Category: Asia (page 1 of 16)

Winter Games NZ: Ice Blacks beat Australia to snare historic series win in Queenstown

The Ice Blacks on Friday made history by recording back-to-back series wins against Australia for the first time

By Stuff

The New Zealand Ice blacks have won back-to-back series against rivals Australia for the first time. 

Piggybacking on their game one success at Winter Games NZ in Queenstown, the Kiwis beat the Aussies 5-3 on Friday night to snare the Trans-Tasman Challenge Cup.

With a series sweep on the cards, times certainly have changed since the Aussies recorded a world record 58-0 shellacking of the Kiwis in Perth in 1987.

Australia struck first in game two courtesy of an early loose-puck goal swept into the net by Patrick Nadin. However, the Ice Blacks weren’t down for long, as the dynamic top line duo of Liam Stewart and Matt Schneider combined for a gorgeous goal shortly thereafter.

New Zealand goaltender Csaba Kercso Magos left a few juicy rebounds lingering in the crease, and finally Australia were able to poke another over the goal line as Jonathan Bremner batted a quick goal in after a series of attempts.

The Roos were dominant for the remainder of the period, but all that possession time was for nothing as the final goal of the period was scored by the Ice Blacks.

Debutant Ondrej Kozak drifted into the offensive zone and patiently outwitted both his defender and goalkeeper Charlie Smart to dish the puck to Ben Gavoille. The horn blew with the score knotted up 2-2.

The second frame started with an early power play for Australia, and high-scoring skater Wahebe Darge combined with Kai Miettinen for the go-ahead goal, sending the Roos up 3-2.

New Zealand leapt on the opportunity to tie things up on the power play, however, with Matt Schneider scoring his second of the game down low on the man advantage.

The Ice Blacks weren’t done with their second-period scoring yet as Kozak and Gavoille combined for their second goal of the game, a beauty of a top-shelf goal that’s certainly going to make the rounds on the highlight reels.

The third period was shorter on goals but not on action, with tempers threatening to simmer over as both teams threw some big hits.

Australia got some power-play opportunity but weren’t able to convert. In fact, the only goal of the period came courtesy of Liam Stewart, who sailed into the Roos zone past all four defenders for a beautiful solo effort goal that put the Ice Blacks up 5-3.

Liam Stewart magic helps Ice Blacks take the win in first round of Aussie series

Liam Stewart made his debut in the New Zealand Ice Blacks jersey against Australia in Queenstown, on his 25th birthday

By Stuff

A touch of Liam Stewart magic secured an Ice Blacks win in the first match of a three-game ice hockey series against Australia’s Mighty Roos, in Queenstown.

With only 90 seconds to go and the kiwis ahead by one goal deep in the Australian zone, the Roos called time and replaced their goalie with a sixth player in the hope of securing a draw.

But every minute is a long minute in ice hockey and as the battle around the goal intensified, the Ice Blacks pulled the puck far enough out for Stewart to wrangle possession and flick it to Jordan Challis to take the easy goal

The 6-4 win brought the crowd to their feet and provided a bonus for Stewart, the son of kiwi supermodel Rachel Hunter and rocker Rod Stewart, who was wearing the black jersey for the first time – and on his 25th birthday

Ice Blacks captain Nick Craig said Stewart had had a cracking debut, despite unlucky misses on several goal attempts, including a couple of occasions when the puck hit the posts.

Forward Matthew Schneider was a stand out player in the Ice Blacks scoring two goals against the Australians

“You could see he had wheels on out there.

“He was driving hard down the boards and I think he picked up a couple of points on the assist as well…he had a huge game on his debut.”

Stewart has previously represented Great Britain in the international arena and has been in prolific form for New Zealand Ice Hockey League frontrunners Queenstown Stampede, scoring a competition-best 18 goals during the regular season.

Thursday night’s game was the first in a three-match series dubbed Ice Hockey’s “Bledisloe Cup”.

It is the third year the competition has run as part of the Winter Games NZ, with the Australians and New Zealanders each having won a series previously.

Ice Blacks team manager Ross Burns said the Australians, who are one division higher than the kiwis in the world rankings, had brought a competitive team with them.

“They lost last year and they didn’t like that,” he said.

It was a unique opportunity for the New Zealanders to play some stronger competition as they aimed to climb a division at next year’s World Champs in Iceland.

“We’ve been in the same division for the last six years. It’s time.” 

Craig said Thursday night’s match was a great start.

