Month: January 2018 (page 1 of 3)

Slovenia Olympic roster

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

THE MEN’S ROSTER

Slovenia was like four years earlier the lowest-seeded team to earn qualification to the Olympic Winter Games but they made it again by winning their qualification group in Minsk ahead of favored Belarus and Denmark.

On Friday the roster was announced at a media event in Ljubljana and includes three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 14 forwards.

“Deciding the Olympic roster is one of the toughest jobs for every coach. The selection was made in good faith that. With these players we will be able to achieve the best results at the Olympics. We would be happy to repeat the success from Sochi,” said Nik Zupancic, the assistant coach who represented Slovenia and previously Yugoslavia in 13 World Championship events.

“Lots of time has been dedicated to scouting. Head Coach Savolainen has many scouts who watched the players at the games in their leagues. The final decisions were made based on small details. We have chosen players who we believe will function best at the level of competition we are going to play and based on their task at the games themselves.”

The Slovenian players come from clubs from nine different countries and ten different leagues, which didn’t make scouting an easy task. Some even play in second-tier competitions in their country. And only one player, forward Andrej Hebar, plays for a local club, Olimpija Ljubljana, while the rest is split up anywhere between Grenoble in the French Alps and Gothenburg up north to Novosibirsk in the east.

Ziga Jeglic, Robert Sabolic and Rok Tikar all currently play in Russia. Also Jan Mursak played in the KHL until he recently and in his fifth season in Russia left Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod for Swedish powerhouse Frolunda Gothenburg, where he last week debuted with two goals in his first game.

19 players return from the team that has won the Olympic Qualification tournament. Among the missing ones is Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar. And 22 players from the team represented Slovenia at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last spring.

Currently 15th in the IIHF Men’s World Ranking, the Slovenes will be the underdog again but they’re ready to accept that role again. In Sochi 2014 they lost to Russia and the United States but beat Slovakia 3-1 in the preliminary round and then faced Austria in the qualification playoff where they blanked the neighbours 4-0. After losing the quarter-final game to Sweden 5-0, Slovenia finished the Olympics in seventh place. It was the best placing ever of a Slovenian team in top-level international ice hockey and the only time Slovenia had reached a top-eight placing at a top-level event – even including the Yugoslav era.

The big dream is to repeat the success of Sochi also in Korea.

“I would be very pleased if we win the fourth game. But, from my perspective as a coach I am also interested how is our performance is going to develop from the first game to the third. I want the team to grow from one game to the next one. As a coach I will be happy if after the Olympics we will be able to say that we showed the best version of ourselves and played at the highest level that we are capable of,” said new head coach Kari Savolainen.

2018 Olympics see historic first for Canadian women’s hockey

2018 Olympics see historic first for Canadian women's hockey

By Bryn Levy – CKOM.com

As the Canadian women’s hockey team gears up for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, one player has made history before even stepping onto the ice.

Defenceman Brigette Lacquette is the first-ever First Nations woman to make the team, and she’s been basking in an outpouring of well-wishes from across the country ever since she cracked the roster.

“I’m super excited and I think having all that extra support from all the First Nations across Canada is definitely very special for me,” she said Tuesday during a national media call.

Lacquette is originally from the Cote First Nation near Kamsack, Sask., but moved with her family to the small community of Mallard, Man. that she now calls home.

Growing up, Lacquette said seeing fellow First Nations Manitoban Jordin Tootoo skate in the 2003 World Juniors was a moment that made her believe she could make it to the world’s biggest stage.

Now, she said she hopes her play in Pyeongchang sends a message to the next wave of little girls imagining themselves wearing the Maple Leaf.

“You can achieve anything you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can always achieve your dreams,” she said.

Lacquette said she was thankful for the support she’s had from her First Nation, coaches and teammates along the way, but said she was especially grateful to her parents, Terance and Anita,

After being a late cut ahead of the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, she said it was a thrill to get to call her Dad this year and tell him his hours of coaching and building a backyard rink for her every winter had paid off.

