Author: NationalTeamsOfIceHockey (page 2 of 101)

Madaraka Day Cup puts Kenya on map

Kenya’s “Ice Lions” celebrate a goal at the Madaraka Day Cup in Nairobi where they were challenged by selections of local Americans, Canadians and Europeans

By Christian PierreIIHF.com

While the season is over in many hockey countries in the northern part of the world, ice hockey is being played at places you may not necessarily expect. On the equator of all places, an ice hockey tournament was inaugurated. Small indeed, however, undoubtedly substantial for its enthusiastic organizers: the Madaraka Day Cup.

The Madaraka Day Cup is the first international ice hockey tournament hosted in Nairobi, Kenya and marks another milestone in the early existence of Kenyan ice hockey. It involved the local Kenya Ice Lions against teams made up of members of embassies and NGOs from Canada, Europe and the United States.

And this is what it looked like the moment the Kenyans beat Canada:

What originally started as a gimmick a few years ago, providing ice skating opportunities to the guests of the Panari Hotel in Nairobi, has grown out of proportions and became an undisputable quest for recognition by their peers of the worldwide ice hockey community for the continuous growing number of Kenyan ice hockey players.

Madaraka Day Cup: the Origins

“Madaraka Day, a national holiday in Kenya which is celebrated on 1st June of each year, commemorates Kenya’s anniversary of gaining internal self-rule from the United Kingdom,” explains Rob Ao Opiyo, one of the players of the Kenyan Ice Lions and involved in the local organizing committee of the tournament. Madaraka in the local language translates as ‘power’ or ‘responsibility’.

“As told by Benard Azegere, one of the early ice hockey players, Bruce Strachan, came up with the idea in 2016,” further explains the Kenyan. “We played weekly pick-up hockey on Wednesdays. One week to the national holiday they were going for drinks, and Bruce said we should play for a 4-a-side Madaraka Day Cup. Since our original hockey jerseys came around the same time, they were also part of the inspiration. It was just a single game then. We called the opponent Team Ethiopia with Bruce Strachan, Takano, Paul Dormant and some others. The team members were expats with a hockey background working in the country. Most likely the name came about since Bruce just arrived a few days before from Ethiopia. The naming was rather for laughs. Team Kenya had about 3 Kenyan players: Jeff Magina, Amos Mungai and Benard Azegere. In total there were 12 players. It was not more than a pick-up game at that time really.”

Great Crowd

However, this first edition of the tournament brought a big crowd to the ice rink. “The inaugural tournament was a life changing moment, mainly because normally when we are playing at the ice rink we never had that number of fans and spectators coming down to cheer for us,” says Rob Ao Opiyo. “So, for the first time we actually saw many fans and especially Kenyans. It felt like being at a Kenya rugby game, but now they were at an ice rink instead,” he jokes.

To bring in the fans, the organizers did their own promotion. “Most of the publicity to promote the game was through word of mouth, reaching out through family and friends. We put out some posters on social media as well. Also, the Panari Hotel where the ice rink is located helped us promoting the tournament,” says Ao Opiyo.

It helped as both local and international press was present providing some media coverage for the event. “We reached out to media outlets that reported on us before. So, we’re quite happy how this turned out. We had CGTN, a Chinese Station, Voice of America, the Standard newspaper and also ZDF, a German TV-channel which is working on a story about the Ice Lions.”

Ice Lions vs. the World

The Ice Lions’ opponents in the tournament consisted of teams with expats working in the embassies and NGOs in Nairobi. “Tim Colby is our head coach and the person who’s helped us grow both as players and as a league in the making. He’s the one who reached out to various embassies in Kenya such as the U.S., Canadian and also European embassies calling for interested parties to join in. We also got players who occasionally come to the rink to play with us during our practice sessions. The Finnish ambassador, Erik Lundberg, was among the players for Team Europe.”

3-on-3 plus Goalies

Due to the size of the rink, the games were played 3-on-3 with goalies. “We planned to have nine players a side,” says Ao Opiyo. “Unfortunately, some teams, such as Team Europe, didn’t have enough players. On Sunday, the last day of the tournament, some of the Kenyans volunteered to help balance the numbers. The importance was to have fun playing hockey after all.”

Progress

“Looking back at the first game played in 2016, it was just something for fun,” Ao Opiyo reminiscences. “That game was scheduled during our regular pick-up hockey session and played by whoever could make it. This tournament is a major moment for us Ice Lions. After our first international game with the UN and Slava Fetisov to highlight the issue of global warming, we took it to the next level with staging our first international tournament, as participants and hosts. Given the fact that Alibaba sent us out to Korea to explore the Winter Olympics and Tim Hortons sent us to Canada to play with Crosby and MacKinnon, we’re making progress and we’re serious in wanting to develop ice hockey here in Kenya.

“This amount of exposure strengthens us, but it also helps us to remember that we started off as a couple of guys having drinks and saying, ‘let’s host a tournament’. It’s just the beginning and I truly hope that when we are planning for the next event, we are seeing more players and teams coming in from abroad and also more funds turning up. So, there is a lot to look forward to from these experiences.” 

The four teams post for a joint team photo following the 3-on-3 tournament.

