Month: October 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Claudia Tellez plays her way onto Inferno reserve squad

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“There is still work to be done on [Tellez’s] game, particularly with her skating,” Stevenson shared. “But that is to be expected since she only transitioned four years ago from roller hockey.”

Tellez is older than the vast majority of players in the CWHL and NWHL, but she is still actively working on her game. She readily admits that she needs to work on her speed and skating. Tellez applied for the CWHL Draft because she believed that skating with CWHL talent would improve her game. But her ultimate goal is growing the game in her home country.

“It would be something historic for Mexico, and perhaps even for Latin America, if a Mexican player played in the CWHL,” Tellez told Kate Cimini in an interview for Excelle Sports. “I think that players could emerge [if they played] there. That’s where my interest lies. I’ll do whatever I can to promote and support ice hockey in my country.”

Tellez is currently listed as one the 15 players on the Inferno’s reserve roster. Her choppy strides and lack of speed kept her off of Calgary’s main roster. But her nose for the net, fire for the game and unlikely origin story has the world of women’s hockey talking. And her performance at training camp has the Inferno keeping close tabs on their eighth round pick.

“We’ve asked her to work on a few areas and plan to follow up on her progress as she tries to lead Mexico in their qualification rounds for the Olympics,” Stevenson shared. “There is a chance she could crack our roster one day.”

In the first round of Olympic qualifying games, Tellez scored three goals and added three assists in two games. She and Joanna Rojas, a 16-year-old forward, helped Mexico dismantle Hong Kong and Turkey in Group J this month. Mexico named Tellez their player of the game for the team’s 11-5 victory over Turkey on Oct. 9. She scored a goal, picked up two assists, and put seven shots on net.

The next step for Tellez and Mexico’s women’s national team is another round of Olympic qualifiers in Kazhakstan. Mexico, the 26th ranked team, needs to be one of two teams that emerge from Group G to stay on the long road to PyeongChang 2018. They will cross sticks with Great Britain, Poland and 18th ranked Kazhakstan in early November.

The odds that Tellez will skate in the 2018 Olympics are against her, just like they were in Calgary’s camp. But each game played is a victory in itself for Tellez and her teammates. Each game is another brick in the foundation of women’s ice hockey in Mexico.

Kunlun Red Star inclusion in KHL is first step to China fielding team at Beijing 2022, Chernyshenko claims

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Dmitry Chernyshenko has heralded the inclusion of Kunlun Red Star in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) as a crucial step on the path to China fielding a team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Chernyshenko, President and chief executive of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia and a member of the Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission, said the KHL and Kunlun Red Star had a “strong mutual interest” in their participation in the league and that the “challenging and highly-promising” Chinese Market had “huge potential”.

The Beijing-based club, who play their matches at the LeSports Center, a venue constructed to host basketball at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the Chinese capital, were added to the league ahead of the current season.

They began their debut appearance in the KHL, considered the second best hockey league in the world behind the National Hockey League which includes teams from Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia and Slovakia, with a 2-1 victory over Amur Khabarovsk last month.

Kunlun Red Star currently sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference having picked up eight wins from their opening 18 matches.

The side is made up of a mixture of foreign imports, whose inclusion is designed to make the team as competitive as possible in the league, and domestic talent.

Their current squad features four players from China.

Chernyshenko has predicted staging the Games will lead to a dramatic increase in the amount of Chinese players in the sport.

“Under Olympic guidance, we expect to witness rapid growth in the number of individuals taking up the sport and in the number of hockey matches played,” Chernyshenko said.

“We also see the emergence of this club, Kunlun Red Star, as the first step in the development of a national team to represent China at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

“The team is coached by Vladimir Yurzinov Jr, a man who has earned a formidable reputation throughout the world of hockey, having amassed a wealth of experience with teams in the KHL and many other leagues throughout the world.

“This is why we are confident that this club will become the centre of ice hockey expertise for the entire nation.”

The Russian official also gave his reflections on the state of Beijing 2022’s preparations for the Games in five-and-a-half years’ time, claiming they were “in good form”, even at this early stage, following the visit of the Coordination Commission inspection last week.