“There’s only wi-fi, so he was hanging out by the wi-fi waiting for me to call him and he was just super excited. To finally tell him that I made the team was special.”

Lacquette and the rest of Team Canada will be looking for their fifth-consecutive gold medal in women’s hockey when the Winter Games kick off Feb. 9.

Japan Olympic roster

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

THE WOMEN”S ROSTER

The team nicknamed “Smile Japan” is a close-knit group. Of the 23 players on the roster, 21 have been on the squad that earned promotion to the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship last spring and 20 players were on the team that won the Final Olympic Qualification tournament on home ice in Tomakomai one year ago to earn the ticket to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.

Despite being among the regular Women’s World Championship participants, Japan was missing in the Olympic women’s ice hockey line-up in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and for the first time earned qualification on the ice for Sochi 2014 and the second time for PyeongChang 2018. 15 of the players on the current roster were also part of the last Olympic squad four years ago.

All 23 players have been playing their club hockey in the Japanese championship recently although a few players have overseas experience. Canada-born defender Akane Hosoyamada played NCAA hockey for the Syracuse University and a few CWHL games for the Calgary Inferno before moving to Japan. Goaltender Nana Fujimoto also has overseas experience minding the net for the NWHL’s New York Riveters in 2015/2016 while defenders Sena Suzuki (Toronto Furies) and Aina Takeuchi (Calgary Inferno) played in the CWHL before coming back to Japan for the Olympic season. Forward Miho Shishiuchi played in the Finnish women’s league for HPK Hameenlinna from 2014 to 2016.

Takeshi Yamanaka, who played at the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament on home ice in Nagano 1998, is in his second season as head coach of the women’s national team. He originally joined the team as an assistant coach after the 2014 Olympics.

Chiho Osawa has been the team captain during the last few years. With 70 national team games in IIHF-sanctioned events 35-year-old forward Hanae Kubo is the most experienced players. She had her debut at the 1999 Women’s World Championship B-Pool. Shoko Ono, 36, debuted in the same year and came back in 2016 after a seven-year absence on the national team. 17-year-old defender Aoi Shiga is the youngest player on the team.

Spain moves up

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

The Spanish team won the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II Group B in Belgrade, leaving host nation Serbia in second place as Croatia took bronze. Turkey was relegated back to Division III after winning that section 12 months ago in New Zealand.

For the Spanish U20 national team it’s one of the biggest victories in recent year. Spain did in several categories lose out on first place against Serbia and seldom beats Croatia in men’s hockey. The win means promotion to the next level after five consecutive years in the Division I Group B. The four previous years Spain had finished in second place.

It was a tight group, with the top three teams all in contention going into the final day. Spain and Croatia faced off in the opening game, with the Spanish knowing that destiny was in their own hands. Victory would secure top spot regardless of other results, but defeat could be costly. A Croatian victory in regulation would have put the team in first place, but also opened the door for Serbia to top the group if it could beat Turkey in the last game of the event.

The Spanish approached their decisive fixture with a clear plan to frustrate Croatia. Across the three periods, the Iberian team allowed just 18 shots at Raul Barbo’s net and always had the upper hand in terms of generating offence. The second period was the most competitive, and Bruno Ficur’s goal midway through the session pulled Croatia back to 1-1 and threatened to put the group back into the balance.

Spain, though, rallied in the third. Two goals from Dorian Donath, the first of them a wrist shot fired in from an acute angle on the power play, secured a 3-1 victory and guaranteed gold and promotion to Division IIA. Serbia, unable to top the group, at least had the satisfaction of beating its neighbour and rival from Croatia to the silver medals thanks to a convincing 7-1 demolition of Turkey to conclude the action.