Джамиль Мамедов — о туркменском хоккее, клубе «Галкан» и о перспективах местного хоккея

Маскат Какаев

By Exotic Hockey

Экс-игрок хоккейного клуба «Галкан» из Ашхабада любезно пообщался с нами и рассказал о местном хоккее

— Расскажите, с чего начиналась становление клуба Галкан?

— Клуб «Галкан» основан в 2013 году, благодаря МВД Туркмении. Благодаря их усердию и труду появился клуб. К сожалению, я сейчас не вспомню фамилию нашего родоначальника, но благодаря его усилию и упорству собрали этих ребят. И в 2014 году мы уже стали чемпионами.

— Быстро ли собрали команду?

— Довольно быстро, так как были очень хорошие привилегии и четкая цель .

— Туркмения относительно молодая сборная. Скажите, чья инициатива была создавать Федерацию Туркмении по хоккею?

— Да, мы еще очень молоды. Федерация основана в 2006 году в городе Ашхабад правительством Туркменистана. Тогда нам и построили первый крытый стадион на 1500 человек.

— Насколько я знаю, «Галкан» — это основной клуб для состава сборной. Скажите, какие ещё клубы принимают участие в Чемпионате? И сколько длится сезон?

— Да, наш клуб — базовый для сборной, так как там собраны лучшие ребята со всех команд. Всем хоккеистам исполняется 18 и нужно в армию, а так как «Галкан» принадлежит МВД, то и соответственно можешь играть и служить. Сам сезон длится всего лишь 2 месяца максимум. Участвуют команды «Sir», «Oguzhan», «Nesil», «Sport school» ( так как давно за этим не следил, возможно, их уже нет ) «Alp-Arslan» и мы.

  • Стоит отметить, что команды чемпионата являются командами гос.структур. Например, команда «Sir» относится к Министерству торговли и внешнеэкономических связей, «Oguzhan» — к «Туркменгазу», «Nesil» — к институту МВД, «Аrslan» — министерство связи . Так же ранее была команда «Vatanchi» — военный институт минобороны,

— Какие города они представляют?

— Все представляют город Ашхабад, так как площадка только в Ашхабаде. Но в том году построили ещё одну арену в городе Красноводск.

— Там какой-то из старых клубов будет играть, или создадут новую команду?

— Скорее всего создадут новую. Возможно, что возьмут пару ребят для тренировки и чтоб у ребят был хоть какой-то опыт и с кого-то можно было бы брать пример. У меня друг в данный момент находится там.

Аман Аганиязов

— Я вижу, что хоккей в Туркмении развивается очень быстро. А как обстоят дела с болельщиками, какая посещаемость на матчах обычно, любят ли хоккей в Ашхабаде?

—Я с вами согласен, развиваемся очень быстро. Ещё недавно гоняли шайбу для удовольствия, а сейчас уже ребят вывозят за границу для профессионального роста и опыта. А в больших соревнованиях трибуны практически полные. Так как хоккей — это зимний вид спорта, а странна наша не совсем хоккейная, круглый год солнце, то в начале люди ухмылялись, а сейчас относятся с уважением и гордостью. И хоккей не возможно не уважать. А что касается болельщиков, то на небольшие соревнования приходят близкие друзья, родственники. Ну и девчонки приходят на парней-хоккеистов посмотреть

— Поскольку межсезонье в чемпионате довольно продолжительное, то чем хоккеисты занимаются в свободное от хоккея время?

— Тренируются каждый день. Бывает и по два раза в день , а бывает, что едут в другие страны, например, в Литву или Беларусь и играют там между собой.

— А приезжают ли из других стран поиграть к вам?

— К сожалению, в последние 2 года я не осведомлен об этом, но при моем присутствии приезжали команды из разных стран. Но сейчас, как я понимаю, они больше настроены сами выезжать за пределы Туркмении. Это и опыт и развитие.

Дмитрий Савин

— За КХЛ следите?

— В последнее время нет. Бывает просматриваю лучшие моменты, но целые матчи не смотрю

— Давайте поговорим о мировом хоккее. Первая официальная игра сборной состоялась на Азиатских Зимних Играх, где Туркменистан выступил отлично, обыграв всех соперников, если можете расскажите как проходила подготовка к турниру, и как сборная праздновала такой успех?

— Для всей страны и для хоккеистов – это большой скачок и большой успех, однако, это опять же происходило без меня. Но думаю, что ребята довольны.

— Я так понял, Вы раньше тоже играли в хоккей, или я ошибаюсь?

— Да играл когда жил в Туркмении. С 12 до 17 лет я играл, то есть пока учился и болел хоккеем. Потом решил себя попробовать в большом спорте в Ярославле, но по обстоятельствам у меня не сложилось и я переехал в Китай, где занялся собой вне хоккея

— Есть ли в Туркменистане развитие хоккея?

— Были и есть талантливые ребята, которые обожают хоккей. Только большая проблема в том, что нет перспектив для нас вне Туркмении. Возможно из-за того, что это что-то новое в Туркмении и хоккей пока еще не так сильно развит, как хотелось бы. Нам не хватает агентов и перспектив, но с такими настроем всё возможно. Нам на выезде нужно показать себя и возможно кто-то однажды заметит нас. Время покажет. На данный момент есть спортивная школа и детям прививают любовь к хоккею с детства.

