We have finally gotten to the exciting continent of Europe, which by far produces the most international talent in the BCHL. With at least 152 players representing Europe throughout the league’s history, it is best to have multiple articles highlighting different European countries.
On our destinations shortlist today, the nations include my motherland, Hungary, better known to the locals as Magyarország. Next, we stop in “Our Beautiful” Croatia. Finally, to conclude, we will visit one-third of the “Baltic Tigers” countries, Estonia.
Thus, we have 13 featured players to look at, some of who had fascinating careers while others went on to succeed outside of hockey.
The pearl of the Danube
The BCHL prides itself on being a league inclusive of all races, religions, cultures and it’s backed up with evidence we have found on our travels together. Eight players have represented the nation of Hungary, the most so far of any country I have covered thus far.
The first Hungarian to join the BCHL did so in 1992. His name, Róbert Szatmary, and he landed with the Meritt Centennials. In his rookie season of 1992-93, Szatmary played in a respectable 54 out of 60 for the Cents. He recorded 34 points from the left-wing, 13 of which were goals, and 192 penalty minutes.
In the 1993-94 season, Szatmary shared time between the Centennials and the Bellingham Ice Hawks. He recorded 33 points in 40 games for Merritt, then continued his solid production in Bellingham with eight points in 13 games for the Ice Hawks.
After failing to miss the playoffs, Szatmary ended his BCHL career and took off back to Hungary. He played in 11 games for Ujpesti TE of the Hungarian Ice Hockey League. Szatmary last suited up for the 1999-2000 Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.
Just like his older brother Róbert, Mike – aka Miklós – Szatmary also suited up in the BCHL. He even played with his brother on the 1993-94 Merritt Centennials! Unlike his brother though, Mike’s hockey career of record only lasted 56 games.
He played in 45 games with the Centennials and put up a very respectable 41 points. Then he followed Rob back to Hungary to play for Ujpesti TE as well. He suited up in just 11 games for Ujpesti before calling it a career.
The new age Hungarians
Nathan Martz began to put Hungary back on the hockey-playing map in BC when he started his BCHL career in the 1997-98 season with the Chilliwack Chiefs. Playing in all but one game his rookie year, Martz had 21 points. His next season, though, he exploded to nearly a point-per-game with 58 points in 59 contests and helped the Chiefs excel in the 1999 playoffs.
Chilliwack made it all the way to the finals that season before being bested by Vernon in the finals, and this loss motivated Martz to become better. In his final season with Chilliwack, he lit the league on fire with 110 points in 59 games.
It wasn’t enough to help a limping Chilliwack team into the playoffs that season though. Martz continued his playing career in the NCAA with the University of New Hampshire.
He was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Rangers in the 2000 NHL Draft. Although never skating in the NHL, Martz played pro in the ECHL, Norway Ice Hockey League, and the Erste Liga before retiring from hockey in 2013-14. However, many hockey fans still remember Martz from this iconic blooper.
The longest-lasting Hungarian player with a BCHL club record to his name is Andrew Sarauer, who began his BCHL career with the 2002-03 Victoria Salsa. He played in 57 games that season with an honest 28 points.
The next season he suited up for the 2003-04 Langley Hornets and massively improved his production, putting up 75 points in 57 games.
He spent four years in the NCAA with Northern Michigan University before being drafted 125th overall by the hometown Vancouver Canucks in 2004.
Like Martz, Sarauer never dressed for game time with the NHL team that had drafted him. However, Sarauer excelled in the lesser-known leagues and was under contract with Fehérvár AV19 of the Austrian Ice Hockey League for the 2020-21 season.
Justin Cseter continued the Hungarian legacy in the BCHL but only played in one season. Cseter got into 50 games for the 2008-09 Salmon Arm Silverbacks but did leave a good impression by putting up a solid 46 points.
Like many of his counterparts, Cseter played in the NCAA and pro in lesser-known leagues before retiring in 2018.
Christopher Bodó also played a sole season in the BCHL. However, Bodó was the first Hungarian player in the league’s history to ever wear a letter on his jersey.
Bodó was an alternate captain of the 2010-11 Prince George Spruce Kings, suiting up for 20 games before being traded to the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Canada Hockey League.
He, too, played a full NCAA career with Mercyhurst College before embarking on a pro career in the Erste Liga and DEL2 league of Germany.