If Spain’s win over Croatia was decisive, the pivotal moment of the tournament came rather earlier, when Maurizio Mansi’s team played Serbia on the second game day in Belgrade. The host looked to be on course for a vital victory, leading 2-1 on third-period goals from Lazar Pejcic and team captain Luka Vukicevic. But a late penalty on Vukicevic proved costly: Spain, which would finish the tournament with the strongest power play in the event, snatched a dramatic last-minute tying goal through Alfonso Garcia. Serbia protested vigorously, insisting that Garcia’s stick was high when he swatted Donath’s looping feed into the net from close range. The officials were unmoved, Spain forced overtime and went on to win the shoot-out on Joan Cerda’s effort. The result tilted the balance of the group in Spain’s favour, and Serbia was unable to claw back the lost ground.

If it was tight at the top, it was even closer at the bottom. Belgium, Mexico and Turkey all finished the tournament on three points after the Mexicans’ final-day 5-4 win over the Belgians. That left Turkey needing a point from its game against Serbia to escape the trapdoor. However, that heavy loss against the host sent Turkey down to Division III.

Captain Jorge Perez was the toast of his team-mates after scoring 2+2 – including the game-winner – in that nail-biter against Belgium to keep his team in IIB. The Mexicans were clinical, especially in the early stages, when their first four goals came inside 23 minutes from just 11 shots at Belgium’s Anthony Gubbels. Gerardo Garcia del Valle came up strong in a tense third period, blanking the opposition to preserve a narrow lead until the end.

The final standings showed Belgium in fourth place, lifted by its opening day 8-3 victory over Turkey. Mexico came fifth thanks to its win against the Belgians, while Turkey’s 6-4 success against Mexico wasn’t enough to overcome that heavy loss at the start of the tournament.

Serbia could not top the table, but it did come out on top in the goalscoring chart. Vucicevic ended up with 8+4=12 points, boosted by a hat-trick in that game against Turkey. Mirko Djumic fired in… in the same match-up, moving to 3+8=11 and edging ahead of Spain’s Cerda (5+5).

Spain’s Raul Barbo was nominated as the top goalie by the directorate. In a high-scoring tournament, he played every minute of his country’s games and allowed just eight goals for a GAA of 1.57. He also recorded the only shut-out of the event, blanking Mexico in a 4-0 victory. The other directorate awards went to Croatian D-man Luka Kramaric and Serbia’s top-scoring forward Luka Vucicevic.

Sweden Olympic roster

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

THE MEN’S ROSTER

The Swedes announced three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 12 forwards who will compete for the Swedish men’s ice hockey team at the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Two more roster spots are open and will be filled with two additional forwards.

The current roster includes five players who have won gold at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last spring including goaltender Viktor Fasth and forwards Dennis Everberg, Carl Klingberg, Joel Lundqvist and Linus Omark.

Ten players join from teams in the KHL, nine play in the domestic SHL and four in Switzerland.

Joel Lundqvist, who captained Sweden to gold last May, is the most experienced player with 141 international games for the Swedish men’s national team. Defenceman Staffan Kronwall (104) and forward Linus Omark (101) also have more than 100 national team games where Omark scored the most (19) goals.

34-year-old Lundqvist is also the oldest player on a roster full of experience with an average age of 29. Only one player is younger than 23: millennial Rasmus Dahlin. The 17-year-old defenceman is a candidate for becoming the next number-one-draft pick in the NHL and recently played at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship where he won a silver medal and the Best Defenceman award.

Sweden will have a pre-tournament game in Incheon near Seoul against Canada on 12 February before the tournament starts in Gangneung where all ice sports competitions will be held.

Tre Kronor won silver at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. This year they will face countries from their neighbourhood in the preliminary round with archival Finland, Norway and Germany.

THE WOMEN’S ROSTER

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

It is a roster heavy on experience. Indeed, only two skaters and one goalie did not play at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, United States.

Coach Leif Boork will be behind the bench for his fourth major event. He took over in 2015 and PyeongChang will complete his Olympic cycle. All players are playing in the Swedish league this year.