“It felt really good. We’ve only come together last night as a team with one training but we’ve got a few veterans back in the squad and a few newbies and we just put it all together tonight.”

The defencemen worked hard under unrelenting Australian pressure and the forwards played some fantastic offence with great passing and goals, he said.

Another highlight for the team was having Sky broadcast the series live for the first time, he said.

“The more exposure we get, the more opportunity for people to see us play and in turn more sponsorship on board.

“It is a tough sport to play in New Zealand – a minority sport and we pay a lot of money for the ice fees and our gear is quite expensive.”

Burns said it cost players between $4000 and $5000 each to represent New Zealand at a World Cup.

The series continues on Friday and Saturday nights at Queenstown Ice Arena.

They will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 9 from 6.50pm.

How Surrey’s Glen Foll became a hockey legend in Australia

Glen Foll (middle) with hockey broadcasters Don Cherry (left) and Ron MacLean during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver. Foll covered the Canucks-Bruins games for the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper in Australia

By Tom Zillich – Surrey Now-Leader

‘I got to play in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect to have hockey’

From hockey rinks in Surrey to Australia and well beyond, Glen Foll has seen the world playing Canada’s game.

Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain – Foll stick-handled and shot pucks at arenas in those countries, too, thanks to a decision made by the Surrey-raised defenseman in 1982.

This year, after nearly four decades of playing, coaching and refereeing in Australia, Foll became an honored member of the country’s fledgling Hockey Hall of Fame.

He’s a hockey legend Down Under, having captained the national team a record 15 times in the years from 1988 to 2006.

“I got to play in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect to have hockey,” Foll said this week on the phone from his home in Adelaide, South Australia’s coastal capital.

“I played in 16 world championships, and captained 15 of those 16 teams. I was an assistant captain the first year,” Foll explained.

“I have a lot of good memories,” he added.

Glen Foll captained Australia’s national hockey team for 15 of the 16 years he played on the squad

Today, at age 56, Foll still plays full-contact hockey with the long-established Adelaide Tigers’ premier team, alongside Ryan, his 23-year-old son.

At North Surrey Arena, which is slated for demolition next year, Foll first began skating at age five.

“My first year of hockey was the first year the rec centre opened,” said the New Westminster-born Foll, who grew up in the Whalley area, near 124th Street and 102nd Avenue.

As the 1970s faded into the early 1980s, a few years of junior hockey followed for Foll, but a pro career in North America didn’t happen for him.

That’s when a recruiter in Australia came calling, and Foll flew off to play pro for the Macquarie Bears, in Sydney.

“Originally I was going to go to Australia for a holiday,” Foll said in a 2003 interview. “I then found out through a friend that there was ice hockey in Australia. I wrote to the ice hockey federation for more information, they sent me an overseas player form which gets sent out to all the clubs.”

He played three seasons in Sydney, followed by a brief return to North America.

Australia called once again, and in the seasons since, Foll has won nine Goodall Cups in the country, six IIHF bronze medals in divisions two or three, and three silver.

“Arriving in Australia at the end of a mostly unrecognized junior career in Canadian minor hockey, Glen Foll came to best represent all that the Australian game should aspire to with an imported marquee champion,” said a recent post on the “Legends of Australian Ice” Facebook page.

Glen Foll on the ice years ago with son Ryan, who is now 23 years of age

In all, Foll played 76 games in a “Mighty Roos” jersey, scoring nearly a point a game, on average – 22 goals and 46 assists, according to a bio posted to icelegendsaustralia.com.

In a country where hockey is far from the favourite sport, Foll has helped build the game since his arrival in Australia.

“I’m still involved in coaching here, and it’s been that way almost since Day 1, in one level or another,” he said.

“Coaching and reffing are two big areas that are lacking down here. The growth of the sport here is dictated by the number of rinks. For example, here in Adelaide we have only one ice rink, and the city’s population is close to 1.3 million, so the sport is at its capacity.”

Foll said his favourite Australian hockey memory was winning a bronze medal at the C Pool world championships in 1992.

“We were not expected to do very well and we beat Hungary 8-1 and Belgium 6-2 that year,” he recalled.

“One of my jerseys is in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, which was also a big thing for me. When the IIHF had its 90th anniversary, each country was asked for a jersey for the new international part of the Hall of Fame, (and) our federation chose mine to go in.”

