Month: June 2016

Are the Olympics a Help or Hindrance to Women’s Leagues?;center,top&resize=900:*&output-quality=75

By Kate Cimini – Vice Sports

In 2010, Hilary Knight was an unknown college hockey player, with fewer than 800 Twitter followers. Six years and two Winter Olympics later, Knight has become the face of women’s hockey in the U.S., whose sponsors include Chobani, Nike, and Red Bull; her following across social media has risen into six figures. When the National Women’s Hockey League began last year, Knight was its most bankable star.

For women in professional sports leagues in particular, the Olympic Games offer the kind of benefits and media coverage routinely enjoyed by their male counterparts in leagues like the NHL and the NBA. Their events are broadcast during prime time and on a major network. Meals are catered; accommodations and facilities are top-notch and readily available. They can focus, finally, solely on their training and their preparation as athletes—not, as is the case for many women, in the time that remains around second jobs that pay rent and put food on the table.

“It’s like you were just living in a fantasyland for three, four weeks. That’s the best way I can describe being at the Olympics, in the Olympic village,” said Kelli Stack, a two-time Olympian who plays for the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL. “It’s like utopia. It’s perfect.”

It can also represent a substantial payday: in 2014, the U.S. Olympic Committee paid gold-medal winners a one-time payout of $25,000, silver-medalists $15,000, and bronze medalists $10,000, according to Forbes. For comparison, players in the National Women’s Soccer League earn between $6,842 and $37,800 a year, while the NWHL’s average salary comes in at a little over $15,000. Even in the WNBA—now in its 20th season, the most established of professional women’s sports leagues—a majority of players join leagues overseas in the offseason to supplement their income; a gold-medal payout would almost double the league’s minimum annual salary for an entry-level player. And that’s before you get to sponsorship contracts, endorsement deals, and the other rewards that come with excelling on an international stage.

The Olympics are, for many of its female athletes, the only opportunity they’ll ever have to experience this kind of treatment.

But if the Olympic Games are an unequivocal win for women competitors, the equation for the leagues that employ them is more complicated.

On the one hand, the increased visibility of their athletes on the Olympic stage is a boon that can lead to increased ticket sales, jersey sales, and television ratings. Sheryl Swoopes, for example, brought star power to the WNBA right from its launch. She was coming off her Olympic debut, a gold-medal performance at the 1996 Summer Games, and already had endorsement deals and her own sneaker, Nike’s Air Swoopes, to show for it.

The NWHL has similarly relied on Olympians like Knight to draw fans as the young league establishes itself. Knight was the big get of the inaugural season, seemingly seduced away from the big, bad CWHL; her 2014 teammate Amanda Kessel, whose Olympic accolades come with a side dish of NHL fame as sister to Stanley Cup–winning Phil Kessel, was the league’s p.r. coup this off-season.

But what the Olympics give, the Olympics can take away, too. While the Games are going on, leagues are without many of their biggest stars—and the revenue streams they command. This problem is not unique to women’s leagues: MLS also loses out on revenue when it puts its season on hold to accommodate the Summer Games. But women’s leagues are generally newer and less stable: the National Women’s Soccer League is the third attempt since 2000 at a women’s pro soccer league in the U.S. When these leagues rely so heavily on their Olympians to command attention and attract dollars, they are also more vulnerable to the loss of that star power.

The WNBA’s solution to the scheduling conundrum has been to split its season in two during Olympic years rather than risk losing players for an entire season by making them choose between representing their country or staying in the league. So this August, while players like Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings go to Rio, the WNBA will go on hiatus for a month.

”We actually think we can benefit from the break,” then WNBA President Val Ackerman told the New York Times in the months leading up to the first Olympic break, in 2004. ”The month gives us a unique opportunity: the global exposure we can receive from the Olympics, not just Team USA, but other WNBA players. Combine that with events that our players back home will be participating in.” (The WNBA put on a camp for fans to take part in during the 2004 Summer Games, called the Summer of Dreams, which it has since abandoned. Now the league simply takes a break.)

In short order, two pro leagues will be dealing with the issue of the Olympic Games for the first time: the NWSL’s 2016 season is being interrupted by the Rio Games this summer, and the NWHL faces a similar predicament in 2018, with the Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Both the NWSL and the NWHL will be younger than five years old in their respective Olympiads; the WNBA, by contrast, was in its eighth season the first time its players left midway through the campaign to participate in the Games.