MODO Ornskoldsvik and AIK Stockholm lead the way, providing the team with five players each. Brynas and Lulea have three each, while Linkoping, Djurgarden Stockholm, and Leksand all have two. One player comes from HV71.

The roster has many new faces from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but one binding affiliation is that most of these women played at their 2008 and/or 2009 Women’s U18 event. In other words, their roots in the Swedish program run deep.

In goal, the number-one slot will go to Sara Grahn. The 29-year-old is in her third Olympics and has also played in nine Women’s Worlds. She has been the heir to Kim Martin. Behind her will be Sarah Berglind, the third goalie last year, and Minatsu Murase, who played at the 2013 WW18 and not since in IIHF play.

On defence, Boork made just one change. Out is Anna Kjellbin and in is Emmy Alasalmi. The 24-year-old Alasalmi has only one WW on her resume, that back in 2015. The coach will rely most heavily on 29-year-old Emilia Ramboldt, who has been with the national team since 2007 and is in her third Olympics.

Johanna Fallman, who has played in six WW events but is making her Olympics debut. Annie Svedin also is an Olympics rookie after five WW appearances. Johanna Olofsson is making her second Olympics appearance.

Then there are the younger players. Elin Lundberg has only the 2016 Women’s Worlds to her international credit and Maja Nylen-Persson, born in 2000, is only 17.

Up front, there is also but one change. Michelle Lowenhielm of the University of Minnesota-Duluth is on the outside while Rebecca Stenberg, who hasn’t played since the 2012 Women’s Worlds, is in.

Pernilla Winberg is the most experienced player. She has appeared in every women’s tournament since 2004 and is still only 28 years old.

Right behind her is Erica Uden Johansson, the 28-year-old who has played at the last two Olympics as well as five Women’s Worlds. Emma Nordin is also in this class, a player in her mid-twenties with plenty of international experience.

Sara Hjalmarsson is part of the young guard with some experience. After playing in three WW18 events, she made her senor debut last year and will turn 20 just before the start of the games.

Sabina Kuller, who played as Lambetz-Kuller the last three WW’s, is also at 23 a veteran.

Lisa Johansson, Erika Grahm, and Fanny Rask are three players from the 2008-09 group of U18 players on the team as is Anna Borgqvist.

Maria Lindh and Fanny Rask are two of the few players from the 2014 Olympic team.

At 19, Hanna Olsson is the baby of the forwards, but she has tons of experience, including a record four WW18’s and three senior Women’s Worlds. A great skater with offensive skills, she will be a key member of the team’s success up front.

Twenty-two-year-old Olivia Carlsson is a rare success story who went right from WW18 to WW. She rounds out what Boork hopes will be a medal-quality roster.

Czechia Olympic roster

By Martin Merk –IIHF.com

THE MEN’S ROSTER

As expected the Czechs will heavily rely on their KHL players. There are 28 players in the Russian-based cross-border league and 15 players are on the Czech roster for the 2018 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament. There will also be seven players from the Czech Extraliga and three from the Switzerland’s National League be travelling to Korea to represent the country.

“Some players have been clear for a long time but the final question marks have disappeared Sunday night when the Extraliga round ended,” Jandac said about his decision. “We chose the positions so we could put together a balanced team. I believe our strength will be team play. And a great bunch of players like it has always been when Czech hockey was celebrating success.”

Martin Erat, who will serve as team captain, will join a small club of Czech hockey players who have played four Olympics inclucing Vlastimil Bubnik, Josef Cerny, Jiri Holik, Patrik Elias, Dominik Hasek and Tomas Kaberle. Only one Czech player had more Olympic participations, Jaromir Jagr with five. For Roman Cervenka it will be the third Olympics. Cervenka (9) and Erat (7) are also the players who combine for most Olympic and World Championship participations on the team followed by Ondrej Nemec (6) and Jan Kovar (5) while Roman Cervenka has appeared in most national team games (138) before Petr Koukal (118) and Ondrej Nemec (116).

