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For the first time in the history a Armenian ice hockey club will participate in YUHL in Belarus. The Ararat Junior Ice Hockey Team will play with ten teams from different cities of Belarus.
Our players continue to prepare for the championship YUHL Belarus (Junior Hockey League), which starts in two weeks 13 and 14 September in Minsk. In preparation for the upcoming season HC Ararat are holding several test matches. HC Mogilev on August 30 and HC Khimik 5 and 6 of September. The test match on August 30 HC Mogilev (Belarus) - HC Ararat (Armenia) 1: 2 (0:1, 0:0, 1:1)
The Ararat Junior Ice Hockey Club
Dylan Strome and Nick Merkley each scored twice as Canada beat the Czech Republic 6-2 on Thursday at the under-20 national team development camp.
It was the final game of a four-game exhibition series between the Canadians, Russia and the Czech Republic.
Brayden Point and Olivier LeBlanc added the others for Canada.
Jakub Zboril and Jiri Cernoch found the back of the net for the Czech Republic in the third period.
Mackenzie Blackwood started in net for Canada and stopped all 13 shots he faced. Samuel Montembeault played 29:43 of relief, turning aside 7-of-9 shots.
Karel Vejmelka kicked out 32 shots in goal for the Czech Republic.
The Canadians went 1-for-3 on the power play while the Czech Republic failed to score on one opportunity.
Canada beat Russia 4-1 on Monday, the Czech Republic 7-1 on Tuesday, before a 3-2 shootout loss to the Russians on Wednesday.
Canada will invite the best players back to Calgary in December, where they’ll compete in more exhibition games before traveling over to Helsinki, Finland to play at World Junior Champiships.
Hockey Is Growing Up in China
China is on the cusp of a hockey boom.
Already, there are plans to build over 400 more full-sized rinks in China by 2020. Some of these playing surfaces will accommodate the 1,700 children who currently participate in minor hockey in Beijing; five years ago, only 100 kids were involved.
State channel CCTV, which has broadcast live NHL games since 2013, doubled its ratings from 2013-14 to 2014-15. And while 400K viewers to 800K—in a land of 1.3 billion—isn't terribly impressive, that's still an intriguing number of fanatics and potential supporters tuning in at 7 AM or so. In comparison, about 30K catch the Los Angeles Kings locally on any given night, while a national audience of 750K enjoyed the LA/San Jose Stadium Series tilt.
Li attributes the spike in CCTV's ratings to a single event: "The ratings for North America may not be going up. But in Asia, they're going up very quickly for the NHL. Even in China...after 2014's Winter Olympics, our ratings were way better than before." Reportedly, 120 million Chinese watched Canada-Sweden (as opposed to 15 million Canadians).
There will be even more eyes trained on the ice as Beijing ramps up for the 2022 Winter Games. Most significantly, the Chinese government will be watching, and they possess both the capital and political will to stimulate interest and development in any sport.
They'll be plenty motivated to do so in this case. For China, strength in sports is also a flexing of political muscle. They'll want their automatic bid in the Winter Olympics' most prestigious team sport to boast a respectable showing.
And for what it's worth, President Xi Jinping says hockey is his favorite winter sport.
Kings of China?
A few franchises have already staked their claim in the coming gold rush.
The New York Islanders opened an office in Harbin over a decade ago, and they just drafted Andong Song, the first Chinese national to be selected in the NHL Draft. Recently, both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks have run youth hockey camps in Beijing and Shanghai. In addition, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment has sold advertising on the boards at the Air Canada Centre to Chinese companies to the tune of $2.5 million last year, while "looking at about 10 times that much revenue in 10 years time."
That's just three teams ahead of the NHL, which doesn't appear to have a business plan for China yet.
Li thinks that the Kings can establish a privileged position in this burgeoning market.
"Kings games do well in China. Because everybody knows [the city of] Los Angeles. And the Kings win.
"I believe in the last two seasons, we played LA games the most."
Beyond grassroots, he suggests that Los Angeles can help shore up Chinese hockey infrastructure in advance of the 2022 Games. "Right now, it's building the system. Bridging the gap for 12-18 year olds. That's what the [Chinese] government wants to do.
"They need management. They need coaches. They need scouts. They need agents. Those coaches and management need to go to universities and schools to help them grow...these are just some of the things the Kings can do."
So whatever LA's prospective target: The 800K already getting up for NHL games? The 120 million who checked in on Canada-Sweden? The 300 million purported to have a "growing appetite" for winter sports? Or the 1.3 billion who make up the most populous country in the world?
Dave Hopkinson, MLSE's chief commercial officer, sums it up: "This is such an untapped market."
According to Li, a deep investment from the NHL or its franchises will be repaid in full and more: "If [the NHL] can help China build a powerful men's team, they're going to make more money. If they can help Team China [become an IIHF-level team] between 10th to 16th (currently 38th), the marketing will be huge.
"The next seven years will be the golden age of Chinese hockey marketing. Any team that comes in earlier will make lots of money in the future. If they don't do that, they're going to lose their best chance."
While it generally hasn't been advisable to follow the path of the Toronto Maple Leafs in recent seasons, if they're good at anything, it's making money. Hopkinson points the way again for us: "How many more people can hockey get in Canada? We haven’t got a whole lot of head room here. If we’re going to dramatically grow the game, we need to look internationally."
Where better to try than the richest, biggest country in the world?
It is 11pm on Tuesday. Most will be preparing to go to bed. But for Singapore's national ice hockey men's team, training begins.
Even at such a late hour, there is no guarantee of a training venue reserved for them. In fact, these players have to ensure that the ice rink at JCube is not being used by both the public and the Singapore Ice Skating Association, before they can conduct their weekly one-hour ice training session.
To complement their sparse ice rink sessions, they do additional "dry-land" training to run through the drills.
Again, finding a conducive venue is proving just as difficult.
Said team captain Michael Loh, 40: "There is a big concrete open space with shelter in Jurong.
