Year: 2019 (page 1 of 13)

Powerhaus: Rise of German Hockey

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 25: Jonas Muller #41 of Germany celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third period against Olympic Athletes from Russia during the Men’s Gold Medal Game on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 25, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea

By Ashley Glover – The Last Word on Hockey

Since placing second at the 2018 Winter Olympics, German hockey has been given much more respect on the world’s stage. They also appear to be becoming a somewhat new breeding ground for NHL talent. 100 point forward Leon Draisaitl has now become an elite player. Goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Thomas Greiss are more than serviceable starters and Penguins winger Dominik Kahun can fill a role anywhere in the top-nine. These are just some of the key players who are providing a core and a pathway for the next wave of German hockey stars.

The Recent Boom in German Hockey

Recent Draft Successes

Moritz Seider, Dominik Bokk and Leon Gawanke are just some of the newer faces expected to grace NHL ice soon.

Seider, the sixth overall pick from the 2019 NHL Draft, was the DEL rookie of the year with champions Adler Mannheim. Seider also led Team Germany to a gold medal during the 2019 World Junior Division 1-A Championships. The six-foot-four defenceman projects to be a solid two-way, top-four defenceman in the NHL. He is now up to seven points (all assists) in 12 games with Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.

Drafted 25th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2018, Bokk has since been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes as a part of the deal for Justin Faulk. Bokk is a highly-skilled winger with top-six upside, currently skating with Rögle BK in the SHL.

Gawanke, a 2017 fifth-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets, had a good break out last season collecting 57 points with Cape Breton in the QMJHL. The solid two-way defender is now with the Jets AHL affiliate the Manitoba Moose. The Jets are currently attempting a rebuild on their backend. If Gawanke continues to develop, he may be a player for the future.

The Prospects On The Way

Lead by potential top 10 pick Tim Stützle, the 2020 crop of draft-eligible Germans is yet again impressive. Stützle, who is a star of the DEL’s Adler Mannheim, is a smart and nimble offensive weapon playing either centre or wing. A fantastic skater with a quick release, Stützle has drawn stylistic comparisons to former NHL MVP Taylor Hall.

Lukas Reichel is one prospect who is shooting up the draft boards. Once considered a third or fourth-round pick, he is now playing his way into first-round consideration. With 11 points in 15 games so far this season with DEL club Eisbären Berlin, the crafty forward leads all German eligible prospects so far this season with six goals.

The third notable prospect is John-Jason Peterka. After a standout 94 point season in the Czech under 19 league last season and a great international output (27 points in 24 games) Peterka has made the transition into the DEL nicely. So far this season, the flashy winger has six points in 17 games with EHC München.

Germany Starting To Climb The Draft Boards

German hockey has two first-rounders in the two most recent NHL drafts (Seider and Bokk), with Stützle soon to continue their streak next season. This has been good enough to solidify Germany as the sixth-ranked country for first-rounders over three drafts. If Czech winger Jan Mysak also falls in the first round, that will see both the Czech Republic and German tied for sixth. Considering how far German hockey has come in such a short time, that would be a massive achievement. Reichel in-particular will have his chance to prove his first-round worth later this year. He will suit up for Germany in the Under-20 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. A good showing may just see him break that tie for sixth. With the DEL expanding in the 2021/22 season to a relegation league, the quality should improve even more.

New rinks are in the works and player numbers are back up. The Germans aren’t far away from being a regular international force. German hockey is on the rise.

OHL’s ‘Big Four’ draft stars shine against Russians on the big stage

By Ryan Kennedy – The Hockey News

The third game of the CHL-Russia series took place on Thursday in Kitchener, with the OHL taking up the sword for the QMJHL, which split its two games with the Russians. The OHL dominated a Russian lineup that didn’t have a lot of firepower outside of Vasili Podkolzin (VAN) and Ivan Morozov (VGK), but what was most intriguing about the 4-1 home victory is how the youngest players on the team fared.

Team OHL featured four 2002 birthdays on the night, all of whom look to be major players in the 2020 draft this summer: Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, Jamie Drysdale and Ryan O’Rourke (goalie Nico Daws, passed over in the last year’s draft, was also excellent). Drafted prospects such as Akil Thomas (LA), Ryan Merkley (SJ) and Connor McMichael (WSH) also had strong showings, but it was truly illuminating to see the 2020 ‘Big Four’ make major impacts in front of Canada’s world junior brain trust.

