Monday, October 12, 2009
On this date in 2003, Christoph Brandner of the Minnesota Wild became the first Austrian player to score a goal in the NHL.
Brandner, a native of Bruck an der Mur, Austria began his playing career for Kapfenberg of the Austrian League in 1994 before moving on to Klangenfurt AC, where he would play for three seasons. The 2000-01 season would see Brander move to Krefeld Penguine (Penguins) of the German DEL. While playing in Krefeld, he would be drafted in the 8th round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild. He would remain in Germany for one more season before coming over to North America and making the Wild roster out of training camp.
After becoming the first Austrian to play in the NHL during the Wild's season opener on October 8th, he would become the first Austrian to score a goal (and point) in the NHL when he beat the San Jose Sharks Vesa Toskala at 6:24 of the first period.
Brandner would play 35 games for the Wild, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points before being assigned to Houston of the AHL for the remainder of the season, unfortunately ending his NHL career. He would return to Houston again the following year before heading back to Europe in 2005-06, first in the Swedish Elitserien with Södertälje SK before moving back to the DEL with the Hamburg Freezers for two seasons. 2008-09 would see him return to his native Austria and be reunited with Klagenfurt AC.
His best professional season was in 2002-03 with Krefeld of the DEL when he would lead the league in goals, be named the Best Winger as well as League MVP and help Krefeld win the 2003 DEL Championship with 18 points in 14 playoff games in addition to his 45 points in 49 regular season games.
Brandner has also suited up for the Austrian National Team on 11 occasions, the first of which was the 1993 World Junior Championships "B" pool. He would eventually play in three World Juniors and one European Junior Championship.
1997 would see him make his World Championship debut, again in the "B" pool. With Austria now promoted to the Top Division of the World Championships and Brander would compete for Austria at the World Championships again in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and help them win Division 1 Group A in 2008 to return to the Top Division with 4 goals and 5 points in 5 games.
He would also play for Austria in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His international record currently shows 68 games played, 29 goals and 17 assists for 46 points.
Brander would be followed in the NHL by Austrians Reinhard Divis, a goaltender for the St. Louis Blues for 28 games over four seasons, Andreas Nödl of the Philadelphia Flyers, Thomas Pöck of the New York Rangers and later the New York Islanders and the most successful Austrian to date, NHL All-Star Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres, now in his fifth NHL season with 260 points to his credit through the 2008-09 season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997 Austrian National Team Christoph Brandner jersey as worn in the 1997 World Championships "B" pool. The "waving flag" style of international jerseys were introduced in 1996 and are best known for being used in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. They were also used in the various World Championships in 1997 before a new style was debuted for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Japan.
Brandner scored a goal and two assists in seven game for Austria at the 1997 World Championships.
Today's first video highlight is Brandner scoring his first goal, the first by an Austrian in NHL history.
Next up is Brandner scoring for Austria in the 2008 World Championships versus the Netherlands.