— Возможно, что нехватка агентов из-за того, что хоккей слишком быстро развивается, и Туркмения не успевает принять хоккей. Но в любом случае я рад за вас. Я смотрел дебютные игры в Сараево, где сборная в решающим матче одолела боснийцев со счётом 3:13. Правда, в этом сезоне заняли 3 место, но учитывая то, что Вы мне написали, то это остаётся делом времени.

— Я тоже так думаю. Считаю, что чем быстрее хоккей станет популярен в Туркменистане, тем быстрее нас заметят и мы получим то, чего нам не хватает.

Состав команды «Галкан»

Rebooting World Cup to be part of NHL labor talks

By Associated Press

With labor talks having already begun on an informal basis, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Don Fehr are in favor of rebooting the World Cup of Hockey tournament and holding it every four years.

The stumbling block to laying out a long-term calendar of international competition, however, revolves around the hot-button topic of the NHL competing at the Winter Olympics after skipping out on South Korea last year.

“One of the things I hope we will have is an agreement to establish the long-term schedule for international events which would include World Cups of Hockey,” said Fehr, stressing the plural “Cups” during an interview with The Associated Press at the league’s draft festivities in Vancouver, British Columbia, this past weekend. “That’s a stand-alone event. It should not be seen as competing with or replacing the Olympics. It can be done.”

Bettman is on board when it comes to the World Cup.

“We think that’s a great event and it’s something we’ve been trying to work out for more than two years,” he said. “We’re all in favor of setting an international calendar, and it takes two to tango, so to speak.”

There’s a caveat, of course, and the reason why the two sides aren’t tangoing just yet.

“We think the World Cup of Hockey can be a wonderful event, particularly if we don’t go to the Olympics,” Bettman said.

Though resolving a way to reduce the percentage of players’ salaries being held back annually in an escrow fund is the NHL Players’ Association’s most pressing concern with the collective bargaining agreement, international competition is also on the list. And that’s where the World Cup — revived in 2016 — and Olympic Games participation will play a role once formal negotiations begin this summer leading up to September deadlines in which either side can choose to opt out and terminate the current CBA by the fall of 2020.

The owners have until Sept. 1 and players on Sept. 15 to reach their decisions and set the clock ticking toward another potential work stoppage.

“There have been a series of discussions. I don’t think I would call them formal negotiations yet,” Fehr said. “And if your next question’s going to be how it’s going to end up, I’m going to tell you, ask me in the middle of August because I don’t know yet.”

Players are unhappy with the league’s decision to skip the most recent Winter Games after having participated in the previous five. Shutting down the regular season for two weeks is an issue for owners, as was the time difference regarding South Korea, with games being played in the early morning for North American audiences.

The union sides with the league involving other issues regarding Olympic participation such as players’ medical insurance coverage and marketing rights. None of those apply when it comes to the World Cup because it’s jointly controlled by the league and union, with both sides splitting the revenue.

The World Cup’s return was greeted with a tremendous amount of fanfare when Bettman and Fehr shared the podium at the 2015 All-Star game festivities in Columbus, Ohio, to announce the eight-team event would be held in Toronto the following year.

There was even discussion — but no resolution — of having it held every four years. The World Cup was previously played in 1996 and 2004, and succeeded the Canada Cup, which was held five times from 1976-91.

Speaking only for himself and not the union, Fehr said he would prefer the NHL compete at the Olympics and then have the World Cup held every four years — with two years separating the events.

“If it was up to me, I’d do it all sooner rather than later, but we’ll see,” Fehr said. “The question is, can we get the agreement on all the intervening pieces.”

Fehr noted the union and NHL can’t resolve the Olympic participation question alone in labor talks because outstanding issues must also be negotiated with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.

Bettman doesn’t see why the two sides can’t reach a deal on the World Cup, given they’re both in favor.

“Yes, so it should get done,” Bettman said. “We’re going to ultimately come together and figure out something that everybody’s comfortable with.”

Чемпионат Эквадора по хоккею. Сезон 2019

By Vitaly Nesterov – Exotic Hockey

5 апреля 2019 года в городе Кито на льду «Palacio del hielo» стартовал чемпионат Эквадора по хоккею. Игры проходили на маленькой площадке в формате 3 на 3 (три периода по 10 минут). В турнире участвовали 7 команд, которые сыграли по 6 матчей в групповом этапе + игры плей-офф.

Среди участников — знакомые уже нам «Orkos»(«Орки») и «Lobos»(Волки), а также «Black Saiyans»(«Черные Драконы»), «Cocks» («Петухи»), «Raptors» («Рептилии»), их молодежь «Raptors U16», а также «Freyas» («Фрейя» — Богиня любви и войны в германо-скандинавской мифологии)

12 мая завершился предварительный турнир. Вот его результаты:

Результаты группового этапа

20 мая состоялся матч между «Raptors U16» и «Freyas», занявших 6 и 7 места соответственно, победитель которого получал право сыграть в матче за 5 место.
«Raptors U16» проиграл все матчи предварительного турнира. Прямо как наш любимый «Спортул». Но молодые ребята решили собраться и дать бой команде «Freyas», которая состоит из девушек. Вот это поворот.
Итоговый счет «Raptors U16» 14-2 «Freyas» . И «молодые рептилии» идут дальше.

