Month: July 2017

Ted Nolan joins Team Poland as national team head coach

By Cat Silverman –

After earlier rumors, it has been confirmed that Ted Nolan will continue his career as an international coach this coming season, joining Team Poland as their new bench boss.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Nolan blazed a trail when the First Nations former reserve resident was drafted 78th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1978.

He went on to play in the NHL for three seasons, but has been far more successful at the coaching level. In addition to a Jack Adams Trophy as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres in 1997, when he helped the team to first in the then-Northeast Division, he’s spent three years coaching at the international level with the Latvian team.

Now, he’ll join Poland’s staff, looking to help a developing hockey nation elevate their game to the next level.

At the moment, Team Poland is ranked 20th internationally by the IIHF for men’s hockey, and currently play in the Division IA second-tier level for the IIHF Men’s World Championships. Although they’ve been ranked as high as sixth overall at a point in the team’s history, the last time Poland made it to the Olympics was in 1992; with Nolan at the helm, the hope is likely that they’ll at the very least look to develop into a nation that’s capable of putting up a fight in qualifications in the coming years.

At the moment, this is Nolan’s only gig, but success could help him find a way back to prominence coaching in North America at some level in the future.

Meet Turkey’s first female hockey team

Founded by Umut and Hatice Çelik eight years ago, the Istanbul Buz Korsanları (Ice Pirates)
Sports Club changes female hockey players’ lives along with the faith in the sport in Turkey

By Damla Kayayerli – Daily Sabah

Working as a cashier at a skating rink, Hatice Çelik wanted to give ice skating a try one day. Her trainer Umut Çelik, with whom she fell in love with, helped her in her endeavor. As they skated on the ice hand in hand and eye to eye, they fell in love and eventually ended up getting married.

After a short while, the couple decided to found an ice hockey club. National ice hockey athlete Umut and his wife Hatice founded the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club eight years ago. During the first year of the club, they had just 17 members playing in the toddlers’ league, but as time passed the number of sports people in their club quickly increased.

In time, the Istanbul Ice Pirates became a very successful club.

Hatice started to practice more and more to be able to help her husband as much as she could. Refining her skills on skates, she became an ice hockey player at the Istanbul Skating Club. She obtained a coaching certificate after attending coaching workshops, and she served as an ice skating player and a coach at the same time.

Starting to work as an assisting coach for the national team two seasons ago, Hatice had to take a break from work after she became pregnant.

Only female hockey team in Istanbul

Continuing to serve as a coach for the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club, Hatice defines ice hockey as her passion. “I explored a different side of myself after starting hockey. Both skating and watching the skaters are sources of pleasure for me. The ice is a passion, which cannot be given up once you start. Women are more passionate than men when it comes to ice skating,” she said.

Hatice, who has devoted herself to the sport, places great importance on female presence in the sport. One of the pioneers of the Istanbul Ice Pirates Women’s Ice Hockey Team, she has been competing for five seasons.

The only club in Istanbul with a women’s ice hockey team, the Istanbul Ice Pirates is also last year’s champion.

“We are the only club in Turkey competing in seven different branches. We have 14 Turkish championships in various branches. Some of our 173 athletes are national athletes as well,” she explained.

As far as she noted, women’s interest in ice hockey started to increase only recently. The sport attracts a lot of attention, especially from working and studying women.

“Children are encouraged generally by their families. Women, on the other hand, see ice hockey as a different sport. There are also women who started ice hockey as a hobby and then became professional athletes. Families encourage their daughters to provide them with a hobby or make them active. Every so often, those girls turn into professional athletes in time,” she said.

The time it takes to learn the sport changes from person-to-person. However, trainees learn skating in about 10 sessions.

Hicran Kıvanç: ‘I forget everything on the ice rink’

Hicran Kıvanç, 39, a mother of three, has been working at a news channel as a reporter for over five years. Kıvanç first encountered ice hockey thanks to her children. Her older son is a very active; so they wanted to enroll their children into a sports club.

They decided on ice hockey because it was much different than football or basketball, which are the most popular team sports in Turkey.
“My son started to take part in games as soon as he enrolled in the club. Then my younger son, daughter and my nephew also started hockey after my older son. Thus, we turned into a family of icemen,” she said.