The NWSL, currently in its fourth season, started planning its strategy for the Rio Games last fall. The league is unique in that U.S. national team players are required to play in the NWSL between Olympic years. While that ensured the league had plenty of stars as it got off the ground, it also meant that 18 players were definitely going to Rio this summer. In addition, the league has 45 international players whose home countries have qualified for the Olympics and may be called to take a spot on their respective national teams.

The NWSL told VICE Sports that it did not look to the WNBA as a model, given the difference in the number of games and the length of their schedules. Instead, the league considered a range of scenarios, from holding only a few matches during the Olympic games to a complete hiatus; they also looked at how MLS approached Olympic-related scheduling snafus. In the end, they mimicked the men’s soccer league.

The NWSL eventually decided upon the 25-day hiatus, from mid-July to mid-August. During this time, the league will not be completely out of commission. Players who are not heading to Rio will continue to be practice and play a few closed-door and exhibition matches. A spokesperson for the league said it would be up to the individual teams whether to charge admission for games during the Olympic break, but that the majority of them would likely be free. While the remaining federation players continue to be paid by their national federations, and therefore don’t affect the league’s cap, all other remaining players training and playing with the teams must still be paid, and so teams will likely operate at a loss.

Just as the WNBA is supported by the NBA, the NWSL has the financial support of a more established organization: it is currently backed by two federations, US Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association (the Mexican Football Federation pulled out of the NWSL earlier this year), somewhat insulating it during the break for the Summer Games. The NWHL, however, has no major organization or governing body subsidizing its existence, and the Winter Games should give it serious pause.

The NWHL schedule currently lasts from October to March; should that still be the case in two years, the league would be in the middle of its third season by the time the 2018 Games in South Korea get underway. However, many of its star players could be out of commission long before the Opening Ceremony in February. The U.S. women’s national ice hockey team requires its players to centralize in one location four months ahead of the Winter Games. (No other international team except Canada centralizes so far ahead of the Olympics.) It is unlikely that USA Hockey, which has no affiliation with the NWHL, will forgo that strategy in preparation for 2018.

In that case, the NWHL would be without Olympians like Knight, Stack, Brianna Decker, and possibly even Kessel, should she make her way back onto the Olympic team. In their absence, the league stands not only to lose ticket revenue and media attention; with the NWHL signing all employees to one-year contracts, the league would likely lose all rights to player names and images—and the merchandise sales they bring—for the Olympic year as well.

Knight sold the most jerseys in Year One of the NWHL at $130 a pop; Stack hit the top-ten. After Kessel’s signing in May, the league sold 500 limited-edition #BestKessel shirseys, which were available for one week only. While the NWHL’s fan base is small, it is passionate in its support—and they tend to support the Olympians most of all.

A NWHL representative declined to reveal whether the league had plans in place for the 2017-18 season, saying only, “We’re exploring a lot of exciting options for the 2018 Olympics season, but we won’t be sharing details at this time.”

The league has more immediate concerns in trying stay afloat, but it needs to start preparing for the prospect of the Olympics now, whether that’s by signing hotshot college or international players who can continue to shore up the league in the face of the Olympians’ absence, or by securing television contracts to boost public awareness while it still has its top stars. They could also try to work with the national team to secure its Olympians for even a few months out of the season. Without their Olympic stars and said stars’ player rights, the league instantly loses marketability among a broader audience. Losing marketability means losing dollars—something that, at this stage for the NWHL, could be ruinous.

The NWHL is not the only league grappling with the implication of the upcoming Winter Games. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated the league won’t send its players to South Korea after the IOC’s decision not to cover transportation and insurance for participating players. For the men’s league, secure in its status, the additional cost doesn’t seem worthwhile. Its players may very well agree.

The women, however, can’t afford to dismiss the Olympics so easily. For the NWHL to ask its players to forgo the Games would mean asking them to sabotage their own earning potential, not just from likely podium payouts by the USOC but also endorsements and sponsorship deals. It would risk earning the enmity of the national team and a whole host of thinkpieces explaining why the NWHL should have let its Olympians be Olympians. Even with the Games occurring on the other side of the world in South Korea, with a time difference that isn’t especially favorable for ratings and exposure, the games will still offer more coverage than women’s hockey normally gets.

While the Olympics are that much more disruptive to a new league, the benefits can be that much more powerful, drawing attention where there was little before. That’s as much due to the state of the leagues themselves as the wider lack of coverage of women’s sports—and the athletes who play them—during the rest of the year. For some leagues, like the NWHL, the risk may be worth the reward. Even if it isn’t, there seem to be few alternatives.

