Three brothers representing Corona Brasov and Romania, from left to right: Otto, Matyas and Gergo Biro. Photo: Alexandra Sampetru
Three Biro brothers united in Brasov
Having played together on the same line for Romania, the troika of Biro brothers now hopes to fire Corona Brasov into the next round of the Continental Cup.
Three siblings playing on the same line at World Championship events and professional level is a rare sight. Perhaps the most prolific one was the trio of Anton, Marian and Peter Stastny, who together tore down defensive rearguards first for the Czechoslovak national team and later the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL. A more contemporary equivalent is found in Transylvania. Gergo, Matyas and Otto Biro of Corona Brasov all played on the same line for Romania at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B and have in a hockey sense been inseparable since.
While the Stastny brothers played together on both sides of the Atlantic during the 1970s and 80s, the Biros have since 2014 drifted apart from that all-attacking line of siblings. With the oldest brother Otto now patrolling the blueline and his younger brothers Gergo and Matyas playing on separate units, they all expect to play an integral part for hosts Corona Brasov as Group C of the Continental Cup’s second round rolls into town.
Played between 20th and 22nd October at Pationarul Olimpic, Corona Brasov will face DVTK Jegesmedvek Miskolc from Hungary, Spain’s Txuri Urdin San Sebastian and reigning champions of Serbia Crvena Zvezda Belgrade where top spot is up for grabs for a place in the third round of the competition.
Hockey tradition runs deep in the Biro family hailing from the historical hockey centre of Miercurea Ciuc, 100 kilometres north of Brasov. Their father Otto was a goaltender in Romania’s top division and there was little doubt about his sons’ future career paths. And previously older generations of the Biro family represented Romania at the top level of international ice hockey, Laszlo Biro at the 1937 and 1938 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and Anton Biro at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games.
Otto, born 1988, was leading the way for the new generation of Biros, followed by his twin-brothers Gergo and Matyas, who arrived five years and nine months later.
“We knew we were going to be hockey players just like our brother so growing up we always looked up to him. We wanted to be just like him and even better than him,” said the youngest of the twins, Gergo Biro.
Otto came to age and stepped up at to senior level in Miercurea Ciuc to become a regular in the Romanian national team. His younger siblings, Gergo and Matyas, ventured down a different path and moved abroad to Nitra in Slovakia in their mid-teens where they spent four seasons.
One April afternoon in Lithuania 2014 all three of them were united for the first time out on the ice. Romania’s head coach at the time, Kjell Lindqvist, put the Biros on the same line against Croatia in their second game of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Vilnius. It was a game Romania, in the end, lost 4-3 in shootout. Despite the defeat, it was to be a memorable occasion for the family.
“Otto is much older than us and we did not think that we one day would play with him, so to even be on the same line as your older brother was a privilege to us,” said Gergo Biro on three siblings who possess very different attributes as players.
“Matyas is the skilled guy in the family with good vision and passing skills, Otto is the rugged and tough player, one of those guys you hate to play against,” said Gergo Biro about his brothers. His twin brother Matyas in return describes Gergo as “a good skater and hitter who this season has shown good goal-scoring skills too”.
United in Vilnius, the troika has since played on same teams. They all shared the same locker room during one season in Miercurea Ciuc together with yet another Biro, cousin Tamas, before the three siblings transferred to Corona Brasov on the same day in July 2015.
With twins Matyas and Gergo excited ahead of their first taste of the Continental Cup, older brother Otto has previously played four times in the tournament, all of them in the jersey of their hometown club from Miercurea Ciuc (also known as Csikszereda in the Hungarian language predominant in the city).
“My first Continental Cup match was in October 2008 and it was a special moment for me, playing in my hometown and scoring against both The Hague and Ujpest,” he said. Despite scoring in his debut game in the tournament, his team was edged out 4-3 against HYS The Hague who headed into the third round.
Two years later, Otto Biro was part of upsetting the odds in the same competition, played in Maribor, Slovenia.
“My favourite memory was the Continental cup in 2010/2011 when we beat the Kazakh team from Karaganda and went through to the next round to Asiago in Italy,” he said about a 4-3 win over Sary-Arka Karaganda before the third round turned out to be a bridge too far.
Brasov hosted the Continental Cup back in October 2014 when they narrowly lost out to Sanok of Poland for a place in the third round. With the international hockey fest now returning to the city's ice rink Pationarul Olimpic comes also the chance to go one better.
“First of all, as hosts, it is a very important tournament for our club. There is a lot of work behind the organization, our fans will be here all weekend, so it should be a great competition,” said Corona Brasov’s head coach Martin Lacroix, who in his first season steered Corona Brasov to the national title and later Romania to gold at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships Division II Group A, which also included the three Biro brothers.
Three-time champions of the predominately Hungarian-Romanian Erste Liga, DVTK Jegesmedvek Miskolc will arrive to Brasov as pre-tournament favourites in Group C. With the winner moving into to the third round – Group E to be played in Ritten, Italy, 17-19 November – Corona Brasov hopes it will be the ideal time to rise to the occasion following a ponderous start to the season.
“We don’t want to project ourselves too far ahead in the tournament,” said Lacroix. “We start on Friday night against Belgrade, followed by San Sebastian on Saturday before we face Miskolc on Sunday and full focus will be on the first game on Friday.”
“Miskolc will probably expect to come here and win it, but we want to do it too, so we will see what will happen. But the whole team is very excited to produce very good games this weekend,” said Lacroix.