"We do not have to book it. We play at 8.30pm before ice training but it is quite dim as the people there do not turn on the lights."
Despite these hindrances, the 22-strong men's team are hardly dissuaded from pursuing this niche winter sport in tropical Singapore.
In fact, they have already brought honours for the Republic, finishing second in the International Ice Hockey Federation Challenge Cup of Asia in Kuwait in March.
It was by far their best showing since the sport took root in Singapore in 1988, when the Fuji Ice Palace ice-skating rink was set up in the former Rex Theatre in McKenzie Road.
In 1997, a local ice-hockey league started at the venue, consisting of six teams, but was shut down a year later due to high costs.
From then on, a small community of ice-hockey enthusiasts continued to play for recreation.
Assistant captain Eugene Ang, 27, started off with inline hockey before switching to ice hockey 10 years ago. He said: "I really enjoy the company, especially since the community is small and everyone knows one another.
"It is really the commitment to the team that keeps me going."
Most of his team-mates echoed his sentiments in staying the course as the sport tries to get a firmer footing here.
Nevertheless, sponsorship is difficult to come by.
Often, money comes from the players themselves.
Costs are not low. Rental of the JCube ice rink costs $562 an hour during off-peak sessions and $450 an hour after midnight.
Loh said: "When we run our annual tournament, we will sometimes try to help and sell beverages so that some money can be put into the national team fund to subsidise training or flight tickets (for competitions). Basically, everyone has to pay a certain sum to play."
Alphonsus Joseph, who is the Singapore Ice Hockey Association president and who also plays for the team, added: "We have been fortunate to get donations from a couple of people to bear part of the cost for some of the players, but definitely not for everything."
Despite all these challenges, things may be looking up for the sport, after ice hockey and ice skating were approved as official SEA Games sports last month.
This means that they may be included in the 2017 edition in Malaysia if they receive support from at least four countries.
Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have expressed an interest in participating. Support could also come from the Philippines, Indonesia or even Cambodia.
Cambodia seem likely to participate as they have been recruiting players recently.
With a chance of growing the sport and achieving glory after years of hard work, the Singapore players are eager to put up a good showing at the 2017 Games.
Said 36-year-old goalkeeper Eugene Chin: "Since our standards are still quite far off from the Winter Olympics, the SEA Games will be the next best thing and a good stepping stone for us."
Joseph added: "We are aiming for at least a second place, if not first.
"We are one of the favourites to get a medal in the region."
Seven months after Canada’s world junior team won a gold medal on home ice, the process of trying to do it again in Helsinki is just getting underway.
When Hockey Canada’s national junior team summer development camp starts Saturday in Calgary, coach Dave Lowry and his staff begin the long process of putting together the 2016 group. Only five players at the camp won gold in Toronto, so there’s a lot of turnover and plenty of work to be done.
“It’s an introduction to these players,” Lowry said in a phone interview Friday. “For us, it’s an evaluation process. ... Moving forward what it will do is give us opportunity to start forming some opinions on players.”
Lowry was an assistant to Benoit Groulx when Connor McDavid, Max Domi and Co. led Canada to its first world junior gold medal since 2009. With so many of the players Lowry described as “world-class” moving on to the NHL, forwards Lawson Crouse, Brayden Point, Robby Fabbri and Jake Virtanen and defenceman Joe Hicketts are the only ones from that team back for this camp.
A few players are returning after being among the final cuts for last year’s team, including defencemen Haydn Fleury and Travis Sanheim and forward Michael Dal Colle.
“Experience is an invaluable asset,” Lowry said. “For these guys, there’s things that as players they might change, and you hope that they’ve taken steps in their development and they come with the mind-set that they won’t be cut a second time.”
Sanheim, Dal Colle -- if he doesn’t make the New York Islanders -- and Fleury lead the next generation of Canadian world junior stars, and they’re joined by 2015 top-five picks Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner. Strome, the Ontario Hockey League’s leading scorer as a teammate of McDavid’s in Erie, was the third pick to the Arizona Coyotes, while Marner went fourth to the Toronto Maple Leafs after a stellar season playing with Domi on the London Knights.
Fellow first-round picks Jake DeBrusk (14th to the Boston Bruins), Mathew Barzal (15th to the Islanders), Thomas Chabot (18th to the Ottawa Senators), Travis Konecny (24th to the Philadelphia Flyers), Noah Juulsen (26th to the Montreal Canadiens), Anthony Beauvillier (28th to the Islanders) and Nick Merkley (30th to the Coyotes) are also among the 40 players at camp.
Second-rounder Mackenzie Blackwood, third-rounder Samuel Montembeault and 2014 second-rounder Mason McDonald are the three goalies at camp. Canada could again rotate like it did last year, winning gold with Zach Fucale and Eric Comrie in net.
“We’ve got three goalies here that are coming to camp, and for our staff, this is the first time that we’re going to see these guys live,” Lowry said. “We’ll start the evaluation process. If we’re in that same position that we were last year, that means we have a chance to win.”
Some of the evaluation is projecting what’s next. A year ago first- and third-overall picks Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett were at Canada’s camp.
Ekblad made the Florida Panthers out of training camp and was the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year. Bennett hurt his shoulder but then played for the Calgary Flames in the playoffs.
Lowry expects that to happen again with someone.
“There are players that are invited to the camp that might not be made available come selection time in December,” he said. “We’ll run that same process. We’ll be excited about the guys that are here but knowing that it will change.”
Dal Colle and Fabbri, one of the St. Louis Blues’ top prospects, are the most likely to fit the bill. Strome should headline Canada’s 2016 world junior team but wouldn’t be available if he shows the Coyotes that he belongs in the NHL right away.
Whatever happens at camp, which includes exhibition games against Russia and the Czech Republic, this is far from the only evaluation Canada’s staff will have before December. Like Hicketts, Crouse and Senators prospect Nick Paul a year ago, Lowry anticipates players not at camp to push themselves onto the radar in a few months.
