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Five things to know about the 2015 women's world hockey championship March 28 to April 4 in Malmo, Sweden.
• The United States and Canada have met in the final of all 15 world championships to date. Canada has won 10. The Americans took five of the last seven and are the defending champions.
• A two-referee system will be implemented at the women's world championship for the first time in Malmo.
• Canadian goaltender Genevieve Lacasse and defenceman Tara Watchorn are Boston Blades teammates of five American players including captain Meghan Duggan. They won this year's Clarkson Cup, which is the Canadian Women's Hockey League championship. Canadian goaltenders Emerance Maschmeyer (Harvard), Ann-Renee Desbiens (Wisconsin) and defenceman Brigette Lacquette (Minnesota-Duluth) each have a college teammate on the U.S. roster.
• Goaltenders Florence Schelling (Switzerland) and Jennifer Harss (Germany) play in men's pro leagues in their respective countries. Schelling was named top goaltender in the women's Olympic tournament. Finland's star goaltender and workhorse Noora Raty will not play at the world championship because of an injury.
• Malmo was the host city of the 2014 world junior men's hockey championship, in which Canada finished fourth. Malmo is linked by a 12-kilometre bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Marie-Philip Poulin has been named captain of the Canadian women's hockey team for the world championship starting Saturday.
SUNY Geneseo hockey star Tyler Brickly has been selected by the South Korean national ice hockey team to attend a three-week training program in Seoul to prepare for next month's IIHF World Challenge Championship in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Brickler led Geneseo (12-10-4) in scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists. His 33 points are tied for 16th nationally among Division III players. He's also the senior who organized a Down Syndrome Awareness Night at Geneseo last month.
South Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and the men's hockey team will make its first ever appearance. Brickler is hoping to stick with the national team and play in those Olympics.
"I'm so excited for this opportunity," he said. "I want to experience first-hand what it takes to represent South Korea."
Brickler's mother, Susan, was born in Seoul and will making the trip with him.
The Danish ice hockey team can rejoice that they have the opportunity to use the Danish NHL players for the Olympic qualifiers in September 2016.
It has previously been a problem since the qualification collided with NHL players start to the season, but now it was decided to move the qualification to the delight of Danish Ice Hockey Union President, Henrik Bach Nielsen. "It has been a long process, but it is gratifying that it now has come to be. It has not been without a struggle to get the proposal through, "says Henrik Bach Nielsen in a message on Ice Hockey National team Facebook page.
"The biggest countries are directly qualified and have obviously not focus on other countries' qualification rules," he added.
Denmark has now Frans Nielsen, Mikkel Bødker, Jannik Hansen, Lars Eller and Frederik Andersen, who play in the NHL. So it is significant reinforcements can be added to the national team when they have to try to qualify for the Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang in South Korea.
There are 12 countries represented in ice hockey at the Winter Olympics 2018. These are the eight best ranked in the world after the World Championships in the Czech Republic in May, the host country South Korea and the three winners from the three Olympic qualification pools.
Last summer, the Korean ice hockey community was thrilled by the news that two-time Stanley Cup champion Jim Paek was going to coach the national team that will compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
Korea has been impressive at recent Winter Olympics ― with its short-track speed skaters dominating the ice, and figure skating star Kim Yu-na fascinating fans around the world ― but the same could not be said for ice hockey, arguably the spotlight event of the Olympics, because Korea has never qualified.
For hockey fans, players and community insiders here, a dream came true when the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in September granted the Korea's men's and women's teams automatic entry into the PyeongChang Games. The announcement also fulfilled Paek's dream of being part of the Korean national hockey team at the Olympics.
"I believe we have already succeeded by being in the Olympics," Paek said during an interview with The Korea Times. "In my eyes, that's already a success to help make Korea a hockey nation."
Paek probably had been the most renowned Korean in the U.S. before the Youtube sensation Psy appeared. The 48-year-old former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was the first Korean player in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the first Asian to lift the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992. He played in the NHL until 1995, and ended his playing career in 2003.
He became an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings' affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan for nine years before taking the Korean job in August.
