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Meet the American Jewish coach behind Israel’s only Arab ice hockey team

By Larry Luxner – STL Jewish Light

On a recent Friday evening, as prayers from nearby mosques blared over loudspeakers and the sun dipped below a horizon dotted with ancient churches, the lights flickered on at a municipal hockey rink in a working-class neighborhood of this city.

Within minutes, 50 boys and girls on Rollerblades and in colorful uniforms — nearly all of them Arabs — descended on the rink to spend the next two hours practicing a sport more associated with frigid Montreal or Moscow than the arid Middle East.

These are the Nazareth Tigers — the only Arab ice hockey franchise in Israel. Hockey was brought to the country in the 1980s by Russian and Canadian Jewish immigrants, and today there are about 15 professional and amateur hockey teams organized under the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel.

“In a million years, I never thought I’d be doing hockey here,” said one of the Tigers’ lead coaches, Marc Milzman, 59, who sold all his hockey equipment before immigrating to Karmiel three years ago from Roanoke, Virginia. “But I love these kids. They love the sport. They get it, they understand it and they love the fact that they’re moving fast on Rollerblades.”

Twice a week, Milzman drives to Nazareth, Israel’s largest predominantly Arab city with about 90,000 residents, so he can coach his budding hockey players. He also takes them once a month to Metula, Israel’s northernmost town on the Lebanese border, where the kids can play on ice instead of using in-line skates to simulate the game.

Milzman’s hockey coaching partner is Ramez Lahham, 42, a software engineer and Nazareth native whose son, Neal, got him into the game. Lahham educated himself about coaching hockey by watching YouTube training videos and making friends at the Canadian-Israeli Hockey School in Metula.

Over the course of five years, the Nazareth Tigers have grown from 15 children to about 55, including 16 girls, ranging in age from 7 to 16. The program costs about $30 per month and involves two to four hours per week of training.

“We accept all kinds of kids — Christian, Muslim and Jewish. We’re all part of the hockey family,” Lahham said. “We get connected through sports. We play together; this is our motto. Here it’s not about politics, it’s about people trying to find a way to live together.”

Milzman shares that philosophy. It’s one reason he was drawn to the Nazareth Tigers in the first place.

“The kids respect each other. When our team plays in Metula, we get nothing but love from the other teams,” he said between practice sets. “We never discuss politics. I don’t even know what their politics are.”

Milzman, a die-hard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in suburban Maryland. He also lived in New York, Los Angeles and Virginia, but acquired his love for hockey during 14 years living on and off in Vancouver, Canada.

A former health care executive, Milzman was inspired to make aliyah, or immigrate to Israel, by his great-grandfather, who was sent by Baron Edmond de Rothschild to teach Hebrew to immigrants in the Galilee town of Zichron Yaakov.

“My grandmother and an uncle were born there, so I always felt a connection,” Milzman said.

He and his wife, Carolyn, made two pilot trips to Israel and then moved for good on July 7, 2014 — the first day of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war in Gaza. They settled in the Galilee town of Karmiel as part of the “Go North” program run by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael.

“Nefesh B’Nefesh provided a first-rate website, webinars, checklists, aliyah fairs and great post-aliyah support,” he said. “They also hooked us up with local volunteers who helped make this huge move much easier and less stressful than it might have been.”

In addition to coaching the Tigers, Milzman teaches hockey to children in the Arab Galilee village of Ras al-Ein and works 20 hours a week for SportSkills coaching baseball at schools and community centers throughout the Galilee.

Majd Zaher, the Tigers’ goalie, has been playing hockey for six years. A husky 14-year-old who plans to study physics and chemistry in college, he said his mother saw a Facebook post about the squad and encouraged him to sign up.

“I came and watched the training, and I liked it,” he said. “It’s a fun game, and it has sportsmanship. We don’t have a lot of this in Israel.”

Hockey also allows the Tigers to travel. Besides playing other Israeli teams in Nes Ziona, Rishon LeZion and Metula, a few lucky teammates recently went on an extended tour to Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg in Canada, as well as Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

“We are very specific in choosing kids with potential,” Lahham said. “If you want to be on the team, you need a lot of discipline. You should obey your coaches. We try to open their minds and let them see new places, new things, new adventures in life.”

Nazareth’s municipal government spends about $5,700 annually to maintain the hockey program. Substantial help also comes from Toronto philanthropist Sidney Greenberg, who bankrolls ice time at Metula’s Canada Center, and from Ahmad Afifi, a Nazareth bus company owner who transports the team to Metula for free once a month. The Nazareth rink was financed by Detroit philanthropists Irwin and Bethea Green.