At first Kıvanç just watched her children while they skated, but soon she too started the sport as a hobby. Now, she is a professional ice hockey athlete. “I do the sport while enjoying time with my children. To be honest, ice hockey is not an easy sport. I learned it by fits and starts. You don’t care about anything when you are skating, you turn into totally a different person,” she said.

Emral Mutlu: ‘Skating makes you feel free’

A graduate of Maltepe University Civil Engineering Faculty, Emral Mutlu, 24, is a working woman. She first discovered ice skating four years ago with her older sister. Since Mutlu really loved the sport after trying it a few times, she decided she would give ice hockey a go. “I was captured by a great feeling of freedom after learning to skate on the ice. It was also a kind of escape from stress. You refresh while skating. Then it became more joyful after joining a team,” she said. Mutlu says that she has also experienced extraordinary dialogue throughout her adventure of skating.

She explained that people would see her with a hockey stick on the metro bus, and asked her what she does with it. She said some people thought that she had a hockey stick to defend herself. “Everyone has their own passion for skating. One you start, you cannot give it up,” she said, adding that some of her friends want to start ice hockey like her.

Didem and Özlem Bağcı: ‘Ice hockey is a different world’

Twin sisters Didem and Özlem Bağcı, 17, are students at Beşiktaş Anatolian High School. Both sisters started to skate at an ice rink at a shopping mall with their friends for fun. Didem went on to figure skating, while Özlem started ice hockey upon the recommendation of her coach.

After working in an artistic rink for five years, Didem too decided to give ice hockey a try, feeling inspired by her twin.

“I realized that hockey is more joyful. Figure skating is a more personal sport, while ice hockey is teamwork. You can help each other, which I like about it. Now, I’m on the national ice hockey team,” she said.

Both sisters are now professional athletes for the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club. They both think that playing on the same team is advantageous. Skating on the rink is an undefinable feeling for both of them.

During their first years in the sport, their friends were inspired by them. Some of them tried ice hockey as well, while others could not perceive what kind of sport ice hockey was. The twins aim to promote ice hockey in Turkey.

“When I started the sport, ice hockey wasn’t known by most of the society. Now, people have an idea about it upon hearing the name ice hockey,” Didem said.

Being twins, however, can be confusing on the rink. Explaining that ice hockey is a different world for her, Özlem said that they forget about everything on the rink and it gets rid of all the problems of life.

Ice rink mooted for Limassol


Limassol could be the home of a state-of the-art ice arena of Olympic standards if the designs made by a local architecture team finds investors, it emerged on Thursday.

According to the designers, ECA Architects and Associates, the ice-rink complex would be an innovative, energy-efficient structure that would house restaurants, cafes, offices, a gym, and a choreography studio. The designers told the Cyprus Mail that the ice rink is to be constructed in such a way so as to operate in the summer as well, without this translating to high electricity consumption.

The ice rink was designed following express of interest from Russian investors, and the architects are awaiting their decision whether to proceed with construction. The architecture team has suggested two locations in Limassol where the 2,800-square metre rink could be built.

The project is estimated at €3.5m.

The rink will be of Olympic standards, and it could host local and international sports events, the architects said, as it will also have changing rooms, referee offices, and other auxiliary spaces. It is designed to host between 250 and 500 spectators, while there also provisions for an ice arena cover system to facilitate a variety of non-ice events.

Israel going big

By Martin Merk –

Ice hockey in Israel is usually played at small rinks, forcing the national team to have to compete abroad. But this year, at the ice hockey tournaments of the 20th Maccabiah Games, the Israelis will get to compete on a regulation-sized ice rink, installed in the Pais Arena in Jerusalem.

The arena in the southwest of the holy city is normally used as the home of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team with a capacity for 11,600 spectators and for concerts. With the bigger field of play in ice hockey the organizers expect a capacity for 10,000. That’s a sharp contrast to what players in Israel have been used to since the opening of the first ice rink in 1986.

The Maccabiah Games, sometimes described as the “Jewish Olympics”, are a multi-sport event held every four years in Israel with Jewish athletes representing the different countries they come from, dating back to 1932. 10,000 athletes from 80 countries in 47 sports are expected to compete this month in Israel. Ice hockey was played twice before, in 1997 and at the most recent edition in 2013 in Metulla.