“The Russians are a big, heavy team,” said coach Dale Hunter. “And they held their own against big, strong guys that are older than them, so that’s a credit to them.”

Byfield is the best-known of the group, so let’s start with him. The Sudbury Wolves center is expected to go within the first two picks in the draft, at this point right behind Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere. Byfield earned player of the game honors for Team OHL in Kitchener on the strength of two primary assists and had no problem using his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame to get his way, particularly in the offensive zone.

“I tried battling down low in the corners, showing my strength and putting my stamp on the game,” Byfield said. “I’m just trying to show a lot of people that I can play with older guys and that I’m ready for the next step.”

What makes Byfield such an intriguing prospect is that he’s still on his way up. The offensive skills are impressive, but he can put more weight and muscle on his frame, giving the youngster an incredible ceiling. He also showed his versatility by switching from center to wing, something Hunter likes to see in a player (which makes sense given how many natural centers Team Canada traditionally has on its national teams).

Perfetti came into the season looking like a potential top-five pick thanks to a big performance at the summer Hlinka-Gretzky tournament, not to mention his 37-goal rookie campaign with the Saginaw Spirit last year. He popped in the game-winner in Kitchener and looked dangerous throughout. Though he doesn’t have the size of Byfield, Perfetti brings his own tantalizing package of skills, including his vision and an incredible shot.

On the blueline, Drysdale has been everything for the Erie Otters this year and his hallmark comes with his skating. Simply put, every NHL team can use a defenseman with the mobility of Drysdale and he looked very good against the Russians. I would not be surprised if Drysdale is the first defenseman off the board this summer, so top-five is on the table for him, too.

Drysdale actually played on a pairing with O’Rourke in Kitchener and while he may be the least-known of the four, O’Rourke is opening eyes quickly. The 17-year-old was just named captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and that is quite the accomplishment for a second-year player. O’Rourke moves well too, but also has a nice level of snarl in his game. Both he and Drysdale can put points on the board, too. If O’Rourke continues his strong play, I could see him sneaking into the top-10 in the draft, but if he goes lower he’ll be a very nice pick-up for an NHL team.

And the best part of this Big Four? They like each other.

“We’re always hanging out at the hotel, we’re good friends off the ice,” Byfield said. “We always support each other on the ice as well. All three of them are special players and we thrive off each other. The energy between all of us is strong.”

How many of them will make the team? It’s difficult to say, given how loaded Canada is for skaters. For me, even surviving an initial cut at main camp would be a badge of distinction, but it sounds like Canada’s coaches are keeping an open mind.

“It’s always open,” Hunter said. “Whoever’s the best, we’ll take. That’s what you want; a battle for all positions.”

‘We’re going to build something great’: Katie Weatherston named head coach of Lebanese women’s hockey team

Thunder Bay’s Katie Weatherston, seen here celebrating her gold medal win with Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics, has been named head coach of the Lebanese national women’s hockey team.

By CBC News

Thunder Bay’s Katie Weatherston is on the hunt for another gold medal.

But this time, she’ll be behind the bench instead of on the ice.

Weatherston, an Olympic champion and former professional hockey player, has signed as the head coach of the Lebanese women’s hockey team.

“We’re going to build something great,” Weatherston told CBC’s Superior Morning on Monday. “I’m super excited to be a part of it, and never would I [have] thought my hockey career would have led me here.”

Weatherston — who was part of the Canadian women’s hockey team that won gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics — was contacted by the Lebanese Ice Hockey Federation (LIHF) about the coaching job, and her hiring was made official earlier this month.

The LIHF is a relatively-new organization, Weatherston said, and is currently based in Montreal.

“A lot of [the players] have dual citizenship, so they’re Canadian and Lebanese,” she said. “Obviously, here, our program is stronger. They’ve been playing hockey a lot longer.”

“But we’re hoping to change that, and … develop hockey in Lebanon and bring some excitement to the country. They’re already really excited and supporting us.”