“We expect players that weren’t invited here to the summer camp to get off and have great starts to their years,” Lowry said. “The book, and the door, it doesn’t close until the night that we name our final roster. We’re open to everything.”
The Castillo Knights Hockey Club
When you think of places to play the game of ice hockey Costa Rica is not the first place you would think about but the game as taking a foot hold in the country thanks to transplanted Canadian Bruce Callow. We had the great pleasue of interviewing him earlier this week.
Can you introduce yourself to our audience and give us a brief history on how hockey got started in Costa Rica?
I am from Calgary, Alberta and grew up playing hockey in the Brentwood neighborhood of the city.In 1996 I had been living here for 3 years and was missing playing ice hockey. That same year I heard that a local mall being built at the time planned to install a synthetic ice surface in the middle of their food court. I offered my services to the mall administration to start a hockey program and they hired me. A few months later I also started giving hockey classes at the rink at the Castillo Country Club which has a real ice surface.
When was the Castillo Knights Hockey Club established and who do they play?
The Castillo Knights were established in 1996 as a recreational hockey program at the Castillo Country Club located in the highlands above the city of Heredia. We mostly play scrimmages amongst ourselves but occasionally we play teams from outside the club, most recently against United World College and Country Day School. Some years ago we played against a visiting team from Canada called the Air Canada Flying Pirates. In the coming months we will be playing games against a team from California, the Costa Rican roller hockey team and possibly a team from the Falkland Islands.
Where dose the funding come from to keep the ice hockey program going?
The Castillo Country Club maintains the rink and gives us the ice times to run the classes. Most of our hockey equipment and skates have come from donations from the NHLA`s Goals and Dreams fund. Over the years we have received important sponsorship support from Snickers and individual sponsors as well.
Snickers is now displayed on the Costa Rica National Team Jersey
Where do coaches come from to play and teach ice hockey in Costa Rica?
I am from Calgary, we have another Canadian coach who is Serge Salvador ( from Montreal) and our other coach is David Vargas who is from Costa Rican.
There are plans in the works to have an old timers program, what is the goal of this program?
This year our Oldtimers program is really kicking into gear and we are getting more and more players signing up for it. Coach Serge Salvador is in charge of this group. It requires a special touch to teach beginners who are in their 40s and 50s and he is doing an amazing job. Another way we are getting older guys involved in hockey is encouraging them to join their kids on the ice who are already in the program. This creates a really fun and family oriented atmosphere on the ice, like pond hockey on outdoor rinks in Canada.
People who play and coach ice hockey in Coast Rica
You are on verge of establishing the Costa Rica Ice hockey Association, what is the long term vision for this Association?
The formation of an Ice Hockey Association would be an important step towards us getting affiliated with the IIHF. Costa Rica could then step out on the world stage as a competitive ice hockey nation just like Mexico and some other countries in Latin America countries.
Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once paid a visit to Castillo Country Club how did he help boost the ice hockey program?
The visit of Prime Minister Harper to our rink in 2011 was the catalyst that led to the expansion of the rink last year. There had been discussion at the Castillo Club for many years about modernizing and expanding the rink but after his visit the project got put on the front burner by the Castillo board of directors, and got it completed. PM Harper brought us a hockey net too.
Are there any plans in the works to play in the Pan American ice hockey tournament in Mexico?
We were invited to the Pan American ice hockey tournament in Mexico and hope in the future to be able to compete in it . It depends if we can find the sponsorship to pay for it.
When you first got started in establishing an ice hockey program in Costa Rica, did you ever think to yourself what I am doing here?
Not really, at the heart of it all I just wanted to be around hockey in some way and have my two sons, Kenny and Tony grow up with it. Now they are 17 and 20 and are assistant coaches.
Can you tell us what is the one unique thing about playing ice hockey in Costa Rica?
Ice hockey is a niche sport here in Costa Rica so we attract a certain amount of "characters" to our program as well as kids with special needs that use hockey as a way to work through different things. Hockey is incredible for building self esteem in kids, especially kids with special needs. A favorite part for me is feeling tired and happy after a hard practice on a Sunday morning, having a typical Costa Rican lunch at the staff cafeteria with my sons and then walking outside the building into the lush, tropical highland beauty of Costa Rica. It doesn`t get much better than that.
He represented South Africa at three separate World Championships last season, but 17-year-old Marcello Strydom is finding himself wrestling with the decision of whether goaltending or coaching is his true calling.
For anyone having watched South Africa's national team in action during the last decade, the presence of the Bock brothers guarding their net can hardly have gone unnoticed. Ashley and Gary, a man-mountain pair of siblings, each of them towering up on both sides of the two-metre mark while weighing being well above 100 kilos, have given the epithet of parking the bus in front of goal a new meaning.
At 185 cm, Marcello Strydom will never measure up to the Bock brothers’ lofty height, but appears to be well underway in carving out a name for himself in his own right. Not only did the 17-year-old step out on the ice to represent South Africa at U18, U20 and senior level at the World Championships last year, but also still found time to attend school and blaze a new trail as a coach for the next generation of South African netminders.
"There has never truly been a goalie coach in South Africa and as I didn't think there was any interest in goalies I decided it shouldn't be like that," said the teenage Pretoria Capitals-prospect on how his interest arose for coaching his own peers.
"I only truly started with this last year, but since I started to coach when turning 17 I have doubled the amount of goalies in South Africa, which is why they at the South African Ice Hockey Association thought that maybe it would be a good idea that I should come to the camp in Vierumaki."
Having ventured overseas for goalie camps in Minnesota, USA twice in the past, he arrived in Finland last month for the 2015 IIHF Development camp to further his repertoire and skills in coaching netminders.
"Before coming here to Finland I asked our national team coaches of their expectations of sending me to a camp where I would be learning not to coach goalies, but to coach other coaches to become goalie coaches,” he said. "So being able to learn more about being a coach of a coach did sound interesting so I was well up for the challenge,"
Strydom sums up his Vierumaki-experience from the 2015 Development camp as follows:
"I must say that I am extremely pleased with how the coaches here in Vierumaki love hockey and try to take things into a different light," he said. "The facilities here are amazing, everyone is helpful and every single thing that I learn here is knowledge that I can take back home and see what can be applied at our country's situation. I can start small, develop the minds of both players and parents to let them understand what it is to be a goalie and to be a goalie coach then they would end up falling in love with the game too just like I once did.”