Visiting International Olympic Committee (IOC) members claimed they were pleased with what they had seen and Beijing 2022 were “on track” to deliver the event as they have promised.

“It was a pleasure to see the Beijing 2022 team in such good form at such an early stage, according to the reports we received,” Chernyshenko added.

“Fifty per cent of the people in the Organising Committee were in charge for Beijing 2008 Games, so this is a very effective and professional team that has developed well-thought-out plans and ambitious goals.

“China is a challenging and highly promising market, and one which is eager to import, develop and master many non-traditional sports, including ice hockey, ahead of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.”

Scotland backs plan for single ice hockey governing body in Britain

Scotland have backed a proposal for one governing body for ice hockey to be established to oversee the sport in Britain, Ice Hockey UK (IHUK) chairman Richard Grieveson has claimed. 

Grieveson addressed Scottish Ice Hockey (SIH) at Murrayfield Ice Rink in Edinburgh and outlined his plan. 

“There was unanimous support for the one national governing body at the meeting in Scotland,” said Grieveson, who is from Dumfries in Scotland. 

“The membership of our Scottish clubs reacted positively to proposals for change and improving the current arrangements through unification and becoming one UK-wide national governing body.

“I will now report back to the Ice Hockey UK board and develop a time-bound action plan to move this forward.

“This will take time but it is the only way for the sport to move forward.”

Last month Grieveson addressed the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) Annual General Meeting in Nottingham.

There was no formal decisions taken but there was enough support for the idea for Grieveson to announce he would set up a working group involving several stakeholders to investigate the next step.

Since taking over as IHUK chairman in February Grieveson has held talks with several bodies about establishing a single governing body. 

These include the EIHA, SIH and the English Premier Ice Hockey League in a bid to try to establish one single body. 

Grieveson claims to have the support of International Ice Hockey Federation President René Fasel.

“I am delighted that both the EIHA and SIH are supportive and keen to work with IHUK to now develop the detail,” he said. 

“These are exciting times for our sport and if we all work together, it will benefit ice hockey in the UK in so many different ways.”

Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017


By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Last year a team of expats went to  Pyongyang, North Korea for cross-cultural tour plus friendship ice hockey exhibition game against North Korea national Ice hockey Team.

Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017

In 2017 The second coming of the event that started it all.  Hosted by the DPRK national ice hockey team, this event is your chance to travel to the world’s most secretive country for a sports event you couldn’t possibly forget.  You will play both alongside and against ice hockey enthusiasts from the DPRK in the afternoon, and explore Pyongyang during the day.  In addition to the participant-favorite day trip to the DMZ, this year’s event will see players travel to the newly built Masikryong Ski Resort for three days of awesomeness after the hockey comes to an end.  Spectators will have the option of checking out the action in the arena or joining their tour guides for some more exploring.

Also in 2017 A call for female participation in the PIHL 2017

The Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017 as an incredible opportunity to go down in history as one of the first female hockey players to play against the DPRK Women National Team!

For more information and to be part of this amazing event click here Friendship League

 

Saskatchewan player making ice hockey history in China

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Saskatchewan’s Sean Collins, 27, didn’t know what to expect going into it, but he’s now a proud part of hockey history in China.

He grew up playing minor hockey in Saskatoon and has gone on to play professionally in the NHL and AHL. This past summer, Collins signed with HC Kunlun Red Star.

“It’s a pretty cool opportunity how we’re the first pro hockey team in China and that you just don’t know what’s going to happen 10, 20, 50 years down the road,” Collins, who plays centre, said.

“Whether [China’s] ever going to become a really high-end, hockey-playing country and if it does become a successful country – hockey-wise – it’ll be pretty cool looking back.”

One memory he’ll never forget is scoring the first goal in Kunlun’s franchise history during their regular season debut against the Amur Khabarovsk on Sept. 1.

The expansion team in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was set up as a vehicle to promote and popularize ice hockey in China.

