Tomas Tatar scored twice, including the overtime winner, as Team Europe stunned Sweden with a 3-2 victory in the semifinal at the World Cup of Hockey on Sunday.
Tatar kicked the puck to his skate and put a shot past a sprawlingHenrik Lundqvistat 3:43 of the extra period. It was ruled a good goal after a quick video review, earning Europe a berth in the best-of-three final against Canada beginning on Tuesday.
It was not the first time Team Europe has stunned an opponent at the best-on-best tournament. The team, made up of players from eight separate countries, opened the World Cup of Hockey with a surprising 3-0 win over the Americans.
Karlsson’s point shot, which appeared to redirect off of European defencemanRoman Josi, beat a screened Halak with 4:32 remaining in the third to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime.
Tatar gave Europe its first lead of the afternoon 12 seconds into the third period, picking up his own rebound, which Lundqvist mishandled, and beating the New York Rangers goaltender for his first of the tournament.
Thomas Vanek nearly made it 3-1 midway through the third after his shot got past Lundqvist, but Anton Stralman was there to clear the puck before it crossed the goal line.
The two teams were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Backstrom opened the scoring, putting home the rebound off of Stralman’s shot for his second of the tournament at 2:31 of the second.
Team Europe challenged thatPatric Hornqvistwas interfering with Halak prior to the puck going in, but after a review, it was ruled a good goal.
Gaborik tied it 1-1 with 3:33 remaining in the second, redirecting aChristian Ehrhoff feed between the legs of Lundqvist for his second goal of the tournament.
Hornqvist had an excellent chance to open the scoring 15 seconds in, but was denied by the left toe of Halak.
Anze Kopitarhad the best chance of the opening period for Europe. With 49 seconds remaining, Kopitar’sshot hit Swedish defencemanVictor Hedmanand nearly got under the arm of Lundqvist, who got just enough of the shot to make the save.
We had the great pleasure of interviewing Karim Kerbouche who had a major impact in starting the Algerian Ice Hockey Association.
You are widely considered starting the Algeria Ice Hockey Association can you tell us a little more about yourself?
I’m born in London, UK, with Algerian background. I started playing ice hockey in London at around aged 13, playing junior and then senior in the English national league. I’ve also studied sports management in college.
What is the future of ice hockey in Algeria?
Progress is slow unfortunately, it’s not easy to introduce a new sport to Algeria, the problem is mainly with the government, they’re slightly behind the times when it comes to supporting new sports. We do however have quite a lot of public support, almost 100,000 likes on our facebook page, and with the future projects with Morocco and Tunisia I feel Algerian hockey has a bright future.
There is no ice rinks in Algeria, are there any future plans in build one?
There is currently one ice rink in Algeria which opened this year, it’s small, I believe 300 meters squared, in Algeria’s 2nd city Oran. There is talk of full size rinks but nothing concrete, with the growing wealth in Algeria and people seeking more leisure activities I very much expect to see a full size ice rink in the next couple of years.
If and when there is an ice rink in the country do you think a league can be form?
There will be a league, after discussion with Morocco and Tunisia, and advice from the IIHF, the aim will be to have a cross country North African league, I feel it’s very important for us to develop both our senior and junior hockey together, I think it’s the only way you’ll see any of us compete in a world championship one day.
Ice hockey is growing in Africa countries like Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt have started to play the game and South Africa have been playing for a long time is there an African Cup in the future?
I think so, we all want it, we even discussed it a couple of weeks ago, the problem has always been the funding, it’s very expensive for us and Morocco and Tunisia to get to South Africa, ideally we’d need a big sponsor or IIHF assistance. Expect to see a North African ‘Maghreb cup’ in the near future though.
Can you please tell us what is the Maghreb Cup?
The Maghreb Cup will be a tournament involving the three North African countries of theMaghreb region, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. We hope to have the first one in 2015.
Algeria has a very small synthetic ice rinks that are suitable for children to learn the basics. Have you or anyone else started children hockey programs in the country?
We haven’t yet and that’s something that really disappoints me. For me this is biggest priority now.
Does the Algeria Ice Hockey Association have plans to become IIHF member in the near future?
Definitely, hopefully we can apply in 2015
Outside from yourself who are the movers and shakers of Algerian ice hockey?
