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Long-awaited ice hockey match at North Pole to played on April 20, 2020

By Tass Russian New Agency

Russia’s legendary ice hockey player and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Vyacheslav Fetisov said on Wednesday that an international ice hockey game at the North Pole will be played on April 20, 2020.

The Russian Ecology Protection Society, said in its statement quoting Fetisov that the game was likely to be played some 70-90 kilometers away from the geographical tag of the North Pole.

“An ice hockey match, which was never played at the North Pole, should draw the global society’s attention to problems we discuss today within the frames of the United Nations Environment Program [UNEP]…,” Fetisov said. “I dearly hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will also take part in the planned ice hockey match at the North Pole.”

Russia’s two-time Olympic champion and three-time winner of the NHL Stanley Cup Fetisov earlier announced plans earlier to organize a friendly international ice hockey match in 2019 on the territory of the Barneo Ice Camp, which is a unique Russian-operated drift station on the frozen Arctic Ocean near the North Pole. However, the earlier announced dates for the ice hockey game were later postponed.

According to Fetisov, the aim of the event is to draw attention of the international community to the problems of the global climate change. Ice hockey stars from Canada, the United States, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland have already confirmed their participation in the planned match.

Russian President Putin first appeared on the ice, playing hockey in 2012, just several hours after his inauguration and it was as part of the traditional Night Ice Hockey League. He has played regularly since then at this annual event and during the match of the Night Ice Hockey League on December 29, 2018 on Moscow’s Red Square Putin scored an opening goal that led his team to 14-10 win over the opponents.

Last month, Putin appeared playing ice hockey again at the Shayba Arena in the Russian resort city of Sochi, where he was joined in the match by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The 66-year-old Russian president, known for his avid support of sports development in Russia, is a black belt holder in judo and he regularly practices.

Kenyans on Ice – Hockey star plays for Climate Action

By UN Environment

It was the first international ice hockey game ever played in Kenya. It was also historical because it was organized to call attention to the impact of Climate Change – in Kenya and around the world.

The widely publicized game is part of a UN Environment initiative to use sports to rally governments and common citizens in defense of our planet. Hockey games are being held in dozens of regions around the globe – and after the games the players tell the stories of climate change impacting their communities This project will culminate in the Last Game – the first and last hockey game every played at the North Pole. But yesterday it was Kenya’s turn in the spotlight in support of the UN Environment Assembly.

The Kenyan Ice Lions played a dramatic match against the LAST GAME All Stars – led by the Hall of Fame, World, Olympic, and Stanley Cup Champion – Slava Fetisov – UN patron for the Polar Regions.

The Last Game All-Stars won 10-9 in a shoot out. Fetisov scored the deciding goal. “Everyone is a winner “ said Ben Azegere, captain of the Ice Lions “because this helps us tell the story of how climate change is affecting the country and the world we love”

He led the visiting players, who came from a dozen nations – on a tour of the National Wildlife Park. He was on the verge of tears as described how unprecedented and destructive weather patters and human intrusion were decimating the lions – the mascot of his team – and the symbol of the soul of the Kenyan nation.

The Last Game has already visited Finland, in the Save Pond Hockey popular tournament, with the participation of Sauli Niinisto, President of Finland . Future Last Games are being scheduled from Abu Dhabi to Argentina – from New Orleans to New Zealand… and in New York – in September to coincide with the UN Secretary-General Climate Summit.

Hollywood to hit the ice? North Pole to host hockey match for global celebrities in 2020

First Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Physical Fitness, Sports, Tourism and Youth Vyacheslav Fetisov

By Tass Russian News Agency

An ice hockey match involving politicians, Hollywood celebrities, athletes and public figures will take place at the North Pole in April 2020, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Committee on Physical Fitness, Sports, Tourism and Youth Vyacheslav Fetisov said at a press conference in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Monday.

According to earlier reports, Fetisov, who is a two-time Olympic ice hockey champion and former NHL player, discussed the idea to hold ice hockey matches at the North Pole with Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov.

“The current global climate situation is unfavorable,” Fetisov told reporters. “I got the idea to bring together famous athletes, Hollywood stars, politicians and public figures to play ice hockey, sending a message to the world about how serious the situation is,” he added.

“Today, the climate issue is what can unite people and get them to leave all political, regional and other kinds of conflicts behind… Unfortunately, we were unable to arrange a game this year due to lack of time but it will happen in April next year where we planned it [at the North Pole],” Fetisov emphasized.

According to him, in order to arrange such a game, coordination with environmentalists would be needed. As for now, the organizers have secured the support of the global academic community and mapped out the logistics. “Yet, we haven’t had enough time to bring together the celebrities,” Fetisov noted.

The Agency Partnership Wins Ice Hockey League KHL

By Maja Pawinska Sims – The Holmes Report

Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the international ice hockey league, has appointed The Agency Partnership as its first retained international PR agency to support its expansion into new markets.

KHL was created in 2008 to develop ice hockey across Europe and Asia. The 11th KHL Championship, which began in September, is contested by 25 teams from Russia, Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia. Last month the first regular season game was held in Zurich, and the league plans to move further into Western Europe, including the UK.