— Lausitzer Füchse (@lausitz_fuechse) July 28, 2017
Today’s BCHL fans might remember James Orban. Although only playing in half a season in the BCHL, James dawned the “A” for the 2017-18 Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
Orban averaged a point in every second game he played in, grabbing 15 points in 30 games. The last time Orban laced up the skates was for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in 2019-20.
The latest and greatest?
In 2020-21, there was one active Hungarian in the BCHL and that was Hunor Torzsok, skating with the Prince George Spruce Kings. Torzsok began his BCHL career in 2017-18 playing for the Nanaimo Clippers. In 10 games, he notched three points but got a call to move up to the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.
He finished that season with the Giants and posted two points in 25 games. Then, Torzsok returned to Nanaimo for the start of the 2018-19 season and gained traction by producing five points in 26 games. Once again, though, he got the call to return to Vancouver halfway through the season. This time with the Giants, he produced a point in eight games.
In 2019-20, he started the year with the Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. After playing six games with the Bruins, Torzsok was traded to the Meritt Centennials. In 38 games with the Cents, Torzsok scored 16 goals and added three helpers to secure his best BCHL season of 19 points.
He was raised in B.C., but did you know Hunor Torzsok was originally born in Hungary 🇭🇺? Guess will soon find out if the @SpruceKings’ newest player is ‘hungry’ for a BCHL Championship as a 20-year-old veteran | #CityOfPG #BCHL @PGMatters https://t.co/OYPdt96MJi
— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) September 21, 2020
He played another two games with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, and that concluded his 2019-20 campaign. However, this season Torzsok laced up the skates in 17 games for the Spruce Kings, adding nine points and helping Prince George win the Chilliwack pod with a record of 14-5-0.
The ice-skating Kockasti
When researching this article, I was astonished when I found two players from Croatia who played in the BCHL. Although he spent hardly any time within the league, Marko Segovic suited up for two games in two different seasons.
He played for the 1997-98 Nanaimo Clippers for his first game and didn’t record a point. I couldn’t find anywhere that he played in the 1998-99 season, but made an appearance in the BCHL during the 1999-2000 season.
He played a single game for the Burnaby Bulldogs and recorded two assists. Segovic played for the Croatian international hockey team, but no other professional club teams of record.
The most notorious Croatian player played one season in the BCHL during 1998-99. Shaone Morrisonn got in 19 games for the South Surrey Eagles and recorded only two points but then was called up to play for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL.
In the WHL, Morrisonn blossomed into an NHL talent. In 2001, he was selected 19th overall by the Boston Bruins but returned to the Blazers for one more season.
In 2002, Morrisonn made his NHL debut and played 11 games in 2002-03 with the Boston Bruins. He also spent time with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.
In 2003-04, Morrisonn made the NHL roster again, this time playing in 30 games and recording eight points. He also played a part of the season in the AHL. He was traded to the Washington Capitals in March 2004 and played three more big league games before being sent down to their AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates.
After a full season with the Pirates in 2004-05, Morrisonn cracked the NHL and remained with the Capitals roster for another four seasons. Although never breaking the 20-point plateau, Morrisonn did manage to play in nearly every game of the season.
During the summer of 2010, the Buffalo Sabres had signed Morrisonn to a free agent contract, and he played in 62 games for the Sabres that season. He recorded five points before seeing the AHL one last time with the Rochester Americans.
Morrisonn then went onto a great career overseas, playing in Russia, Finland, Croatia, Japan, and Wales. This past season, Morrisonn played for the Dubai Mighty Camels of the United Arab Emirates Hockey League.
Mary’s Land takes on the BCHL.
Like Simon Snyman of South Africa, Roman Murmillo had the honour of representing the entire country of Estonia when he played in the BCHL.
Murmillo made his BCHL debut in 1994, playing for the Langley Thunder. In his rookie season of 1994-95, he played in 35 games and recorded a respectable 27 points. As a sophomore, Murmillo recorded his career-best with 38 goals and 35 assists in 56 games.
In the 1996-97 season, he played 17 games with the Thunder and popped in 22 points, nine of which were goals. That same season, Murmillo joined the Victoria Salsa and produced 27 points in 33 games.
From what I could find, Murmillo did not play hockey again after 1997.