Month: November 2019 (page 1 of 2)

WHL drops Game 6 but wins second shootout to capture series victory

By CIBC Canada Russia Series

It was as if a Hollywood producer wrote the script for the series-deciding Game 6 of the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Requiring extra time for a record fourth time in event history, Team Russia would prevail in the initial shootout session after scoring in each of its first three attempts to even the six-game set at nine points a side and set up a series-deciding shootout in order to decide a winner.

It was then the opposite outcome in the second shootout as Team WHL found its offense, though the session was not without further dramatics as after surrendering two goals the Russians subbed in cold netminder Amir Miftakhov who came off the bench and turned aside three shots before Kelowna Rockets captain and Tampa Bay Lightning first-round pick Nolan Foote sealed the victory for the CHL side.

The tally marked the third of the game for Foote, who claimed Player of the Game recognition, after he had lit the lamp with a two-goal effort in the middle frame as part of a special teams showcase that produced a trio of goals on the man advantage that ended with a final power play marker by Medicine Hat Tigers forward Ryan Chyzowski who completed a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence to help his side rally for three goals in 3:56.

“It was an intense game,” Foote said following the victory. “They came out hard in the second period, and those powerplays we had gave momentum to the team and guys were going. It was a hard-fought game and of course it went down to overtime and a shootout again, so it was fun.”

Not to be outdone, Russia scored a power play goal of its own after forward Zakhar Shablovskii cashed in from the doorstep after grabbing a feed from Vegas Golden Knights prospect Ivan Morozov to even the score with just over six minutes remaining in regulation and eventually send the game to extra time where the CHL claimed the winning side for the 13th time in event history.

Georgian hockey player now plays for Canadian team

By Mikhail Simonov – Vestnik Kavkaza

Temur Vedyapin went down in history. The twenty-year-old striker of the Georgian ice hockey team became the first native of this country to sign a professional contract in Canada’s homeland of hockey. Now Temur is a Foward of the Maniwaki Mustangs club, which serves in one of the youth leagues – CPJHL (Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League). This is one of hundreds of hockey leagues in North America, and the tournament in its format can be considered as the championship of the province of Ontario.

Vedyapin successfully started – in his debut match, he scored a goal for his new club. The other day will be another debut – after a short field trip, the Mustangs return home and play on their home ice with their fans.

And this significant event occurs when the Georgian hockey players playing in group “B” of the second world division, in fact, have no ice. By and large there is nowhere to train. At their disposal are non-standard-sized ice rinks (one hockey zone in size, i.e. one third of the court) in Tbilisi, built for skaters back in 1950, and where they were very reluctantly and very irregularly allowed to go, an ice rink in Batumi, and in winter an open area in the winter resort of Bakuriani, built by local hockey players of the Mimino team – the most titled in Georgia. Tbilisi clubs Fiery Crusaders, Ice Knights, Gray Wolves are trying to stop her from winning the country’s champion year after year. By the way, Temur Vedyapin also played for the latter.

The conditions for Georgian hockey players who are a few steps away from knocking on the next division in the class, after which the elite already follows, the one where Canada and Russia, Czech Republic and Sweden, etc., Spartan fight for the world title. The authorities promise to start building a normal sports palace for winter sports in 2020. But there were many such promises, and so far the matter has not budged. Therefore, I don’t want to say that the problem is about to be solved. At least because of signs, such as not to jinx it, it will turn out like in one of the cities of Western Georgia.

There, a kindly businessman of good will suddenly became preoccupied with the state of affairs in winter sports and decided to build a small palace of his name for hockey players and figure skaters. But he hoped for something to build a kind of object for local builders, and he did not call foreign ones who had experience in building ice arenas. In the end, they say, it turned out to be something unsuitable for anything. And it was completely not intended for hockey, because the court turned out to be square, and ordinary glasses, although of extraordinary thickness, were used as protective glasses. In general, a platform for hockey players, fed up with life to the extreme. Perhaps the story is hyperbolized, but the fact is that hockey players still do not have their own arena.