“The [Chinese] people, they don’t really understand the hockey culture. It’s funny, at a lot of our home games they don’t really know what to do if we score, it’s almost like a very reserved clap … They have no idea of the customary ruckus that I’ve been used to in North America,” Collins said.

“It’s been kind of funny … there was the ceremonial puck drop at our first home game and it’s all over the Internet.”

“But I think the whole idea with them putting a team in China, you see the population of almost 1.4 billion-plus, if they ever – you have to start at the grassroots level – but if they ever found an interest in hockey, they have the amount of people to become a powerhouse.”

The KHL is made up of 29 clubs in Belarus, China, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia and Slovakia. One aspect Collins values most about the opportunity is being able to experience the various countries and iconic cities.

“It’s been quite a culture shock to begin with, but I’m starting to get comfortable here and I’ve had the opportunity to obviously travel around quite a bit,” Collins said.

“Being able to visit Moscow, St. Petersburg and Helsinki. It’s been phenomenal in that respect, being able to see these international cities; it’s a lot of history and beautiful architecture that’s probably the best part of it so far.”

 In Collins’ opinion, the HC Kunlun Red Star’s inaugural season has kicked off smoothly especially since it was officially given the franchise in late-June and had to play its first preseason game in late-July.

“There have been a few struggles or a few issues but for the most part the organization has done a phenomenal job of always keeping us up-to-date on what’s going on and doing their best to try to push things through,” Collins said.

“China is obviously a Communist country, so there are some loopholes to jump through trying to get visas, bank accounts even something as simplistic as equipment.”

Ironically, Collins said a lot of the equipment is made in China but is exported out of the country and then it’s imported back for the team.

“You’d think it would be so easy to walk over to a factory and be able to get it but I guess there’s no reseller in China and so they have to export it,” he said.

Although Red Star is a Beijing-based hockey club, the team is temporarily playing in Shanghai due to schedule conflicts. Team members are living in a hotel where their meals and basic amenities are taken care of.

“On the other hand, when you want to go exploring and sightseeing and try new restaurants and kind of get out of the hotel and fend for yourself, it’s quite a challenge,” Collins said.

“There’s a handy app, Google Translate, that’s actually been a pretty good aid for a lot of us so if you can only have questions or you need a grocery store and you looking for a certain item you can kind of pop it in and its translated to Mandarin and you show it to one of the employees,” Collins explained.

“There might be some charades involved, a lot of hand signals, but eventually you get what you need.”

Red Star also features three Chinese players, fluent in Mandarin and English, who have been a great resource for a team that sports a multitude of culture.

“We’re almost a United Nation team. We speak eight different languages. So there’s obviously Mandarin, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, English, French, Slovakian, Slovak … ,” Collins said.

When it comes to strategy on the bench, communication is key, but Red Star faces a language barrier. The head coach, Vladimir Yurzinov Jr., speaks Finnish and Russian and to get his message across, the team utilizes its translators which includes teammate and former NHLer Alexei Ponikarovsky.

“Ponikarovsky’s been great about not only helping the Russian players that don’t speak very good English, but also translating what the coach is saying,” Collins said.

“Sometimes you don’t know exactly what the coach’s message is, but for the most part guys have been really good and the coaching staff that do speak multiple languages have been really good about keeping everybody on the same page.”

Collins hopes to continue making sports history with Red Star in their quest to raise the KHL championship trophy, known as the Gagarin Cup, at the end of the 2016-17 season.

East meets West when Team China comes to UBC for international hockey clash

china ice hockey

By  Len Catling – UBC Thunderbirds

In an event that will be a combination of international relations and ‘the good old hockey game’, the Chinese National Women’s Ice Hockey Team will be at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre to face the UBC Thunderbirds on Monday, October 17th. The puck will drop at 8 PM.

This game will be the first in the “Harmony Through Hockey Series”, which will see the Chinese play four lower mainland squads, including the T-Birds, over the course of seven days in Metro Vancouver.

The Chinese women’s team became a member of the IIHF in 1963 and is nicknamed the “Lady Dragons”. They sport an all time record of 88 wins – 116 losses – 12 ties.