The Agency Partnership was founded in February this year by former MSL client director and Ogilvy head of media and entertainment Blair Metcalfe, with a core team in London supported by a network of independent partner agencies and more than 600 consultants around the world.

The agency’s brief for Kontinental Hockey League is to carry out media and influencer engagement and global monitoring, to increase awareness of the sport and attendance at games in key European and Asian markets.

Metcalfe, the agency’s CEO and creative lead, told the Holmes Report: “KHL is Europe and Asia’s answer to the NHL in America: it’s about top-flight ice hockey from multiple countries, and it’s at a pivotal point in its expansion programe. We’ll be helping with corporate promotion of the league, as well as global monitoring and analysis of conversation around the sport, especially from influences, so we can turn those insights into creative campaigns encouraging consumers to go to matches.”

KHL marketing and communications VP Sergey Dobrokhvalov said: “Working with The Agency Partnership will provide us with the expert support we need to develop and execute a communications strategy for our exciting growth plans, helping attract audiences to enjoy some of the best ice hockey you can find anywhere in the world.”

Other recent wins for The Agency Partnership include electric bicycle company Volt, and Vinci UK Developments, which appointed the team on a stakeholder relations and integrated consumer, public affairs and corporate communications brief for developments across the UK.

UN Environment to host ‘Last Game’ for the Arctic at the North Pole

By UN Environment.org

The Arctic is one of the earth’s most fragile ecosystems, dis proportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. To garner global attention and support for the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions, UN Environment is organizing the ‘last ice hockey game in the Arctic’ in spring 2019.

The game is spearheaded by legendary Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, who was designated UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions this week.

“The world today is very fragile and it’s our duty to do everything to unite people and nations to remind them that we don’t have a planet B,” Fetisov said. “Sport and environment are two spheres that will unite people and help us to protect the Earth – our common heritage.”

The frightening speed of climate change is particularly visible in the Arctic. This winter the temperature at the North Pole was well above normal. Ships navigated the Arctic Passage without icebreakers for the first time as the age, thickness and extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic decreased.

The hockey game, to be played in spring 2019, will take place on an ice rink on the North Pole. The teams will include ice hockey players and sports personalities from around the world, as well as Arctic indigenous peoples and youth.

The symbolic event is a wake-up call to the world, highlighting climate models projecting that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free by 2040. During the event, the teams will phone the United Nations Secretary-General from the North Pole.

“We simply cannot ignore the threat of climate change to the Arctic regions of our earth. Once this fragile ecosystem is disturbed, it may never recover,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “I am grateful to see great athletes like Viacheslav Fetisov lending their names to this ‘last call for the Arctic’ and make the world aware that we have to take action. It is now or never.”

Viacheslav Fetisov has frequently drawn attention to the polar region over the years; for example working towards the establishment of the marine protected area in the Ross Sea in Antarctica and orchestrating a massive beach cleanup in the Russian Arctic in 2017.

Changes in the Arctic affect weather patterns across the world with severe consequences for humans, societies, and nature. In light of this, Viacheslav will use his new position as Patron for Polar Regions to strengthen awareness of some of the most urgent environmental issues, including climate change, pollution, ocean protection, clean water, national parks and sustainable tourism.

About Viacheslav Fetisov

Fetisov is a legendary Soviet ice hockey player, one of the best defensemen in the history of world ice hockey. During his career, he won two gold medals at the Winter Olympics and was a two-time winner of the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings.

In 2015, Fetisov was the first person in Russia to support the campaign to create the marine protected area in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Throughout the years he has lent his support to several environmental initiatives in the region, including Lewis Pugh’s (UN Environment Patron of the Oceans) cleanup on Lake Baikal, Russia and the Antarctica 2020 campaign for the creation of more arctic marine protected areas. In September 2017, he orchestrated the biggest beach cleanup in the Russian Arctic.

Ak Bars Kazan upsets CSKA Moscow to win KHL’s Gagarin Cup

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By Associated Press

Russia’s Ak Bars Kazan won the Kontinental Hockey League’s Gagarin Cup for the third time in its history on Sunday with a surprise 4-1 series win over CSKA Moscow.

Ak Bars won Game 5 1-0, with ex-Edmonton Oilers wing Rob Klinkhammer scoring the winning goal on the power play early in the third period. Emil Garipov stopped 33 shots for the first shutout of the finals.

It was the first Gagarin Cup since 2010 for Ak Bars, which won the title in the KHL’s first two seasons but hadn’t won since.

Ak Bars was considered the underdog since CSKA’s roster included eight of the Russian players who won Olympic gold in February, with Ak Bars having none.

KHL postpones playoffs to let Olympic gold medalists party more

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By Kyle Cantlon – Yahoo.com

Team ‘Olympic Athletes From Russia’ has transformed into team ‘Olympic Boozehounds From Russia’ awfully quickly, and the bender isn’t over yet.

