Zoetermeer, Netherlands - This playing history of the Dutch at the IIHF World U20 Junior Ice Hockey Championships to be honest just doesn't make sense. They have bounced around the divisions so much that even Tigger and Roo can't keep up. In 1985, they were just one place out of a promotion to Pool A (now Top Division) which would have set a precedent for the future of the Netherlands Ice Hockey Federation. Instead they have been subject to an existence of mediocrity and became part of the bewilderment that was placement at the WJHC. More on that in just a moment though; first check out some details on the Dutch
IIHF Record: 75-84-9
2012 Final Results: Division II Group A Fifth Place with 2-3-0 record
Head Coach: Leo van den Thillart (NED)
If you are from Upstate New York, chances are this will be the country you choose to root for in Division II Group A at the 2013 WJHC. Why is that you ask? Over time the Dutch have developed an image for themselves and go by a team name rather than their country name (or colors for that matter). That name in Dutch is Oranje, which doesn't take a linguist to figure out means Orange.
That's right, despite the fact that the Netherlands' flag proudly waves red, white, and blue, the Dutch decided to ditch the red and go with the colors of Syracuse. The jerseys also happen to be similar to that of the New York Islanders and by default fit the New York Mets color scheme as well. Therefore, certain New Yorkers can have some sort of an attachment to DIIA play, and if you think they're too far away to root for ask your Caribbean friends what they think.
Aside from it being aesthetically pleasing, there is a legitimate reason why the Dutch take such pride in the color orange and wear it in just about every sport they participate in as a nation. It is the color of the Dutch Royal Family because of Willem van Oranje. And much like people all over the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day by wearing green; the Dutch celebrate a former Queen's birthday on April 30th every year by wearing orange.
So now that you have a history on their color scheme, here is something that actually has to do with hockey. The Netherlands are one of those countries that have a funky history of jumping from division to division without really earning or deserving it (good or bad). It has happened several times in the past few years along until the IIHF locked down on a strict promotion/relegation policy.
In 2005 the Orange played in DIIA and took 2nd place, only losing to Great Britain who was then promoted. However, despite the great previous year, the Netherlands played in DIIB where they stayed for they played for the next five years. Then surprisingly, after finishing 2nd in 2010, the Dutch were bumped up to DIIA where they have been ever since.
Despite these outside-the-norm occurrences, the Dutch have a knack for coming in either second place or second to last place. In 2012, it was the latter. With no top ten scorers, a size deficiency, and having a goalie that finished with a 3.67 GAA and 90.91 SV%, the Netherlands were lucky not to be relegated back to DIIB play.
However, if there were ever a player to look at to lead them back to second place in the group, it's young forward Danny Stempher. He's not a large individual but the kid has a lot of eligibility left and he can skate. This year could be a toss-up, and unless they get a great recruiting class, this could be the year the Dutch find themselves one group shy of the bottom division.
For previous team articles, click the links below
Division II Group B: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75279
Division III: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75142
New Zealand: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75122
Intro to 2013 WJHC: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75064
Matt Prosser, Featured Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Owner of Fifty8 Productions and freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU1580 Sacramento. For comments and writing ventures e-mail Matt@Fifty8productions.com. Follow on Twitter @MattProsser58 or visit www.kssusportsycle.com.