Month: November 2019 (page 2 of 2)

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.

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.

Newer posts »