Our captainHarond Litim, well established in French hockey, was a big hit on a French comedian, remi gaillard, prank video. He has his finger in all sorts of pies, MMA, water sports, rap videos. He also puts a lot of work into Algerian hockey. We have Rouen junior elite coachNordine Mahdidi, he played with us initially and will now be working on coaching with us.
Many Algerian players play aboard, what is the level of play for Algerian players and who would you say is the best player today?
We have some very good players, mostly in France.Benchabanewho plays in ligue Magnus is probably the top player,Chouguiwho just signed for asniere is a very good player, our captain Litim of course, and two former ligue Magnus playersFahas andSadani. There’s a few young guys playing junior in France and Canada who we hope to come through.
Algerian National Team have not played for sometime now are there and plans to play any games in 2014-15?
There will be games in 2015, I’m pretty confident the North African tournament will happen, I’d like to add a couple more fixtures on top as well.
You scored the first ever goal for the Algerian national team during the 2008 Arab Cup against Morocco, what was the feeling like?
It was a dream come true for me, firstly to play for Algeria then to actually score, it was amazing, still the highlight in my hockey life.
What is your favorite NHL team?
I don’t follow the NHL much anymore, when I was a kid I always liked Anaheim, now I just like to watch the teams who play a tough physical style.
Who is your favorite player past or present?
When I was younger I liked Paul Kariya, I also liked the enforcers. I follow them more than the skilled guys. These days, I like how Chicago guys Kane and Toews play, I like Kadri. It’s good to see an Arab in the NHL, and I guess St. Louis enforcer Reeves.
What is the one thing about hockey that you like the best?
I like the physical side of ice hockey. I’m a big football (soccer) fan but I always felt it was missing the physical side of things. I think hockey has a good mix of skill and toughness.
Thank You for you time and we wish you the best of luck going forward. Thank you very much, we appreciate all the support we can get.
In case you’re wondering,Corey Perrykeeps all his championship rings and gold medals locked in a safety deposit box. It must be a really, really big one. “I don’t travel with them,” Perry deadpanned as Team Canada prepared for its semifinal game against Russia in the World Cup of Hockey. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. We’ll figure something out when I’m done playing.”
Perry has not only a chance to add another bauble to his collection, but he also has an opportunity to join a miniscule group of players when it comes to winning championships. Miniscule, as in one. In all of the history of the game, only Scott Niedermayer has won a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, World Championship, World Junior Championship, Memorial Cup and Canada/World Cup title. Perry can join him if Team Canada can win three more games in the tournament. Perhaps he and Niedermayer, a former teammate with the Anaheim Ducks and a special assignment coach with the Ducks, can compare their hardware when he returns to Anaheim.
Like Niedermayer, winning follows Perry around. And like Niedermayer, Perry has been a huge part of the championship teams on which he’s played. When asked if there are any similarities between the two, Perry’s Anaheim teammateRyan Getzlaf cracked, “Yeah, they skate the same.”
He was joking. Niedermayer is one of the smoothest, most effortless and efficient skaters the game has ever seen. Perry, on the other hand, skates as though he’s on a personal mission to do as much damage to the ice as possible. But the results are undeniable. It all started for Perry in 2005 when he barely made Canada’s WJC team during the NHL lockout and scored seven points to help Canada win the title. Later that season, after scoring 130 points for the London Knights, he added another 38 in 18 playoff games to lead the Knights to the Memorial Cup. Two years later he contributed to the only Stanley Cup he has won in his career. He then won gold medals with Canada both in Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi in 2014 before becoming the 27th member of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and World Championship) when Canada won the world title last spring.
Perry is well aware that he’s on the cusp of history. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t given it a lot of thought. “Obviously, I’ve heard about it and I kind of know what’s at stake,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s just a matter of going out and playing hockey. I don’t worry about it. You don’t know if it could ever happen again, but I just go out and let the chips fall. It would be a tremendous honor for sure and it speaks volumes of the teams that I played for and guys I played with.”
It also speaks volumes of his contribution to those teams. Playing on what is essentially the third line on the left side ofJonathan ToewsandLogan Couture, Perry has a goal in the tournament, mostly because he hasn’t been getting many looks. He has just six shots in the tournament, while Toews has 10 and leads Canada in scoring with three goals and an assist. The best thing about this for Perry is that he was not initially part of the group that was named to play in the World Cup and was added to the team when Jeff Carter had to pull out with an injury. But Hockey Canada knows what Perry is all about and appreciates how he has always answered the call for his country, so it was a pretty easy decision for both sides.