Hockey is an expensive sport, especially in Israel. Basic gear — including helmet, hockey stick, gloves, in-line skates, and knee, chin and elbow pads — easily can run about $850, according to Raji Srouji, director of sports for the City of Nazareth. But Srouji, a former professional basketball player and coach, says hockey is a wise long-term investment for his city.

“Nobody says ‘no’ to this kind of project,” Srouji said. “Even though I have Palestinian roots and will always be like that, my sons and grandsons are citizens of Israel. I believe in living together. This is not even about coexistence. We need each other.”

Just ask Denis Superfin, the 15-year-old son of Russian immigrants who lives in nearby Nazareth Illit, which is 80 percent Jewish.

“I left my last team because there was no one my age,” he said. “I was 12 and they were little kids, so I played with adults. I can’t live without hockey, so I came here.”

Denis doesn’t understand Arabic, but that’s OK because Milzman coaches him in English and Lahham in Hebrew.

Asked if he cares that he’s the only Jew on the team, Denis says, “No, it’s not important. We just play.”

EVEL KNIEVEL and the BUTTE BOMBERS.

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By Hockey Old Time Logos

ROBERT CRAIG KNIEVEL. was born in 1938 in Butte, Montana. Him and his brother Nic were raised by their grandparents (fathers side) Emma and Ignatius who were second generation German-Americans.
Their parents divorced and left Montana straight after Nic was born.
Robert left school at 16 to work for Anaconda mining company, operating a diamond drill deep in the copper mines. Copper being the major industry in the Rocky mountain town of Butte. He was soon promoted to driving the huge earth moving vehicle but was soon fired when he did a `wheelie` with his monster truck after it had crashed into a main power line supplying electricity to the mining town, it knocked the electricity out of Butte for several hours.

WHAT`S IN A NAME?.
Robert was a bit of a rebel, and after a police chase that he led on a motorcycle resulted in a crash and landed him in jail. He was in a cell next to a man known as `Awful Knofel` immediately Knievel got his nickname `Evil Knievel` from his name rhyming night jailer.
After a few years he did not want to be known as `Evil` so he changed it to `Evel` a name that stuck for the rest of his life.

HOCKEY CAREER.
Robert played for the Charlotte Checkers a minor-pro team in the Eastern Hockey League before he decided to start up his own team the `Butte Bombers` in 1959 and even convinced the Czech Olympic team to play a warm up game prior to the 1960 Olympics.
As a player he was a real show-off and had to be the life of the party all of the time, former players rated him 7 out of 10 but would not trust him as far as they could throw him. Tubie Johnson another colleague said he was a good athlete but was always getting into scrapes and was the biggest bullshitter in the world.
In September 1958 at nineteen years old Knievel became the most important figure in Butte hockey. He started his own semi-pro team the `Butte Bombers`. He was owner, coach and of course starting centre, quite a remarkable string of titles for a 19 year old.

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-JzgyWyEhi40/WDVBZle6t5I/AAAAAAAAP18/WJofAfRgP8gQGZmjr20fdiNfKJum9z7pgCEw/s1600/evel%2Bknievel%2B2.jpgEvel Knievel Star Center.

Start-up money came from his father and grandfather Ignatius and a car dealership. The local sports goods dealer Phil Judd provided Knievel with uniforms and equipment on credit, something he would probably regret later. Knievel offered players $50 per game, he put together an ambitious schedule which included semi-pro teams from the US and Canada, a few minor league juggernauts and some big name colleges from Minnesota and Michigan. Knievel was not a bad player but if he had passed the puck a bit more and not shot every time he got it, his play but have been a whole lot better. He always set himself up to be the star, putting himself on the ice for power plays, penalty killing and all the big moments as centre for the 1st line. Little self placed stories appeared in the local newspaper mentioning interest of him by other minor league teams but they all ended with how happy he was playing with the Bombers.
Knievel was hard to pin down especially when money was involved, the players soon found out that that $50 per game was a mirage but they kept playing as it was the only team around. Without the help of Phil Judd for giving Knievel credit for sticks and equipment they would of faded into oblivion but they managed to scrape by. In 1960 Robert Knievel secured the biggest coup of all when he persuaded the Czech Olympic hockey team to play an exhibition game prior to the upcoming Olympics. The game was played at the Butte Civic Arena on Feb 7th 1960, two thousand fans packed the Civic Center. The game itself was a GOAL FEST the Czechs pulverized the Bombers 22-3, the game was a rout of routs, the Butte goalie saved 69 shots. Tubie Johnson said the Czechs were just messing with us they were being kind it could have been 105-0 if they wanted.