When not playing hockey with the Tigers or reffing games for Australia’s eight-team national league, Foll runs Pro Look Sports & Apparel.

“I get back to Surrey three or four times a year, for buiness, but very short trips,” Foll said.

“I’m pretty busy here now.”

North Surrey’s 1969/70 Peanut Rep Team. Glen Foll was the team captain, at right

North Surrey’s Peanut Rep Team 1968/69. Glen Foll is in the back row, third from the right, next to the A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippine national men’s hockey team expects tougher road to Southeast Asian Games gold

The Philippine national men’s hockey team made history by bagging the first-ever gold medal in the sport in the SEA Games in 2017

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo – Business World Online

NO LONGER under radar like in the 2017 edition of the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine national men’s hockey team said it is expecting the road to be tougher as it tries to win back-to-back gold medals in the regional meet happening later this year in the country.

Came out of nowhere to cop the top hardware in the first-ever staging of the sport in Malaysia two years ago, the Philippine hockey team recognizes that it now has a target on its back and that the competition is preparing better against it.

“We have a target behind our back. We’re expecting the other four teams to be stronger, faster and we’re preparing for that,” said Francois Gautier, national team defenseman and executive vice-president of Hockey Philippines, in a talk with media last week at the signing of their memorandum of understanding with cybersecurity company Kaspersky as one of their sponsors for the SEA Games.

“Of course the goal is to get the gold but we know it’s going to be tougher than before. That’s why we made changes in our training. Thailand and Malaysia will be tougher, Singapore and Indonesia are making improvements. We are confident of our chances but we still need to put in the work,” he added, referring to the four other teams seeing action in the competition.

In the 2017 SEA Games, the Philippine hockey team surprised many with its performance, which has since been fondly referred to as “Miracle on Ice.”

The Philippines completed a sweep of its four-game assignment, beating Indonesia, 12-0, in the opener before following it up with 7-2 and 8-7 victories over Singapore and host Malaysia, respectively, in the round-robin phase.

It capped its performance by edging Thailand, 5-4, in a thrilling final match that earned it the gold medal.

Forward Paul Sanchez emerged as the competition’s top scorer with 14 points, with teammates Steven Fuglister (11), LR Lancero (9) and Carl Michael Montano (7) figuring in the top 10.

Goaltender Gianpietro Issepi was top in his position with a 91.67% save percentage and teammate Paolo Spafford (88.14%) at third.

Mr. Gautier said they will announce the team roster soon, which they have already short-listed to 25 players before trimming it down further.

He went on to say that they will go out on the ice representing the Philippines well and are not leaving anything to chance and are preparing hard.

“We have the players that we need. We want to show we are the best in Southeast Asia. But it’s different on paper and ice. Anything can happen. Two years ago they were giving the title to Thailand but we beat Thailand in the finals,” said Mr. Gautier, who also expressed hope that fans would come out and support them during their matches.

The 30th SEA Games happens from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. The ice hockey event will be held at the ice rink at the Mall of Asia Arena.

‘Ice Palace’ construction starts

In August 2018 we had Article
A new home for hockey: North Van architect designs Mongolia’s first indoor rink.

Now comes word that the indoor ice rink is being built.

By News MN

Construction began started on (15 April) of Mongolia’s first ever winter sports palace. Mongolian President Kh.Battulga participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the ‘Ice Palace’, which is located in the  VIII Khoroo of Khan-Uul District of Ulaanbaatar. At the ceremony, Steppe Arena LLC promised to complete construction of the ‘Ice Palace’ within 16 months. The 5700 square meter structure is expected to open in 2021.

The ‘Ice Palace’ will have an Olympic-size frozen arena with 2600 seats. The ice rink can be used for all ice sports, including figure skating, curling, short track speed skating. In addition to being available for year-round use, it will be an all-purpose facility, which means that the ice rink can be transformed into a ‘dry arena’ with special elastic covers which will make it possible to be used for basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, and taekwondo competitions. It can even be used for cultural events and concerts.

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.

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.

Hockey night in Oman

By Lookout

It was April 27, a Saturday night, when HMCS Regina was alongside in Muscat, Oman, for a port visit during Operation Artemis.

While many Canadians were watching playoff hockey on Hockey Night in Canada back at home, HMCS Regina had their own version going on: Hockey Night in Oman.

Oman is known for its beautiful beaches and hot weather. But ice hockey? Not so much. Yet to our surprise, ice hockey not only exists in Oman, but is alive and well.