Hailing from Pretoria, the country's administrative capital, Strydom grew up across town of the aforementioned Bock-brothers, who over the years have played an integral part as the last line of defence for South Africa. While the older of the two, Gary, guarded the net for his country at World Championships between 2003-10, it is the younger brother, 27-year-old Ashley, who made his debut at the 2005 World Championships and is still going strong and who was singled out for special praise by Strydom as a big influence in his own development.
"When I started playing , Gary, was by then already growing out of hockey so he did not really coach or anything. Ashley is a great goalie and it is wonderful to see that this tall giant over two meters is the friendliest guy in the world. Everytime I saw him at the rink when I was growing up he gave me hints that would helped me improve my game," he said.
Strydom's week-long stint in Vierumaki comes in the wake of a hectic season for the 17-year old. Being first choice for South Africa's U20 team at the World Championship, Division III in New Zealand this year, he later went to Chinese Taipei as a back-up for Charl Pretorius at the U18 World Championships, Division III Group A. In the spring, a phone call put him on course for a hat-trick of World Championships in less than four months.
"I was away with the U18 team when I got a call and got asked if I would be able to make it for the senior national team who were about to play at the World Championship in Cape Town. I said that I would love that, but they would need to ask my parents first," said Strydrom.
He got the green light from back home and accepted the last-minute call-up for a place at the 2015 World Championship Division II Group B, which took place on on home ice and was a dream come true for Strydom at such a tender age.
"I practise with the men's national team most of the year, but still I did not expect to get any playing time, so when I got the chance to go on the ice it was an amazing experience," said Strydom who made his senior World Championship debut in Cape Town's Grandwest Ice Arena, playing just under 28 minutes against Israel and conceding one goal in a 6-3 loss.
Despite South Africa being relegated and now having to try to bounce back in next year's Division III, Strydom sings the praises of the national team's coaching duo of Bob Mancini and Louis Melone, who encouraged the teenage netminder to further dedicate himself to try and raise the bar in the country's development of goalies.
"Bob and Louis are really passionate coaches and it was they who convinced me to come over here to Vierumaki. We are starting to develop young goalies now and if they progress well, we will also send them and more coaches over here to Finland," said Strydom who was joined in Vierumaki by another promising netminder from South Africa with Ryan Boyd was taking part in the Development Camp as a player.
Now in his last year at school, Strydom is set to continue with the subject of goaltending on the schedule for years to come. But asking him which one of coaching or playing it is that he prefers clearly puts him into a dilemma.
"Now, that is a tough one. I can't pick between those two" he said. "Maybe in a few years if playing doesn't work out I will say coaching, but right now I love them both way too much."
For those of you who don't know Ryan Bahl he is one of my best friends and a huge
contributor of this site. Ryan has just completed a life long dream of playing ice hockey on all the continents expect for the Antarctica. We have conducted a Q & A with him at his request, so here is his story.
Wayne Gretzky changed the way people saw Hockey in the State of California, Was Gretzky or the Los Angeles Kings the reason why you got into ice hockey and what did you like about the game?
I definitely think so. I grew up in the 90's during the prime of the Gretzky era in California. I remember seeing him a few times at The Forum in LA and how he just played the game so much better than everyone else - I wanted to be him. Every single kid had a Gretzky jersey, and every single team had a #99 on it. Out there playing street hockey every kid also yelled out that they were Gretzky, so we played 5 on 5 street hockey with 10 Gretzky's.
The birth year I grew up playing in also produced some of the first NHL players from California so it was definitely a great time for CA hockey. I played with and against guys like CJ Ruhwedel (Buffalo), Alec Martinez (LA), and Jonathon Blum (Minnesota). Since my birth year, California hockey has improved tenfold with more and more young guys getting drafted to the show, playing NCAA hockey, or playing in major juniors. The AHL also just launched a major expansion with 5 teams moving to California, as well as one being in my home town of San Diego. I think Gretzky was the start of hockey in California, but we are only just beginning to see what hockey in California will turn out to be.
Who was your favorite player or team growing up?
Don't hate me for saying this (I know you, George, love the leafs) but I grew up watching and idolizing Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov - especially growing up in CA where everyone was all about the Kings and Ducks, I thought I needed my own team and players. I would eventually (as of like 5 years old) start wearing either #19 or #91 and I still wear these numbers to this day.
What motivated you to play ice hockey around the globe?
I was playing a pretty decent level of hockey as I grew up and when I got to be 18 years old, I was looking into what to do next, then my grandparents actually took me on a trip to Europe. While in Europe I got to experience new cultures, new foods, new everything, and thought it was the most amazing time of my life! I had previously only really been to Canada for hockey trips, and never really experienced anything totally different. I think at this point my mentality changed from trying to make it to the NHL or somewhere else, to how many places can I visit while playing ice hockey? So, the quick answer I guess would have to be that my grandparents sparked this interest and let me transition it to hockey.
Your first stop was Hong Kong not exactly a hot bed hockey, What was that experience like to play in Asia?
I wanted to try something totally different. At this point I had to been Europe and North America, so I thought, "Hey, I might as well try going to Asia since I really like sushi." - even though sushi is from Japan and I was in China... My stop in Hong Kong was unfortunately not as long as I would have liked, but I didn't have a job and the hockey there wasn't paid for, nor did they have many sponsors to cover their league. I did get to do some traveling while I was there, and I absolutely loved everything about Hong Kong and Southern China. It's a beautiful country with a weird twist on ancient Chinese and modern western architecture. My wife actually really wants to go one of these days, so I'm sure this won't be the only time I go there.
Your next stop was the Canterbury Red Devils of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Can you tells little bit about the league and the team?