Meanwhile, the history of hockey in Georgia is not so few years. The national team participated in the sports days of the USSR in the 1960s. Even without success. In the 1970s, during the years of the beginning of the battles of the Soviet national team with Canadian professionals, a fan boom was observed at all. Ice battles of the USSR national team at world championships, Olympics, in North American tours, people watched on television, of course, not totally, but with enthusiasm. The names of Maltsev and Kharlamov, Clark and Esposito were not an empty phrase in Georgia. And not in one Tbilisi or Kutaisi yard, the kids drove a puck or a small ball with their sticks on the asphalt, and sometimes the recessed but quickly melting snow. A group of fanatics gradually crystallized out of the mass, always playing, at any time of the year, selflessly, until the legs were numb. In summer – on asphalt, in winter – on compacted in very hard hypostasis snow, less often ice. But snow did not fall in Tbilisi every winter. But the team even managed to win some tournament. In those years, by order of Leonid Ilyich, who loved hockey, they began to develop this wonderful game throughout the immense USSR. So much so that even in Tashkent a hockey team of masters appeared.

In non-hockey areas it was … easier. For the report, several children’s matches and all the best were held in front of Moscow. A man from the district committee of the city committee came to these games and pretended to be involved in the organization of the match. Just after all. Matches were? There were. Was Raykom? It was. Hockey, then, is developing. Hello beloved Ilyich. Just in case – to the mausoleum too. However, the legendary Anatoly Tarasov, the former coach of the USSR and CSKA national teams, and Anatoly Firsov, one of the best strikers in the world of the 1960s and 70s, somehow arrived at one of the tournaments in Tbilisi. After observing the children, they issued a verdict: Georgians will be able to play well, but constant conditions are needed.

However, the “big” people who praised greetings and reports, additional expenses and troubles were useless. And hockey fans were not among them. Of course, they did not prohibit the ban on playing, but waved their hands so that hockey began to seem doomed. The only skating rink, the mentioned skater school in Tbilisi, was reluctant to let them in. And so that the ice does not really spoil, it was forbidden to play the puck. Instead of her – ordinary socks, twisted into a ball and secured in such a form with electrical tape.
Winter was easier. In Bakuriani, this time of year is always snowy and cold. The guys on their own filled the rink (by the way, many hours of exhausting work) and played. Few people knew about this …

So, in spite of everything, Georgian hockey players quietly “played out” before the World Championships in the fourth (lowest) division. Let’s go to Luxembourg. Expectedly lost all matches. Not all dry – which was a success. They piled not childishly a couple of rivals than me, a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, enthralled. Came back home. And again, the same perennial problems. Although not really …

With ice it became a little easier. In Tbilisi, the city hall in the winter began to arrange artificial ice rinks, which hockey players sometimes managed to break through and arrange demonstration matches. Four clubs continued to play their championship in Bakuriani. About all this, Tbilisi Go Group Media made a wonderful watch film “Rare Breed”. In a word, hockey players began to pay attention. And they immediately paid off truly fantastic successes – they won their division, then the next one and, as they said, reached the group “B” of the second division, in which they took third place in April this year. In April 2020, in Iceland, Georgian hockey players will once again compete in this division for promotion – in rivals: Belgium, Bulgaria, Iceland, Mexico and New Zealand. With a successful performance at the next tournament, rival teams of Georgia, such as Poland, Kazakhstan, Japan, Slovenia, can become Georgian rivals.

“The team is carefully preparing for the tournament in Iceland, where there is a struggle with rivals who have much better conditions for regular training and matches than ours,” says Ilo Davydov, president of the Georgian Hockey Federation.

His brother – Denis, has a special colossal role in the fact that hockey survived in Georgia. It was Denis Davydov who headed the Federation, probably in the most difficult period for Georgian hockey. Then the country was absorbed by catastrophic problems, which put a question mark before the existence of statehood as a whole. And in those conditions, only an extraordinary person who wholeheartedly devoted to the idea could go to instances, achieve something for hockey. Denis Davydov retained hockey for Georgia. Alas, he himself does not see the success of the case to which he devoted himself entirely – ten years ago he died in a car accident in Turkey, where he went on hockey affairs.

In Iceland, the Georgian national team will probably have a harder time than other tournaments. The application with the names of the hockey players and the names of the clubs they represent will feature the Canadian team. And this is a guarantee of increased attention of rivals.

 

Cornell Sophomore Min Shin ’22 Shines as Member of Korean National Women’s Ice Hockey Team

Sophomore Min Shin’s dreams of playing for Korea’s National Women’s Ice Hockey team came to fruition as she prepares for the 2020 IIHF Championships in Poland

By Renee Hoh – The Cornell Daily Sun

At just 12 years old, Min Shin ’22 appeared on Korean national television declaring her dream to one day play for the Korean National Women’s Ice Hockey team. Now, seven years later, the Cornell sophomore can finally don the Korean jersey.