In over 30 degree heat, HMCS Regina’s hockey team made their way to an ice hockey rink called “Fun Zone” in Muscat to play against an expat team called the Wadi Dogs, and the Oman national ice hockey team, the Khanjars.

The game was organized by PO2 Tom Orlowski, a Marine Technician onboard Regina, and Aaron Grimley, a member of the expat team in Muscat. It was thanks to Mr. Grimley that Regina had the privilege to play against the Oman national team.

The Oman national hockey team was founded in 2014, but it originally started because of the Canadian expat community in Oman.

“Back in 2008, we saw a group of Canadians playing here once a week,” said Ibrahim Galadiri, a player on the Oman national team. “We bought some hockey equipment and decided to join them, and day by day we got more players. We decided to make our own team, and then the government decided to support us in 2014.”

The team is an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation, plays against other Gulf countries, and participates annually in the Challenge Cup of Asia.

“It’s fantastic to see how hockey has grown around the world,” said LS Eric Johnston during intermission. “To play in Oman in the Middle East, it’s amazing.”

“I never imagined in my life that I would be playing hockey anywhere else but Canada,” added LS Evan Lawrence. “Playing hockey while on operation in Oman, I think that’s pretty cool.”

Regina lost 5-3 against the Oman national team, and 7-2 against the Wadi Dogs expat team.

Regina’s hockey team looks forward to returning to Oman one day to continue building upon the newly formed relationships between the Wadi Dogs and the Khanjars. At a time when the world seems to want to create a further divide between people, cultures, and religions – that was not the case during Hockey Night in Oman.

“We can use sports to bridge relations between two different nations,” said PO2 Orlowski. “Sports bring people together.”

Regina is currently on Operation Artemis, the Canadian Armed Forces’ ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in the Middle Eastern and East African waters. 

Gold-medal celebration on ice for Israel hockey

THE ISRAEL MEN’S national team poses on the ice following its gold-medal winning performance this week in Mexico City at the IIHF World Championship Division II Group B tournament

By Johua Halickman – The Jerusalem Post

Union with North American foundation leads to blue-and-white international success.

Israel isn’t normally thought of as a ice hockey hotbed, but this past week the Israel national team won the gold medal in the IIHF World Championship Division II Group B tournament held in Mexico City.

The accomplishment made headlines around the world as the blue-and-white flag was raised with pride to the rafters and Hatikvah was sung at full strength.

The Israel Ice Hockey Federation has been around for years, but just this January it joined with the Israel Hockey Foundation of North America, led by Executive Director Stacey Pressman.

“The official launch was at the World Championship with the goal of providing leadership, strategic direction, fund development and organizational resources for hockey in Israel and provide the momentum to create positive change through the sport of hockey,” explained an upbeat Pressman.

“As a Jewish Canadian I have always had a love for both hockey and Israel,” said the Montreal native now residing in Pittsburgh. “When my middle daughter was looking for a mitzvah project to celebrate her bat mitzvah, we decided to sponsor a group of young hockey players from Metula and the Canada-Israel hockey school to visit and train in Pittsburgh for 10 days in 2014.

“This was the beginning of my exposure to Israeli hockey and I have been involved as a spectator and friend ever since. Through a series of events it became clear that a foundation could be created to help and support the federation to grow its programs and help the Israel national team with North American donations and fundraising events.”

The foundation strives to provide opportunities for Israeli youth to travel to North America for hockey training, international competition and player development, while also providing critical resources to the Israel national teams to foster and promote positive hockey role models and national pride for youth in both Israel and North America, in partnership with the Israel Hockey Federation.

“With roughly 1,800 players registered in Israel, winning gold was very important,” noted Pressman. “This medal gives the children training in Israel and abroad hope that they, too, can one day be World Champions! It also brings recognition and exposure for those who may not even know that Israel has a hockey program. We have had a spike in interest in our clubs since the recent success of the men’s team and the U18 team which this year won a silver medal in the Division 3A competition in Sofia, Bulgaria.”

There are 12 native-born Israeli players on the team that participated in New Mexico, while another 10 are from various countries in North America and Europe.

The star of the team was Eliezer Sherbatov, who was born in Rehovot and plays in the Slovakian professional league.

But as Pressman explained, “For the team to be successful we must be great AS A TEAM, and that’s where our focus is, on the team as a whole. We are extremely proud of all of our players who gave everything they had while representing Israel, a tremendous honor.”

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