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Czechoslovakia National Team.

Knievel came out during periods and pleaded for financial help from a microphone as assorted buckets were passed around the arena he mentioned that the Czech delegation was larger than he had expected and their expenses were much larger than he first had imagined.
The money was collected but allegedly none of it ever reached the Czechs or creditors. One thing for sure was that this was the end of the road for the Butte Bombers and Evel Knievels hockey career.
He was 21 years old retired from hockey, off to other interests and other projects.

EVEL KNIEVEL” as we all knew him attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps and even attempting a canyon jump across Snake River Canyon(which failed) in a steam powered rocket called the Skycycle X-2. He still holds the Guinness Record for `Most broken bones in a lifetime` which is 37. He went through 15 major operations and spent nearly 3 years of his life in a hospital bed. Robert Knievel died of pulmonary disease in 2007 aged 69. This blog is just a snippet of his fascinating story.

Pyongyang Ice Hockey

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By Gordon Israel – Friendship League

Our team organizes annual ice hockey exchanges between the DPRK (North Korean) men’s national team and international hockey players. The primary goal of our efforts is to create cross cultural engagement with the people of the DPRK and to raise funds for our charitable workshops for athletes with intellectual disabilities in Pyongyang.

We have a few more spaces remaining on the team for our upcoming event in Pyongyang from March 7-15, 2017 and are hoping that we could partner on this occasion and that you might even be able to join us too. Our team has received a small amount of funding for the trip, allowing us to contribute a substantial portion to the total travel fees for some participants (Regular package starting at USD1600). It would be an unforgettable experience for the players and will be documented by a network film crew who will be making a brief film about the trip. This is the second edition of our Pyongyang Ice Hockey League (PIHL), already successfully held back in March 2016, when we brought a group of international players in Pyongyang to play against the DPRK men’s national team, and we hope to organize many more!

Please feel free to check out some pics and video from our event last year:
https://youtu.be/FR1gQHTRKM8 and instagram.com/hifriendshipleague.

You can also check out our website for more information: www.friendshipleague.org

Kyiv’s historic ice hockey school slides into decay

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By Olena Goncharova – Kyiv Post

Oleksiy Zhytnyk looks sadly at what used to be his ice hockey training venue, the Avangard Ice Rink Arena. It’s where he started his path to professional hockey with the Sokil (Falcon) Kyiv Youth Ice Hockey School.

The arena stands dark and abandoned, its floor covered in dust and building materials piled chaotically all around. Not a single puck has hit the ice here for many years – and there’s not even any ice.

For Zhytnyk, a Ukrainian former professional defenseman, who has played 1,085 games in the National Hockey League, including two Stanley Cup finals — with the Los Angeles Kings in 1992-93 and the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998-99, it’s a depressing picture.

“At least there was ice here before,” he says as the winter dusk begins to settle on this gray, unwelcoming building.

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Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk (C) together with the
representatives of the National Hockey Federation and Avangard Ice Rink Arena
look at what used to be a training ice rink for Sokil Youth Ice Hockey School.

Dim future

Every year Zhytnyk returns from his home in the United States to Kyiv to visit family. He stays connected with Ukraine’s hockey scene, although he’s not hopeful that it will recover quickly.
“We can compare (hockey) to a destroyed house – you can’t fix it with cosmetic changes,” he says, adding that its future is dim.

But things used to be different.

Sokil Kyiv Youth Ice Hockey School opened its doors to children in 1982. Sokil coaches raised a number of homegrown stars on their home rink at Avangard, including Zhytnyk, Dmitri Khristich and Nikolai Zherdev, the highest drafted player in Kyiv’s history.

But after Ukraine gained independence in 1991, many hockey rinks became less used than in Soviet times, when the nation’s clubs starred in the Soviet league. Some have been closed and turned into shopping malls or rented for office space since then.

Ukraine ended up having just 25 professional ice rinks.

In 2014, when the EuroMaidan Revolution forced disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych out of the country, the 8,422 square meter building of the Avangard Ice Arena was returned to the government, after having been managed by trade unions.

A year later, a former Sokil player, Kostyantyn Simchuk, was appointed a head of Avangard, and it was granted the status of the Olympic training base. But in 2016, Avangard still lacks an actual ice rink.