While many players have top-level experience, the absence of NHL players also gives players a chance to be in the international spotlight who haven’t had the chance before. For Patrik Bartosak, Milan Gulas, Dominik Kubalik, Tomas Mertl, Vojtech Mozik and Adam Polasek it will be their first top-level, IIHF-sanctioned event with the men’s national team. Most of them have played in U20 or U18 Worlds before but for Gulas and Mozik it will be the first IIHF-sanctioned tournament of their career.

Still, the Czechs will travel to Korea with a very experienced roster with an average age of 29 years. 36-year-old Erat is the oldest player on the team, 25-year-old Mozik the youngest. Jandac admits that recent World Juniors participant Martin Necas was considered as well but due to injuries he didn’t have the chance to test him with the men’s teams.

The Czech Republic lost in the quarter-finals in Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010 but won bronze in Turin 2006 and gold in Nagano 1998. In PyeongChang 2018 they will play defending Olympic champion Canada, Switzerland and host Korea in Group A of the preliminary round.

The Czech team will have its first practices in Prague before leaving to Korea. An exhibition game is planned against Finland in the Seoul region on 11 February before the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament kicks off on the east coast in Gangneung.

Canada’s Olympic roster

By Andrew Ponieks – IIHF.com

THE MEN’S ROSTER

Led by general manager Sean Burke and head coach Willie Desjardins, Hockey Canada unveiled its 25-man roster of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

The two-time defending gold medalists will be relying most heavily on players from the KHL, the Russian league from which 13 of the 25 are currently playing.

In addition, four players come from the top Swiss league (NL), three from the Swedish league (SHL) and American league (AHL). Germany (DEL) and Austria (EBEL) are providing one player each.

The youngest player on the roster is 25-year-old Christian Thomas (whose father, Steve, played at four World Championships, winning a gold and two silver) while the oldest is 37-year-old defenceman Chris Lee, who made his IIHF debut with Canada in sensational fashion at least year’s World Championship, helping the team win a silver medal.

This is a veteran and experienced team. The average age is 30.44, and only 8 of the 25 players are in their twenties. Interestingly, only Lee and Mat Robinson have never played in the NHL. At the other end, the team has three players with more than 700 NHL games to their credit: Chris Kelly (833), Derek Roy (738), and Rene Bourque (725).

“I think it’s fair to say there isn’t a player we didn’t look at,” Burke said. “We gave everyone a chance to make the team.”

“We want to be a tough team to play against,” Burke continued. “We have a lot of character. We have grit and character and skill. We have players who’ll do anything to win hockey games. This is the Olympic Games. It’s the greatest event we have. A lot of those players never dreamed they’d have this opportunity. We’re a hockey team, but we’re also representing Canada with all the other athletes who will be at the Olympics.”

“Most guys on this team have been told ‘no’ at some point in their careers,” started Desjardins. “No, they can’t play in the NHL. No, it’s over. But they’ve managed to battle and stuck with it. They didn’t give up. That’s their nature of being Canadian.”

The players will meet in Riga, Latvia, on 28th January and have 17 days before their first game of the Olympics. They’ll play three exhibition games leading up to PyeongChang during which time coach Desjardins will figure out who will be his starting goalie and which players will fulfill which roles.

“Our strength is in our depth,” Burke added. “Our defence is very mobile. They’re quick; they can move the puck. We don’t want to spend a lot of time in our end. And once we get the puck to our forwards, we have speed and skill. But we have a team that can be physical and play with grit if we need to.”

