Year: 2017 (page 1 of 35)

Q & A With Jim Aldred

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

This year Portugal played in their first ever international ice hockey tournament in Andorra. It’s been a long journey for the country to get to this point and long the way Canadian Jim Aldred has been playing and coaching the Portuguese National Team.

We caught up with Jim and asked him some question about Ice Hockey In Portugal.

Can you talk a little bit about your playing career and being drafted by the Buffalo Sabers?

My history commenced in Toronto where I was born. I was a big guy so I always played on teams that consisted of players who were a year older than I.

I played til Bantam and skipped Minor Midget and Midget and advanced to Junior B. At that time I was 15 playing in a league that consisted of mostly 19-21 year olds. `I was then drafted to the OHL as an underage player to the Kingston Canadiens. There I had the priviledge of playing with or against players such as Doug Gilmour, Bernie Nicholls, Dave Andreychuk, Johnny Vanbiesbrouck.. During my second year there, I was drafted to the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL Draft 3rd round, 59th overall. During my 3rd year with the Canadiens, I was traded to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL where I finished my Junior career there and also had the priviledge of being a room mate with Johnny Vanbiesbrouck, and having Rick Tocchet as a team mate. As a Pro I played in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabers farm team) for two years side by side with Yvon Lambert, and attended training camps with great players such as Gilbert Perreault, Danny Gare, Lindy Ruff, Jim Schoenfeld. I also played in the International Hockey League for the Toledo Gold Diggers. Injuries got the best of me and after taking a year off I was on a plane to Holland as an import and played for the Nijmegen Spitmen where I played with Robert Forbes (Sidney Crosbies’ Uncle) and ended up winning the Championship back in 1988.

After your playing career you were the head coach of several teams in the GMHL. How did that help prepare you for what was to come?

As a head coach and player developer while working with different Junior A teams in the GMHL I worked with players not just from Canada and the USA but also from different corners of the world including Russia, Sweden, France, Italy, and Slovakia to name a few. I dealt with players who had different mentalities and outlooks which were taught in different Countries. The majority of them were being exposed to different nationalities for the very first time. I had to adapt to them and also get them to adapt to me and their new environment. Although ice hockey is an international language (to the Countries that have ice hockey) I had to work with the language barrier, different beliefs, different religions and old habits. For the majority, this was the first time they were away from the comforts of their own homes and from their families. I had to keep all of that in mind while building a winning hockey team. Some people think its easy being a coach, but there are many, many factors involved. You have to have the knowledge and be able to teach all of the required techniques for the game. You are not just a Coach, you have to be a teacher, a mentor, sometimes a parent, sometimes you have to be a friend and sometimes even their worst enemy. They have to learn new boundaries and expectations a little different from what they’re used to. After the development, you also need to build a team that can bond and work well together both on and off the ice. All of the above helped me with the position I currently find myself in at the moment. The role is reversed a bit as I’m the one who is now in a new Country and only understand a few Portuguese words, but I’m still finding myself adapting to the same scenarios and learning while I’m teaching the love for ice hockey. No, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

How did you end up in Portugal and becoming the head coach of Portugal National Team?

When I played pro for the Nijmegen Spitmen in Holland, I acquired a taste for the European lifestyle where everyone always made time for family and friends as opposed to the North American “go-go-go” lifestyle. I was in talks with the owner of Granada Igloo rink in Spain and the possibility of employment there. At the same time my in-laws decided to move full time to Portugal. One thing leads to another and my wife and I packed up and moved. During the construction delays of the rink in Span, we decided to temporarily make Portugal our home. After enjoying a lot of family and beach time, I started missing hockey. That’s when I began searching the Internet for hockey in Portugal and met a gentleman who put me in contact with Mauricio Xavier (President of FDPG – which is no longer exists) and other Portuguese residents which some have lived abroad and also acquired some passion for Ice Hockey. I started volunteering my time to coaching and developing them on in line skates and entered them into a tournament in Spain and, as they say, the rest is history.

Image result for Jim Aldred Nijmegen Spitmen

How would you describe the caliber of the Portuguese players compared to North America?

North Americans grew up with ice hockey being basically the #1 sport …especially in Canada. I was on the ice by the time I was 4 years old. My Dad had signed me into a league by the time I was four and a half. I was lucky that I was raised in a Country where I had that opportunity & privilege. Saturday nights we would watch hockey games on TV after dinner. I would imagine being like one of my idols one day in the future. The excitement was overwhelming. If you loved it, you’d eat, sleep, breathe ice hockey. As a player, you’d miss many family functions and celebrations either due to practices or games. When talking about Portugal, the children do not have that same opportunity or advantage. There is no ice rink here. There is no ice hockey. Saturday evenings, the majority of the country will be watching a soccer game if there’s one being televised. Hence, their mindset, attitude, heart, dedication, is completely different. When discussing practices, they’ll miss one because there’s a birthday party they have to attend. They’ll miss another because it’s a holiday and the list goes on. Their mentality is different. But it’s due to the environment they’re currently in and how they were raised. This is changing now. This will be different once we have an ice rink. I have faith that the future will be brighter.