Lebanon itself, in fact, doesn’t have a rink yet, but Weatherston said that will be coming soon.

“By the sounds of it, they’re eager to build an arena,” she said. “Then, we can start developing local players as well, and get women involved in ice hockey there.”

Further, the LIHF was formally accepted into the International Ice Hockey Federation in September, clearing the way for Lebanese teams to compete at international events and tournaments.

The women’s team, Weatherston said, launched about a year ago, and the team will hold a training camp in Toronto in December.

“Most of the girls are on board,” she said. “We’re dealing with busy kids, too, that are in university hockey, they’re playing midget AA, so we’re trying to make that team a little bit more competitive.”

“We’re also putting a call out to Lebanese-Canadians, Lebanese-Americans, hockey players worldwide, we’re looking for them,” she said. “So, recruiting is a huge part right now, because we do not have a lot of players in our player pool.”

Weatherston said the goal is for the women’s team to start competing internationally in 2021.

“Obviously, I would love to go to the World Championships, or eventually the Olympics, but we have a lot of work to do before we get to that level,” she said.

Zubrus: “As a hockey nation we’re improving”

Dainius Zubrus captained the Lithuanian national team during the past two seasons and was elected president last year

By Martin Merk –

22nd this year, 23rd last year – the Lithuanian men’s national team has only once been better in the overall placings of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program (19th in 2006) since the country’s return on the international stage after restoring independence in the early ‘90s.

Within these positions Lithuania was at the border between the second and third tier of world ice hockey. The team won the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in front of 10,170 fans on home ice in Kaunas when it beat Baltic rival Estonia for promotion.

On the roster were two legends with Dainius Zubrus and Darius Kasparaitis – playing for the first time together for their country. Kasparaitis just became eligible to represent the country of birth after having played four years of amateur hockey in Lithuania following a pro career that saw him play over 800 NHL games while representing the Soviet Union and later Russia on the international stage. For Kasparaitis it was a dream to end his career like that in the country of birth, while Zubrus came back on the ice for another year to follow up on promotion.

A year later, with a younger roster following several retirements, the Lithuanians didn’t succeed in staying up and finished the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in last place despite a surprise 2-1 win over Korea and nearly upsetting tournament favorites Belarus. The team didn’t win the games it needed to win the most, including a finale against a struggling Slovenian team that came back to life against Lithuania.

“We were inexperienced, there was a fatigue level. Altogether I’m happy with the way we played,” said Zubrus.

As a hockey nation we are improving. It’s a step into the right direction.
Dainius Zubrus
Lithuanian national team captain & president

Zubrus is sure that playing one year at Division IA level wasn’t a fluke. After all, the U18 and U20 national teams havereached similar heights in the rankings during the last few years.

Ice hockey has deep roots in the Baltic countries. In 1938 Lithuania joined the IIHF, playing in the World Championship in Prague that very same year where it finished in 10th place with a 1-3 record and a win against Romania. Then came World War II with Lithuania becoming part of the Soviet Union for almost five decades. During Soviet times ice hockey saw little development in Lithuania. Riga in Latvia was the centre for producing hockey stars in the Soviet republics of the Baltic region while Lithuania brought out world-class players in basketball.

Today Lithuania is still a basketball country, but ice hockey has won more fans in recent years also thanks to the country hosting regular IIHF tournaments in big basketball arenas in Vilnius and more recently Kaunas rather than at smaller venues on the countryside like in Elektrenai, which became the hockey hotbed of Soviet Lithuania and is the birthplace of both Zubrus and Kasparaitis.

A bankruptcy case of the old federation after hosting the Division IA in Vilnius in 2009 was a setback in the short term but created a new ice hockey federation, wider participation in league play and kids hockey, better structure and more transparent management.

Lithuania is surrounded by other countries with deep ice hockey roots: Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia and Sweden. That makes cross-border co-operation and opportunities for players bigger. Next week during the International Break Lithuania will compete in the Baltic Challenge Cup. After hosting the tournament last year in Klaipeda, it will take place in the Estonian capital of Tallinn from 7 to 10 November.