THE WOMEN’S ROSTER

By Hockey Canada

The Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team also features: 14 players who won the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; six players who won the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.; and one player who won the gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

“It was an extremely difficult decision narrowing down our roster due to the depth of talent on our team; we are excited to move forward with the 23 players chosen to represent Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games,” said head coach Laura Schuler. “These players have worked hard to earn this moment and we are confident that they will be able to inspire and unite our country as they set their sights on a fifth straight gold medal for Canada.”

The team nominated was selected by Schuler, alongside Melody Davidson, Hockey Canada’s general manager of National Women’s Team Programs, with support from assistant coaches Dwayne Gylywoychuk, Troy Ryan, and goaltending coach Brad Kirkwood, along with consultation from Hockey Canada’s chief executive officer, Tom Renney, and Hockey Canada’s president and chief operating officer, Scott Smith.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment to be chosen to represent your country at the Olympic Games,” said Renney, who was a member of the Canadian Olympic Team in 1994, where he guided the Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey Team to silver as head coach. “We are thrilled with the 23 players selected and we know they will wear the Maple Leaf with great pride and will leave nothing to chance in their preparation for PyeongChang.”

The Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team will look to win its fifth-straight gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games when the puck drops in South Korea on Feb. 11.

“Canada’s strong tradition of hockey talent is on display here, there is so much talent and depth on this team,” said Isabelle Charest, PyeongChang 2018 Team Canada Chef de Mission. “I am excited to watch them defend their gold medal in PyeongChang and can’t wait to cheer them on.”

PyeongChang 2018 will mark the sixth time women’s hockey has been part of the Olympic Winter Games. In addition to its four gold medals, Canada’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team also claimed silver in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

“Women’s hockey is one of Canada’s most successful events every Olympic Games and our Canadian athletes have never failed to win a medal since women’s hockey was added to the program in 1998,” said the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “This includes gold medals at the last four Olympic Winter Games and with a reputation like that, all eyes will be on Canada in PyeongChang. Be sure to cheer on these great women as they make Canada proud.”

Prior to heading to PyeongChang, the team will resume its Esso Series schedule with five games against Alberta Midget Hockey League opponents in the New Year.

The Olympic women’s hockey tournament opens on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the Kwandong Hockey Centre and culminates on Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre. Canada is scheduled to compete in Group A and begins preliminary-round play on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the COC’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Federations in late January 2018.

U.S. Olympic roster

By USA Hockey

THE MEN’S ROSTER

The men’s roster includes 15 players with NHL experience, led by Brian Gionta, who will serve as team captain of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Gionta has played 1,006 regular-season games and captained both the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres in his career. He is the lone player on the U.S. roster with Olympic experience, having played for Team USA in 2006.

“We really like our roster,” said Jim Johannson, general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team and also the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. “It’s a group that brings versatility and experience and includes players who have a lot of passion about representing our country.”

Johannson noted that two goaltenders will be added by mid-January to fill the 25-man roster.

While Gionta is the only Olympian on the roster, 21 other players have donned the U.S. jersey in international competition and captured 13 total medals.

Team USA’s forward lineup is highlighted by three of the top point getters in the National League in Switzerland, including Marc Arcobello (SC Bern), who leads the league with 39 points (13-26) in 33 games played. Broc Little (HC Davos) and Garrett Roe (EV Zug) are tied for third with 31 points each. The U.S. offense will also feature the talents of Chris Bourque (Hershey), who leads the AHL with 39 points (11-28) in 34 games played for the Hershey Bears and Harvard University’s Ryan Donato (Harvard University), who is fourth in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey in points per game (1.45).

Matt Gilroy (Jokerit), who played 225 games in the NHL and won the 2009 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, will anchor the blueline. He is tied for sixth in points among defenseman in the Kontinental Hockey League with 25 (6-19) in 44 games with Jokerit. The U.S. will also rely on the talents of Ryan Gunderson (Brynas IF), who leads all Swedish Hockey League defensemen with 25 points (4-21) in 31 games played and James Wisniewski (Kassel), who currently tops all blueliners in the DEL2 with 36 points playing for Kassel. Wisniewski, who has played 552 regular-season NHL games, helped the U.S. win its first-ever gold medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2004.