“The times I went (to the World Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2016), the season kind of ended abruptly and I wasn’t planning on sitting back and relaxing for another month or so,” Perry said. “It’s a great time and anytime you get a call, if you can go, I go and I want to be a part of that team.”
What Perry is on the cusp of accomplishing is something rather special.Sidney Crosby, who has won everything but a Memorial Cup, lost to Perry’s Knights in the final in 2005. Wayne Gretzky hasn’t done it. Nor has Mario Lemieux, nor Team Canada teammates Toews orPatrice Bergeron. They’ve all come close, but none of them has a safety deposit box with quite as much variety as Perry.
“It’s important to have winners, period,” said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. “If you look at our group, we have a lot of determined people that have been in a lot of good situations and have learned how to win and expect to win. And in the big moments in your life, the best of the best deliver and they think they’re going to deliver. They don’t know why, but in their heart and in their mind they know they’re going to do it.”
Canada exploded for three third-period goals, pushing Russia aside for a spot in the World Cup of Hockey final with a 5-3 victory on Saturday night.
Sergei Bobrovsky held the Canadians in check over the first 40 minutes, but shots byBrad Marchand, Corey Perryand John Tavares eluded his grasp over a 10-minute span in the third.
Marchand also scored the game-tying goal late in the second after Canada fell behind 2-1.Sidney Crosbyset up a pair and scored one himself.
Carey Pricemade 31 saves for Canada, which will face either Europe or Sweden in a best-of-three final that begins Tuesday night.
Dominant in the preliminary round, the Canadians were far and away the better team again on Saturday and remain the tournament’s heavy favourites. They outshot Russia 47-34, sustaining control of the puck for long, heavy stints in the offensive zone. Only Bobrovsky kept it close for the first two periods.
Crosby did it all to open the scoring for Canada less than 10 minutes into the opening frame.
Aggressively attacking Russia’s defence on the forecheck, the Canadian captain stripped Dmitry Kulikov of the puck just feet from the crease. A couple dekes later and Crosby stuffed a backhand past an over-committed Bobrovsky.
If appearing a touch tight early, Canada mostly controlled a penalty-filled first. The Canadians outshot Russia 17-7, won 18-of-25 draws and completely stifled a Russian power play that failed to score at the World Cup (0 for 11).
Russia managed only one shot on a pair of power plays, with the Canadians actually coming up with the best opportunities shorthanded, including a pair with Brent Burns in the box for tripping.
Jonathan Toews picked Evgeni Malkin and then found a trailing Logan Couture, his shot stopped by Bobrovsky. Later, it wasRyan GetzlaflocatingShea Weber, his blast also turned aside by the 28-year-oldColumbus Blue Jacketsgoaltender.
The Canadian power play was held off the board in its first three opportunities, their best chance coming on a Steven Stamkos one-time blast late in the first.
Bobrovsky proved a difference-maker early and often. He stopped 16 of 17 shots in the first frame, continuing his stifling efforts into the second.
Two chances for Perry were turned down as Canada poured on the pressure.
Russia’s first shot of the second period didn’t come until nearly nine minutes had ticked by, but Nikita Kucherov made it count. The Tampa Bay Lightning winger grabbed hold of a clearing attempt by defencemanNikita Zaitsev and raced in for a two-on-one rush withVladislav Namestnikov. He fired a shot past Price’s blocker to even the score at 1-1.
Shots at that point were 24-8 in favour of Canada.
Theatrics from the Russian goaltender continued as the home side kept attacking, each scoring attempt snuffed out. Then, with just under four minutes left in the period, Russia went ahead asEvgeny Kuznetsovbatted a shot past Price. He flapped his arms in the air to celebrate the Russian lead and a rare Canadian deficit.
Canada faced no real resistance in rolling through the preliminary round. They trailed once in three games for a mere 89 seconds.
The tension was short-lived. Marchand pulled his team back to even just 1:12 after the Kuznetsov marker. Again it was Crosby keying the action. He grabbed a loose a puck in the right face-off circle and slung a pass through skates and sticks to Marchand cross-ice, his shot beating Bobrovsky.