Two NHL legends from small countries at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A: Lithuanian captain Dainius Zubrus and Slovenian captain Anze Kopitar

One year ago Lithuania’s hockey legend Dainius Zubrus decided to run for federation president in order to take the game to the next level. The tall forward from the small town of Elektrenai, about halfway between the biggest cities of Kaunas and Vilnius, did not only play 1,293 regular-season NHL games for Philadelphia, Montreal, Washington, Buffalo, New Jersey and San Jose – he also tried to help his country in Division I play when possible. He scored his goals in the Lithuanian jersey as an active NHL player in 2005 and 2014, and came back after retiring as a professional player to defend the Lithuanian colours in 2018 and 2019. As a president he wants to leave a legacy also off the ice.

Growing the own garden

“We need more arenas, with that there will be more hockey players playing. I’m talking about kids. For us to compete at Division IA level, we need more players and we need our own players,” Zubrus said about what’s to be done. “Never mind some of these teams have players from Canada or the U.S. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about growing our own garden at home and build a system with a competitive championship going on throughout the season from kids to men. That’s the big picture but that’s what we’re going to try.”

That’s a long way to go but today Lithuania has 2,466 players – three times as much than 10 years ago. More kids and adults in more cities are playing in the various leagues and in recent years they have been joined by female players with the Lithuanian women’s national team joining the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program for the first time this season.

“We’re getting there slowly, small steps. We’re planning on building a couple of rinks in the big cities, in Kaunas for example there should be a rink soon that’s desperately needed. There’s a plan that will be executed fairly soon. Another arena will be built in Klaipeda, which is a port city. They have a pretty deep hockey culture there as well; even without a full-size rink there are quite a few kids playing hockey. There will hopefully be more cities like this to come,” Zubrus said. “That’s also a reason why I took on the presidency. I want these projects and developments not to be put away somewhere in the drawer. I hope politicians will do what they say and slowly we will grow.”

Lithuania will be back competing in the Division I Group B and travel to Katowice in neighbouring Poland where they will also face the teams from Japan, Estonia, Ukraine and Serbia in a battle for promotion.

Like one year ago the question will come up whether Lithuanian fans will see Zubrus once again on the ice.

“I’m not sure. Time will tell. Never say never. I’m 41,” Zubrus said.

Владимир Курьян – о карьере, о жизни, о Чили в IIHF

Автор материала: Виталий Нестеров National teams of ice hockey

Почему вы выбрали именно хоккей?

– Это было лёгким для меня выбором.
До сих пор помню тот момент. Я родился в Словакии, в 9 лет я смотрел по телевизору зимние олимпийские игры в Лиллехаммеры 1994, в то время я ничего не знал о хоккее, так-как большую часть своего времени занимался уроками на пианино, моя мама тоже играла на пианино, да и играть мне очень нравилось. Но тот день изменил всё! Впервые я увидел игру, в которую влюбился моментально, такие фамилии как: Палффи, Стастный, Шатан стали для меня своего родом примером. В тот день мы выиграли Канаду 3:1, я тогда сказал отцу “Хочу стать хоккеистом!”
Всё сложилось удачно, мы жили в Банска-Бистрице, очень близко к ледовой арене, и школе со спортивным уклоном.

Вы выступаете за какой-нибудь клуб?

– Нет, играл в своё время за свой город в юниорской лиге, о профессиональной карьере речь не шла, так-как это больше хобби, чем работа с которой я бы хотел связать свою жизнь.
Но хоккей для меня по-прежнему остаётся важным делом.

– Выполнила ли свои задачи сборная Чили свои задачи на Latam Cup?

– Прежде всего я хочу сказать, что горжусь тем что являюсь игроком и также частью чилийского хоккея. Я приехал сюда 4 года назад, получил гражданство и место жительство, смог выступать за сборную Чили, о чём всегда мечтал. У нас много игроков которые играют в пассивный хоккей, но они упорно стараются улучшать свои навыки.

Latam Cup стал для нас огромным опытом, мы смогли оценить наш уровень, уровень других сборных, игроков, и поняли, что у нас впереди огромная работа для улучшения качества и уровня игры. Если вернуться к Вашему вопросу, то да, мы удовлетворены выступлением нашей сборной, и это бесценный опыт полученный на Latam Cup.

После Latam Cup Колумбия вступила в IIHF, а какие планы у хоккея Чили на будущее?