In goal, Ryan Zapolski (Mercyhurst University), who is one of three players from the Jokerit named to Team USA, is fifth in the league with a 1.68 goals against average. He is 21-8-3 on the season with a 93.5 save percentage.

The U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team opens play on Feb. 14 when it faces Slovenia in its first preliminary round game.

THE WOMEN’S ROSTER

The women’s roster features 23 players, including 10 returning Olympians and six two-time Olympians (2010, 2014) in Kacey Bellamy, captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Gigi Marvin; and four that made their Olympic debut in Sochi – Coyne, Decker, Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein. Eight players in total have played more than 100 international games apiece wearing the USA sweater, including Bellamy (133), Coyne (115), Decker (110), Duggan (130), Knight (150), Lamoureux-Davidson (125), Lamoureux-Morando (122) and Marvin (115).

“Today we took another step toward achieving our ultimate goal, which is to bring home a gold medal from South Korea,” said Reagan Carey, general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team and also the director of women’s hockey for USA Hockey, “We’ve had an exceptional four months in Wesley Chapel, Florida, leading up to this point and are confident that these 23 women give our country the best opportunity to reach the top of the podium in February.”

“The amount of skill and depth of talent on this roster is second-to-none and I couldn’t be more excited to see what these 23 women can do on the world stage in PyeongChang,” said Stauber, “With just a month to go until the Olympics, and now with our roster set, our focus only gets sharper. We’ll be ready to go.”

All 23 players on the roster have a collegiate hockey background, representing a total of nine NCAA schools. The University of Minnesota of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association leads the way with six representatives, followed by Boston College of the Hockey East Association (five) and the University of Wisconsin of the WCHA (four). The University of North Dakota and University of Minnesota Duluth (WCHA) are each represented by a pair of players, while Lindenwood University (CHA), Northeastern University (HEA), the University of New Hampshire (HEA) and the University of Vermont (HEA) have one apiece.

Fourteen of the 23 players on the final roster have been recognized as top-10 finishers for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which annually recognizes the top NCAA Division I women’s college hockey player, and four have taken the trophy – Coyne (2016), Kessel (2013), Decker (2012), Duggan (2011).

With 18 post-graduate players and five collegiate players, the roster also features younger players in the prime of their collegiate career putting eligibility on hold to pursue their Olympic dream. Among them are Boston College players Cayla Barnes, Kali Flanagan and Megan Keller; the University of Minnesota’s Kelly Pannek; and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Maddie Rooney.

During the 2016-17 season, 14 players on the U.S. roster were playing professionally in the United States, nine in the National Women’s Hockey League and five with the Minnesota Whitecaps. Sidney Morin played a portion of the 2017-18 season with MODO Hockey of the Swedish Women’s Hockey League before joining the U.S. Olympic evaluation process.

The U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team will begin its quest for a gold medal on Feb. 11 when it faces Finland in its opening game of preliminary round play.

UAE’s hijabi hockey player paves way for others in the region

UAE_Hijabi ice hockey player Fatima Al Ali

By Yasmin Helal – My Salaam

Even before the formation of ice hockey sports clubs in the UAE in the 1990’s, Fatima Al Ali had fostered a passion for the sport. She had watched the game in movies as a child, and when she turned 18 in 2008, she seized an opportunity to work with the UAE’s national men’s team as a photographer.

When the women’s team was formed in 2010, she was among the first to join, and today she is one of the few hijab-wearing hockey players in the world. “I’ve been playing hockey since May 2011, working hard to be the best I can be in the game, and after struggling I finally got into the second league,” Fatima told My Salaam.

She quickly became known for her talent in the game, winning first place in Hong Kong in 2013, Bangkok in 2014, and Kuala Lampur in 2015. She was also named Best Player of the UAE–Singapore game in 2017.