Raptors U16» и «Freyas

В тот же вечер состоялись полуфинальные баталии, где встречались гранды местного хоккея.
В первом полуфинальном матче «Драконы» легко обыграли «Орков». Итоговый счет — 7:0 в пользу «Драконов»

Orcos» и «Black Saiyans

Борьба во втором полуфинале была упорнее. Встречались команды «Cocks» и «Raptors»

Итоговый результат 4:2 в пользу «Cocks»

Cocks» и «Raptors

30 мая состоялся матч за 5 место.
Проигрывавшие в предварительном турнире «Raprots U16» решили взять и дать бой «Волкам» («Lobos»).
Упорный матч завершается победой «Raptors U16» со счетом 9:6

Raptors U-16

И вот наконец мы переходим к самому интересному.

2 июня 2019 года состоялись финал и матч за третье место.

Первыми на лед вышли «Orkos» и «Raptors», которые боролись за бронзовые медали.
Успеха добились взрослые «рептилии». Итоговый счет — «Raptors» 2:0 «Orkos»

Raptors» — бронзовые призеры

В 19:30 состоялся финал между «Black Saiyans» и «Cocks» (прошлогодними чемпионами).
Велась даже прямая трансляция в одной и соцсетей.
Матч обещал быть боевым, и ожидания публики, собравшейся на трибунах в этот воскресной день, оправдались.

Борьба, накал, страсть, споры, эмоции — все это было в финальном матче.

Походу игры «Cocks» несколько раз вели в счете.
Но все же «Драконам» удалось переломить ход матча. Итоговый счет — 4-3 в их пользу и мы приветствуем новых чемпионов!

Победители турнира — Black Saiyans

Hockey under the Pacific sky in the Philippines

Hockey is moving slowly on one of the four existing rinks in the Philippines

By Jean-François Chabot Raido Canada
(google translate)

It is difficult, if not unthinkable, to associate ice hockey with a country bathed in the warm waters of the Pacific. And yet, our national sport has made its way into the sun under unlikely circumstances.

It’s 1992. The Mighty Ducks is coming to the screens around the world. At the same time, the owners of a chain of shopping centers set up the first two ice rinks on the Philippine territory.

In a country where basketball is king since the passage of the Americans during the Second World War, it remains a drop in the ocean.

For François Gautier, son of a French father and a Filipino mother, it is love at first sight. He absolutely wants to try this sport that seduces him as much by his speed as by the skills he requires.

He is then 6 years old. His older brother and a group of friends are practicing the basics of hockey with all the equipment of skates and used gloves, sticks and pucks that their mother brought back from a trip to the United States.

They meet once or twice a week to play hockey, a sport that is not available on all budgets, let alone in the archipelago of 7600 islands.

“Even today, it’s impossible to find a pro-shop to stock up on hockey equipment. The appearance of online orders is a blessing, even if it takes sometimes to wait a few months to clear the precious goods. A program of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has recently delivered 60 complete equipment that will be made available to less well-off young people wishing to practice hockey,” says Francois Gautier, contacted by phone when he came from leave the rink after a training session.

It was almost 11 pm in the Philippines, proof that ice time is rare there too.

With the impetus of passion

After a stay in France for higher education, François Gautier returns home. It is 2006 and he finds that hockey stagnates in the Philippines. He decides to take things into is own hands.

In the space of a few years, the number of players has increased from 30 to more than 330 boys and girls combined (70% boys), according to the most recent census conducted by the Philippine Ice Hockey Federation. of which Gautier is a founding member.

On the national scene, a four-team league brings together the best men in a championship open to foreign nationals living in this island state. Most of them live in the Manila area. Competitions also take place in the other categories, for both men and women.

This federation was created in 2015. It is associated with the International Federation (IIHF). Thanks to the presence of a handful of players with dual nationality, the progress made was quickly encouraging.

Some players were born to Filipino parents, but grew up far from their ancestral lands. One of them, Carl Montano, who  is from Vancouver and since 2011 has directed the minor hockey program.

François Gautier in his role as an attacker on the Philippine national team

On the international scene, François Gautier and his small band of enthusiasts begin to reap the benefits of their hard work.

In 2017, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the national team signed the biggest victory in its short history. the National team won the gold medal at the South East Asian Games (SEA Games) with victories against Indonesia, Singapore, and especially a 5-4 win against Thailand in the final.

In this part of the world, Thais represent the great power of hockey.

According to François Gautier, this victory for the Philippine team was their own version of the “Miracle on Ice” produced by this group of American academics against the machine of the Soviet Union at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.

Filipinos will host the same tournament next November. The team will have the opportunity to defend their title in front of their fans, an important prospect in the eyes of Gautier.

Foreign input

In addition to the fact that the coach of the national team is Czech, Filipino hockey still relies heavily on external influences to ensure its progress.

Like all the other leaders of the national team, Daniel Brodan acts as a volunteer. He works full time with a credit company based in the capital, Manila.

When he does not act as a broker in his father’s insurance business, François Gautier lives, breathes and eats hockey.

Honestly, we are only four to work to make our federation live. I have a lot of hats. I am both vice-president, chief referee, I am a player on the national team, I am a junior coach, I am an organizer of tournaments and events. All I need is driving the Zamboni … (laughs)

François Gautier

We are a young federation. We have everything to learn. There is still a lot to do. Every year, I go to the IIHF congress. I speak with everyone, with all major federations. I discover what works or what works less well. Their opinion is important to us. 