– Да, это большое достижение для Колумбии стать частью IIHF, и для Латинской Америки в целом, поздравляю их, они этого заслуживают, это показывает что уровень хоккея в Латинской Америке растёт. Но в Чили пока далеко до вступления IIHF.
Чили новичок в хоккее, у нас даже нет правильной подготовки спортсменов, но стараемся двигаться дальше. Наша основная цель – создать программу и привлечение детей в хоккей. Также необходимо создать федерацию, чтоб привлечь внимание правительства и получить некоторую поддержку, но это непростая задача. А пока нужно заняться основными вещами, проводить больше времени на льду, найти финансовую поддержку для приобретения хоккейной экипировки, поддерживать школу, также необходим ледовый комбайн.

Какие у Вас любимые хоккейные клубы, следите за другими чемпионатами?

– Конечно – это NHL, он сильно изменился, стал более быстрым и динамичным. Мои любимые клубы Монреаль, Детройт, Эдмонтон, и конечно же 05 Банска-Бистрица)
В этом сезоне буду следить за Рейнджерс и Нью-Джерси.
Ну и само собой чемпионаты IIHF, Олимпиада, и также Кубок Мира.

Чем занимаетесь в свободное от хоккея время?

– Хоккеем, так-как свободного времени у меня в ограниченном количестве, работаю ди-джеем и музыкальным продюсером, начал свой собственный бизнес по импорту веганских продуктов из Словакии в Чили, так что на хоккей очень мало времени остаётся.

Владимир Курьян

Что заставило Вас переехать в Чили?

– После трудного периода в моей жизни в Словакии, я хотел начать жизнь с нуля.
Мои родители умерли от рака, отец умер когда мне 25 лет, а мама спустя 5 лет, они буквально таяли у меня на глазах, это был самый тяжёлый период в жизни и справляться с этим было непросто. В тот момент я понял, что должен уехать из Словакии на некоторое время.
Выбор был между Канадой и Чили, в Канаде я жил какое-то время, и поэтому знал язык и имел там несколько знакомых. Но в Чили у меня был друг с которым мы познакомились в США, когда я работал там по программе – Work and travel. Впоследствии мы много путешествовали по США, однажды он приезжал ко мне в Словакию. В итоге я полетел в Чили, я хотел пробыть там 3 месяца в качестве туриста. Но за это время я влюбился в эту страну, люди относились ко мне дружелюбно, и я почувствовал, что смогу начать здесь свою новую жизнь. Мне потребовалась некоторое время, чтоб подучить испанский язык. Теперь в Чили я независимый человек, имею свой бизнес о котором упоминал, открываю новые для себя вещи в этой стране, и помогаю развивать хоккей в Чили.

Как Вы попали в хоккей в Чили?

– Я всегда любил хоккей, я и понятие не имел что в Чили есть хоккей! Но когда узнал, я поискал в интернете что-то про хоккей в стране, и нашёл клуб – Сантьяго Йети, я связался с клубом, и мне сразу ответили и пригласили в клуб, на тот момент я был без экипировки, поэтому пришлось одолжить коньки и пару клюшек, они считали, что раз я из Словакии то играю профессионально, поэтому время на льду я проводил всё больше и больше, потом мне предложили стать тренером.

Владимир Курьян на Latam Cup 2019

Включаете свои трэки в раздевалке?

– Не совсем, я оставляю право выбора моим друзьям, в Латинской Америке не так популярна электронная музыка как в Европе.

Как много людей посещают Ваши концерты?

– В данный момент я больше музыкальный продюсер нежели ди-джей, из-за поставки веганских продуктов, времени на работу ди-джеем не остаётся практически. Поэтому я наслаждаюсь музыкой в качестве продюсера.

Посоветуйте Ваш трэк для нашего интервью:)

– Я бы посоветовал – The Awakening, этот трэк я сочинил в Чили, он описывает мою большую перемену в жизни

Argentine players overcoming hurdles to get on ice

By William Douglas –

Argentine hockey players have to go to the end of the world if they want to play a five-on-five game in their country.

With small ice rinks in large cities like Buenos Aires, an Olympic-sized outdoor rink Ushuaia, a town at the southernmost tip of South America with a sign in Spanish that says “fin del mundo” — end of the world — is the only option for a full game.