Fatima’s passion for ice hockey may seem unusual for an Emirati, but she is hardly alone. The sport’s growth in the Emirates owes much to a prominent fan, HH Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. Sheikh Falah was among the first to play and endorse the game in the country, leading Russian ice hockey icon Maxim Petrov to describe him as “the father of ice hockey in the United Arab Emirates.”

Sheikh Falah’s passion has paid off. Defying all odds, the Emirate’s ice hockey men’s team has won eight medals so far, including three gold and five silver. A game played in Toronto in November 2005 between Emiratis and some of the sport’s greatest heroes welcomed the UAE into the global community of ice hockey.

“Days after the game, Sheikh Falah’s jersey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, marking the first time a UAE national team jersey had been accepted by the sport’s most prestigious institution,” Petrov said.

For her part, Fatima still works as a photographer, practicing only during her spare time. A lack of financial support makes a full-time career in ice hockey impractical. “We play hockey as a hobby, not even part-time, and we do not have full support. We only get ice time twice a week,” she said.

To compensate for this, she officiates and coaches to get more involved in the game. “I’ve been coaching kids for three years now to teach them the game and pass on my passion.”

Despite the lack of support, Fatima is making waves. Earlier this year, she made an impression on Peter Bondra, an ambassador of the Washington Capitals, the Washington-based professional ice hockey team, during his trip to the UAE. He recorded her stick-handling techniques in a video and posted it on Twitter, and the tweet went viral, with more than 460,000 views and thousands of shares and likes.

Bondra subsequently invited her to Washington for the Hockey Is for Everyone campaign (which aims to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities) as the Washington Capitals’ guest of honor.

“Fatima Al Ali is an example of what Emirati women who play hockey have achieved,” the Washington Capitals’ player Alexander Volchkov said. “The UAE women’s national ice hockey team, which has competed in both domestic and international tournaments, is a great example of how women have taken advantage of the chance to play hockey.”

When Fatima thinks of the future, all her dreams involve ice hockey and sports. She hopes to win the Asia Cup and participate in the Asian Winter Games as a player, but she also wants to reach higher levels as an officiate at the World Championship and eventually move on to the Olympics.

And once she retires, she would like to coach her own team. “I hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams and work hard to make them come true, because nothing is impossible. Hopefully, my story will encourage more women to explore hockey in the region.”

As winter peaks, ice hockey gets a boost in Ladakh

As winter peaks, ice hockey gets a boost in Ladakh

By Tribune India

Although ice hockey is less known in other parts of the country, it has become the most sought after sport in Ladakh.

In international events, most of the members of national teams are now being dominated by players of Ladakh. Both men and women teams of ice hockey were formed with players from the region.

The men’s team started to represent the country in international events in 2008 and the women’s team in 2016.

The national women’s ice hockey team created history at the Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia, held in Bangkok, Thailand, by recording its first international win by defeating Philippines and Malaysia. With this, India finished at the fourth position in the tournament. Ladakh Winter Sports Club general Secretary None P Wangchuk said for the first time, U-20 boys had represented the country in Malaysia last year.

He said in addition to the regular tournaments, a state-level championship sponsored by the J&K State Sports Council was going to be held during this winter sports season. Considering the high potential due to the natural weather of Ladakh, ice hockey has started to get attention of elders as well.

To meet the demand, special coaching is being provided to children and it is the only sport in Ladakh for which coaching at such a large scale is available.

Noor Jahan, general secretary of the Ladakh Women Foundation, said free coaching in remote areas was a part of ice hockey promotion for which money was raised through crowd-funding.

She said in all, 108 girls from different areas of the district took part in a 10-day basic coaching programme in ice hockey. Meanwhile, the winter sports season in Ladakh, during which a series of events in the fields of ice hockey, ice skating, speed skating and figure skating are held, also began recently. The events are being organized by the Ladakh Winter Sports Club.

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