How did you prepare the National Team for their very first International tournament in Andorra?

I’d travel over 150 km’s each way to practically volunteer my time and coaching experience 2 times per week with anyone who wanted to join practices since January. If there are players that want to learn (m/f of all ages) I want to teach them. Since during the week the practice times available are only late at night, this would mean I’d be getting home shortly after 2 in the morning as the majority of the players are from around the greater Lisbon area. But, unlike the devoted players who would attend and work hard at the practices, at least I didn’t have to get up early to go to work or to go to School the next morning as is the case with the majority of the players. Since this was the first time that the majority of the players were being trained by a professional coach, there was a lot to be taught and a lot for them to learn. Skills, drills, hockey sense, hard work, bad habits, discipline, dedication and team work had a lot of room for improvement.

What is your take on how Portugal played in Andorra at the 2017 Development Cup?

To be honest, I was hesitant about accepting the invitation. We went in and my only expectation was to not get blown away. You have to keep in mind that the other teams we would be facing all practice regularly on ice. I’ll remind you that we practice on in line skates. Along with that, the other teams had players they acquired from abroad. We were able to acquire 2 Portuguese residents that joined our team from France (Sylvain Rodrigues and Christopher Teixeira Leite) and one player who had recently moved to Portugal from the US (Mateus de Melo), but we also had a young man that got to play ice hockey for his very first time (Yuri El-Zein). Our youngest goalkeeper (20 years old) who practically stood on his head defending shots fired at him (Ivan Silva) kept us in the games he played even though this was only his second time playing on ice. Needless to say when we won the first game, we were ecstatic. And although one of our players ended up getting a ride to the hospital (Diogo Xavier) after breaking his thumb during the last game, he was back in time to celebrate our second victory and partaking in the excitement of watching our captain (Kevin Hortinha) receive the bronze cup at the closing ceremony for the Portugal National Ice Hockey Team for their very first time. I’m extremely proud of how all of the guys came together and played as a great TEAM. I believe they’ve bonded more than ever and recognized that there’s more hard work to be done to get to the next level. They now truly understand that it takes TEAMWORK to be achieve that. That weekend, they reflected what they’ve learnt along the way, they’ve been working hard and it shows. They now have a different type of outlook and a new hunger to get better and do more moving forward. The recent practices reflect this and, I’m so proud of each of them and excited to see what the future has in store for them.

What is the biggest obstacle to obtaining money from Investors?

There’s no pinpointing it down to one obstacle, it’s a combination of multiple obstacles. We need to keep in mind that Portugal is still coming out of a crisis they experienced years go. With that in mind, nobody is wanting to step out of their comfort zone and invest into something that is totally new to them. A lot of people don’t adapt well to change. And, although ice hockey arenas are supported in every other Capital of all other European Countries, Lisbon is still the only one that hasn’t crossed that milestone. They say Portugal doesn’t have money for “that”. Portugal does have money, however, the money goes towards funding soccer and the Portuguese traditional hockey, and towards figure skating on roller skates. It works for them, it has worked for them and that is the mentality here that we need to change. Normally in North America and other countries, it is usually a hockey lover (who can afford to), either individuals or a company that invests in a hockey team or in a rink. Unfortunately the majority of the Portuguese Nationality that reside in Portugal haven’t had the exposure to ice hockey to know the potential that an ice rink / ice sports could hold. Even though I’m a hockey coach, there are other sports such as speed skating, figure skating, curling and others that can not be developed in Portugal until we are able to attain our own permanent official sized ice rink. We know that there is a huge population of ex pats in Portugal that have the same dream as I do, go to the beach during the day and then off to the rink to watch a hockey game at night, yes, right here in this beautiful country. Maybe one or four of them would like to step up? With an ice rink, other business opportunities will also come about. We will need pro shops/ suppliers/ distributors for the equipment pertaining to all of the different ice sports. As of right now, obviously none of that is available in Portugal, actually even in line skates have to be ordered from abroad.

We all know that Portugal does NOT have an ice rink. Can you tell us what efforts (if any) have been made to get an ice rink built?

We are walking down all of the possible different avenues we can think of and following any leads that are suggested. We have a project which reflects Return on Investment within 5 years. We also made the decision to go under the umbrella of FDI-Portugal. (Federacao de desportos de inverno/The Federation of Winter Sports in Portugal). Their President, Pedro Farromba is also a member of the Olympic Committee here in Lisbon. FDI is also part of our journey in obtaining our first permanent official ice rink in Portugal. They are assisting us with our focus on the ice hockey operations and, they’re also working with other winter sports (curling, luge, skiing… ) We have had meetings with and are awaiting for a follow up with the Municipality of Sintra who has offered us the land to build if we can come up with the investors. We are also awaiting to hear back from the Municipalities of Oeiras and Cascais. We are putting ourselves out there via social media. Our Facebook page “Portugal Ice Hockey” is receiving a lot of attention. We have been reaching out to news stations and newspapers. Just recently one of our popular newspapers “Correio da Manha” ran a full page on us. Now that the small temporary ice rinks are poping up, we are taking that opportunity to have the team strap on their ice skates and we are holding meet, greet and skate events with the National and Luso Lynx Players. We held our first at the Dolce Vita Tejo shopping mall on November 18th and we are in the process of organizing some more. Basically, we need the public to know what we are doing. Getting as much exposure as possible is very important in hopes that the right person/people will gain interest and assist us with our goal, obtaining an ice rink.