It is in this spirit that François Gautier met Michel Brind’Amour, Chairman of the Board and Director of Development at Hockey Canada, at the recent World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.

We discussed a possible collaboration to organize the preparation of our national team for the defense of the gold medal at the South East Asian Games in November. Options are being studied for more intense training. Nothing is confirmed yet, but discussions are ongoing. It remains a matter of budget and availability on the Canadian side.

François Gautier

Asked to ensure his back, he also began talks with the Finnish Federation.

“That’s great because they just won the World Championship against Canada. We also have a few players from our women’s team who live and play in Australia, which facilitates contacts between our federations” , he adds to demonstrate the means implemented to raise the level of play.

The Philippines team, silver medalist at the Challenge Cup of Asia last April

Ambitious goals

Beyond defending the title at the Southeast Asian Games, Francois Gautier believes that the Philippines will soon compete with countries like Kuwait, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan to carve out a place in Group IV at the World level.

He sees even further and bigger.

“I hope that in three to five years we will be in division 2B. I think it’s feasible. I know the teams playing in 3A and 3B and I think we are at the same level, ” says the one at age 35 is the oldest player in his national team. The youngest is 16 years old.

The IIHF Division 2B is composed of Israel, which will become 2A by 2020, Iceland, New Zealand, Georgia, Mexico and North Korea.

“At the same time, I hope that our women’s team will also be involved in a world championship. I hope to recruit more girls to achieve this. It is true that he still has a sacred level.”

Note that the Philippine women’s team has not yet reached the lowest division in the world.

Gautier aims above all for more stability within the Philippine national program.

“We are still at the trial and error stage, he says. We do for the best with what we have. We hope for a little more support. Our government is helping us through the National Sport Commission. The president of our federation, Christopher Sy, contributes significantly, especially because he has the means. But it would be nice to have more commitments from the private sector.

Mr. Sy owns and / or runs numerous businesses in areas as diverse as internet security, catering, the coffee trade and gas distribution stations.

Philippines Women’s Hockey Team

Well connected

In the meantime, François Gautier and many of his hockey fans are very interested in the activities of the NHL.

Wednesday night, June 12 (Thursday morning there), National Independence Day in the Philippines, Gautier had lunch watching the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues, won by the Blues .

Subscriber to the NHL application, Gautier vibrated at the same time as us, on his side of the planet hockey.

He did not take either of the two teams. He is still a fan of the Anaheim Ducks, a team he saw on the big screen in 1992 when his name was Mighty Ducks and aroused his passion for hockey.

U.S., Mexico to bring historic rivalry to the ice rink in El Paso

El Paso Rhinos win championship,
earn fourth Thorne Cup

By Patrick Chalvire – KFox 14

It’s U.S. vs. Mexico on the ice!

For the first time in history, Mexico’s national junior ice hockey team will take on the national Western States Hockey League Thorne Cup Champion El Paso Rhinos in a historic border battle in the ice rink, and it will all take place in El Paso, officials announced today.

The official U-20 Mexican National Team will visit the Sun City to face off with the Rhinos for a special two-game exhibition series at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, at the El Paso County Coliseum Events Center, 4100 E. Paisano. The Rhinos will be wearing special El Paso-themed jerseys that will be auctioned off, along with Mexico’s team jerseys, following the games. Tickets will start at $5, plus fees, and will be available, beginning Sept. 1, at the Coliseum Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-7453000 and online at ticketmaster.com.

This series will be the first of its kind. No other junior hockey team in the United States has played a team comprised of Mexico’s top players.

“Any time you can play a national team representing their country, it is a huge deal,” said Cory Herman, head coach of the Rhinos. “They compete at the World Junior Championships every year, and it is exciting for our organization that they chose us to play.”

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championship is an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation for national under-20 ice hockey teams, which feature some of the best players from around the world.

The four-time Thorne Cup champion Rhinos (2008, 2014, 2018, 2019) will officially kick off the new season on Saturday, Sept. 21, with their annual Black and Orange Game.

Jamaica creates int’l Ice Hockey Congress buzz

Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation director Don Anderson (right) with International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel at the global body’s annual congress in Slovakia recently

By The Gleaner

The Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) has received the backing of several countries that want to see the development of the sport, including the creation of a skating rink on the island. This was at the annual congress of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), held in Slovakia. Jamaica, represented by JOIHF director Don Anderson and national coach E.J. Phillips, participated in the event for the first time.

Excitement and Interest

The JOIHF says that the two-man delegation created what it describes as a “considerable degree of excitement and interest” from their presence and says they were very well received. The federation says that the interest was also a result of Jamaica’s participation in the bobsled event at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada.

Coming out of the congress, a group of the associate members, those without an ice rink at this time, formed an organisation to lobby more effectively with the IIHF. These countries are, in addition to Jamaica, Ireland, Portugal, Argentina, Macedonia, and Andorra. The congress coincided with the 16-nation Men’s World Championship, which was won by Finland.

The JOIHF says that it is now in dialogue with a number of companies that have built and maintained ice rinks in climates similar to Jamaica’s.