There was a time where the Chinese women look destined to become powers of women’s world hockey. They finished fourth at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, losing to Finland in the bronze medal game. China followed that up with a 7th place finish at Salt Lake City in 2002 and another 7th place finish right here in Vancouver in 2010. Currently the Chinese are ranked 15th in the world and have been relegated to the second tier in the annual World Championships.

With the 2022 Winter Olympics awarded to Beijing, the Chinese have made ice hockey a priority in their national sports programs and are looking to rebuild their women’s ice hockey program back to international prominence.
 
“We will promote winter sports and develop winter sports industry in a bid to attract 300 million people to ice and snow,” said Chinese Olympic Committee President Liu Peng, also Beijing 2022 Executive President. “In terms of competition, we are going to mobilize the resource all over the nation to achieve excellent results.”

Last Action

 The Chinese team has faced CIS opponents before. Their most recent meetings were in a 2015 friendship tour where they lost 5-1 to the Laurentian Voyageurs but followed that up with a 5-2 victory over the McMaster Marauders.
 
In international play, the Chinese had an up and down tournament at the 2016 Division 2 World Championships. They finished in tied for fourth in the six-team tournament with 2 wins and 3 losses.

UBC boasts one of it’s strongest teams in the Thunderbirds history of women’s hockey. Last year’s CIS silver medalists have been bolstered by NCAA transfers and another year to develop chemistry amongst veteran players. The ‘Birds are widely considered the team to beat in Canada West for 2016-17. They topped the annual Canada West coach’s rankings for the first time since 2014.

Players To Watch

 Minghui Kong – China – (F, #15) – Kong tied for the scoring lead at the Tier 2 World Championships with 8 points in 5 games.

Menying Zhang – China – (F, #7) – plays with Kong on the top forward line for China. Zhang was named to the World Championship All-Star team after recording 4 goals and 3 assists

Tiffany ChiuUBC – (F) – the redshirt freshman will get a chance to play her first game in a Thunderbirds jersey. It should be a special moment for the Chinese-Canadian Chiu, who starred for the Greater Vancouver Comets program.

Quotable

 “We are very excited to host and play the Chinese National Team. The game is growing so fast in China, I was very encouraged to hear how committed the Chinese are to improving and growing the game in preparation for the Olympics,” says UBC Head Coach Graham Thomas. “They are currently building 120 stadiums and have exciting plans to start new leagues and infrastructure for Men’s and Women’s Hockey.”

Q & A with first head coach of India Adam Shelip

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Adam Sherlip is the first head coach of the India National Ice Hockey Team. He started coaching ice hockey in India as part of an initiative he started, called “The Hockey Volunteer”.
Sherlip discovered hockey in India while coaching in China. As a result of “The Hockey Volunteer” initiative, Sherlip founded The Hockey Foundation,  a non-profit that uses ice hockey to help improve life in the communities The Hockey Foundation’s pilot program operates in Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Hockey Foundation has donated over 4,000 pieces equipment since 2009.

We had a great pleasure to talk to him and ask him a few question about the foundation and Ice hockey in India.

Can you talk about the Hockey Foundation. When did it first start and who does it help?

The Hockey Foundation began after my 2009 trip to India.  I found out about ice hockey in the Himalayas in late 2008 from U.S. Olympian Angela Ruggiero, whom I’d coached with in China the previous year for the New York Islanders.  I spent a month fundraising under the banner “The Hockey Volunteer” and arrived in January 2009.  That trip was a great success and made such an impact on my life that I wanted to do it as something bigger than myself, and so I founded The Hockey Foundation.  Our mission is to change lives around the world via ice hockey, focusing on under-served communities.

Can you speak about some of the other volunteer coaches that have traveled to India under the Hockey Foundation and what they brought to the table?