An Air Canada Centre crowd filled primarily by fans in red and white erupted.
Denied on a terrific chance moments earlier, Marchand put Canada back in front 3-2 in the second minute of the third period. Crosby dropped a pass to his fellow Nova Scotia native, with Marchand’s weak shot slipping under the glove of Bobrovsky. Given the difficulty of some of his earlier stops it was a soft goal to give up.
It was the third point and second assist of the night for Crosby, who leads all players in World Cup scoring (seven points). Bergeron added his second helper of the evening on the play.
Perry upped the Canada lead to 4-2 just over four minutes later, depositing a rebound on the doorstep of the Russian crease. Tavares added the fifth marker a few minutes after that, withArtemi Panarinscoring a meaningless marker for Russia in the dying seconds of regulation.
Canada has yet to lose in best-on-best action since the preliminary round of the 2010 Olympics, a stretch of more than six years.
Daniel Sedin knows the World Cup of Hockey may be his final chance to represent Sweden at a best-on-best tournament along with twin brother Henrik.
With that in mind, there’s no shortage of motivation for the 35-year-old Vancouver Canucks forwards heading into Sunday’s semifinal meeting with Team Europe.
”We realize as we get older there’s not going to be a lot of these tournaments moving forward,” Daniel Sedin said. ”We don’t know about the (2018) Olympics yet, but we’re enjoying this. We’re having a lot of fun and getting a chance to play in the semifinals, it was tough getting here.
”We’re enjoying every day and we’ll have some fun on Sunday.”
The last time Sweden won gold at a best-on-best tournament was the 2006 Olympics in Turin. Sweden lost to Canada in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Sweden won its round-robin opener at the World Cup 2-1 against Russia on Sunday and blanked Finland 2-0 on Wednesday before falling 4-3 in overtime to Team North America on Wednesday.
The Swedes are hoping to learn from their loss against the Under-23 team moving forward. They were thoroughly outplayed early, quickly going down 2-0 before rallying to force overtime.
”I think we can definitely learn (about) being ready when the puck drops, those first 10 minutes were pretty embarrassing from our part,” said defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. ”The Europeans have some speed in their lineup as well so we have to be ready when the puck drops. We weren’t ready for Team North America, but somehow we managed to a big comeback there.”
After losing the first two pre-tournament games by a combined 11-4 score to the North Americans, Team Europe bounced back to defeat Sweden 6-2 in its final tune up game.
”They surprised us a little bit in the exhibition game, but they won’t surprise us on Sunday,” Sedin said. ”They wait for you to make mistakes, and then they create offence from that. We’ve got to be careful on Sunday. We can’t just go on offence like we did in that pre-tournament game.
”I think our defense was jumping a little bit too much and got too involved in the offense. I think we have to respect their forwards.”
Team Europe, made up of players from eight different countries, stunned the Americans 3-0 in the tournament opener and defeated the Czechs 3-2 in overtime before falling 4-1 to the Canadians on Wednesday.
European captain Anze Kopitar pointed to the second period of the pre-tournament game against Team North America in Montreal as the turning point for the team of players unfamiliar with playing with one another.
”I think the first period in Montreal really opened our eyes and we really showed ourselves how we don’t want to play,” Kopitar said of the second pre-tournament game. ”After that, we kind of realized how we have to play: smart (and) with a lot of patience, there’s no flash to it. We’re playing a boring style of hockey, but it’s turned out to be a pretty successful one so we’re obviously proud in doing that and we’re going to continue doing that.”
The winner of Saturday’s Canada-Russia semifinal will play the winner of Sweden-Europe in a best-of-three final beginning on Tuesday.
The BOCI-Prudential Asset Management 2016 HKAHC Invitational Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament was successfully held over the weekend at Mega Ice, MegaBox. 9 teams from 8 countries/districts joined to battle for the Gold Medal in the Gold Cup, Silver Plate and Bauhinia Divisions.
The Gold Cup Division final game was a repeat from last year, with Mitsubishi Corporation facing against the defending champions Pilipinas. The score was tied at 3:3 at the end of the second period and the game went into overtime. Kazuya Matsumoto of Mitsubishi Corporation scored the deciding goal with only 24 seconds left in the overtime period, making Mitsubishi Corporation the champions of the Gold Cup division. The Chinese Taipei Hockey Academy and UB-Capitals were the champions of the Silver Plate and Bauhinia divisions.