Conquering new heights

National women’s ice hockey goalie Wasunun Angkulpattanasuk

By Yvonne Bohwongprasert – Bangkok Post

Thailand’s national women’s ice hockey team recently won the Challenge Cup of Asia tournament while the men’s team continues to gain in popularity.

Wasunun Angkulpattanasuk’s life as Thailand’s top national women’s ice hockey goalie has been marked with two pivotal accomplishments that have built her into one of the most competent athletes in the squad.

She played a crucial role in helping Thailand clinch a gold medal at the 2019 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia tournament held last month in Abu Dhabi, which gave her a huge confidence boost.

“I believe the gold medal is significant in that it will draw the attention of Thai youth towards the minority sport. This is so important to the future of this sport because we are in dire need of fresh local talent,” said Wasunun, 25.

A tropical country like Thailand doesn’t sound like a good place for ice hockey. So winning last month’s tournament is indeed a significant milestone for the sport. Wasunun says she looks forward to promoting ice hockey in the country.

“The Challenge Cup Of Asia is the only meet we get to compete in each year, so despite it being a relatively small tournament, it holds great importance when it comes to becoming a team that has a world Championships,” added Wasunun, who has a degree in nutrition.

One of the biggest barriers to developing ice hockey in Thailand, according to her, is the team not having an ice rink of its own. For the most part, the association rents a rink, and if players decide to train on their own, they have to pay from their pockets.

And ice hockey equipment tends to be pricey.

“Having our own rink will surely develop the sport faster. Despite being national players, we could easily end up paying a minimum of 500 baht to train on a weekday. To keep in shape year round, players have to train three times a week,” said Wasunun, who hopes sponsors will eventually help fund the national squad.

The Bangkok-born athlete said it would be great if ice hockey was highlighted in sport programmes in order receive the exposure it needs to attract raw talent.

Wasunun also is a part-time coach and works for an event company that focuses on ice hockey.

“We have a large group of students from international school that have shown a keen interest in ice hockey. However, while we are happy to have them, I would really like to go and introduce the sport to Thai schools. What we need right now is to build interest,” she said.

“When it comes to shouldering the expense of playing ice hockey, I feel that if we have our rink, the rest of the costs don’t necessarily have to be high. I come from a middle-class background, and have managed to come so far. So I believe there is hope for the rest. What one needs is dedication and a fighting spirit to reach one’s goals.”

Spearheading Thai national ice hockey team’s success

The men’s national ice hockey team captain Hideki Nagayama lead by example to clinch a historic third place for the country at 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Qualification, in Abu Dhabi, UAE last month.

That’s a huge feat for the minority sport that rents an ice-skating rink to train.

Making history is even sweeter when it is accomplished with an emerging team, still wet behind the ears with a lack of match experience.

“What this victory proved is that we have what it takes to become successful in the future,” said the 22-year-old Thai-Japanese athlete who turned semi-professional two years ago. “However, each player has to step up their game even more to reach greater heights.”

National men’s ice hockey team captain Hideki Nagayama’s perseverance and dedication towards the sport has been a beacon of light for his teammates

By playing against countries like Kyrgyzstan, a team where half of its players have experience playing in both Russian junior and pro leagues, Nagayama said the Thai team was able to test its skills.

“It is in matches such as these that one gets to brush up on skills, because that is when you can tangibly see areas you need to work on to beat the best in the business.”

While ice hockey is still considered a minority sport, Nagayama hopes to make it more mainstream through the help of social media.

“I think the easiest way is to use social media to get as much attention. I also just started my own hockey clinic called HN Hockey Clinic. This is one way for me to introduce ice hockey to the youth. If this turns out to be a success, my plan is to create a non-profit ‘Learn To Play’ foundation for all Thai kids that otherwise would never have an opportunity to experience this sport up close as it’s not a cheap sport to play.

“Once we are able to develop this foundation, I’m sure that businesses and even individuals would see the benefits of supporting it with their sponsorship. This would help develop the sport that we love.”

Despite being in his early 20s, Nagayama is an old soul. Besides his decade-long years of experience playing ice hockey, both as a national player and semi-professional in Europe and Canada, he comes across as a young man with a good head on his shoulders.

For as long as he can recall, Nagayama saw a future for himself in ice hockey after being introduced to it as a young boy. It was at age 17 that he decided to leave home in the hopes of playing junior hockey in Canada. The entire experience was a learning curve for him. The constant pressure to show results, and the uncertainty of being traded at any time complicated the experience.

“I once got a call from my team in the middle of the night, asking I pack my stuff and leave to be with my new team the very next morning. This gave me no chance to say goodbye to my teammates. This experience made me realise just what it meant to play professionally. Mentally it made me a stronger person, because for one, I knew that if I desired to play seriously I would need to work harder on my performance.”

Nagayama’s goal was to get a full scholarship, and be able to play in NCAA Division I hockey, but it wasn’t as easy as he expected. After just a year of playing in Canada’s Junior A Hockey, he decided to give the US a shot.

“I went for tryouts to a couple of US teams, and also spoke with a handful of schools. I was even invited back to the main camp of one of the NAHL (Tier II) Junior A team. Unfortunately, I broke my wrist during spring training camp in Canada and that very much closed any opportunity I had to play in the US.”

