Fans of the Elmira Sugar Kings will find a familiar name atop the leading scorers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, also known as the DEL. Elmira native Derek Hahn, who suited up for the Kings from 1995 to 1998, is currently leading the top-tier German hockey league scoring race with 16 goals and 40 points in 36 games, a three point cushion over Kai Hospelt.
“I think the reason for my success this season is that I am playing on a very strong team this year,” said Hahn, who currently plays for the Eishockey-und-Rollschuh club (ERC) club which is located in Ingolstadt, Germany.
The team is currently third in the 14-team league with 66 points, just four behind the co-leaders from Berlin and Mannheim.
Hahn, 34, is a centre on the team and he credits some of his success to winger Thomas Greilinger, who is currently tied for 12th in league scoring with 12 goals and 32 points.
“He is a very good offensive player, and my line has had good chemistry,” said Hahn.
The Canadian is in his first season on the team but is no stranger to the DEL as this is his fifth season playing in the league. He suited up for the Straubing Tigers last season, but suffered an injury to his hand that saw him tear several ligaments and required pins to be put into his thumb to help it heal.
That injury held him out of the lineup for 13 games but he still managed 39 points in 39 games. Prior to last season he played for the now-defunct Frankfort Lions for three years, recording 131 points in 149 games. This season he has managed to shake off that injury and return to the high level of hockey he and his fans in Elmira are accustomed to.
Hahn joined the Kings in the 1995-96 season and played for the team for three seasons. The team was a finalist for the Sutherland Cup in his first year, and captured the Ontario title in 1997. He was named co-playoff MVP with Mike McKinnon, and also eclipsed the 100-point plateau during the regular season.
In 147 career games with the Kings, Hahn scored 64 goals and collected 110 assists, good for 15th on the team’s all-time list. He also holds the team record for most career playoff goals (35), assists (60), and points (95), and he said that winning the Cup that season was his fondest memory of his time spent with the Kings.
From Elmira, Hahn travelled to the Rochester Institute of Technology where he played for three seasons while collecting a degree in business management. From there, he played a pair of games for the Elmira Jackals of the United Hockey League, one game for the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies of the East Coast Hockey League, then four full seasons with the Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League, where he took rookie of the year honours in 2003 and the MVP title in 2007 when he scored 114 points in 67 games.
Hahn then moved overseas and began his European career playing for Rodovre in Denmark, before moving on to Germany. He also helped team Canada capture the Deutschland Cup in November of 2008 with the help of another former Sugar King, Jamie Wright.
He and wife Lacey have a 21-month-old daughter named Addison, with another due in June. Hahn said he also tries to return to Canada in the summer, and was most recently in the country this past June to visit his parents.
With 16 games left on the schedule, Hahn knows anything can happen especially after an injury derailed his season last year, and he says he doesn’t know what the future holds for him or his family once his career is done.
“I would like to play hockey for a little longer,” he said, noting he hopes to fall back on his business degree when his retirement finally comes.
“But as of right now, I have no idea what I will be doing when I am done playing.”