Past glory

Despite the tough conditions, the Sokil School still exists. They train around 250 kids, compared to nearly 500 in recent years when they had a rink in Avangard. Now the children train in Obolon district, where there’s a small rink under a bright yellow tent. According to the National Federation of Hockey, the rink does not meet the requirements to be a proper training venue because of its small size and lack of utilities.

Simchuk has been working side by side with Sports Ministry, National Federation and donors trying to restore the Avangard rink for Sokil Youth Hockey School.

The process is tough, he confessed, as they had to undergo a number of court hearings regarding ownership, and work out reconstruction plans that will help to access how much money they will need to bring hockey back to the Avangard.

The past achievements of Sokil School and its professional team, which won the 1985 bronze medal in the Soviet championship, are of little help when it comes to the school’s survival.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a hockey player,” Simchuk says. “I can’t even talk about the money Avangard will need, because there’s no plan yet.” He estimates that the skating rink reconstruction could be completed in some five months and it would cost at least $500,000 – but those figures are preliminary ones.

On Nov. 9, Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk visited the Avangard facilities.

“We can help to spread the word on potential of (Ukrainian hockey) in Canada,” Waschuk told the Kyiv Post. “But it’s up to Ukrainians to work on the nation’s hockey.”

Hockey hub

Pavlo Bulgak, an advisor to the sports minister told the Kyiv Post that the Avangard Ice Arena is undergoing a facility audit to establish how much equipment it will need to resume work: “Lots of it was stolen before Avangard was returned to the government. We need to find the equipment, so Avangard can become a real hockey hub for the city’s team.”

However, Simchuk is not alone campaigning for Ukrainian hockey. His biggest support, he says, are mostly parents of young Sokil players and hockey enthusiasts.

A couple of years ago, Taras Dumych, a partner with law firm Wolf Theiss, began to help raising awareness about school’s conditions.

Dumych, a native of Lviv, says he’s always been a fan of the Kyiv team. “I believe that Sokil could have a rebirth, like a phoenix,” Dumych said, adding that this could happen if there are joint efforts by the authorities and the hockey fan community.

Future hopes

There are only three rinks in the capital, including one at central Palats Sportu, which will host the World Hockey Championship in Division 1A for the first time in April 2017. In comparison, there are at least seven rinks in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus.

Olga Drobotko, whose 11-year-old son is a goaltender with Sokil, is frustrated by the country’s inability to sustain its ice rinks. She still hopes, however, that Avangard will become a place for her son to train in the future.

Now she regularly drives her son Illiya to a private hockey school so he can master his skills, as well as to Sokil.

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Parents walk the children near Avangard Ice Rink Arena in Kyiv.

Drobotko says she’s happy for her son’s passion, but concerned about his future in professional hockey.
Drobotko sets an alarm for early morning: her son’s daily training routine starts at 5:45 a.m. in the unheated tent where Sokil Youth Hockey School plays for now.

And the Sokil School still is still going, even though Sokil’s professional team was forced to forfeit games in 2013 due to the lack of funding.

“In fact, there’s no hockey in Ukraine,” Drobotko says. “But my son often tells me that hockey is the only thing he excels at.”

That’s what has kept her motivated to wake up early to take her son to training sessions.

Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017

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By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Last year a team of expats went to  Pyongyang, North Korea for cross-cultural tour plus friendship ice hockey exhibition game against North Korea national Ice hockey Team.

Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017

In 2017 The second coming of the event that started it all.  Hosted by the DPRK national ice hockey team, this event is your chance to travel to the world’s most secretive country for a sports event you couldn’t possibly forget.  You will play both alongside and against ice hockey enthusiasts from the DPRK in the afternoon, and explore Pyongyang during the day.  In addition to the participant-favorite day trip to the DMZ, this year’s event will see players travel to the newly built Masikryong Ski Resort for three days of awesomeness after the hockey comes to an end.  Spectators will have the option of checking out the action in the arena or joining their tour guides for some more exploring.

Also in 2017 A call for female participation in the PIHL 2017

The Pyongyang Ice Hockey League 2017 as an incredible opportunity to go down in history as one of the first female hockey players to play against the DPRK Women National Team!

For more information and to be part of this amazing event click here Friendship League

 

MacKinnon lifts North America over Sweden in OT

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By The Canadian Press

When Nathan MacKinnon deked Henrik Lundqvist out for a highlight-reel overtime goal and got mobbed by teammates, he couldn’t be happier.