Sergei Makarov joins ‘KLM’ linemate Larionov in Hockey Hall of Fame

By Sean LeahyYahoo Sports

Nearly 20 years after retiring, Sergei Makarov has been named as part of the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Class, joining Pat Quinn, Rogie Vachon and Eric Lindros.

“Oh my gosh, the wait is over,” is what Hall Chairman Lanny MacDonald said Makarov responded with when told the great news from his home in Russia.

Markarov’s case is a unique one in that his resumes on the NHL and international level are impressive, and in a year where there weren’t any slam-dunk candidates, the former Soviet star will finally get enshrined in Toronto this coming November. 

As one-third of the famed Soviet ‘KLM’ line along with Vladimir Krutov and Igor Larionov, who is one of the 18 members of the selection committee, Makarov saw an incredible amount of success on the international stage. Golds from two Olympic Games, eight World Championships and two World Junior Championships can be found in his trophy case during his time playing for the Soviet Union. He would record 83 goals and 172 points in 145 appearances representing his country at the senior level. In 2001 he was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame.

On the club level with CSKA Moscow, he won 11 consecutive league titles and led the Soviet league in scoring for nine seasons, winning three MVPs.

The Calgary Flames drafted Makarov in the 12th round of the 1983 draft, six spots after fellow countryman Alexei Kasatonov. Once he arrived in the NHL, he made an immediate impact, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 24 goals and 86 points while leading all rookies. That first-year success in North America helped earn him the 1990 Calder Trophy. 

That NHL rookie of the year honor, of course, was a controversial one given he was 31 at the time. Soon after, wording on the award was changed to make it so players could not be over the age of 26 and have played more than 25 regular season games in any single season or more than six regular season games in any major professional league in the two preceding seasons.

“When you Google Sergei Makarov’s name, you better have lots of paper ready to write down what you find as far as his accomplishments,” Larionov told’s Pierre LeBrun last summer. “You look at his longevity, his consistency, his skill level, he played more than 20 years and was one of the best players in the game.”

Makarov would reunite with Larionov in 1993 with the San Jose Sharks and form the ‘OV’ line with Johan Garpenlov. He would lead the team in scoring with 30 goals and 68 points and help upset the No. 1 seeded Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

After playing for parts of two more seasons in the NHL and the Swiss league, Makarov decided to hang up his skates following a decorated career.

“For everyone who plays the game, this is the top place,“ said Markarov in a statement. “It will be so nice to join all of those great players.”

Slovak Ice Hockey Federation elects new President

By Duncan Mackay

The Slovak Ice Hockey Federation (SZĽH) has chosen Martin Kohut as its new President for the next three years following a traumatic period for the sport in the country.

Kohut succeeded Igor Nemecek, who had only been re-elected last June, at special Congress that was organised to select new officials for the SZĽH.

The new President pledged to unify the Federation together and improve relationships amongst all stakeholders in Slovak hockey. 

Nemecek had agreed to step down in December and hold an election before the end of June following an agreement with Michal Handzuš, representing Slovak ice hockey players who were boycotting the national team.

The players had claimed that the SZĽH had become undemocratic under Nemecek, the former secretary general of the Federation, who had been elected President in 2011. 

Following Nemecek’s re-election, more than 50 Slovakian players wrote an election warning they would not play for the national team unless he was replaced.

Handzuš had decided not to stand for President but the players backed Kohut, a member of the SZĽH Executive Committee, ahead of his only rival, Tibor Turan.

“People have decided that they want things to change which is represented by my programme,” Kohut, who has been involved with the SZĽH since 2007 when the company he worked for started sponsoring the Federation, said.

“I will try to take advantage of my experience, knowledge and everything that I have learnt so far in my life to help Slovak hockey.

“I can’t promise the results, but I can promise to push our Federation forward.”

Former players were named to the SZĽH Executive Board, including Jozef Stumpel and Robert Svehla, who has also been appointed general manager of the national team. 

Kohut’s mandate includes building hockey arenas, increase the number of youth hockey programmes and working to develop ice hockey academies.

Slovakia finished ninth for the third consecutive World Championships in Russia in May. 

Their best performance had been in 2002 in Sweden when they won the gold medal.

Interview with Egypt Eslam Seliman

By George Da Silva –  National Teams of Ice Hockey

Egypt has a long history with the game of ice hockey and Interestingly, confirmed by archaeologists, the drawings at the tombs of Beni Hassan in Minya Governorate in central Egypt shows that Ancient Egypt was the cradle of the prototype of field hockey which is considered to be a closely related sport of ice hockey.