We’ve had some awesome volunteer coaches over the years, many who have had such an incredible experience that they’ve returned on subsequent trips.  Alex Harney from northwestern Connecticut was the first volunteer to come along in 2011, and has been the main camera man & video producer over the years, including 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2016.  We met Paul Kozowyck from Calgary in Ladakh in 2011, and he came back to assist in 2013, the same year we met Antoine Jouvet from Montreal, who has become a major part of The Hockey Foundation since then, as he’s returned every single year and has brought in a team of volunteers as well, including Alex Touzel from Quebec City and Brayden Taekema from northern British Columbia.  They’ve all brought a ton of energy, enthusiasm, experience and passion to the program and have built their own relationships with hockey players around India.

When you first got to India you face many challenges in coaching the Indian ice hockey players, can you talk about some of those challenges?

Language is the most obvious challenge.  For many of the players on Team India, from 2009 through today, English is a third language.  For a few players it’s a second language.  Conveying details and nuance can be challenging in that setting, and even more difficult if I’m talking fast, as New Yorkers do, especially if we’re on the ice or on the bench and I’m speaking more intensely.  Beyond the language issues, I’ve had to teach/re-teach the basic concepts of the game, especially when I first started coaching the team.  At that time, there was really very little understanding of how the game is typically played, as there was less access to see games, and less technical instruction received at that time.

What is the biggest improvement you have seen from the day you started coaching in India to know?

I’m very proud to say that through the support of The Hockey Foundation and other organizations/volunteers, in partnership with the Ice Hockey Association of India, the level of ice hockey in India has improved dramatically.  First off, there is more equipment in the country after many years of donations, and so more players have the ability to get on the ice to learn and play.  Beyond that, we’ve been able to coach more players each season, and reach more young players, and so some of those players that may have been children when I first arrived in 2009 are young adults and leaders in the hockey community in India.  They have learned the game at a higher level than the previous generation that had very little instruction, and didn’t have a chance to watch hockey games (we’ve held private screenings of NHL and international games to help them understand the game at the highest level).  Social media is also helping, as players can now watch highlights from the NHL or IIHF competitions on Facebook and/or YouTube.  They can also watch some of the great instructional YouTube channels, like Hockey Tutorial and How To Hockey.  All of this combined has resulted in players that play a better team game than in 2009, shoot better, pass better, play at both ends of the ice, and understand the rules better.  I’m really proud of everyone involved that has helped get hockey in India to this point!

Can you talk about the 2012 Challenge Cup of Asia which was hosted by India, this must of been a huge accomplishment for India ice hockey?

Holding that event was a huge deal for ice hockey in India, and in many ways really helped ensure the program can continue to grow.  The facility in Dehra Dun was only open for 1-2 years at that time, but was lacking in technical expertise.  I brought in an ice technician from New York to help prepare the facility for all-day games, and he did a great job mostly on his own.  Beyond that, the event wouldn’t have been possible if not for the hard work of the Ice Hockey Association of India officials, in partnership with the local Uttarakhand government, which oversees the facility and the power.  Dehra Dun is not exactly a tourist hub, but it’s an interesting town in a beautiful part of the country.  I’d love to see that facility operating at full capacity year-round, and becoming the training center for the national teams.

During the 2012 Challenge Cup of Asia India got their first and only win in International competition over Macao, can you describe the emotion in that game?

That was such a special event for me, and for everyone involved in the program: players and officials.  We actually had a chance to win 2 games in that tournament, but weren’t able to keep the pace for all three periods in that other game.  The game against Macau (which was on my 28th birthday) was one of the best games the team has played to date, but in actuality, Team India is better today than it ever was.  We’ve received great compliments and feedback from our opponents, the referees and others involved in the Challenge Cup of Asia over the years who have noticed the improvement the team makes every year.  Unfortunately for us, the other programs are improving as well!

In 2015 India Men Ice hockey team made a trip to Canada and played the Brampton Beast. Will there be future trips?

We’d love to organize future trips, but will need to figure out funding options.  The trip to Brampton cost the Ice Hockey Association of India (and all involved) a lot of money, which we were hoping to make back (and then some) from door sales and jersey sales.  Beyond the finances, the program itself was a huge success, and has made a tremendous difference on all of the players involved.  It was just over 1 year ago, and many players involved still talk about how much the event meant to them.  For the players from India, many said that they had no idea how good hockey players could be until they played with/against the Beast players.  