“We don’t have a lot of economic help to promote the sport,” said Jorge Dicky Haiek, coach of Argentina’s men’s national team, “so we need to create, promote the sport and be better and better with our resources. It’s very difficult.”

Argentina’s men’s and women’s teams overcome several hurdles to play the game they love in a soccer and basketball-obsessed South American country of nearly 45 million people.

Like their Latin American rivals that competed in the 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup tournament held at the Florida Panthers IceDen in September, most of Argentina’s players are in-line hockey players who transition to ice when it becomes available.

Hockey is an expensive sport in the United States and Canada, but more so in countries like Argentina because of the currency exchange rates, shipping charges (if buying online) and taxes.

“We don’t have sticks there (in Argentina),” Haiek said. “We have to go to Miami; someone goes, picks up the sticks, carries them on the flight. It’s very difficult; the import, the export.”

Rather than spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace broken sticks, skates and other items, some players turn to Argentine women’s coach Roberto “Racki” Villagra, who has become the go-to guy in the country for making damaged hockey equipment good as new.

Affectionately nicknamed after the burly tough guy in the 1986 hockey movie “Youngblood,” Villagra delicately uses carbon fiber and epoxy to fix shattered or splintering sticks.

At the Amerigol Cup, Villagra proudly displayed a repaired stick he’s been using since 2009, noting that it has the same flex as when it was first purchased.

He also showed off “Frankenskate,” a beat-up pair of Bauer boots used by an Argentine player for ice and in-line hockey. The blades are interchangeable, held to the boots by easily removable screws and bolts instead of rivets.

“There’s no pro shop there, there’s only one person that imports that stuff, and it’s really, really expensive,” said Leana Villagra, Racki’s daughter, whose 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in three games helped lead Argentina to the Amerigol Cup women’s championship. “It’s better to fix it over and over again, and that’s what he does.”

Fixing what would be considered unrepairable in North America and traveling great distances (Ushuaia is nearly 1,475 miles from Buenos Aires by air) to play on a regulation-sized rink shows the love some Argentines have for hockey.

Argentina has been an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1998. The country has 1,060 players; 630 men, 290 women and 140 juniors.

“We have a heart, passion and creativity, like (soccer star) Messi and (former NBA player) Manu Ginobili,” Haiek said. “We work so hard to involve all the kids to play because it’s the best sport of the world — ice hockey and in-line hockey is the best of the world.”

Ice hockey returns to SEA Games

Top-seeded Philippines and Thailand met at the SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink already at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia. The venue in the Philippines will host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games ice hockey tournament

By Martin

The Philippines will soon host the 30th Southeast Asia Games – a traditional multi-sports event in the region that takes place every two years.

It will be the second time after 2017 in Malaysia that ice sports will be included. Ice hockey debuted two years ago with the inauguration of the Malaysia National Ice Skating Stadium outside of the capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The newcomers from the Philippines surprised pre-tournament favourite Thailand in the deciding game to win the first SEA Games ice hockey tournament. A good omen for this year as the Philippines are the host of the SEA Games at various venues with a record number of 56 sports. Many Olympic sports, since 2017 ice sports but also less known sports such as the debut of… underwater hockey!

This year’s SEA Games are split into several clusters including ice sports in Manila’s metropolitan region. The ice hockey tournament will be held at the SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink in Pasay south of Manila. The rink located in a mall has a full-size ice sheet and hosted the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia.

The tournament will include the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. They will play a five-team round-robin competition followed by semi-finals and medal games. The tournament dates are 1-8 December 2019.

Schedule Here

Brazil men’s national hockey team working hard to catch rivals

By William Douglas

Five-year-old program making strides in Latin American, Caribbean circuit

Jens Hinderlie felt like Herb Brooks.

Just like the legendary coach who led the U.S. men’s hockey team to an improbable gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Hinderlie was tapped in 2015 for the seemingly improbable task of helping build a competitive national ice hockey team for Brazil.