Less than a week out of the PyeongChang Games where a group of Russians captured men’s hockey gold, playoffs in the country’s top league are set to begin. Two of the clubs comprising the majority of Team OAR in South Korea — CKSA Moscow and SKA Saint Petersburg — are slotted to face off against Sparktak and Severstal, respectively, in the opening round, but the KHL is reportedly postponing the start of both series.

For a very legitimate reason – if you ask me.

Powerhouse No. 1 overall seed SKA Saint Petersburg, which went 47-5-4 during the KHL’s regular season, featured 15 players on Russia’s Olympic team, including former NHL All-Stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, and gold-medal game hero Nikita Gusev.

Second ranked CSKA Moscow boasted eight players on OAR’s gold-winning squad, including Nikita Nesterov, Alexey Marchenko, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Kirill Kaprizov — who potted the OT winner against Germany in the final game.

Both behemoths are on a collision course to the KHL finals, so why not delay the inevitable in the name of a good hangover.

KHL Playoff matches ups

Guinness World Record attempted for playing Ice Hockey at highest altitude

By ANI News

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Feb 8 (ANI): Attempting a Guinness Book of World record for playing Ice Hockey at the highest altitude, a two-day tournament was organized at Chibra Kargyam in Ladakh’s Changthang region.

As many as six teams, including five international teams from Canada, Germany, Russia, the USA and India, participated in the tournament.

The tournament, which was started yesterday, was jointly organized by Ladakh Winter Sports Club (LWSC), Hockey Foundation and Lalok Winter Sports Association.

Reflecting on the same, Lundup, the secretary of Lalok Winter Sports Association, told ANI, “Guinness world record matches are going on here. There are 16 representatives in this tournament from a different part of the country. They are players from Canada, Germany, India, Russia and USA. This tournament is organized by the Ladakh Winter Sports Club (LWSC) in collaboration with the Lalok Winter Sport Association and with the help of the Hockey Foundation. Here the altitude is 14,050 feet of ice hockey ring. So, it’s the highest world hockey rink in this world.”

Tundup, a member of Ladakh Winter Sports Club (LWSC), echoed similar views and said that it is a proud moment for the entire country to host such kind of event.

“I am very happy that here the matches are being played for the Guinness World record. Here five overseas teams have come and there is one team from Ladakh. It is a big achievement for us to organize such kind of event in Ladakh. It is an honour for the entire Singey Lalok area of Leh district to have such event. It is a proud moment for our state and for our country because I believe such kind of event has never happened in India. I want to thank all the ministers of the state for supporting us,” he told.

Meanwhile, Anthon, who has been coaching ice hockey in India for five years now, revealed that they were planning the Guinness World record match for almost two years now and hoped to see many more events like this in future.

“I am from Canada. I have been coaching in India for five years. We have been organizing and planning this Guinness World record for almost two years now.It is such an amazing day for Canadians here those have been involved in the ice hockey in Ladakh. And all the Ladhaki people here, I am happy that they are joining and that they can enjoy this beautiful moment in the history of ice hockey in India. I hope in the coming years there will be more tournaments like this,” Anthon said.

Located at a distance of 160 km from Leh, the natural ice hockey rink is at the altitude of 14050 feet above sea level.

This International standard ice hockey rink is certified by Geological Survey of India.

Mike Keenan out as coach/GM of KHL’s Kunlun Red Star

By Sean Leahy – NBC Sports

Days after losing his role as general manager, Mike Keenan has now been relieved of his coaching responsibilities by Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. Following nine straight defeats, which places them near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 68-year-old will remain as an executive member on the team’s International Advisory Board.

Former NHLer Bobby Carpenter will take reins behind the bench on an interim basis with fellow ex-players Cliff Ronning and Igor Kravchuk staying on as assistants.

“Mike Keenan has done a great job for several months,” said Kunlun president Raitis Pilsetnieks via SovSport (translated). “He formed a completely new KHL team, and also took an active part in building the entire club structure, which is part of a large-scale project for the development of Chinese hockey in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in 2022.

“Since March, he worked almost without days off, and we were often amazed at his amazing endurance and efficiency. But, unfortunately, everything has a limit, and the work, coupled with a huge number of flights, is beyond his strength. Therefore, it was decided to return to the original form of cooperation. I have no doubt that as a member of the International Coordination Council Mike Keenan will bring a lot of benefits to the club and the Chinese hockey in general.”

Kunlun responded well to the news by snapping their nine-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win against Amur on Sunday.

Keenan, who was the first coach to win championships in the KHL and NHL, joined Kunlun in March 17 months after he was canned by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, with whom he led to a Gagarin Cup title in 2014.

So will we hear Keenan’s pop up whenever the first NHL head coach gets fired this season? He’s been out of the NHL game since 2009, but that never stopped general managers from bringing in a retread. Hey, how about a Philadelphia reunion? OK, that’s probably a pipe dream. But given Keenan’s recent coaching history, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him resurface behind a bench elsewhere in Europe.

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

American Jewish coach Marc Milzman

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 Roller blades 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 Roller blades.”

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.”

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