Despite being in a warm country with a large area covered by desert and the thermometer expected to hit 37°C in Jerusalem today, ice hockey is not totally unknown in Israel but still rather exotic for the average Israeli.

“We have approximately 800 ice hockey players and four leagues,” says Lihu Ichilov, the General Secretary of the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel, who has been involved in the sport for 27 years, basically since its beginning in Israel. Ten teams play in the men’s A league, 14 in the B league, 10 in the U20 league and 15 in the U18 league.

While there’s no women’s hockey competition, 28 female players compete in boys’ leagues and can be two years over the boys’ age limit.

“Most of the games are played in Holon because most of the teams are based in central Israel. And then we have a rink in Metulla in the north. In Holon they can play ice hockey from 6 to 8 in the morning and from 8 in the evening to 2am after midnight. It’s crazy – but we love it!” Ichilov says. “There’s no tribune but whenever we have games, the rink is packed with 300-500 people standing around, which is the full capacity.”

While the rink in Metulla, a city in the north partly surrounded by Lebanon, is full size, the one in Holon, a city of 190,000 inhabitants a few kilometres away from Tel Aviv, is about half the size, 900 square metres, and opened in 2013. And there is an even smaller one in Ma’alot.

“Hopefully in two years we will have an Olympic-size rink attached to the current rink in Holon. The owner is working on it and the plans have been submitted to the municipality. This will sort out all our problems and increase the development to unbelievable stages,” Ichilov says. It would not only be full size but also have a capacity for at least 5,000 spectators according to him.

Israel has less experience playing at home than other countries competing at Division II level. In 1996 Israel played a qualification game for the 1998 Olympics in Metulla. They lost 10-2 to Greece but that game was eventually declared a 5-0 victory for Israel because Greece used ineligible players. Israel advanced but lost in the following round. In 2006 the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III was planned in Metulla but was eventually moved to Romania due to security concerns caused by tensions at the Israeli-Lebanese border that eventually led to a war later that year and the evacuation of the population.

Having played at many international-size arenas abroad, culminating with a Division I participation in 2006 in Amiens, France, the Israelis can now get the experience of a top-notch arena at home with the rink installed in Jerusalem.

“Everybody is excited. Not only us but everybody involved in sport. They come and see the arena and can’t believe. They used to go there for basketball and now it’s ice there. And for our team it’s exciting to play an international event at home against teams from other countries with six nations involved,” Ichilov says. “I hope between 2,500 and 5,000 people will come for the bigger games but the organizers are even more optimistic and hope for 8,000 spectators.”

Similar to the IIHF at Olympic tournaments, the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel is setting up the competitions at the Maccabiah Games with the arrangements for the teams, paperwork, schedules and officials.

The games are played in a city that has never seen ice hockey before, although there is a team with players originally coming from inline hockey that was founded in Jerusalem but plays at the other rinks and even made its way up to the Senior A league two years ago.

The North American Maccabiah teams were pushing to have the event in Jerusalem rather than in the remote north. This eventually led to discussions with the mayor of Jerusalem and IHFI President Evgeni Gusev to make the dream come true.

“The rink was bought from an Austrian company. It’s just a shame that it will finish in a warehouse waiting to be requested again. But I have the feeling they will build it up every year in summer,” says Ichilov.

Three ice hockey tournaments will take place at the Maccabiah Games that are played from 4 to 18 July – except on Saturdays, or Sabbath, when the Jewish part of Jerusalem seems to come to a standstill. The men’s teams play in the Open Tournament that includes Canada, Germany, Israel, Russia and the Unites States. The Masters Tournament for players over 40 includes Canada, Israel, Ukraine and the United States. And the U18 tournament is played with teams from Canada, Israel and the United States.

The Canadian Jews have been most successful at the last edition with famous coaches behind the bench: Guy Carbonneau at the men’s team and Jacques Demers in the over-40 category.

Israel will play with its regular players from IIHF events in the Maccabiah Games although not all of them will be able to come. “This will give a chance to younger players,” Ichilov said. “But it’s a minimum AAA and college players who come for Canada and the U.S. We don’t have any thoughts about them, we will fight, but it will be very difficult to compete with them. Our players are either students, in the army or working for their living,” he says.