New Zealand is a beautiful country full of beautiful people (even if they are hard to understand). The Red Devils are one of the most decorated teams in the NZIHL and they play each season with some of the best import players, so it was great honor to be able to make their squad and play the season with them. The league is generally dominated by import players, but I think this is a much needed step if you are to raise local player's skill levels as well as the level of the league for future generations. New Zealand has done an amazing job with this, and I have already seen a world of difference in the 5 years since playing with them. The year I played in 2010/11 we missed the finals and playoffs by 1pt, so it was little disappointing, but getting the chance to meet so many wonderful people and some life time friends was really worth it. Our home rink in Canterbury was also located in Christchurch, which was just hit by that world-renowned earthquake 6 months before I arrived. I got to see first hand the damage that had occurred as well as how everyone worked together to fix their beloved city. I actually got to do my part by getting a job in construction for the Devil's Team Manager and working to help fix the concrete on broken buildings throughout the city. I have had many friends play in the NZIHL throughout the years as well, and all of whom had nothing but great things to say about the league and the beautiful country that Lord of the Rings was filmed in.
In 2012 you played for the USA Eagles and toured Australia, Can you tell the audience who are the USA Eagles and who did you play in Australia?
The following year (after playing in the NZIHL) I had the opportunity to go play in the Czech Republic. This year was also pretty significant because that summer I was home for only about 2 weeks before heading to the Czech, and in this time I met my wife while out playing hockey one day. I had got her information and stayed in contact with her while I was off in the Czech Republic, so it all worked out in the end!
My trip in the Czech Republic was also cut a little short as I had been in contact with some people about going to preseason camp in Ontario in the ECHL. The people I had met in the Czech Republic, in our small town of Zdar nad Sazavou,
turned out to be some of the nicest people I had met in my travels - truly great life time friends. My wife and I would eventually visit my old club again and meet up with all those great people, and anytime I am in the Czech I make it a point go visit these people.
All of this built up to playing in Australia that next summer for the USA Eagles. In going to Australia, it was my second time in about 2 years going to the continent of Australia, which was really cool, since most people don't even get the chance to go there once. The Australia International Ice Hockey Cup (AIIHC) is a tournament that runs about a month long and brings in top level North American and European players to bring awareness to the sport "down unda". The hockey was surprisingly good and in most games in Sydney we played in front of crowds around 1,200 people. This entire year, starting in the Czech, moving to the coast, and then finishing up in Australia, I was probably playing some of the best hockey I have in a long time. I tore up the score sheet down in Aussie and ended up with the tournament MVP for my year in 2011/12. The individual record was nice, but the most important thing is that our USA team ended up beating the Canadian team for the cup championship (kind of like a rematch of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver).
The country itself is also unlike anything you will experience. I remember getting off the plane and going to our first player meeting with the cup officials. They said, "Don't touch the spiders, don't touch the snakes, be careful when swimming because of the crocs, but other than that, have fun!". If you can get over the fact that everything is trying to kill you, it is really an awesome time. The tournament hosts put us up in a beach house (so we were at the beach every day), they took us on tours around Sydney, jet boating by the Opera House, tours up and down the Central Coast and much more. They paid for all of our meals by just giving us cash to spend if we were out, or if we were just finishing up a game there would literally be about 20 delivered pizzas and tons of beer ready for us. The cup itself ran about 30 days and we played 9 games in that time - which was a game every few days. This was probably one of the best tournaments I have ever had a chance to be apart of and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in going down to Australia. I have also helped a ton of friends get set up with going down there and I know all of them have had the times of their lives.
You took some time off from hockey to get married and what can you say about your better half?
I didn't actually take any time off playing hockey. I just took some time off playing overseas. The year we got married I had lined up a contract to play in Belgium but we thought it would be too hard to do wedding planning and look at venues from overseas. I stayed mostly local and played out of Las Vegas in the MWHL. My wife is actually quite the hockey player. She usually plays in pick up games and local leagues with guys and makes some of them look silly. We met on the ice, got engaged on the ice, and got married on the ice. Sorry, that last part isn't true and actually we got married sort of close to the beach, but we did have a ceremonial puck drop (where other couples pour sand, light candles, or do that weird knot tying thing). We are usually on the ice together 5 to 6 days a week and I don't imagine that will change much once we have kids. I think it's worked out pretty well for us because most married couples can't really take their anger out on each other. We get to at least go out on the ice and throw our bodies around - well, she does at least.
You played in Sweden for 3rd division club Stomstad Lions and then played in South Africa. While in South Africa you started a program called Hoockey4All. Why did you start this program and who does it benefit?
The year after Australia (2012/13) my wife and I had planned to get married, so we stayed local in the USA and I played in Las Vegas in the Mountain West Hockey League (MWHL), a semi pro league, that spanned across California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Colorado.
The following year (2013/14) it was the first time my wife and I got to travel together and play hockey. We played in Sweden and got to do a lot of traveling throughout Scandinavia and back to the Czech Republic. The season in Strömstad went really well and we moved up to the next division for playoffs. Swedish people are so nice and the country is so beautiful (you just have to like to like the cold and white scenery).
At this point I realized that I had now played hockey on 4 continents and that I should try for my 5th. I was in touch with the team captain for the Cape Town Penguins a few years ago, and once our season in Sweden was coming to an end, I made contact with him again to see if we could make it down to South Africa. South Africa definitely has the best hockey in Africa and I was super excited to get down there. We met some great friends down in Cape Town and go to do some pretty cool things besides hockey, like great white shark diving, a typical African safari and a hike to the top of Table Top Mountain. We spent the season in Cape Town, about 6 months, and got to play most of the WPIHL season.
