Day: December 26, 2018

Spengler Cup Day 1 Recap

Magnitogorsk wins the first game of the 2018 Spengler Cup 2-1 in the penalty shoot-out

By Hansruedi Camenisch – Spengler Cup

Tournament favorite Metallurg Magnitogorsk had a tough time against the well-organized Trinec team in the first game of the 92nd Spengler Cup. Maxim Matuschkin shot the equalizing goal only in the 53rd minute for the Russians to make it 1-1. In the resulting penalty shoot-out only Roman Ljubimov landed the puck in the net for Magnitogorsk.

Goals were rare in the opening game of the 92nd Spengler Cup, although there were many attempts. The 5,359 fans in the Vaillant Arena enjoyed the extremely engaging match. Both goaltenders – Simon Hrubec (Trinec) and Artem Zagidulin – hat several chances to demonstrate their expertise. While both teams demonstrated not only their superb organization but also their skating skills and tactical training.

With a practiced powerplay maneuver, Trinec took the lead. Martin Adamsky deflected the hard-hit pass from defender Vladimir Roth into the net (23rd minute). Immediately prior and also thereafter Martin Ruzicka failed in his quick solo counter attacks against Zagidulin. In the third period, the Russians increased their offensive pressure as is clearly shown in the shots-on-goal statistic 12-5. Only Maxim Matuschkin was successful in beating Hrubec (53rd minute).

After a goalless overtime, the penalty shoot-out was needed to force a decision. Trinec brought in Petr Kvaca for Hrubec at this point. He was overpowered by the first penalty shooter, Roman Ljubimov. All subsequent penalty shooters failed. Trinec’s Ruzicka had an unlucky shot that hit the goal post. Kvaca was also unlucky when he injured himself during his successful defense of the penalty attempt by Matuschkin.

By Canadian Press

Canada opens Spengler Cup defence with 2-1 win over HC Davos

Matt D’Agostini’s goal early in the second period stood as the winner as Canada held off HC Davos 2-1 on Wednesday in both teams’ opening game at the Spengler Cup.

Zach Boychuk opened scoring for Canada, while Zach Fucale made 18 saves for the win.

Thierry Bader ended Fucale’s shutout with less than two minutes remaining in the second period and Anders Lindback stopped 24 shots for HC Davos.

HC Davos hosts what is considered the world’s oldest hockey tournament annually.

Although most participating teams in the event are club teams from around Europe, Hockey Canada puts together a team of free agents and other Canadians playing abroad to compete.

Canada has won the tournament 15 times since first taking part in 1984, including the past three years.

Neither team scored on the power play. Canada was 0 for 6 and HC Davos was
0 for 4.

Team Lebanon ‘writing history’ from Canadian hockey hub

The team was built by Lebanese community members in Montreal

By Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – Middle East Eye

Dozens of players from across North America currently play for Lebanese national hockey team, a grassroots initiative with hopes set on Olympics

At first glance, Saturday night’s hockey game was like any of the thousands of others taking place across Canada.

But as the starting rosters were read out over the arena’s sound system – and fans wove red and white flags, emblazoned with a green cedar tree, enthusiastically in the stands – it was clear that something else was taking place.

The game was a chance to showcase Lebanese hockey talent – and give the close-knit community in Montreal something to cheer for.

Charles El-Mir, president of the Lebanese Ice Hockey Federation, said between 50 and 60 players – all of Lebanese descent, between ages 18 and 38 – currently play on the team.

They hail from across North America, but the majority are based in Canada, “the hub of ice hockey”, El-Mir said.

We say … that we are writing history, to be honest with you
– Charles El-Mir, Lebanese Ice Hockey Federation president

Last month, the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sport gave the federation official accredited status in Lebanon, making it the only official body representing Lebanese ice hockey players in the world.

That status also paves the way for the federation to apply to join the Lebanese Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation, which would open the door to international matches, including at the Olympics.

The president of the Lebanese Olympic Committee, Jean Hammam, did the ceremonial puck drop at the start of the game in Montreal on 22 December, which saw the Lebanese side win 11-6 against a local team.

Ralph Melki, the team’s coach, moved to Canada from Lebanon at age six. He started to play hockey two years later, after he asked his father – by that time, a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, the city’s National Hockey League team – to sign him up.

“I grew up here and fell in love with the game,” Melki told Middle East Eye ahead of Saturday’s game.

The Lebanese men’s team played an exhibition game on 22 December in Montreal

When he moved onto coaching after his playing days ended in his later teenage years, Melki said he noticed the high number of talented players of Lebanese background in Montreal.

Melki said some of the players come from as far away as the US states of Ohio and Michigan, or the cities of Calgary and Edmonton in western Canada, to represent Lebanon.

“They’re all dedicated,” Melki told MEE. “We have talented players on the team.”

For El-Mir, the next major goal is to build an ice rink in Lebanon and begin training more players there. But until then, the base remains in Montreal. “We say … that we are writing history, to be honest with you,” he told Middle East Eye.

“There is a lot of work to go on the next two years. A lot a lot of work, but at least it’s a reality.”

Changing perceptions

This month also marked the first time the Lebanese Ice Hockey Federation helped get a women’s team on the ice.

Ranging in age from 15 to 38, the players came to Montreal from across North America to play an exhibition match of their own on 22 December.

“It’s surreal,” said Sally Tabarah, the women’s team’s manager, who hails from New Jersey. She told Middle East Eye she said she spent four months scanning the rosters of university teams and others, searching for last names that hinted at Lebanese ancestry.

“We want to make it to the Olympics one day. It’s a lofty goal – but why not?” she said.

The women had never played together before, but they bonded almost immediately, Tabarah said, revelling in their shared backgrounds and dreams of representing Lebanon.

“We all have this shared ancestry… All that matters is we’re playing for the cedar,” she told Middle East Eye. “This is history in the making.”