Egyptian ice hockey players are working hard since the year 2002 to establish the game of ice hockey in the country. We talked to Eslam Seliman General Administrator and player of Anubis team about Ice Hockey in his country.

Egypt has a long history with the game of hockey can you give us a brief history on how ice hockey got started in the country?

Ice Hockey started in Egypt in the early 2000s when some Egyptian youth started to show passion for the sport. The core trigger behind this was the fact that some Egyptian cities have seasonal and annual snowfalls like Saint Katherine City in South Sinai which makes them suitable hubs for winter sports, but unfortunately Egypt has a sole participation in the Winter Olympic Games in our sibling Muslim country of Bosnia in Sarajevo 1984. This group of Egyptian youth were excited to expand their ice skating skills to a sportive level like what they used to watch in sports news on TV where ice hockey games are broadcast. We started to dream of returning Egypt back to the Winter Olympic Games through an ice sport that we know and adore like ice hockey. In 2002, a few Canadian expatriates who work in El Maadi District in south Cairo granted some used ice hockey equipment to those Egyptian youth who emerged to be Anubis team later on.

How many players and teams are their in Egypt?

Now there are no less than 170 Egyptian ice hockey players. They can be divided to 80 Males, 70 Juniors, and 20 Females, that’s in addition to Anubis’s 26 foreigners. Regarding teams, Egypt now has 1 amateur team which has its headquarter at Ice Planet Rink in Maadi Family Land Mall, in El Maadi District. But during the annual Egyptian tournament, Anubis’s players and equipment gets divided into 8 teams. Anubis’s adult players also represent Egypt’s Men National Team which will participate in Africa’s 1st Ice Hockey Tournament in Rabat, Morocco on July 2016.

How many ice rinks are their in the country?

Egypt currently have 11 ice rinks in 6 cities, and they will be 12 rinks soon in 2017 by the completion of Egypt Mall’s Ice Rink in the city of 6th October in the west of Giza Governorate. Seven of those 11 rinks are ice while 4 are blanketed with wax. However, unfortunately all these rinks are extremely small with the largest of them spanning over only 300m2 in Sun City Mall in Sheraton District of east Cairo. That’s why we are currently planning with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth & Sports in addition to some Egyptian businessmen to build Egypt’s and North Africa’s first Ice Hockey Arena or at least install ice hockey ground in one of the existing Egyptian Sports Multi-purpose Arenas.
Our headquarter rink

Map of Egypt’s current 11 rinks.

When did the Anubis ice hockey form and is there an ice hockey league in the country?

Anubis, Egypt’s first ice hockey team was formed in 2002 under the name “Ice Hockey International School” (IHIS). Then in 2012 the team was named “Capital Biko” which means in our Ancient Egyptian Language “Capital City’s Hawks”. A single “Bik” in the Ancient Egyptian Language means a “Hawk”. Afterwards in 2015 the team was renamed to Anubis. So far there is no Egyptian Ice Hockey League, but instead, every year the Administration of Anubis team organizes an Egyptian tournament that takes place every Ramadan Hijri Month. The tournament gets contested between Egyptian amateur teams derived from Anubis’s players and equipment. This Egyptian Ramadani Tournament took place in 2012, 2015, and 2016 version will start next week and its final will occur in the first week of July.

Anubis Logo

How do you plan to get more ice hockey equipment to the country, thre seems to be a shortage of equipment right now?

Currently, we have about 50+ sticks in addition to 26 pucks and hundreds of skating shoes, but concerning protective kits of players and goalies we have less than 10. We tried hardly to buy protective kits for 1 goalie and 3 players but the kits are unbelievably expensive. The lack of such protective kits make us suffer some minor injuries because of playing without these vital equipment. Through Egyptian ice hockey players living abroad in Europe and North America we managed to get some used equipment and Egypt has an ice hockey IIHF Official in the Asian Division called Mr. Ahmed Gaber who helps us in getting used equipment from other Islamic Countries in Asia. We plan to buy equipment when we succeed in getting major sponsors who can fund us.

The Egyptian Ice Hockey Federation (EIHF) has not been established yet, when do you think this will happen and who will run it?

We’re trying with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth & Sports and the Egyptian Olympic Committee to establish the Egyptian Ice Hockey Federation (EIHF) but because of bureaucratic and financial factors it might not be launched sooner than 2018.