Captain of Mitsubishi, Shodai Noguchi, says “We played against Pilipinas in earlier rounds, and their defense tactics definitely improved since our last match, it was a really tough game. The scores were really tight throughout the game and Pilipinas tied the game in the last two minutes of the game. We gave it all we’ve got in the overtime period and finally won the Gold Medal, the whole team is really excited.” Kazuya Matsumoto, Mitsubishi Corporation player who scored the winning goal, is ecstatic about the results, “I joined this team last year and haven’t scored any goals for the team yet, I’m happy that my first goal for the team was to help win the Gold Medal! This will be a tournament to remember!”
Organized by the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club and with BOCI-Prudential Asset Management as the title sponsor, this year marks the 14th anniversary of the HKAHC Invitational Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament. 9 teams from 8 countries/districts participated in the tournament this year, with the Oman Ice Hockey Team making their debut appearance in this year’s tournament, other participating teams include Mitsubishi Corporation (Japan), HAMA Club (Japan), UAE THEEBS, Chinese Taipei Hockey Academy, Pilipinas (Philippines), UB-Capitals (Mongolia), Macau ISF Sports Federation, and HKAHC Giants (Hong Kong). Philippines recently became a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) this year and Chinese Taipei recently qualified for the 2017 Ice Hockey World Championships.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club, Mr. Thomas Wu, is happy to bring this high level tournament to local fans each year, “The tournament gathers many strong teams in Hong Kong and is a great opportunity for Hong Kong players to gain more game experience. We hope to continue this tradition and build the invitational tournament into an influential sports event in the future.”
The United States wrapped up a disappointing, win less performance at the World Cup of Hockey with a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic on Thursday night.
Previous losses to Team Europe and Canada eliminated the U.S. from contention, and its round-robin finale had no meaning for either team. With an 0-3-0 record and a minus-6 goal differential, the U.S. finished seventh among eight teams, ahead of only Finland.
Joe Pavelski, Justin AbdelkaderandRyan McDonaghscored for the U.S., which did not unravel in a meaningless game like it did in the 2014 Olympic bronze medal game.Ben Bishop allowed four goals on 20 shots in two periods, and Cory Schenider made seven saves in relief.
U.S. players promised they wouldn’t mail it in with nothing to play for. A result of human nature, it felt like an all-star game with a lack of real physicality as everyone wanted to get through without getting injured.
A collection of fans spent stretches of the first period chanting, “Let’s go Kessel!” and “We want Kessel!”Stanley Cup-winningPittsburgh PenguinswingerPhil Kesselwas left off the U.S. team and made light of that on Twitter on Tuesday night after the Americans lost to Canada.
That was a must-win game for the U.S. after opening the tournament with whatPatrick Kane called a “dud” against Europe. General manager Dean Lombardi blamed not being prepared for that game for the U.S. bowing out of the World Cup.
“I don’t think we showed enough respect for the talent on that team,” Lombardi said Thursday morning.
Lombardi said that the 3-0 loss to Europe put the U.S. behind the “proverbial 8-ball” that felt like a boulder. TheLos Angeles KingsGM has seen his team come back from a 3-0 playoff deficit but described the locker room after losing to Europe as tight, and the U.S. was never able to adequately respond.
Getting almost skated out of the rink by Canada wasn’t entirely unexpected, but players acknowledged their recipe to move on was to beat Europe and the Czech Republic. They didn’t do either, and USA Hockey faces plenty of questions about how it will bounce back for the 2018 Olympics.
That’s if NHL players even participate, or the U.S. might have to wait until the next World Cup, which will make it a long four years.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Telegin scored 1:19 apart in the second period and Russia beat Finland 3-0 on Thursday to set up a World Cup of Hockey semifinal against Canada — and knock out Team North America.
“The opportunity is huge,” Russian captainAlex Ovechkinsaid about facing Canada. “They have a pretty good team with solid players. We just have to match it. …
“I play Olympic Games in (Canada) and everybody is going to be crazy. The atmosphere’s going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be a great match to play, to be involved in, to be in the stands and be able to watch.”
Evgeni Malkinscored in the third period for Russia (2-1-0), andSergei Bobrovskymade 21 saves .