Do you think Ice hockey can grow in India?

Absolutely!  It continues to grow every year and I believe it will continue to grow as more equipment gets donated, more players have an opportunity to play, and more regions build ice rinks, whether big or small.  As they say in Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come.”  That is true for both players and coaches.  Earlier this year we held our first ever coaching programs in Mumbai and Cochin, which is in the southern state of Kerala.  If there’s a rink in a mall somewhere in the country, we’re happy to go there and help them start a hockey program and help see it grow over the years.  That being said, there needs to be investment from public and private entities within India in order for it to gain popularity on a wide-scale.  Without that level of support, it will always remain a tiny niche.  There’s a need for more facilities and for importers/distributors of equipment to help outfit the players at the respective facilities.

The beautiful Out door ice Rink in Ladakh, India

          How long have you coach India’s national team?

I was the Head Coach in 2009 and from 2012-2015.  The team didn’t compete in 2010 and my assistant coach extraordinaire: Hakim Giri, gave it a go behind the bench in 2011.  In 2016, I handed off the head coaching duties to Shomit Datta, whom I invited to be a part of the event in Brampton and did a great job with the team.  He’s a very experienced coach, and I was happy to hand the reins over to him.  For the future, who knows…

What are your future plans now that you are no longer coaching India?

Beyond the national team, there’s always coaching going on in India through The Hockey Foundation.  We’ll keep on doing that program for as long as we can, as we look to expand to other countries, and also focus some efforts at home in the US and Canada, as there are many communities we can help via hockey here.  I am currently assisting a junior college program in Quebec City, CEGEP Saint Lawrence Champlain.

Will India be at the 2017 Asian Winter Games?

India wants to participate in the Asian Winter Games in Japan in 2017, but is in need of funding to ensure the players, coaches and officials can make the trip.

What is your favorite NHL team and player?

As a child I was a die-hard New York Islanders fan, and Pierre Turgeon was my favorite player.  Today, I don’t consider myself a die-hard fan of any team, but I do follow the Islanders, Rangers and Canadiens closer than the other 27 teams.

Mexican ladies advance

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By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The Women’s Olympic Qualification for PyeongChang 2018 has started with the Preliminary Round 1 tournament in Mexico City that was won by the hosts.

The Mexican women’s national team blanked Hong Kong 13-0 in its first game and then took care of business on Sunday night with a 11-5 victory against Turkey.

Joanna Rojas scored five goals in two games for Mexico, as many as the tournament’s scoring leader, Turkish-American forward Cagla Baktiroglu.

Mexico dominated the deciding game with 39-21 shots on goal against Turkey and pre-decided the game with a 3-0 lead after less than 15 minutes of play. Turkey tried to come back in a goal-laden game but never came closer than two goals. Claudia Tellez, who will become the first Mexican player in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, was named best player of her team in the game with one goal and two assists as 700 spectators celebrated the home team.

Mexico already beat Turkey last spring, 6-1, when the teams met at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Jaca, Spain. It was the first time the teams met after Mexico had entered a women’s national team in IIHF competition in 2014.

Turkey finished the event in second place thanks to their 8-2 win against Hong Kong.

Hosting the women’s tournament, the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation also made use of the opportunity and invited girls to try hockey as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.

After winning the tournament the Mexicans will play in the second preliminary round. In Group G in Astana they will play host Kazakhstan, Great Britain and Poland, 3-6 November.

From 4-6 November Group H will be hosted in San Sebastian with the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia and host Spain.

 

Rebuilding in Estonia

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

In 2008 women’s hockey was on its climax in Estonia when the smallest of the three Baltic countries participated in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program for the second consecutive time. Then came the financial crisis that hit the Baltic countries hard and the fourth-place finish of the Estonian team in the fifth tier, and 31st overall in the program, became a farewell event for the players.

“We had the national team compete in 2008 the last time but then the financial crisis came basically all women’s hockey teams were struggling and were stopped. We haven’t had female teams for several years, which is really sad,” says Katrin Talvak.