While down in South Africa we saw quite a bit of poverty throughout the Townships. We thought about how we could help some of these people, and the only real thing we knew a lot about was hockey and ice skating. Hockey4all came around by giving everyone the opportunity to skate or play hockey. We ran our inaugural event in Cape Town where we took a group of kids from an orphanage that had been directly effected by AIDS out ice skating. A lot of these kids came from the poorest areas and many of them had never seen an ice rink or been on ice before. It was so amazing being able to help these kids and give them an opportunity to try something different, even if it was just a for a day. Afterwards the ladies who worked there said it was probably the best time a lot of the kids had ever had and they wrote an amazing testimonial for us.
After South Africa you played in Spain for CH Majadahonda this was at a time that the people of Catalonia were voting for Independence from Spain. What was the hockey like and what was mood like towards Independence from. Spain?
Hockey was pretty good in Spain, actually. A lot of the national team players play in their National League and their national team plays in Div. 2A Worlds. Each team can have up to 5 import players and these players are usually from other hockey nations (Sweden, USA, Canada, Czech, etc.) and they raise the level of play quite a bit. I played in Madrid and lived in the heart of the city. It was the first time I've ever really lived in a downtown-type district so it was different and quite fun. Since I lived and played out of Madrid they didn't really support the Catalonia independence. It was kind of the same way most Americans see Texas and how a lot of Texans always talk about being an independent sovereign nation - I don't think it'll ever happen, but people are always talking about it. I spent some time playing in Barcelona and I got to see first hand how different the Catalonia's are - from their language dialects, to what they eat, to their own Catalonia flag, and much more. I think it's important (wherever you are in the world) to value your cultures and understand what makes you and your country/region different.
Last month you played in the Cope Invnada 2015 3x3 Tournament in Chile with the Falkland Islands. How did you get hooked up with Falkland Islands?
Going to Chile and South America was my last continent and I would become the youngest person to ever have played on 6 continents. The tournament in Chile ran about 5 days long and I planned to visit for about 2 weeks. I had actually known about the cup before and was trying to get set up with a team down there. The local team actually told me that they were good and didn't need me to play for their team (they are probably regretting that now - just kidding guys!) so I had to ask the other teams that were competing if I could play for any of them. I eventually heard from Grant, captain of the Falkland Islands and he said he would gladly have me play. I find myself to be pretty worldly and I actually had no idea who or what the Falkland Islands were. I would later find out that they have become the smallest nation (with just about 3,000 people) to play ice hockey, this was the first time they have ever played ice hockey, we went undefeated, and I had played hockey on all the continents - it was a week full of records! The town of Punta Arenas (where the cup was hosted), was fairly small, and there wasn't much to do except go out and play hockey - sounds perfect eh? When I was trying to figure out where to go in South America, it was between Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but I was so glad that I decided to go to Chile. I met so many great people there, got to play some fun hockey and win the cup! I also got the chance to do a bit of coaching and helping the local kids get into hockey. This also led to another hockey4all launch and I am currently in the process of trying to get gear sent down for the kids in Chile to help promote the sport and get kids into playing the sport.
You also work for Greenrope business markting software how have they supported you threw out your journey around the world?
My team at GreenRope have been amazing. I think since most of them travel, they understand the importance of traveling and experiencing new cultures. At GreenRope I am the Creative Director, so I am in charge of making sure all of our marketing and branding designs are top-notch, I run our website, I do Creative work for clients, help develop and maintain our UI/UX, and do quite a bit more - a man of many hats you may say. I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home, which allows me to work as I travel and play hockey. It's also good for business and branding in meeting new people everywhere I go and spreading our business name around the world. I can talk about my work, what our company does, and how it might be able to work for some of the people I meet along the way. We also have clients and users all around the world, and so far I have been able to meet up with a lot of users anytime I am in any country where we might have users. Besides the hockey and traveling I do my work, go to conferences and try to network as best as I can.
You have played with many players and teams who in you mind is the best player and team that you played with?
I think the best player I have played with in terms of skill level would be CJ Ruhwedel since he has spent the most time in the NHL. I have played with some other players that are really notable as well, guys like Thatcher Demko (drafted to Vancouver), Zach Pochiro (drafted to St. Louis), Philip Sandberg (Allsvenskan/SuperElit), and Jon Blum (Minnesota). Every team had so many good times, so I can't really pick out one team that was the best to play on or most fun. Every team I have played on I have made some amazing friends that I am still in contact with today. As cheesy as it is, every team and every player I have had the chance to play with has been the best.
Of all your travels what was the weirdest thing you saw on the ice or off it?
Oh man! Is there a character limit on this article? I've played hockey for 21 years now, and I have seen it all I think. One of the worst things I've seen is a guy getting a slap shot right up into the mouth - I think after-wards they said he lost something like 20 of his 32 teeth, plus he had to get 4 or 5 reconstructive surgeries. In South Africa I had to help push a Zamboni off the ice that broke down during an Allstar game. Once during a practice, I took a slap shot, missed the net, and the puck went through the boards - not hit the boards, but literally went through the boards like you would see in a cartoon with a perfect little puck sized hole. While playing in Barcelona in the Spainish National league, someone flipped up the puck, it hit the roof, and about 10-12 pieces of the roof fell down which stopped the game for a good 45 minutes (you'd think they'd pay Messi a little less and take better care of their ice rink...yeah right!). Most recently in Chile, two corners of the rink were missing ice, so if you would wrap the puck around the boards sometimes the puck would disappear into a hole/missing section of ice, and they'd have to halt play. One of the craziest things I've seen off the ice was during U18 hockey when a teammate was upset after a bad loss, he came into the locker room, threw his jersey at the wall across the room (about 20 feet), and somehow it perfectly opened up and landed on his hanger with his name displaying (like you would see your jersey hanging up before a game). I had a coach once that was pissed at our players between periods, he came into the locker room and threw a yellow gatorade bottle at one of our guys, it exploded and covered him in yellow Gatorade - the other team and our fans were super confused as to who the guy in the yellow jersey was during the 3rd period. Here in San Diego I once drove by a Zamboni on the road that was headed from one of our ice rinks to the other one down the road a bit. Once during a practice I took a shot and the puck hit the post (typical of one of my shots) and it broke into 3 parts - I still have the puck in storage somewhere for my trophy case one day. During a Halloween skate once, my buddy carved a helmet out of a pumpkin and wore that instead of an actual bucket. I was actually at a skate a few weeks ago and a guy (no joke) skated right out of his cup - apparently it fell out or something ripped, but there was just a cup sitting there are at center ice. In one of our MWHL games when I played with the Skates we were hosting our rivals from Aspen - one of our fans was tired of our visitors, went behind their bench, and dunked nachos all over one of their players (another player that went from having a white to yellow jersey). One of our games in Idaho once was getting so out of control that the local police department was called in to make sure we could get undressed and to our team bus safely. Me and 3 teammates had to carpool out to Vegas once from San Diego (about 4.5 hours), and we had to fit 4 hockey bags, 8 sticks and 4 players into a Ford Focus - I think people thought we were clowns on the way to the circus. In Australia we did a hockey demo once on an ice rink built right on a beach in New South Whales - probably one of the few times anyone has played ice hockey on a beach before. While playing in the Czech, a ref made a bad call once, I looked up to see an entire section of the crowd mooning the ref - it wasn't uncommon to also throw paper airplanes out on the ice. Our team photographer in New Zealand once dressed up like a storm trooper and was taking pictures of us - that was a weird sight. These are just a few, and I'm sure I've forgot about some, but you get the gist.