How popular is the game of hockey in general and where do see the game on ice fitting in?

Interestingly, Field Hockey like many other things in the world has originated in Ancient Egypt. Egyptology archaeologists have found drawings of Field Hockey in an Ancient Egyptian tomb that is 4,000 years old. And now in modern ages Egypt has one of Africa’s most successful Field Hockey teams. During all our ice hockey training sessions and matches we find ourselves surrounded by dozens of interested spectators. And every month we receive tens of messages from Egyptian youth who express their will to join our ice hockey team. In light of these factors, we assume that Ice Hockey can reach the popularity of Egyptian Field Hockey and maybe it can exceed that to reach the popularity of Egyptian Squash which is one of the most popular sports in Egypt with Football, Handball, Basketball and Volleyball.

How do plan to get more youth interested in playing ice hockey in Egypt?

It’s good that Egyptian youth find this sport extremely interesting for them, hence we attract many of them with just organizing our training sessions and matches in the 11 mall-based ice rinks. At the same time, we visit Egyptian sports academies which have Field Hockey teams. We distribute flyers and brochures about Anubis and ice hockey among those youth of field hockey to attract them to ice hockey. These guys have exceptional hockey skills and they only need us to train them ice skating.

Are there any plans in the future do have some coaching seminars?

We believe coaching seminars will extremely benefit us. On the same track, we invite Russian and German trainers who work in ice rinks in the cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada to train our players. We also receive offers of making training camps in Egypt from Danish, Norwegian, Spanish, French, American and Canadian coaches and former players. But because of Anubis’s current lack of consistent funds or a constant sponsor we aren’t able to host such events or cover the accommodation costs of such sportsmen and women.

How do you see the game growing in the next five years?

In the next 5 years we plan to have a national federation, national league, national cup, a minimum of 4 club teams, and an ice hockey arena. We plan to have an enlarged Men National Team with attracting the European and North American players of Egyptian ancestry. We also want to launch a Women National Team. Moreover, we plan to send a membership request to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) which we try to contact since 2012 but they don’t pay attention to our letters at all. We seek to help in establishing 3 important regional ice hockey associations: the African Ice Hockey Association, the Islamic Solidarity Ice Hockey Association which can be part of the famous and well-known Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and its branch the Sports Federation of Islamic Solidarity Games, as well as the Mediterranean Ice Hockey Association. We expect to have hundreds of Egyptian Ice Hockey Players. Furthermore, we seek to enter ice hockey as a sport in the Mediterranean Olympic Games which gathers all the 21 Mediterranean Countries. And we have the same goal for the African Olympic Games, and the Islamic Solidarity Olympic Games. After those 5 years we would be extremely happy if we can make it to the Winter Olympic Games.

Egypt is getting ready play in their fist international tournament at the First African Cup for club teams in July in Morocco. What are your goals for the tournament?

Through the historic initial event of Africa’s 1st Ice Hockey Tournament in Morocco we seek to gain more popularity in Egypt, Africa and the world generally. This can accelerate the pace of the process of establishing the EIHF. We also seek to expand our funds and sponsorship opportunities. The Moroccan and the Algerian teams have more international experiences than us, yet still we represent Egypt, the country which is well-known for being the pioneer of countless fields throughout ages, hence we have to look forward to the cup’s title as well. We would like to deeply thank the Royal Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation which facilitated everything for us to participate in this historic championship.

Anubis Jersey

Egypt National Team Jersey

Are there future plans to apply for IIHF membership?

Applying for the IIHF Full Membership is one of our ultimate goals and we believe it will be a great step for this sport in Egypt. We hope the IIHF pays attention to Africa and to our letters we send to it since 2012. The African Continent now has 11 practicing ice hockey countries with different levels: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Djibouti.

Is Ice Hockey shown on TV?

Yes sometimes Egyptian private and governmental TV channels broadcast segments of NHL matches in the sports news.

Who is your favorite hockey team and player?

My favorite team is the most successful team in our Islamic World which is Kazakhstan whom we support in every world championship. While we hope Egypt gives birth to players like Canada’s great Wayne Douglas Gretzky.

Interview With Bahrain’s Tamar Fakhroo

 By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Kingdom of Bahrain is not known for the game Ice Hockey but the country has compete in 2011 Asian Winter Games and the 2012 Gulf ice Hockey Championships, despite not winning any games on the International stage, Bahrain has a real passion for the game.
We caught up with Tamar Fakroo Capitain of the Bahrain Sharks and we asked some question about hockey in his country.