"The Olympics also is an opportunity to develop and grow hockey in Korea for 10, 20 and 30 years after the Olympics, which is fantastic."
The country's hockey situation is quite similar to where it was in football before the 2002 World Cup. After appointing Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, Korea advanced to the semifinals at the event held on its home soil and football's popularity soared.
"If you have some success, the Korean people love that and they want to try it. Look at the female golfers and how many women golfers are there. Look at the short-track speed skaters ― they won gold medals in the Olympics and now how many kids are skating," he said. "If hockey can get to that level, where we can have success in Korean people's eyes, It's going to be amazing."
Despite Paek's dream to make Korea a hockey nation, the PyeongChang organizers have decided to demolish the Olympic ice hockey arena after the Games out of concern that it may have no use after the Olympics.
"It's a shame that we cannot utilize the arena after the Olympics," Paek said. "I hope they can find a way."
Though Paek left Korea when he was 12 months old and spent his most successful time in the U.S., he said he always had pride in being Korean, and told his late father, "Wouldn't it be great to be part of the Korean national team and the Olympics?"
He and some Canadian players visited Korea and held hockey clinics in the 1980s.
"Father and son always wanted to try to help develop (Korean hockey), so we started Jim Paek Hockey in Korea," Paek said. "So we've always been involved and wanted to be part of the Korean national team and the Olympics. And here we are.
But it's unfortunate that ... I'm sure that my father is watching over me up there, smiling and blessing."
Shouldering his father's will, he took the post to make Korean hockey competitive, or at least not be embarrassed on the Olympic stage. However, a daunting task awaits him.
Currently, Korean the men's ice hockey team is No. 23 in the IIHF rankings. In the most recent IIHF World Championships in April, the Koreans made a dismal showing and were relegated to Division I Group B.
That's why Paek was cautious in talking about his goals at the Olympics. When asked if he expects a favorable result down the road, he said "I expect them to be competitive in every game.
"You can't control winning or losing. And I always keep saying, let's get better every day. Every time we step on the ice, we get better and I ask myself and the players, 'Did you get better today?'" Paek said.
And his instruction seems to be working so far. In the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament in November, the national team's first international outing after Paek took the helm, the Koreans finished second, after beating Poland and Italy.
"They (national players) are fantastic. I absolutely love my players. They are eager to learn, they work hard, they have passion to get better and they are building confidence in themselves. I saw that during the tournament."
During the past six months, it seems that Paek has become close to his birth country and its players. At his inaugural press conference, he said his "Konglish" ― which usually refers to Korean's improper use of English words, but the coach used it to describe his clumsy command of Korean ― was poor, but now he jokes with officials with the Korean Ice Hockey Association in Korean.
"When I was young, I was a very shy person and I'm still working on not locking myself in a shell," Paek said. In order to do so, he took an online public speaking course. Aside from his thorough preparation to direct players ― which includes booklets, references and visual aids he made ― he said the course also helped him present more effectively what he wants from the players.
Whether he took his course thoroughly will be tested in April, when the Koreans participate at the IIHF World Championships for Division I Group B in the Netherlands.
The IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia will take place in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, this year. The schedule of the five-team tournament is now online.
The top tier of the competition aimed at Asian countries not participating in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program or in the lowest tier will be staged in the metropolis of the island of Taiwan from 14 to 19 March 2015.
Defending champion Chinese Taipei will host the United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Thailand and Macau, promoted from Division I last year, in Taipei City’s Annex Ice Rink.
Macau will play Mongolia in the early game of the opening day while the United Arab Emirates will face Thailand. Host Chinese Taipei enters the competition on the second day with its game against Macau. The tournament will end on 19 March with Chinese Taipei, the winner of 2013 and 2014, playing against the United Arab Emirates, the winner from 2012.
The 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia Division I will take place from 18 to 25 April in Kuwait City. Host Kuwait will play against Kyrgyzstan, Singapore and India in Group A, Malaysia, Qatar and Oman will play in Group B. For Qatar and Oman it will be the first participation in an IIHF-sanctioned event since becoming members of the International Ice Hockey Federation in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
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.
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