You have now played on all the continents, so what is next for you?
Keep playing hockey! Call me crazy, but I am working on figuring out a way to play hockey on Antarctica. At the moment, I'm also trying to figure out where I will end up next season and where we will be playing hockey next.
After you are done playing hockey what do you think you will be doing coaching, player agent or something different?
I already do quite a bit in the hockey world, and although it's not something I make a living from, I really enjoy coaching, helping guys find places to play overseas, our NPO (hockey4all), and anything that has to do with hockey. I also don't think I will ever truly be done playing hockey. I'll be that 78 year old out there on the ice head down, digging in hard, and not really going anywhere. I am positive I will be around hockey until the day I die.
What advice would give anyone that would like to play ice hockey on all continents?
I think this applies not just for people wanting to travel and play, but for everyone: just set your goals, figure out what you want to do and make it happen - it's that easy. If you can dream it you can live it. For me the last few years it has been all about playing hockey and traveling. I know that pro hockey is pretty much over for me, but if I can keep traveling, helping people get overseas or playing where they want, coaching, and just being around hockey - I will be a happy a man.
Thanks! If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Skype RyanBahl.
Hockey has taken hold at the only ice rink in Central America thanks to the dedication of a transplanted Canadian
WHEN BRUCE CALLOW FOUND
out that a local mall was being built in his adopted country of Costa Rica, he didn’t think much of it. But when he discovered plans to build a synthetic skating surface in the center of the food court, it sparked dreams of introducing hockey into this tropical nation. Callow had first travelled to Costa Rica in the summer of 1988 as a political science student and moved there full time in 1992 after working with NGO projects that supported development in Central America. In 1996, when he found out about the synthetic rink, he proposed a hockey program to the mall administration, and they
hired him on the spot. Later that year, he started teaching hockey classes at the Castillo Country Club, which has a real ice rink, after pitching a similar proposal. “It was a pleasure rink that didn’t have hockey boards,” Callow said. “But it was a place to ice skate, so we enjoyed it despite the limitations.” Callow had played hockey
back home in Calgary since he was seven and missed it dearly. Roller hockey was already fairly popular in Costa Rica, but he felt he could get something going on the ice, and he wanted his sons to grow up playing the game.
The Castillo Country Club, built in 1974, was and still is the only actual ice rink in all of Central America. With basic facilities and a dream to expand, however, Callow hoped Costa Ricans would take an interest in hockey. Despite the program’s humble beginnings and not having much equipment, Callow established a small but
dedicated group of players in his first year. “Some had skated a bit on the rink and others were complete beginners,” he said. “Costa Ricans are good at soccer, so switching to hockey isn’t very hard for them.” With that, the El Castillo Knights were born. And 20 years later, they’re still going strong. With help from the NHL Players’ Association’s Goals and Dreams initiative, Callow
has gotten gear for his players and even received a hockey net from Stephen Harper after Canada’s prime minster paid a visit to Costa Rica in 2011. Support has come from lesser lights, too, including Chris Maltese, a hockey coach in California who found the program on the web and donated a batch of composite sticks to help out. Thanks to the support, Knights players have taken part in hockey
schools in Canada, played a tournament in Mexico and have had guest coaches come from as far away as Sweden. David Vargas is one of those players. Five years ago, he saw the Knights playing at the rink and casually asked Callow if he could join. “Right away Bruce said, ‘For sure you can, welcome to the group,’ ” Vargas said. “After a year and a half with the team, Bruce got me a scholarship to an ice hockey camp in Penticton, British Columbia.” He was only a beginner, but Vargas kept practising and has now been with the team as a player for four years and nearly two as a coach alongside Callow, now 50, and another Canadian, Serge Salvador. As a “veteran” with the team, Vargas enjoys teaching other Costa Ricans who are complete beginners like he was. He hopes that in the future, the Knights will have the opportunity to play in international tournaments and receive funding to create other teams in the country to have more competitors domestically. And he just might get his wish, as the program continues to grow. Last year the rink at the country club was expanded (though it’s still not quite regulation-sized), and there are plans in the works to grow an old-timers program. Maltese is bringing his men’s league team down from California later this year for a game against the Knights, and Callow hopes to raise funds to play tournaments in Quebec and the Falkland Islands. Long-term, the program’s biggest goals are to get affiliated with the Costa Rican Olympic Committee and the IIHF. With thousands of Canadians living in this tropical paradise, taking advantage of the spectacular weather and hospitality, Callow is happy to have brought a little Canada for Costa Ricans to enjoy too.
Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had invited winger Yushiroh Hirano to prospect camp, while defenseman Ryo Hashimoto was set to attend Columbus Blue Jackets camp. But it’s unlikely either has as good a chance as Nana Fujimoto of making it to the pro level.