Can you tell our viewers a little bit about yourself and how ice hockey got started in Bahrain?

I am a Bahraini puck head !

I was always fascinated by ice hockey since I was 5 years old because of the fact that a game is played on ice while I grew up in the middle east where sun and sand is everywhere, and always dreamed of playing Ice Hockey because it was my ultimate fancy sport. Until I became 16 and an ice rink was opened in Bahrain and I went there and started skating ( took my few days because I was always on roller blade and skate board) so balance sports was no problem for me, then went to the expats playing hockey and asked them id I can play, they gave me a chance and convinced them that I can be a good player and then joined the expats team and now am the captain of Bahrain Sharks one of the biggest teams in the Persian Gulf region.

What is the current state of ice hockey in the country?

Ice hockey in Bahrain is not as big as in the UAE ( over 500 players in UAE and 3 leagues plus women league) in Bahrain we play 3 on 3 because our ice rink is not official size, we have around 50 players here most of them from the US working in the US base in Bahrain. and the rest are Canadians and Europeans as well as 15 to 20 local players.

Is there any women’s hockey being played?

No, not yet- but UAE and Kuwait has women teams.

Is there a league if so how many clubs play in it?

Yes we have a 3 on 3 league, it is 4-6 teams ( 6- 8 players each team )

Bahrain does not have a Hockey Association or a Federation when do think this will happen?

We do have a hockey committee made of the old players in the team but there is not enough things to do about hockey in Bahrain. . . . For the time being !

Where does funding and sponsorship come from to run ice hockey in the country?

We used to get sponsorship from DHL Bahrain and few local companies to cover the ice time.

Is Bahrain going to enter a team for the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan?

Yes we hope so, we played in the last one in Kazakhstan 2011 and it was the first time for Bahrain to participate in winter Olympics.

Most of the Middle East countries are members of the IIHF, When do you think Bahrain will apply for membership?

We are working on it, but because ewe don’t have some of the requirments by IIHF we are going for associate membership then hopefully we will have a full size ice rink/ stadium arena to apply for the full membership.  

What needs to be to improve the game in Bahrain?

Coaching team I would say- the local players are very talented and dedicated but never played with a coach, and from my experience if we had a coach who can guide these boys Bahrain ice hockey will be in another level within the region.

Bahrain recently hosted the the Bahrain fire on ice hockey tournament, How did that go?

Bahrain Fire on Ice tournament has always been a success since we first started it in 2012 and till now, we started with 6 teams and since then teams are increasing every year this year we had to turn down couple of teams because we couldn’t host more than 10 teams, hopefully next year we will be 12 teams, This year we had the GCC region nationals only division as well as open division for all levels and nationalities.  

Who is your favorite hockey player and why?

My favorite ice hockey player was Ray Bourque because he was one of the greatest defense players, and lately Zdeno Chara we kind of look alike on the ice because of my height : ) and by the way am Huge Bruins fan, this article will give you and idea >>>

What was the best experience you had with the Bahrain National Team?

Playing in the Asian winter games in Kazakhstan 2011, and taking part in the opening ceremony.

Bahrain in action against the UAE at the 2012 Gulf Cup

Colombia wins Pan American ice hockey in Mexico

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Colombia national ice hockey team took the title of the Pan American tournament held in Mexico after beating the host team in a close finish.

Colombia began with good pressure on the Aztecs and managed, through the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard. In the third Mexico tied the game (2-2) and forced the game into a penalty shootout. The Mexican team squandered two of the three charges that were giving to them and the Colombians took championship for the second year in a row.
On the men ‘s side six teams competed in an event including two teams from Mexico, two from Argentina, one from Brazil and one from Colombia. Five teams were on the side of women including two from Mexico, two from Argentina and one from Colombia.
Colombia arrived with a male team composed mostly online hockey players that surprised the host, Mexico, with a 2-3 victory on penalties for the gold medal.
As for the women ‘s team they had to settle for fourth place after losing the bronze medal game to Mexico 2 (3-1). Last year the ladies took the silver medal.

Colombia Men are two time Pan American Champions.

Brazil’s Hockey Team Struggles With Basics—Like Skating


By Will Connors The Wall Street Journal

Most hockey fans are fixated on the ongoing Stanley Cup finals between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. But at another competition a bit farther south, the members of Team Brazil—a group of misfits and weekend warriors mostly plucked from the country’s in-line roller-skating leagues—are focused on some of the simpler aspects of ice skating.