The national team has had its ups and downs in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. Peaking at the 28th-place finish in 2006, it went down to 41st in 2011. Currently Israel is 35th in the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Ranking.

“During the last three years the national team has gone from strength to strength,” he says and explains the history of hockey in Israel that has started by immigrants from North America and the Soviet Union.

“Before the immigration came, you could only see hockey on television. There was no hockey ever played. They used to skate on rollers but there was no inline hockey, no ice hockey,” he says. “Half of the population in Israel is immigrants.”

The many players born outside of Israel also made it difficult for them to become eligible to represent Israel internationally. Today Ichilov thinks that maybe a quarter of the 800 players was born outside of Israel.

“What we see now is a second generation to those who started hockey in Israel. In the Maccabiah Games we will see a few fathers in the veteran tournament whose kids are playing on the U20 or U18 national team,” he adds.

While most players from the recent Israeli men’s national team joined from local clubs, some try their luck abroad.

Eliezer Sherbatov is probably the most famous of them. Born in Israel and playing in Metulla, the forward born to Russian Jews went to North America and made it to the top level in Canadian junior hockey playing in the QMJHL. He then became a professional player in France and Kazakhstan.

One issue that has made development different was serving three years in the army. With the creation of the U20 team, an age group that used to have a lack in players due to the military service, the federation now aims at better conditions with delayed service or an athlete status at the army.

Roey Aharonovich and Yuval Rosenthal are two players who got the permission to delay the military service because they count as elite sports athlete under contract abroad. After leaving his hometown team Rishon, Aharonovich played junior hockey in the United States and will start college hockey at NCAA Division III level at the Neumann University. Rosenthal played junior hockey in Canada and is now with the Colorado State University.

The federation hopes that Ariel Kapulkin will also be granted a delay after having played junior hockey in the U.S.

“This is the reason that we have started two years ago to build up the U20 national team. The team consists of players who are due to go to the army. Once they finish high school, they have to go three years to the army. For those on the U20 national team we apply to be an active athlete in the army. Then they are given 90 days a year to go to camps and championships,” Ichilov explains.

Trying to combine the army and hockey is one aspect to improve the development of players, the other is grassroots hockey.

“There has been a lot of the development in the past four years. The current board of directors has been doing tremendous work in the development and with Gusin at the head I can say it’s something that hasn’t been done like that before. These are people who really think about the game and how to develop it, how to get youngsters involved and I’m sure it will go on like that,” he says. “We also have a development committee that is working in close relations with the IIHF and takes part in the camps. We started now to make our own courses for officials and start at a young age. We motivate former players to join as referees or administrators.”

The experience of organizing an international event at a big arena is one that Ichilov hopes to translate to IIHF hockey as well. The Ice Hockey Federation of Israel applied to host the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B in the same arena in Jerusalem but uncertainty about the dates and availability didn’t help in the vote. The tournament was eventually awarded to Spain.

“We have the support from the government to hold an IIHF event but we didn’t have the rink for that time. It’s difficult because it’s the biggest arena for basketball and the season doesn’t end before May. So it would have been impossible to get it earlier. But hopefully we can hold an IIHF event in Holon when we have the new rink in two years,” he says.

But first it’s time for Maccabiah ice hockey at the cool arena during the summer heat in Jerusalem. The men’s final on 15th July, which Ichilov predicts to be a Canada vs. USA game again, will be broadcast live on Israeli TV channel Sport5. Once the tournament is over, the arena is set to stay for public skating and ice shows before it will be dismantled.

Two UBC hockey players get signed by KHL’s Kunlun Red Star

By Mike Raptis – The province

Two UBC Thunderbirds mens hockey players are off to Beijing to play for the KHL’s HC Kunlun Red Star organization.

Luke Lockhart and Derek Dun, both of Chinese descent but born in Canada, were signed on Thursday after impressing the Red Star’s executives in a scouting camp at 8-Rinks Burnaby in early June.

Lockhart, from Burnaby, was a top-six forward for the Thunderbirds this season. He played junior hockey with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Dun, a Surrey native, was the T-Birds’ starting goalie. He had had played the previous two seasons for Northern Michigan in the NCAA.

Former Vancouver Canucks head coach and Stanley Cup Champion ‘Iron’ Mike Keenan will be their next head coach.