The Bangkok-born athlete had a year left of playing junior hockey in Canada, and so was looking for future options. On his return to Thailand, he received an offer to play for a high-ranking junior league in Sweden. After consulting with a friend that played for a Swedish junior league team, Nagayama felt his calling to play in Europe. “Playing European hockey, where more skills and skating is required due to a bigger ice surface, meant a lot more hard work. I struggled a little bit at the beginning but European hockey really suited me more than North American hockey,” he said.

“After the last year of playing junior hockey, I got an offer from a semi-pro team in Denmark. Here I was fortunate enough to be able to train in the Metal Ligaen, Denmark’s top ice hockey league, pretty much every day.

“Prior to returning home after the season, I got a tryout contract offer from the Denmark top league. Unfortunately, it did not work out, so I returned to play semi-pro.” After two years in Denmark, he pursued a career in a German semi-pro league but was met with disappointment.

Today Nagayama is focused on developing ice hockey in Thailand, and with the amount of perseverance he puts in, it will surely not be long before he sees the fruits of his hard work.

Overseas Chinese Hockey Players Could Save China from Flopping in the Upcoming Winter Olympics

By Chauncey Jung – Pandaily.com

Many high-profile NHL players might disagree, but for the majority of athletes, making it to the Olympics is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. As the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are approaching, some hockey players are doing their best to get into the tournament. As the host of the upcoming event, China will get its first opportunity to send a male hockey team to compete against some of the best sportsmen in the world. South Korean national team learnt a lot from their experience at the 2018 Olympics held in PyeongChang, and now China gets a similar opportunity, that it’d better not blow.

Despite having the biggest population in the world, China is far from the biggest hockey country. While local athletes have demonstrated their excellent abilities on ice winning Olympic gold medals in short track speed skating and figure skating, China has yet to show significant improvements in hockey. The two-time Asian Winter Games champion now merely ranks 33rd out of the 50 teams in International Ice Hockey Federation(IIHF). China currently plays in Division II, Group A league in the IIHF Championship, a tier-four tournament in the competition.

In the Chinese national team 2018 IIHF World Championship roster, the majority of players came from the China-based KHL hockey club Kunlun Red Star. However, these players were not even competitive enough to play actual KHL games. The lack of high-level competitions explains why China has been failing to progress in recent international tournaments.

With the Winter Olympics in just three years, uplifting the skills of Chinese hockey players seems like a mission impossible. The lack of high-level competitions and good training environment, and potentially the lack of financing are all contributing negatively to the competitiveness of the Chinese players. In addition, China still has extremely strict rules on foreigners’ naturalization, making it essentially impossible for foreign talent to represent China on the international level. With limited resources, a handful of good athletes and inflexible immigration policies, Chinese hockey professionals found their last resort in the overseas Chinese community.

Beijing Daily reported earlier that several overseas Chinese players joined the developmental training camp hosted by Kunlun Red Star in May. The athletes, such as Alex Riche and Sam Hu, talked about their eagerness to become part of the 2022 Winter Olympics team. According to the publication, overseas Chinese players are dominating in training matches, beating the current national team with a score of 10-0.

While the overseas Chinese players are nowhere close to being the best hockey players in the world, the results of the training matches indicate that the current national team is hardly ready for the Olympics. The need to recruit more competitive players is urgent and paramount.

Among the overseas Chinese players who participated in the developmental program, some might have Chinese citizenship, which would make the process of joining the team easier. As for foreign-born players with Chinese heritage, they will need to put in more effort into making their Olympics journey come true.

Alex Riche, also known by his Chinese name Shen Jialei, is a Canadian-born hockey player with a Canadian citizenship. Riche formerly played for three different teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and joined Princeton to play for the NCAA. During the 2018-2019 season, Riche concluded his collegiate hockey career by scoring 11 goals and 15 assists for Princeton University. Speaking to Beijing Daily reporters, Riche admitted that he hoped to make the transition from university hockey to professional hockey, and he is currently seeking opportunities to play in the Russian hockey league KHL. Riche also spoke highly of the potential opportunity to be part of the Chinese national hockey team. Alex Riche’s mother was Chinese, making it possible for him to naturalize and play for China in future competitions.

Similar to Riche, Canadian hockey player Garet Hunt is also interested in playing for the Chinese national team. The 31-year-old Maple Ridge native now plays for Jacksonville IceMen, in the East Coast Hockey League(ECHL) team. East Coast Hockey League is a mid-level professional hockey league. ECHL is one level below AHL and two levels below the prominent North American hockey league NHL. Speaking little Chinese and looking very far from Asian, Hunt claims that he is proud to have Chinese roots.

It is hard for foreign nationals to naturalize in China. However, for those who have Chinese ancestry, the process could be easier. According to Chinese nationality laws, those who are born with a Chinese parent that does not have a permanent residency in any other country will automatically be granted Chinese nationality. Furthermore, those who have Chinese heritage could presumably naturalize via their parents or relatives.

The existing policies opened doors for foreign-born athletes with Chinese heritage. In football, two players successfully finished their naturalization process in China and are very likely to play for the Chinese national team in future competitions. Former England U19 team member Nico Yennaris and Norway U-18 player John Hou Sæter both joined Beijing Guoan, and are now naturalized Chinese citizens eligible for playing in future Asian Cups and FIFA World Cup Tournaments. For Chinese officials who are desperately looking for fresh talent to improve the national team records, naturalizing foreign-raised competitive players with Chinese heritage seems to be an easy way to make things happen.