Like, for instance, ice skating.

“They all really struggle.” said Jens Hinderlie, Brazil’s American coach. “Turning left, turning right. And stopping is obviously the biggest thing.”

The third-annual Pan-American Hockey Tournament, which kicked off Monday in Mexico City, allowed the Brazilians to display their hockey stylings in games against teams from Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. It also allowed many of them, for the first time, to play on a regulation ice rink. “They’re like kids in a candy store,” Mr. Hinderlie reported. “They’re like, ‘Oh my god, ice, ice, ice!’”

Brazil’s hockey team was formed in 2014. It is part of the Brazilian Confederation of Ice Sports, which also supports national curling and bobsledding, among various pursuits. But other than the affiliation itself, any official privileges are slim.

The group doesn’t have any sponsors, let alone a home rink. In fact, there aren’t any regulation hockey rinks in all of Brazil. There was once a small ice patch at a Pizza Hut in the ’90s, but it closed down. Some team members practice skating moves at a tiny rink in a mall in Rio, but they have to share it with children and aren’t allowed to shoot pucks.

The ice-deprived players, as a result, have been falling in Mexico City—a lot. Luiz Paulo Serrano de Araújo, a 21-year-old engineering student from Rio, had never skated at an official rink. He had to borrow skates from a friend.

“Braking and changing direction, I’ve had a little trouble,” Mr. Araujo said. “The body doesn’t respond to what you want it to do.”

Pedro Prado, 39, the oldest player on the team and a theater actor in Rio, also claims to be one of the best ice skaters in Brazil. He has been teaching some of the new players techniques for stopping on ice.

“There’s a trick I use when I’m teaching kids: breathe, exhale, then brake,” Mr. Prado said.

What the players lack in skating ability they make up for in enthusiasm, Mr. Hinderlie says. “I’ve been around hockey my whole life, and the passion these guys have for the game is second to none.”

Bruno Gomes, 36, plays left wing and is another of the team’s veterans. In the six years since he first tried ice hockey, he has skated on ice a total of six times.

“It was wonderful,” said Marcelo Rodrigues, 32, a real-estate consultant from Rio, after taking the ice on Mexico City’s regulation rink. “There’s nothing like it.”

Mr. Hinderlie, 35, played a bit of hockey when he was younger—going as far as the Appleton, Wis.-based Fox Cities Ice Dogs of the Great Lakes Hockey League. He also coached junior teams in Juneau, Alaska.

But he didn’t plan on continuing with hockey after meeting his Brazilian wife, Gabriela, on eHarmony and moving to her home country. Once they arrived, though, and knowing her husband loved hockey, Gabriela reached out to the Brazilian Confederation to see if they had any job openings.

As it happened, they needed a coach for the just-formed hockey team.

This will be his second year as coach. He concedes that the tournament is as much about attracting a potential sponsor and raising the funds to build a rink as actually winning games.

He, along with team member Daniel Baptista, a 29 year-old investment banker who spent a bit of time in Canada and learned to skate there, is confident the game could catch on if they had a rink in Brazil.

“It’s freaking hot [in Brazil] from November to March, April,” Mr. Baptista said. “If you have a big rink where it’s cold, you can play in the morning then go to the beach later in the afternoon. That’s the dream lifestyle for every hockey player in the world.”

Even though Mexico City has several official hockey rinks, the tournament site can present other logistical challenges. Last year at the Mexico City Ice Dome, a compressor failed and the rink was shrouded in fog during games.

At the first Pan-American tournament in 2014, the Brazil team, then nicknamed The Intrepid Colossus, lost every game. By a lot. They were defeated by Mexico 16-0, to Canada by the same score, and to Colombia 14-0.

At last year’s event, the team surprised everyone, including themselves, by coming in third place. With a little more ice time, Mr. Hinderlie believes the team could do well again. Since the guys arrived in Mexico City last week, Mr. Hinderlie has been running grueling skating practice sessions. He plans to make the team practice “until they puke.”

At this year’s tournament, Brazil beat Argentina’s “B” team in its first game 8-1, but lost to Mexico 4-0 on Tuesday.

In the meantime, as they continue to work on the basics, Mr. Prado, the team’s elder statesman, believes the hard work is already paying off.