“It’s going to be a great, great challenge and we accept it,” Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov said.
Tuukka Raskmade 19 saves for Finland (0-3-3). Finland was winless for the first time in a senior tournament, scoring only one goal in three games.
“We had a good chance to succeed here, but you don’t score, you can’t win,” Finnish coach Lauri Marjamaki said. “We have to keep going and maybe analyze a little bit later. Just now, a little bit disappointing.”
Russian forwardPavel Datsyukmissed the preliminary round finale because of a minor injury.
“A loss for us, but we did well today,” Russian coach Oleg Znarok said.
Russia will face Canada on Saturday night. In the other semifinal, Sweden will play Team Europe on Sunday.
Finland nearly opened the scoring early in the second period whenMikael Granlund beat Bobrovsky glove-side, but rang a shot off the post.
Tarasenko finished off a give-and-go with Ovechkin for his second goal of the tournament at 3:42 of the second period.
Telegin picked up Vadim Shipachev’s feed and powered around Rask for his first of the tournament at 5:01 of the second.
Malkin scored his first of the tournament at 3:39 of the third period.
Tarasenko played on the Russian team that beat Canada to win the 2011 world junior title in Buffalo, New York.
“I think this is one of the greatest rivalries ever: Canada against Russia,” Tarasenko said. “We know how they play because we play in Pittsburgh before. They have a really good team, good players, (the) best players in the world so we need to be good in a couple days.”
O.K., look, I know my name is hard to spell, but get this:
Where I come from in Switzerland, we speak Swiss German, and when I came to America things got pretty tricky with my name. The German i is pronounced like the English e. So I would be at a hotel checking-in or something, and the clerk would ask me to spell my name, and I would get so confused. I would pull out my credit card, look at the letter i and I’d say “eee” just as a reflex.
Come on. Seriously, come on. I have two i’s and four e’s in my last name. It was like some sort of cruel joke or something.
I struggled with it every time I had to sign some paperwork. I’d get asked to spell my name and I’d have to pull out my credit card and double-check.
People would look at me funny and I’d say, “Sorry, I’m Swiss.”
Then they’d be even more confused.
Things are a little different where I come from.
Cobblestone roads, snow-covered roof tops and two massive mountains on either side.
My hometown of Chur is nestled in the shadow of the Swiss Alps.
It’s a small town, and the only thing that could disturb the quiet in my neighborhood was the sound of rubber colliding with wood.
The noise would bounce off the mountains.
In the darkness of winter, I’d practice slap shots for hours on end.
In Switzerland, the winters are long. For three months, we didn’t get any sun in our backyard because of the shade of the mountains — which meant we could make a lot of one thing.
My dad used to get up in the middle of the night and water down the yard with a hose. Because of how difficult it was to import hockey equipment into the country, almost everything was homemade. Luckily, my dad was a steelworker.
He built little boards to go around the makeshift rink, and he even made a regulation-size goal out of some iron piping. (He painted the posts red, of course.) Kids from all over town would come over to my house to play, and we’d wear jerseys that would drape past our knees and do our best impressions of our idols.
Not the idols you might suspect, though.
In Switzerland we never got NHL games on TV. It was all about EHC Chur, our local team. My favorite player growing up was Harijs Vītoliņš. He was a big, strong center for Chur in the ’90s.
The only exposure we got to the NHL was through video games. Yeah, we’d heard of guys like Gretzky, but the current NHL players seemed so far away. Our heroes played down the street from us.
NHL 2003, with Jarome Iginla on the cover, was the best. I played on PlayStation when my friends would come over, and that’s where I found Mike Modano.
I loved his style. The jersey whipping off his back, the slick hands and, of course, that big shot.
I loved to shoot — I still do.
Most kids in Canada and the U.S. grow up firing pucks at a thick polyester target called a shooter tutor. It’s got a picture of a goalie on it and you shoot the puck into holes in the corners. But my dad actually carved his own shooter tutor out of wood, and even nailed on an old glove and blocker. He painted different color targets in the corners and I’d shoot and shoot and shoot.
Whack. It made a big sound.
I wanted to shoot like Modano did, but I didn’t have the strength. So what did I do? I did the practical thing. I started working on my wrists and forearms. My mom’s uncle was a professional weightlifter, so he started me out early. Wrists curls with easy weights so I didn’t hurt anything. He’d always remind me that a good shot started in the gym and finished in the back of the net.