Shin’s determination to play college hockey and for Team Korea has jetted her across various states and countries. Most recently, Shin travelled to Ottawa, Ontario for a two-week training camp with her new teammates in preparation for the 2020 IIHF Championships in Poland. Balancing hockey and school work, Shin brought all of her studying materials and returned to Cornell from the camp a few days early –– just in time for her Introductory Oceanography prelim.

“Playing college hockey at Hamilton [College] before I came here really taught me to stay on top of my work, because as a college athlete, you’re always really busy,” said Shin, who transferred into Cornell this semester.

Shin was born in South Korea, but spent her childhood in Ithaca. Growing up, Shin’s parents used to drive her to ice rinks in Lansing, thinking that she would pick up figure skating. Shin, however, had other ideas.

“My brother was playing hockey, so obviously I wanted to also play hockey, not figure skate,” Shin said with a laugh.

Getting serious about ice hockey, Shin moved back to Korea, where she played alongside boys for club teams and was invited by the Korean national team to participate in training camps by fifth grade. However, the opportunity to play high school hockey prompted the goalie to return to the U.S. and attend the Groton School in Boston, where she captained the varsity ice hockey team during her senior year.

Still, every summer, Shin would lug her hockey gear back to Korea with her, dedicating her time to showcases, camps and tournaments. Shin tried out for Team Korea during her high school junior year, but narrowly missed out on playing in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and was the “last goalie cut in the final roster.”

“I was pretty bummed out about it,” Shin said. “I was planning on quitting hockey after that.

“And to end on a good note because, my senior year, I was voted captain and we beat our rival school in more than six years,” Shin continued. “It was such a great final game and I was good with ending my [hockey] career here.”

Shin had the option to attend University of California, Los Angeles, but still could not give up the prospects of playing college hockey. Instead, she walked onto the DIII hockey team for Hamilton College in the NESCAC league before transferring to Cornell, where she intends to major in anthropology and minor in law & society.

“No! I want to keep going,” Shin said, when asked if attending law school would end her hockey career. “Playing hockey, playing for Team Korea, that has been my dream for as long as I can remember.”

Next semester, Shin will have a few more stops to hit. She’ll be traveling to Korea for the Legacy Cup, the Czech Republic for a training camp, and Poland for the World Championships. If Team Korea plays well, Shin may have the opportunity to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, flying out to another country and fulfilling yet another dream of hers.

While Shin does not currently play for the Cornell women’s team, she skated with the team to prepare for her training camp. Despite her already busy schedule, Shin said she would love to play for the team she grew up watching.

“When I was younger, I’d go watch the college hockey games at Lynah [Rink],” Shin said. “So, coming back here it’s been like ‘oh my gosh, if I could play for this team that would be so cool.’ Cornell’s ice hockey is amazing.”

A stuck Russian team & amateur talent jumpstart Aces hockey in Anchorage

By Patrick Enslow  – KTUU.com

As the Aces Alumni prepare to return to the ice this week we take a look back at the franchise’s humble beginnings and rise to prominence in the professional ranks in three-part series leading up to Friday and Saturday’s charity games.

The Russians

Aces hockey can be traced all the way back to the 1930s when a seniors men’s hockey team took the ice and played on an outdoor rink on Fireweed Lane. An Aces program from 1993-94 had a history of the team and said the team made their own ice, and hot-mopped between periods.

The spirit of that team would live on years later when former UAA hockey player Dennis Sorenson brought the team back.

“We needed something to do here locally, and we thought there would be a good draw for it,” said Sorenson.

After previous failed attempts to put together a senior men’s amateur team a unique set of circumstances brought hockey back in December of 1990.

A Russian team got stuck here because of weather,” said Sorenson. “I got a phone call from the rink one night that said can you get a group together to play this club?”

Prominent local Anchorage hockey coach Dempsey Anderson suggested Sorenson call his new team the Aces, as a throwback to the 1930s Anchorage Men’s team. The newly-formed team would skate to a 3-3 tie, and lose in overtime to the Russians.

“We were all ex-UAA, and myself UAF college players like some local high school players,” said Keith Street, a member of that 1990-91 team.

Following that game Sorenson decided to secure ice time, a schedule and voilà!: the Anchorage Aces were in business.