The 38-year-old was a player on the women’s national team’s last appearance in Miercurea Ciuc. It finished in fourth place behind Iceland, New Zealand and host Romania, but before South Africa and Turkey.

Today she’s the Marketing Coordinator of the Estonian Ice Hockey Association and advisor for women’s hockey, and in her new role at the office she wants to bring new life to women’s hockey in Estonia. The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was the starting point for it. It was a weekend she has planned for a while.

Talvak was one of the participants of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend educational program at the 2016 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp last summer at the Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumaki. There the women and men in attendance learned a lot about how to run such an event, how to promote it, recruit participants and tell the world. There they realized such an event with local kids. And last weekend they did it in real back home.

For Talvak home means Tallinn, the Estonian capital of 440,000 people with its picturesque medieval old town. The city’s new primary ice rink Tondiraba became the venue for a two-day festival for women’s hockey. Two extra-busy days on and off the ice as Talvak says.

On Saturday the actual World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend took place where kids could try out hockey.

“Since Estonian hockey is not that big we thought to invite all kids, also boys. We used the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend logo with the message and commercials that hockey is for everybody. It shows that it’s for girls as well,” she says.

Six clubs were involved in organizing the event with their coaches including a new women’s team of HC Panter Tallinn. “We got the ice full of kids. I was so happy to see it. We had about 50 kids and half of them were girls,” Talvak says.

“The kids went bananas. Although some got tired, most didn’t want to leave the ice. The parents of a four-year-old girl told me she hadn’t ever skated before but after half an hour she skated pretty well and was so happy and asked her father when she can practise the next time.”

“We will send all participants’ contacts to the youth clubs in the Tallinn region and in the future we hope to have it next year in other cities as well, like in the eastern part of the country which is famous for its hockey. We definitely consider other cities as well. We don’t want to just focus on the capital,” she says.

It was a good kick-off to recruit a new generation of female players after many lost years. And there’s hope. Panter Tallinn started a new women’s program last spring with five players who had to play with men.

“In our best days we now have 27. Many of them are brand-new players,” she says, being one of them after her old team, the Dreamland Queens, folded many years ago.

On Sunday the Estonian Ice Hockey Association organized an international women’s hockey tournament to continue a weekend full of women’s hockey. For many of the ladies it was the first time to play games among women, for others like Talvak it was a return.

Kohtla-Jarve Viru Sputnik from the east part of the country is the second club with female players and sent a team to the tournament, although due to a lack of players the eight women were joined by a male goalie and a male defenceman.

These two teams competed in the round-robin mini-tournament – each game took 30 minutes – with teams from two neighbouring countries, OKK Mamas from Finland and HK Saga from Latvia, which won the event.

“It was the first women’s hockey tournament after eight years in Estonia. For some of our girls it was the first game ever. We are trying to build up Estonian women’s hockey again,” Talvak says.

When thinking of the future, she’s also thinking about the past and when women’s hockey suddenly stopped in Estonia, which is surrounded by hockey countries including Finland, Latvia, Russia and Sweden.

“It was good times. It was the peak of Estonian women’s hockey,” she remembers the time around 2008. “We had five female hockey teams in the whole country – three teams in Tallinn, one in Kohtla-Jarve and one in Tartu and the national team was competing twice in the Women’s World Championship.”

When Talvak came to Vierumaki for the program last summer, she was caught by surprise when her roommate was a Turkish lady who she played against at the 2008 event in Romania. There were nice memories to be shared.

“It is one of my dreams that these young girls who come to hockey today have the opportunity to put on an Estonian national team jersey because that feeling is so different than just playing for a club team. I hope this will be an extra motivation,” she says.

The First Ice Hockey Game In Iran

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By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, close to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

On  October 1st, 2016 history was made when the first hockey game was played between the city’s two Ice Hockey teams. The game was a friendly match, the Padide Shandiz defeated Khorasan Razavi 5-4. The venue for the match was Padide Ice Rink in Padide Shopping Center in Shandiz.
The aim of the friendly competition was to strengthening and improving the quality and quantity of physical preparedness for players and athletes in the country.

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