“I showed up, watched all these guys play inline hockey and picked the team, essentially like Herb Brooks did,” said Hinderlie, who is from Minnesota, like Brooks, and coached ice hockey in Alaska before he moved to Brazil, his wife’s country. “Not being one too familiar with inline…I assumed it would easily translate to ice. Literally, the first day of practice when we showed up (on ice) in 2015, I had to change my entire plan for what I wanted to do and immediately bought six more hours of ice time.”

In life, you crawl before you walk. For the Brazil hockey team, most players learned to fall before they could skate. But it didn’t take them long to catch on, Hinderlie said.

“We really had to revert back to the basics: doing basic skating, learning how to fall and get up, but the guys really learned fast and picked it up quickly,” he said. “In literally in the span of four days, I taught them everything from the face-off to the break outs to really when to change lines. It came together very fast and the players were receptive.”

Brazil has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1984, despite the absence of a regulation-sized hockey ice rink in the country. There are 330 hockey players in a nation of almost 207.4 million people

Hinderlie and his team did manage to pull off their own miracle, finishing third in Brazil’s second appearance at the Pan American Ice Hockey Tournament in 2015 in Mexico City. The third-place finish reflected improvement over Brazil’s Pan American debut in 2014 under a diffferent coach when it finished fifth with 0-4 record that included a 16-0 loss to host country Mexico.

Brazil in action vs Argentina at the Latam Cup

But at the 2019 Amerigol LATAM hockey tournament at the Florida Panthers IceDen near Miami earlier this month, Brazil’s men’s Division I and women’s teams were winless and the men’s Division II team managed only one victory.

But players left Florida pleased that they had an opportunity to get on the ice and pumped about the work ahead of them to catch up to their Latin American and Caribbean hockey rivals.

“We got a lot of exposure and all the teams have grown so much — Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico,” Brazilian player Henrique Degani said of the Amerigol Cup. “From last year to this year, that’s when I saw the game improve the most for Latin America.”

Exotic countries joined the IIHF. The largest number of countries in 27 years.

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The world hockey family has grown to 81 members. Today five countries from Africa, South America and Asia joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Algeria, Iran, Colombia, Lebanon and Uzbekistan have become new associates of IIHF today. The decision was approved at the Half-Year Congress of the IIHF. This is the biggest number of countries joining the IIHF since 1992 when the IIHF grew by ten countries following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. 

New members have associate status. This is the second of three levels of membership. It means that they will not have the right to vote at congresses. This is the status of countries that have no independent hockey management association in a given country or have such associations if they do not appear in World championships competitions. There are currently 24 associated members in IIHF. 56 countries, including Poland, have full membership, and there is one affiliated with IIHF, because it only competes in roller hockey competitions. This country is Chile.

In Algeria, relations with France are mainly responsible for the development of hockey. The team of players of Algerian origin have already competed in the Arab Cup. According to IIHF, there are 97 hockey players in the country. The Algerian government is supporting the creation of a hockey school in the city of Setif where a current and only indoor permanent ice rink is based. A permanent ice rink is planned in a new shopping mall in Baraki close to Algiers, which will become the largest mall in Africa.

Data from from IIHF says  Iran has 100 men and 103 women playing hockey. The country has 6 indoor ice rinks and 23 teams. The national team played the match for the first time in 2017, facing the Macao team which was supposed to appear in the Asian Games at that time, but were disqualified because many players did not meet the admission criteria.

Colombia began performing internationally in 2014 at the Pan-American Tournament. In the next two years Colombia won the tournament by beating Mexico. There are officially 47 hockey male players and 25 female hockey players in the country, however, a big problem is the lack of an ice rink in the country. Columbia ice hockey is derived from roller hockey.  Colombia is the fourth IIHF member from South America. Argentina and Brazil are also associated members and Chile affiliate.

In Lebanon there are 36 males and 40 women playing hockey. The national team debuted in 2017 by winning 7: 4 against Haiti. Like Colombia, Lebanon does not actually have a single ice rink. A per-existing facility in Beirut was closed a decade ago. Last season, only a 20×20 meter ice rink was built in the country’s capital.

Uzbekistan has quite a rich hockey tradition and interesting perspectives. During the Soviet times the capital of Tashkent had a hockey team, Binokor, in the Soviet system that made it up to the second-highest league of the Soviet Union. . Binokor no longer exist, but Humo Tashkent joined Russia’s second-tier league VHL and with a farm team the top league of neighbouring Kazakhstan.