“I was running it off my American Express Card and my sporting goods store,” said Sorenson. “It was difficult, we were making due, and nobody was getting paid we were just having a good time, putting on a pretty good brand of hockey of former college players

Playing and coaching Sorenson quickly found out the business of sports is expensive, and he didn’t have the deep pockets to keep the team on the ice.

“The big turning point for me is the first ownership group for me that helped me get it going, as the player-coach it was difficult to have friends on the team, and tell them who’s going to play when,” said Sorenson.

With financial backing, the team headed to the amateur national championships. The Aces took down in-state rival the Fairbanks Gold Kings on their home ice to win the team’s first-ever national title.

Building on momentum from their early success the Aces would make a name for themselves in the world of senior amateur hockey slowly creating a fan base in Anchorage.

“It was tough dealing with UAA (hockey) at the time because UAA was good, UAA was winning games in the early 90s, they were having great crowds, and were trying to build on their success just a different type of hockey,” said Sorenson.

The local hockey team would get another chance to face off with international talent when the Arctic Challenge came to Alaska in September of 1993 leading up to the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

The pre-Olympic hockey tournament was made up of Teams USA, Russia and Canada. Along with some of the world’s best was Team Alaska, made up of many players from the Aces roster.

Building a resume against national and high-level senior amateur teams the Aces would soon eye a leap to the pro ranks in 1995.

“We were all young enough where we had that passion to play at higher level than a local men’s team,” said Street.

Aces get paid to play & transition to life on the road

In the fall of 1995, the Aces officially become a professional hockey franchise joining the West Coast Hockey League. Turning pro also meant the team would look a lot different than the senior men’s amateur team for which it was known from 1990-95.

“There was more on the line, guys getting traded, guys getting moved around, picked up, you kind of knew you had to perform or get traded,” said former Aces center Keith Street.

The former Univ. of Fairbanks standout, Street was one of a handful of players who would remain on the Aces as they made the transition to professional hockey.

“We had the two-week road trips,” said Street. “The longest one we had was 28-days that’s a long time to be away from your family, and it was tough for some of the local guys with jobs.”

Longtime Aces public address announcer Bob Lester recounts the ‘early days’ of Aces of hockey comparing it to the 1970’s hockey movie ‘Slap Shot’.

“It was great hockey,” said Lester. “College Hockey is a totally different animal, that’s fine, it’s not Aces hockey, and I think that’s what they (Aces) were able to market.”

Lester felt the quality of hockey – plus fighting and beer – fueled the early popularity of the team.

On the ice, the team was built around centers Keith Street and Dean Larson, from 1996-99 Street would register three straight 100-point seasons, and Larson would post similar stats records four 100 point seasons from 1996 to 2000.

Kelly Cups and the end of the Alaska Aces

From losing games to losing money, things were not looking good for the Aces in the early 2000s. Fresh off their worst season in franchise history in 2001-2002, it didn’t look promising for Anchorage’s professional hockey franchise.

In June of 2002 the team faced $2,000,000 in debt, and then owner Mike Cusack Junior put the team on eBay. The franchise would soon be saved by a seven-member group who bought the team in bankruptcy court.

“First season was really tough. We got in August, started playing in October,” said Aces owner and managing partner Terry Parks. “We didn’t have a coach, we didn’t have a team, and we didn’t have any employees. So it was a tough first year.”

2002-2003 would be considered a rebuilding season, and safe to say, times were changing from the team’s name, ownership to their head coach.

In any line of business, who you hire is key to success. Professional hockey was no different, and many consider the hiring of Davis Payne as a turning point for the franchise.

“Davis was the most prepared interview that I’ve ever done, and I’ve probably interviewed 500 people in my life,” said Parks. “By far the best-prepared and had a plan.”

When the team made the jump to the ECHL in 2003 they would change their name to the Alaska Aces, and their success on the ice would soon change as well.

“When Davis Payne came in things became much more businesslike and professional,” said public address announcer Bob Lester.

By 2004 the team had built a winning culture, and soon it would have Stanley Cup talent to match when they added East Anchorage’s Scotty Gomez during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout.

“They managed to keep it a pretty big secret, not a lot of people knew,” said Gomez Aces teammate Kimbi Daniels.

Not only did he help the Aces on the ice, but in the ticket sales department as well.

“I think it made a big difference in the philosophy of the team. I said it was the best recruiting I ever had,” said Parks. “I think Scotty was making about $4,500,000, and we paid him $500 a week.”