Minutes later, MacKinnon found out that the 4-3 victory over Sweden on Wednesday wasn’t enough to get Team North America into the semifinals at the World Cup of Hockey. The most exciting show on ice has two victories and a one-goal loss but needs Finland to beat Russia on Thursday to advance.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have celebrated so hard,” MacKinnon said.

Everything the 23-and-under Team North America does is over the top, most importantly the skill that has made it the focus of the World Cup. Despite playing the two most entertaining games of the tournament, North America is in wait-and-see mode while Sweden is the winner of Group B after getting the point it needed.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 45 of 49 shots to get Sweden into the semifinals after a horrendous start by the skaters in front of him.

“We gave him a rough start,” said two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who fell victim to the speed of North America’s Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau early. “As a goaltender, I don’t think I can even imagine how it feels to be that kind of left alone and let in two quick goals. How we can rebound from that I have no idea.”

Auston Matthews scored on a 2-on-1 with McDavid 30 seconds in, and Vincent Trocheck made it 2-0 North America 95 seconds in. Lundqvist stopped a few breakaways and Gaudreau’s penalty shot to keep it from getting out of hand.

Sweden eventually got a handle on North America’s blazing speed, which made the best defence in the tournament look pedestrian.

“We had no choice. We had to. Otherwise it was going to be a disaster,” Karlsson said. “They gave us a slap in the face right away.”

North America is one big slap in the face to unsuspecting opponents, who know how fast the mix of U.S. and Canadian players is but can’t possibly adjust to it before seeing it. Gaudreau later scored for North America, but Sweden got goals from Filip Forsberg, Nicklas Backstrom and Patrik Berglund to get to overtime.

With starting goalie Matt Murray out with a thumb injury, John Gibson stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced. He looked shaky at times but stopped Daniel Sedin on a breakaway in overtime as one of a few memorable, important saves.

Not down at all about the loss, Sweden went into the game with a full understanding of what it needed to do.

“Always when you step on the ice, you want to win the game, but obviously mission accomplished,” coach Rickard Gronborg said.

It’s the opposite for North America, which went from euphoria to uncertainty. A loss to Russia in the game of the tournament means it’s on the wrong side of a head-to-head tiebreaker and now must hope for Finland to pull off the upset.

“We’re happy we won,” forward Mark Scheifele said. “Winning two games in this tournament is a big step. Hopefully we get some help from Finland.”

Even if North America bows out, more fans will remember this team for its unmatched pace and excitement level than its 2-1 record. Each game featured more than a handful of did-you-see-that moves, and North America left a lasting impact on the sport.

“I think we definitely have turned some heads,” McDavid said. “People didn’t know what to expect when we came into this tournament, but we’ve beat two good hockey teams, and ultimately maybe even should have beat the Russians. I think we’ve definitely turned some heads and opened the eyes of everyone what the future of the NHL is like.”

MacKinnon provided one last highlight with the overtime winner. All alone, the 2013 No. 1 pick beat Lundqvist top shelf like he has been doing that to goalies for decades.

“I saw his stick came up for a poke check and managed to beat that and get it up,” MacKinnon said. “It was fun, a fun goal.”

The Most Unusual World Record: Hockey in Antarctica

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By Steven Ellis – Eurohockey.com

He has the potential to set one of the greatest records in sports, and you’ve never actually heard of him. Meet Ryan Bahl.

Henri Richard has 11 Stanley Cup. He is a hockey icon. Teemu Selanne had 76 goals in his rookie season. He did more for hockey in Finland than almost any other player has ever done. Wayne Gretzky owns almost every major hockey record ever. He’s regarded as the game’s greatest player.

And Ryan Bahl is about to play in Antarctica. He’s known to very few people.

The previous three players set records nobody will likely ever touch, and when Selanne becomes eligible, all three will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They were three of the greatest players to ever make it to the NHL, the biggest hockey league in the world.

But Bahl, who never made it to the big leagues, is about to do something nobody ever thought could happen when he does make it over to Antarctica: he will have played on every continent in the world.

To think that hockey has been around for so long and nobody has achieved this feat is crazy on its own. But when you think that hockey in Antarctica isn’t exactly a popular sport, that makes more sense.

“There is no hockey there at the moment,” said Bahl, just 27-years-old. “Me and my team are aiming to make it a “thing”.”

Why would he want to make hockey in Antarctica a “thing”? Maybe to help grow hockey even further? Yes, that’s a great reason, but it’s not the main reason. If he achieves his goal in 2017, Bahl will be the first ever player to play on all seven continents in the world, something that would be recognized as an official Guinness World Record.