I was always good with my hands, and I initially wanted to be a plumber in Chur. In Switzerland, you can’t just drop out of school and go work. You need to go to college for three years before you can be certified as a professional. So I actually started my apprenticeship as a plumber at different construction sites for one year before deciding to focus all my energy on hockey. If I hadn’t discovered hockey, I’m pretty confident I’d be fixing pipes all over town right now.
All I dreamt about was playing for EHC Chur — that’s all any of my friends wanted to do. My dad would take me to games and I’d love the singing and chanting. That’s what makes you want to play.
The crowds were electric, similar to the NHL, but completely different at the same time. Flags and banners hung from poles and seats. Goals were an excuse to scream as loud as you could.
When I started playing at the junior level in Switzerland, the country is so small that we just drove to every game, played, and then drove back home. Even the pro teams would do that; they just had big buses that their equipment managers would drive.
My parents went with me to every game. They were never upset if I played poorly, which apparently isn’t always the case in North America.
Hockey is an expensive sport to play anywhere, but since we imported all of our equipment in Switzerland, it was even pricier. Like I said, I loved to shoot, but every broken stick came with a death glare from my mom, and a $300 dollar replacement.
My parents cared most if I showed up on time and focused. Every Swiss person I know has that attitude. It’s a forward-thinking country whose people are realistic and responsible – and that’s reflected in the way we play hockey.
We play defense-first hockey. That doesn’t mean we don’t have fun, but like I said, we’re realistic.
Look at some of the players we’ve produced at the NHL level: Roman Josi, Luca Sbisa and, of course, Mark Streit.
You’ll notice that those names are all defensemen. As a goal-scoring forward, I never really considered the NHL an option; I didn’t think I was good enough. My teammates always told me, “You’re going to make it! You’re going to be in the video game!” But I was realistic, remember.
It wasn’t until the 2008 U-18 world championships in Russia that agents started approaching me. They told me I should consider playing junior hockey in Canada, and that I might have a chance of being selected in the NHL draft.
Let’s just get to the Swiss league first and see what happens. That’s what I kept telling myself.
The year after that tournament EHC Chur ran into financial problems and I moved to HC Davos. Davos gave me that first real taste of playoff hockey — that rush stepping on the ice in the playoffs is something you don’t forget.
It made me want more.
After the season ended I went to the U.S., for the 2009 U-18 worlds. I had been overseas before, for a tournament in Lake Placid, and I remember teammates trying to explain the Miracle on Ice to me.
It’s hard enough to believe the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team when you speak the language, but even more confusing for someone whose worst class in school was English.
We played Canada that year in Fargo, N.D. — which was a bit of a culture shock — and they pulled us apart. I remember how fast they were — they had eyes in the back of their heads, I’m certain.
We lost and the score wasn’t pretty.
Nino Niederreiter off Switzerlands battles against Team Canada forward
The Canadian coach at the time was Mike Johnston, the coach of the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. We hit it off right away and he wanted to make sure that I would be in the upcoming import draft.
Less than a year later I was moving to a city I had just heard of, in a country I had been only twice.
My biggest concern was the language and culture. Portland was kind of like Zurich in a strange way, and it made things a bit easier. My billet roommate, Troy Rutkowski, helped me a lot, and I really wanted to improve my English right away.
Back home, our practices had emphasized the basics; solid skating, good positioning, strong shooting. In Portland, practices opened up a whole new world of hockey to me.
“Time for the tip drill!” coach would yell from the blue line.
“Tip drill?” I thought, “What the heck is a tip drill?”
I didn’t even know about tipping the puck at the time. We had never practiced that in Switzerland.
The technical side of the game changed for me in America. Here the hockey is much more stop-and-start. In Europe, on the big ice, you always have to be moving and taking advantage of space.
In Europe we didn’t focus as much on the physical side of the game, but it’s a part of the way I play now. Being in front of the net, getting the “greasy” goals, I excelled at it. Adjusting to that element eased my transition into the WHL.
I had a strong season in Portland, but I remembered what my family always used to say:
“Never get too high, never get too low.”
I knew there were still challenges ahead. My parents had worked hard to get me to this point. I owed it to them. I had a responsibility to them.