After the lockout Gomez would return to the NHL, but the best days were yet to come for the Glacier Blue as they won the Kelly Cup, ECHL’s version of the Stanley Cup, in 2006, 2011 and 2014.

But the end of the franchise was quickly approaching.

“I remember we were in the third round of the playoffs in 2014, and we weren’t selling out the games,” said Lester.

In February of 2017 the ownership group announced the franchise would fold for financial reasons.

The announcement took many by surprise, but Parks said it was declining ticket sales, the economy and keeping the players on the ice.

“What most people don’t understand the real risk with minor league hockey is not only do you have payroll and travel, but we also had workers comp, all the injuries, we had to take care of those financially,” said Parks.

Since 2017 many hockey fans have speculated when professional hockey will return to Anchorage.

Alaska Aces Facebook Page Here

Sweden’s juniors lead the way in Finland

Nils Hoglander (left, with Fredrik Granberg) was Sweden’s biggest offensive threat as the team won an U20 Four Nations tournament in Finland in preparation for the World Juniors

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Sweden came out on top in the U20 Four Nations tournament played in Finland over the weekend. The Tre Kronor juniors had 2-1 wins over Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as an emphatic 6-1 victory against Russia.

That Russia game was the highlight of a generally low-scoring tournament. The teams traded first-period goals, but Sweden took control in the second thanks to two goals from Nils Hoglander. Three more unanswered strikes in the final frame secured the biggest win of the competition.

Surprisingly, though, Russia recovered to take second place thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Czechs on the final day. Two goals for Metallurg prospect Nikita Rozhkov led the way, and there were also contributions from Lokomotiv’s Grigori Denisenko and another Metallurg youngster, Pavel Dorofeyev.

Hoglander and Rozhkov were among a clutch of players to finish with three points; Rozhkov and Czech forward Jan Sir were the leading goal scorers, with three each. Sweden’s Hugo Alnefelt was the top goalie, allowing just two goals in his two appearances for a save ratio of 96.36%.

At the foot of the table, the Czechs edged third place ahead of Finland thanks to Sir’s winner 18 seconds into overtime after the teams shared a 1-1 tie in regulation.

Swiss edge a three-way tie in Slovakia

Switzerland took first place in Piestany – but only by the narrowest of margins. The four-team tournament saw the Swiss in a three-way tie with Slovakia and Germany on six points, and the Alpine nation prevailed by virtue of a two-goal margin in its victory over the host on the opening day. The other games between those nations finished 3-2, giving Switzerland the lead by a single goal in the three-way head-to-head. Norway lost all three of its games and finished last in the group.

The second period was the crucial passage in the opening game, with Switzerland building on a 3-2 lead and adding further goals from Sandro Schmid and Noah Fuss. That put the game beyond Slovakia, which could only muster a solitary reply in the third through Martin Chromiak. However, after easing past Norway 2-0, the Swiss lost 2-3 against Germany after two late goals. That meant the final game, between Slovakia and Norway, would be crucial. A Slovak win in regulation would force a three-way tie and give Switzerland the honours; any other result would see Germany take top spot by virtue of a head-to-head advantage against the Swiss. Despite an early Pontus Finstad goal putting Norway in front, Slovakia responded to win 4-1.

Switzerland’s Gian-Marco Wetter topped the tournament scoring with 4 (1+3) points, while Slovakia’s Eugen Rabcan was the pick of the goalies, allowing just one goal and stopping 95% of the shots he faced.

Encouraging signs for Belarus

Belarus took first place on home ice in Bobruisk as it warms up for next month’s U20 World Championship Division I Group A in Minsk. The host took the honours thanks to a 5-1 win over Denmark in Sunday’s decisive game. That comfortable scoreline was something of a surprise: in the earlier two games, Belarus had edged one-goal margins over Latvia (1-0) and Austria (2-1), while the Danes had scored eight goals against the same opposition.

In the tournament decider, though, Belarus made a fast start. Goals from Nikita Pyshkailo, Alexander Palchik and Yegor Buyalski opened a 3-0 lead inside 13 minutes. Denmark pulled one back through Mikkel Jensen, but nothing would stop the home team from cruising to a big win.

Head coach Dmitri Dudik admitted that he had worried for his team, especially since the game was broadcast live on Belarusian television but added that he was pleased with the way the players coped with the pressure and paid tribute to the home support. His opposite number, Olaf Eller, blamed mistakes early in the game for his team’s defeat. “We play well with the puck, but we also need to learn to play when we don’t have it,” he added.