Bahl isn’t known to many people, but this record could serve to change that. Bahl has played hockey since the age of five, playing for local AA/AAA clubs before eventually making it up to junior hockey. A trip with his grandparents to central Europe at the end of high school helped pave the way for one of the craziest, well-traveled careers on the planet.

After leaving college, Bahl went to play hockey in China and Hong Kong before making the jump to the New Zealand club Canterbury Red Devils in 2010-11. From there, his travels continued all over the place, including the Czech Republic, Turkey, South Africa and Iceland.

Bahl has had the rare opportunity of representing two countries internationally. In 2012, Bahl played for the USA Eagles at the Australia International Ice Hockey Cup, an event that aimed at growing the game even further in an area nobody really expects to have hockey. Similar events take place every year there between Canada and USA now, with the likes of Brent Burns, Garrett Sparks, John Scott and even the Great One himself taking part in the Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic.

But not only did he get to do that, but he did become one of the first people to ever play for the Falkland Islands national team. Considered to be the smallest hockey nation on the planet, Bahl was brought on by team captain Grant Budd to play for the Falkland Islands for their first ever taste of ice hockey, winning every game they played to grab the championship at the 2015 Copa Invernada in Chile.

Now it’s time for his newest challenge. Bahl, who aims to bring players around the world together with his websiteHockey Connection,” knows this won’t be an easy task trying to go to the land where hockey has never been played.

“Logistically speaking there is quite a bit we need to do, but I’m not worried with the support we will get, the sponsors that are coming in and the fundraising we are doing,” said Bahl.

Support early to help his dream happen was immense from the start. In just the week after launching the project, Bahl heard from former NHLers, beer leaguers, new hockey recruits and more. Among the players interested are USA women’s hockey legend Hilary Knight, Hockey Hall-of-Famer Bryan Trottier and YouTube star Pavel Barber.

Bahl’s wife, Michaela Bahl, will also be making the trek down as a player. Michaela, who met Ryan during some off-time a few years ago, has played in four continents herself, with Antarctica and South America in the next year making it five. Ryan hopes to get her out to Asia and Australia in the future, helping her make a record for female players.

In terms of plans when he and the rest of the players get to Antarctica, that still needs to be decided. Bahl plans on having everyone there for about five days with potentially a game a day. He doesn’t expect it to be formal games or even a tournament, but if he can get some referees involved, he will do so to help make the event seem more “official” in the eyes of others.

Bahl also hopes to gain more connections leading up to the game with people from smaller hockey nations, such as Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands when he heads back to the Copa Inverda this summer. Grant Budd is already on board with the project, using his experience in helping build a program in the Falkland Islands to his advantage.

But hockey isn’t the only reason why Bahl is trying to attempt such a feat.

“Another interesting point that came up when I was talking to a Dutch guy the other day is that we should use this event to also help promote sustainability and keeping our planet healthy,” said Bahl. “He brought up a good point in that this event can only be successful for this year, and years to come, if everyone does their best to keep the planet cool enough to play outdoor hockey in Antarctica (as well as other places).

“I think in terms of sponsors a lot of corporations are much more aware of these issues, things like global warming, going “green”, and sustainability so I think this can also be a great way to promote a very good cause, something much larger than just playing hockey on Antarctica (which is still pretty cool in itself).”

The experience of playing hockey in the country is something Bahl is excited for, no matter the cost. While he has made money playing hockey in the past, he makes it clear that he doesn’t do it for the paycheck and more for the love of his favourite game.

“I have also been lucky enough to connect with great clubs over the years who have been able to take care of a lot of living and travel expenses so that me and my wife have been able to travel and play hockey,” said Bahl.

Bahl, who works remotely as a web and software developer, knows that not everyone plays for the same reason, but for those who can’t make a career out of it, traveling abroad and meeting new people and visiting new places is something he wouldn’t trade for anything.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people will never make it that far so the next best option is enjoying the travel, people associated to the game, and most importantly having fun,” said Bahl, who has seen it all playing in cities most people in North America have never heard of.

Bahl hopes that success and funding from his first attempt at playing in Antarctica will make it an annual event. Potentially, people will see it as a success, and want to join on the adventure in one of the most unique places in the world. But without proper funding, it’ll be tough, but with the possibility of some big names coming over, the chance to play in a brand new place and a few world records getting earned in the process, there’s a lot of hope for the event to prosper in many ways.

So what happens after breaking the record?

“After I’m done with Antarctica that we are moving onto to play in Space or Mars,” jokes Bahl. “I’ve actually had a few people ask me about these places.”