With the opening of the first ice rinks, Uzbekistan has launched a championship that recently included four clubs – Binokor, Humo, Tashkent and Semurg – and the Uzbekistan Ice Hockey Federation was established on 28 March 2018.

There are currently 369 hockey players registered in the country, including 252 juniors.

Q & A With Cyril Bollers

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Flowing the first steps of the famous Jamaican Bobsleigh team Jamaica ice hockey is forming there own identity. Jamaica joined the IIHF on May 18th, 2012 it is the first Caribbean nation to accomplish this.

On September 6th, 2019, Jamaica men’s national team played in there first international tournament against other national team at the Amerigol LATAM Cup.

We had an opportunity to speak with the head coach of the Jamaican team Cyril Bollers.

How did you get into coaching and did you ever dream that you would be coaching Jamaica National Ice Hockey Team?

I started coaching 18 years ago because I was told I couldn’t’ and shouldn’t. I have had the opportunity to work with Hockey Canada as an assistant coach with U16 Team Ontario for the Canada Winter Games in Prince George BC. Having the opportunity to coach the Jamaican Men’s National Team is unbelievable, a dream come true.

This was the first time a Jamaican men’s team competed for the country, can you tells us the processes for putting the team together?

Lengthy 4-6 month process. Numerous player evaluations (watched live games and video on potential players), invitational evaluation camp in Toronto (on ice evaluation), exhibition game (in-game evaluation) followed by more player evaluations (player observation on and off ice), then final player selection and invite to tournament.

What were your expectations going into the Latam Cup?

Heading into the Latam cup the focus was to compete and compete at the highest level. I wanted the team to push the tempo for 60 minutes while utilizing team speed in the neutral and offensive zones. Playing without the puck and communication would be the keys to the team success.

By winning the Latam Cup, what has it done for Jamaican ice hockey?

Winning the Latam Cup gives the program and the players instant credibility. 

Cyril Bollers hold up the Latam Cup Trophy

Overall what did you think of the Latam Cup and if ask will Jamaica return to this event?

This is the second year of the tournament and as grows the competition will only get better. The tournament was well run and organized. As this year’s champions we will definitely be back next season to defend our title.

There is a Canadian investor willing to build and ice rink on the north coast of Jamaica, how real is this and what would be the time frame to have this project completed?

That is a question for our business operations team, but I believe winning this tournament has accelerated the process and interest from within the country.

In your opinion, is it worth developing Ice hockey in Jamaica?

Having the opportunity to coach in both the Greater Toronto Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey league, I have notice a large increase in minorities playing the sport over the last couple of years. The development of grass-roots hockey is not only imperative to the growth of the sport but to the growth of a nation.

Cyril Bollers looks on as team Jamaica compete at the Latam Cup

You are the coach of the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget team. Can you talk about this organization and how it has help you become a better coach?

Elite players, Elite coaching = Elite results. The mission of the Toronto Marlboros Hockey Club is to nurture the complete player and develop a well-rounded citizen. The Marlboros emphasize a healthy balance in hockey and life, because hockey is part of one’s life, it is not the rest of one’s life. It is a privilege for players’ and coaches’ to represent the Marlboros. We expect them to be ambassadors for the game.

In your opinion, are their any players on the Toronto Marlboros that you think may star in the NHL one day? There are numerous players playing in the NHL.

Several Marlboros are playing the the NHL and AHL; Jack Hughes (New Jersey), Quinn Hughes (Vancouver),Sam Bennett (Calgary), Josh Ho-Sang (Bridgeport AHL), Malcolm Subban (Vegas), Jason Spezza and John Tavares (Toronto), Ryan McLeod (Bakersfield AHL), Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Dylan Strome (Chicago), Ryan Strome (NY Rangers) and Jordan Subban (Dornbirner EC, EBEL)

Who are some of your favorite NHL Players and why? 

Perseverance never quits ! My favorite NHL players are  Skillz Black Aces Alumni Darnell Nurse, Josh Ho-Sang, Robby Fabbri, Brendan Lemieux, Justin Bailey, Jonathan Ang.

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