Fujimoto, the goaltender for Japan’s national women’s hockey team, is set to attend the NWHL’s upcoming International Team Camp that will take place from July 23 to July 27 in Wilmington and Malboro, Mass. The camp, which will feature free agents from several European countries and a select group of invitees, will give the international talents a chance to make the burgeoning women’s professional league. When it comes to goaltending, Fujimoto has already shown she may have a leg up on her competition.
As the goaltender for Team Japan, Fujimoto competed for her country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and stole the show at the 2015 Women’s World Championships, being named goaltender of the tournament.
After helping Japan qualify for the eight-team tournament, Fujimoto went 1-1-0-1 in round robin play and posted two consecutive victories over Germany in the relegation round. Upon completion of the tournament, Fujimoto, with a 1.52 goals-against average, .938 save percentage, eight goals against and one shutout, was named the tournament’s top goaltender.
“If I am able to develop my skills playing in the NWHL, I believe that I could be a role model for young hockey players in Japan,” Fujimoto said in a release from the NWHL. “This league will provide a great opportunity to all women hockey players.”
The 26-year-old netminder currently plays club hockey for Vortex Sapporo.
The International Camp includes participation in the Beantown Classic tournament and will showcase three NWHL free agent clubs playing within the AAA Division of the tournament. Free agency for the NWHL wraps up on Aug. 17 and rosters will be finalized soon thereafter.
According to NWHL commissioner and New York Riveters GM Dani Rylan, the league is expected to release all salary information for the paid women’s professional league after the free agency period ends. The NWHL website, NWHL.co, will reportedly host salary data in a CapGeek-type format.
Kye Hoon Park used to pick a lot of fights as a kid growing up in Gyeongsang, South Korea.
One of his elementary school teachers noticed the trend and thought he might have an outlet for Park’s aggression.
“If you’re going to get in fights, then just play hockey,” Park said his teacher told him.
A decade or so later, Park, a goaltender, would find himself minding the net on the Dallas Stars’ practice rink in Frisco as an invitee to the organization’s development camp.
Park is one of three South Korean players to take part in this week’s prospect camp as part of an agreement between Stars general manager Jim Nill and the new director of the Korean National Hockey Federation and head coach of the Korean national team, Jim Paek.
Paek, the first Korean-born player to play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, gave Nill a call in November looking to place a few of his top young players in NHL development camps as a part of an effort to form a Korean national team for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“It’s very important for Korea to be in the Olympics because it’s not a big deal in Korea,” forward Jinhui Ahn said. “For Korea to have hockey in the Olympics is kind of a big deal to raise awareness.”
Nill was happy to oblige.
Nill and Paek worked together in the Detroit Red Wings organization when Paek was the assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate.
“They’re great kids, great people off the ice,” Nill said. “On the ice, they’ve been as good as anyone else and played really well.”
Alongside Park, a student-athlete for Korea University, are two teammates from Anyang Halla in the nine-team Asia League, Ahn and defenseman Wonjun Kim, who are slated as top prospects to make the 2018 national roster should Korea manage to make a squad and qualify.
The gap in skill is large between hockey in Korea and national teams from powerhouse countries such as Canada, America and Russia, but the thought of competing against the world’s best didn’t intimidate any of the developing hockey talents.
“Step by step we should go up,” Kim said. “We’re trying hard and I think we are getting better every day. I believe someday, we can play in the top division league. That is my hope.”
Standing at 5-foot-11 and 179 pounds, Kim said the most difficult adjustment is accounting for the size and strength of North American players. Hailing from a country that excels in speed skating, he focuses on speed and finesse to maneuver around the bulkier NHL prospects.
The experience in the short week the Dallas Stars had with the international players has been eye-opening to the growth and development of the sport of hockey around the world.
“I think on the flip side, for our prospects, they get to meet some other people and see a little culture change and it’s good for everybody,” Nill said.
“It’s a worldwide game now,” he said.
South Korean players at Stars’ development camp
F Jinhui Ahn (5-11, 185) Anyang Halla. Recorded 30 points in 39 games played last season.
D Wonjun Kim (5-11, 179) Anyang Halla. Recorded 17 points in 48 games last season. Also played four seasons of junior hockey in Finland with Ilves and Jokerit.
G Kye Hoon Park (6-1, 181) Korea University. Born Feb. 9, 1992, Park was youngest player on Korean national team in the 2014 Euro Challenge Cup.
On Thursday, they were newly crowned hockey victors, securing their first win in dominating fashion. On Sunday, they became hockey champions.
The Copa Invernada in Chile proved to be the opening event for the Falkland Islands ice hockey team, the smallest hockey nation on record. A brand new team with very resources and players to choose from, the Islands made their debut on the ice this past week, with an 8-2 win over Santiago Yetis on Thursday setting the tone. The team finished that up with 14-3 and 6-3 victories over the next two days, earning them a spot in the finals of the four team tournament.
On Sunday, the Falkland Islands met with the Rio Grande Dragones from Argentina for the second straight day. For the Islands, the team had won by three goals the day before, and with 28 goals in the first three games, it looked rather promising heading into the winner-takes-all event. The team would once again allow three goals to their 3-on-3 rivals at the other end of the rink, but their nine goals was what it would take to grab the 9-3 victory and the tournament championship.
The expectation is that the Falkland Islands will return to Chile for one more chance at playing again on the ice this year, with no ice available in their own country. Falkland Islands is one of the 14 British Overseas Territories, a group of nations with very little hockey experience so far. Another member of the group, Cayman Islands, has played ice hockey previously, competing in the 2005 World Pond Hockey Championships in Canada. Gibraltar also has a rink, unlike the previous two countries, but has had no ice hockey action to date.
Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice.
over the years Ice Hockey as grown and is still growing all over the world. On this website you find Video Hi-lites of International Games, Ice hockey News, National Team Records, All Time Results, Scores, Schedule to upcoming games and all International Tournaments from around the world.
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