Home success for France

France hosted a four-team tournament in Vaujany and came out on top thanks to a convincing 5-0 victory over Italy on the final day. That was enough to keep the French clear of Slovenia, despite suffering an overtime loss against Hungary on Saturday. Les Bleus had defeated Slovenia 4-2 in the opening game of the tournament. Hungary took third place, one point ahead of Italy. The Italians were unable to build on a shoot-out win over Hungary in their first game.

Belarus B wins in Ukraine

While Belarus U20s were winning on home ice, the Minsky Zubry were representing the country at a four-team tournament in Ukraine. The team, effectively the Dynamo Minsk juniors, won all three games in Brovary. First it defeated Poland 3-2, then it edged Lithuania 2-1. In the final game of the competition, the Belarusians came from 0-2 down to beat the host nation 3-2 and complete a perfect record. The Poles took second place, helped by a 5-1 win over Ukraine. An opening shootout win over Lithuania kept the host nation off the foot of the table.

Division I countries test for April

Slovenia and France both played at the tournament in Liepaja and will meet again at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Slovenia

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Most of the teams that will compete in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A took part in the November international break to test their players and systems.

Belarus and Norway back on top

In the Baltic coastal town of Liepaja, Latvia hosted a four-team tournament with games against Belarus, France and Slovenia.

In what became a fiercely competitive contest, Belarus occupied last place ahead of the final round of games. Having earlier defeated France 4-2 and then lost to Slovenia, Belarus still had a chance to climb up to top spot by beating the hosts in the final game of the tournament.

Mikhail Stefanovich led the way with scoring a hat trick against as Belarus surged three goals up. Despite Latvia replying thanks to Miks Indrasis and 20-year-old Sandis Smons, Belarus held out for a fine win 3-2.

Meanwhile in the outskirts of Norway’s capital Oslo, the hosts took on Austria and Denmark. Norway finished top of the standings with 11 out of 24 players on their roster played for a domestic club.

Emphatically outshooting Austria 31-12, Norway came back from a goal down to win 3-1. In their Nordic encounter against Denmark, all six goals in the game were scored in the middle frame as Norway prevailed 4-2 in front of 1,908 onlookers in Lorenskog.

Hungary victorious

Despite opening with a defeat, Hungary sneaked past Italy on the final day to finish top in Poland´s Gdansk. 

Csanad Erdely had put Hungary 3-1 up in the final frame against Italy, before the top-seeds got into gear as the Magyars lost in overtime to a Marko Insam goal. 

But Jarmo Tolvanen’s Hungary bounced straight back in their next game to beat Japan 3-2 before silencing the home crowd in Gdansk as Poland was blanked 2-0 in their final game. Hungary could celebrate top spot after Japan outpaced a lacklustre Italy 4-1 for the morale-boosting victory for Hungary’s youthful roster. 

Poland and Japan met in Gdansk and will meet again in April when Poland will host the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Katowice

Poland, which will host the Division IB in Katowice in less than half a year, finished in third place by beating Division IB rival Japan 3-2.

In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Latvia B beat Ukraine 3-2 in the final to win the Baltic Challenge Cup. Estonia, Kazakhstan U20, Latvia B, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine took part.

Latvia B, with a roster solely made up of players from their domestic championship, had first beaten Kazakhstan 5-2 and Romania 5-3 to win a place in the final against Ukraine. In the match for top spot, Maris Dilevka scored a brace for Latvia B and also had an assist for Karlis Ozolins´ goal.

Deutschland Cup success for Switzerland

Pius Suter was the scoring leader for the Swiss at the Deutschland Cup

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

In a season culminating with hosting the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland got its international season off to a winning start in dramatic fashion. The Alp nation claimed their third win in Deutschland Cup with previous top place finishes arriving in 2001 and 2007.

Heading into the final round of games, Germany clung on to hopes of getting their hands on their first Deutschland Cup title since 2015. In the final game, they first needed Switzerland to slip up against Russia’s second team, before gunning for glory against Slovakia in the final game of the tournament played in Krefeld.

Switzerland’s young team had first convincingly seen off Slovakia 5-2 in their opener as seven newcomers were fielded. Against Germany, they silenced an enthusiastic home crowd of 6,217, when tournament top scorer Pius Suter netted the game-winning 4-3 goal with one second remaining of overtime. Against Russia B, Alessio Bertaggia’s power-play goal with 13:48 left of the third period appeared to put the Swiss back in control, but Ivan Igumnov tied the game at 3-3 with less than three minutes of regular time play. Artyom Galimov then scored the winning penalty shot for last season’s Deutschland Cup winners Russia B, who eventually had to settle for third place.