“I have high hopes for these guys,” he said. “Whenever you get a team coming together, it’s really hard to beat them.”
Members of the Brazilian National Ice Hockey Team watch as the coach outlines a play during practice. The team is playing in the third annual Pan-American Hockey Tournament in Mexico City. Photo: for The Wall Street Journal

Panamericano” begins

Colombian forward Nataly Angarita battles for the puck in her team’s game against Argentina 2 at the Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament

By Martin

The 3rd Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament organized by the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation and endorsed by the International Ice Hockey Federation has started in Mexico City on Monday.

11 teams from Latin America compete at the Ice Dome in Mexico City this week. On the men’s side six teams compete in a round-robin event followed by medal games including two from Mexico, two from Argentina, one from Brazil and one from Colombia. Five teams are entered on the women’s side of the “Panamericano” including two from Mexico, two from Argentina and one from Colombia.

Day 1 ended with a game between last year’s finalists of the men’s tournament. One year ago newcomer Colombia with a team consisting mostly of inline hockey players upset host Mexico with a 4-3 shootout win in the gold medal game but this time Mexico won and started off on the right foot by beating Colombia 6-2. Mexico’s B-team defeated Argentina 1 by the score of 4-1 while Brazil opened the tournament with an 8-1 victory against Argentina 2.

In the five-team women’s tournament Colombia blanked Argentina 2 8-0 while defending champion Mexico beat the B-team in an internal clash 9-0.

The preliminary round continues until Saturday while the medal games in both categories will be played on Sunday.

The tournament can be followed on the website and the the Colombian team is also providing a live stream of its games

The tournament takes place each summer and for the third consecutive year. Host Mexico is the only Latin American country with international-size indoor ice arenas and participating in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program while for the other countries the tournament is a great opportunity to compete internationally.

Argentina, Brazil and Colombia only have small indoor rinks and Argentina additionally possesses an international-size outdoor rink in the southern city of Ushuaia that can be used during winter weeks in the southern hemisphere around this time of the year. Both Argentina and Brazil have played in the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship for many years where another South American country has also been part of the program with Chile, a country that also has ice hockey activities with the Copa Invernadas set to take place in the southern city of Punta Arenas for the fourth consecutive year from 6-10 July.

An Off-season Adventure for Yuen

By South China Morning Post

As the hockey season draws to an end, ECHL player Zachary Yuen decided to journey from Richmond, Vancouver to here in Hong Kong for a short stay. Though born and raised in Canada, Yuen’s family still have strong ties with Hong Kong, and he is excited to share his unique experience as a Chinese professional hockey player with the young participants of the Jockey Club Generation Next Program. decided to journey from Richmond, Vancouver to here in Hong Kong for a short stay. Though born and raised in Canada, Yuen’s family still have strong ties with Hong Kong, and he is excited to share his unique experience as a Chinese professional hockey player with the young participants of the Jockey Club Generation Next Program.

When asked about his experience in Hong Kong thus far, Yuen said “Since I arrived, I’ve noticed that the players here in Hong Kong love hockey, and that the sport is ever growing. The coaches of generation next have been doing a fantastic job and I hope that I can bring my experiences from my career to the program and add to the pool of knowledge.”

Hockey skills, however, is not the only thing Yuen wishes to teach. The Jockey Club Ice Hockey Generation Next program emphasizes, above all, the aspect of personal development in the young people who are participating in the program, and so far, it seems to be working. “The generation next program is in great hands from top to bottom, and with this, the kids will come out of the program not only as better hockey players, but most importantly, better people.”  Yuen said.

Yuen’s hockey career started at the young age of 2, when he declared his dream of one day being a professional hockey player. Since then, he has worked tirelessly towards that goal, and was finally drafted in the NHL by the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. Yuen is currently playing in the ECHL with Dallas Stars affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads, leading in goals as a defenseman on his team.

Mr. Yuen started playing hockey professionally in the WHL at the age of 15, and went on to represent Canada at the World U17 Hockey Challenge. He also represented the Canadian Hockey League All Star Team to compete against Team Russia in the 2011 SUBWAY Super Series. 

To share his rich playing experience with the young players in Hong Kong, Yuen is set to run a 4–day summer hockey camp in association with the Jockey Club-funded Generation Next program at Mega Ice, MegaBox. The camp, starting on August 8, 2016 will focus on elements such as body-checking, skating, puck-protection, and other critical skills. The last day of the camp will feature a public clinic aimed at promoting the sport to a wider spectrum of players.

More information about the camp can be found here:
2016 Jockey Club Generation Next Summer Camp

The Most Unusual World Record: Hockey in Antarctica

Image result for The Most Unusual World Record: Hockey in Antarctica


By Steven Ellis –

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.”