The 2018 South Korean Olympics team may be a good reference for the Chinese national team in 2022. South Koreans finished last out of the 12 teams that played in the Olympics finals. Losing all four games in the tournament, the Korean team scored 3 goals but conceded 19 in group stages and placement playoffs. It is, however, worth to mention that the South Korean national team naturalized several foreign players who have no Korean ancestry, including former Boston Bruins goaltender Matt Dalton, former Anaheim Duck defenseman Eric Regan, and former New Jersey Devils Centre Michael Swift. The South Koreans have the highest IIHF ranking among all participating Asian teams. They showed significant improvements thanks to foreign talent, better training and professional guidance from a Stanley Cup Winner Jim Paek.

It is worth to note that unlike the South Korean model, the Chinese naturalization model remains limited and may not be efficient. While having a significant advantage over the native Chinese players, the overseas Chinese players may not be as competitive as expected on the international level. With no clear signs of changes in the country’s naturalization law, the Chinese hockey team is likely to face great challenges and potential embarrassment in its first-ever Olympics in 2022.

German ice hockey continues upward trajectory

By Deutsche Welle

Germany’s hopes of reaching the semifinals of the Ice Hockey World Championship were dashed at the hands of the Czech Republic. However, there were signs that the national team remains on an upward trajectory.

Having beaten one of the traditional ice hockey powers in the form of Finland in their final group-stage game at this year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Germany rightly hoped for much more ahead of Thursday’s quarterfinal match against another top-six team, the Czech Republic.

After all, wasn’t it just 15 months ago that the Germans stunned the hockey world by getting to the gold-medal game in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

“The Czechs were the team that we all hoped for (in the quarterfinals),” said Dominik Kahun, who was coming off of his rookie season with the Chicago Black Hawks. “This is an opponent we can beat.”

Through two periods, Kahun and Germany’s hope, or even confidence, that they could get past the Czech Republic and reach their first World Championship semifinal since 2010 looked more than justified.

Missed opportunities

However, Germany’s first bona fide NHL star Leon Draisaitl, who had a golden opportunity to take the lead on a breakaway in the first, coughed up the puck in the second, allowing the Czechs to take the lead. Still, the Germans, who have proven more than once that they are now capable of coming back from a deficit, capitalized on a mistake by the Czech goalie to even the score just four minutes later.

The Czechs, though, took control in the third, striking first on a counterattack to take the advantage – then converting another. As if to emphasize that all luck had deserted Germany on the night, the Czechs converted another two goals to make it 5-1. It was a scoreline that by no means reflected the actual game, as Germany’s new head coach Toni Söderholm noted.

‘All according to plan’

“Through 40 minutes things were going according to our game plan, and we created some good goal-scoring chances. After that, we were a bit unlucky, and a good opponent will take advantage of this,” Söderholm said.

While Germany’s relatively inexperienced Finnish coach and his players were understandably disappointed by what now may seem like an early exit, there are a number of positives to be taken from how the Eishockeynationalmannschaft fared in Slovakia.

Best finish since 2010

First, based on Germany’s history at the worlds, this was actually no early exit. Eighth-ranked Germany finished sixth at this tournament, their highest placing since they reached the semifinals on home soil in 2010.
Another positive is the fact that by getting to the quarterfinals in Slovakia, they have already qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. This is significant for a country that failed to make it to the Olympics not so long ago.

Newfound confidence

Perhaps most impressive, though, is the fact that the Germans actually believed they could beat the Czechs, a team they have a terrible record against and haven’t beaten in 25 years.

“The fact that all of us are so disappointed, shows how close we were,” said captain Moritz Müller of a team that prior to the Marco Sturm era would have been happy just to have reached the quarterfinals.

“We’ve proven that we are a top-eight nation. And our aim now must be to beat the big teams,” he added.
This newfound self-confidence was on display throughout the tournament – apart from Germany’s 8-1 drubbing against Canada. To their credit, the Germans bounced back from that debacle with a credible performance against the United States, another one of the traditional hockey powers.  

Early on in the tournament, German Ice Hockey Association (DEB) President Franz Reindl even noted that the atmosphere around the team “reminds me of Pyeongchang”.

Powerplay 2026′

But Reindl and the DEB have long been looking far beyond this tournament. After he took office in 2014, the DEB launched “Powerplay 2026”, a program meant to broaden ice hockey’s base in Germany and improve the development of youth players. The aim is to get German ice hockey to the point where the national team will be capable of credibly challenging for medals at the worlds on a consistent basis.

One player who could be part of reaching that goal is 18-year-old Moritz Seider, a defenseman just coming off his first full professional season with Adler Mannheim, with whom he won the DEL championship, Germany’s top hockey. Seider was one of Germany’s bright lights in Slovakia and is widely expected to go in the first round of the NHL draft next month.

And while it may be too early to pronounce Powerplay 2026 a success, what looked a far-fetched goal prior to February of last year now looks a bit more realistic – even after losing 5-1 in a World Championship quarterfinal. 

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