The night before the 2010 NHL draft, I stayed at Luca Sbisa’s house in Anaheim. Luca plays for the Vancouver Canucks now, but was playing for the Ducks when I was drafted. On the way into the arena in Los Angeles, he introduced me to Scott Niedermayer, who I used to go coast-to-coast with in NHL 2003. We talked about a lot of things on the walk into the arena, but what stuck with me was his reminder to have fun along the way.
It might sound redundant or corny, but when you hear it from a legend like Niedermayer, it feels different.
“Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy every moment.”
It was so … not Swiss.
When it comes to hockey (and everything, really), everyone in my country is very focused — it’s almost a business-first attitude. Another word I keep using, but it’s important, responsibility. We were responsible for our teammates and we played for one another, and not individual goals.
After getting drafted by the Islanders, I remember my first time in New York.
Oh. My. Gosh.
In Chur, the tallest building is just a handful of floors high. My neck hurt that day from looking up on every block in Manhattan. When I got traded to Minnesota, it was a little bit more like home.
Being away from my family isn’t easy, but they stay involved. My dad used to get up in the middle of the night to watch my games during my first couple seasons. He and my mom watch all my games on weekends now.
I have two sisters who both follow along, but one of my sisters really, really loves hockey. She runs this fantasy hockey league with her friends and in the summer, when I’m back home, I’m the commissioner and I run the draft since I can’t participate.
I warned them that if I didn’t get picked in the first round, I would not help anymore. But, of course, I went in a reasonable spot in the draft. I think maybe the 15th round. There was no inflation of my value.
Heavy favourites entering the tournament, Canada has met expectations thus far, stomping three foes en route to the semis. They outscored the Czechs, Americans and Europeans by a combined 14-3, trailing only once and for less than two minutes. All but two players have produced at least a point, led by Crosby andMatt Duchenewith four points apiece.
Victory has yet to be in doubt for the Canadians.
Whether the North Americans or Russians, the upcoming single elimination semifinal will present a much bigger challenge. Led byConnor McDavidandAuston Matthews, North America is loaded with young fire and about the only team in the tournament with the speed to contend with Canada. The Russians, meanwhile, are flooded with dangerous offensive players, including captain Alex Ovechkin andTampa Bay LightningstarNikita Kucherov.
A win for Russia in their preliminary round finale with Finland on Thursday afternoon will seal a date with the Canadians.
The early surprise team of the World Cup, Europe just didn’t have the horses to run with Canada. Much like the two that preceded it, this game was not particularly close even if the scoreboard briefly suggested so.
The Canadians struck first four minutes into the opening period and led the rest of the way.
After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Crosby scooped upAlex Pietrangelo‘s deflected point shot and zipped around the net for the wrap-around marker. It was his second goal of the tournament and looked similar to the first, in which Crosby swooped behind the Czech goal and fired a shot off netminderMichal Neuvirth.
Canada kept it coming, flooding Halak with shots and chances.
The European No. 1 goaltender withstood some of the onslaught and at one point late in the first frame stopped Marchand three times on the doorstep. Thirteen seconds later though, Halak’s clearing attempt found its way to Matt Duchene along the boards. Duchene spotted Toews, who slipped a shot into the European goal for the 2-0 lead.
Shots favoured Canada 17-4 after the first 20 minutes.
Crawford wasn’t tested much early, thoughTobias Riederdid race in for a partial breakaway only to slide a backhand wide. It was the first and likely only start of the tournament for the 31-year-old Crawford, starting in place ofCarey Price.
Canada opted to give Price,Shea WeberandRyan Getzlafthe night off against Europe with all expected back in the weekend semifinal.
Surprising the United States with a 3-0 win in their World Cup opener, the Europeans pushed the Canadians some early in the second. They scored four-plus minutes into the frame on a weak shot from Hossa that slipped somehow under Crawford’s right leg.
That made it 2-1 for Canada, though tension was never really apparent. The Canadians upped the lead back to two about 10 minutes after the Hossa goal on the second of the night from Toews. He raced in for an odd-man rush with Couture before snapping a shot under the glove of Halak.
Couture added the fourth Canadian goal late in the period.
Canada out shot Europe 46-19, holding the lead for least 50 minutes in each of the first three games.
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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Danny Laflamme (Montreal, Canada)
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