer, Ottawa 67’s (Frankie Benvenuti / The Hockey Writers)

“I think that’s a really big thing for us. If we always look at the results as Austria, it’s maybe not the best thing to do. I think what we have to do is just focus on ourselves and believe that we can win a game, too. Focus on the process that we play as good as we can play.”

The Austrians will certainly lack star power compared to the big teams, but they might not be too far back compared to some nations such as Switzerland and Slovakia. Where they might seriously lack, however, is in the depth department. The rest of the roster will be comprised of players like Luca Auer, Lucas Thaler, Oskar Maier, Max Hengelmüller, and Tim Geifes. They look to be plenty top-heavy, but hopefully, those top players can do just enough to stave off relegation.

Bottom Line

Regardless of how many talented players this Austrian team has, they are massive underdogs coming into the World Juniors. They are candidate number one to be relegated at the end of the tournament, but they won’t take that fate without a fight. They have been developing more and more talented hockey players, and it would be a massive achievement to secure themselves a spot in the 2023 iteration of this tournament. All they need to do is win a couple of games in the relegation round. Can they do that? We will see.

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