But all was not yet for the Swiss. Following the game first from the stands and later at the airport, they needed Slovakia to get a point of Germany in their closing game.

Germany´s Andreas Eder scored a brace to put the hosts in front with a two-goal cushion before the home fans watched with disbelief as Slovakia rallied back with Filip Krivosik’s tying the game to push the game into overtime. With any chance of Germany tournament victory now gone, Peter Zuzin piled on the misery scoring for the Slovaks 2:08 into overtime to win 3-2.

 

Karjala win for Czechs

Jakub Krejcik scored the Czechs’ game-winning goal against Finland

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Three teams were in contention for top spot ahead of the final round of matches of the Karjala Tournament played in Helsinki. The Czechs were leading the pack with five points. Finland was breathing down their neck with four points while Russia had two points on board.

In the end, it was Milos Riha’s men who were worthy winners as they went undefeated throughout the tournament. The Czechs set the tone with a fine 3-1 opening day win against Sweden. Penalty shots downed the Finns 3-2 in their second game before blanking Russia 3-0 to claim their second Karjala Tournament win.

In their decider against Russia it was influential team captain Jan Kovar who put the Czechs ahead at 10:32. Lukas Sedlak scored his first international goal to double the lead with 8:56 left of the final frame before Andrej Nestrasil finished off the scoring 15 seconds before the end.

In their Karjala Tournament opener, the Czechs got off to a flying start in Swedish city Leksand where they took on Tre Kronor. Winning the shots 17-6 in a second period, Dmitrij Jaskin broke the deadlock assisted by the immense Jakub Krejcik after 24:48.

Despite Sweden’s Mikael Wikstrand tying the game in front of a crowd of 5,078, Kovar got the Czechs back into the lead on the power play, before Michal Repik hit the nail in the coffin with an empty netter.

Moving across the Baltic Sea to Finland, the Czechs continued their winning streak in Helsinki against reigning World Champions. The Czechs showed great determination when coming twice from behind with Tomas Filippi tying the game with around a minute left of ordinary time with Marek Langhamer pulled from the net. With the winner of the tight contest decided by penalty shots, it was Karpat Oulu’s blueliner Krejcik, who became the unexpected hero when converting for the Czechs.

Finland had opened the Karjala Tournament in jubilant mood, first with a banner raised to the rafters celebrating its World Championship win in May before defeating Russia thanks to Harri Pesonen’s 5-4 winner. Leijonat finished second in the competition following a morale-boosting final day win against neighbours Sweden, 2-1. Mikko Lehtonen opened the scoring in the first period, before Teemu Turunen fed Miro Aaltonen to convert on the powerplay in the second frame.

Russia finished third under new head coach Alexei Kudashov, while another assistant coach stepping up to the role as head coach, Johan Garpenlov will have to wait for his first win as Sweden finished fourth with a paltry point.

Chinese Taipei into second round of Beijing 2022 Olympic ice hockey qualification

Kyrgyzstan progressed to the second round of pre-qualifying

Chinese Taipei booked their place in the second round of pre-qualification for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic ice hockey tournament by topping their group in China.

Victories in their first two matches at the TUS Ice and Snow Park in Sanya saw Chinese Taipei move to the brink of advancing.

Chinese Taipei secured first place in Group O by recording a hard fought 7-5 win over Hong Kong.

Thailand finished as runners-up by overcoming Kuwait 11-1.

Chinese Taipei will now participate in Group L next month in the second stage of pre-qualification.

They will join Mexico, the Netherlands and hosts Spain in Barcelona.

Kyrgyzstan will also compete in the second round after winning Group N in Luxembourg.

Victory over the host nation ensured Kyrgyzstan of progression with a match to spare.

Kyrgyzstan recorded a third straight win when they overcame winless Bosnia and Herzegovina 15-3 today, while United Arab Emirates finished second after edging Luxembourg 5-4.

Kyrgyzstan will immediately turn their attentions to preparing for the second stage of qualification next month.

They will go up against Iceland, Israel and hosts Romania in Brasov.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey will contest the third group in Sisak.

The winners of the three qualification groups will advance to the penultimate stage of qualification to Beijing 2022.

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.

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