The Luso Lynx is a new Ice hockey club from Portugal. Can you tell us about them and what are the expectations for the club?

I was invited to have a team join the Andalusian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) in Spain. I was hesitant at first due to the financial strain on the players who had recently dealt with the expense of going to Andorra’s 2017 Development Cup. After further conversations and having the FDI assisting with the registration fees, I received positive responses from the players. Not only from some of the players from the National team, but also from other players that have ice hockey experience. Interested players voted on names and came up with LUSO LYNX. (Thank you Mauricio Xavier for working on the jerseys) The league was willing to work with us to plan the calendar to ensure that we will only travel down once a month or so and play 2 to 3 games at a time as opposed to traveling down weekly and having us incur more expenses. Even with that, each player is still spending around 120 Euros out of each of their own pockets per trip on transportation, hotel and meals. We appreciate all of their sacrifices and dedication in this journey with us. By joining this league, along with expecting my players to gain more on ice experience and make them a stronger team for the upcoming scheduled tournaments (March in Holland and April in Granada, Spain), I’m also hoping that we will do well and that someone will gain interest and will want to sponsor us. We want to show everyone including and especially the Municipalities and possible investors that we do have potential and we do need an ice rink in Portugal. Why should we be vesting our funds in a different Country? Instead of us investing our money in their hotels and at their restaurants, if we had an ice hockey rink in Portugal, we could be holding tournaments and our businesses here could profit from teams coming from abroad to play here instead.

 

When will the Luso Lynx begin play?

First game will be Saturday November 25th and followed by November 26th, 2017

If anyone wanted to play or tryout for the Luso Lynx how would the get in contact?

They can email Portugalicehockey@gmail.com or phone +351 914 637 451 and speak with Christina Lopes.

If or when an Arena or ice rink is built what do you think the potential for ice hockey can be in Portugal as a non traditional sport.

Not “if” … an ice rink WILL be built in Portugal… within the next four years! It’s only a non traditional sport for now…once we get a rink, all that will change.

What is your favorite NHL team and Player?

This is a hard question for me to answer. My wife would want me to say my favorite team is the Toronto Maple Leafs. I personally enjoy watching any great games between two good teams. Back in the 70’s I’d cheer on the Flyers mainly because when I was younger, I looked up to Bobby Clarke with his style and leadership skills. Later on I admired Paul Coffey due to his skating ability and how he was able to control the game. I’m definitely showing my age here, aren’t I? I’m also a fan of Sidney Crosby who is an all around great player both defensively and ofensively with great leadership qualities. You can always count on him to perform. He has proven that playing in the NHL as well as during his time with Team Canada. Did I mention that I played pro with his uncle (Robert Forbes) back in Holland? I also enjoy watching Matthews and McDavid on the ice, and feel that their future is very bright should they continue on the path they’re currently on.

 

Calgary beer league squad wins Costa Rican hockey tourney

By Shawn Logan – Calgary Herald

It was almost an otherworldly experience for a Calgary beer league hockey squad, playing before hundreds of spectators and signing autographs for star-struck kids.

And now they’re also world champions. Sort of.

The eight-member Canadian Citizens hockey team won Costa Rica’s first-ever hockey tournament, an unlikely four-team weekend event that came to be thanks to a 20-year effort by former Calgarian Bruce Callow to build a hockey program in the Central American country.

Joining the Calgary squad in the tourney were teams from Los Angeles, the U.K.’s Falkland Islands, and the hometown El Castillo Knights, of which Callow is a member.

For Calgary’s Kyle Kemp, the entire event was a once in a lifetime experience.

“It was definitely a really cool experience,” said the 37-year-old, calling from Costa Rica on Monday, a day after his team won a see-saw 7-5 championship game against the Los Angeles Ruination.

“We’re were playing in front of hundreds of fans who are just loving it. Kids are coming up to us asking for autographs — that’s a first and a last for us.”

With an ice surface about half the size of a Canadian rink, low boards and no glass partitions, Kemp said the teams had to adapt, playing three-on-three with no slapshots. But it didn’t remotely diminish the experience.

Callow, still aglow about roofing a goal of his own against his hometown team, said local hockey fans were thrilled at how well the tournament came together.

“They were totally blown away. For our local team, it was an important learning experience as we had never actually played another team before,” he said.

“Having three foreign teams really made the tournament memorable and historic and having the Falklands come here was off the scale amazing.”

It’s been a banner year for the Calgary transplant, who over the summer saw the crimson El Castillo Knights jersey worn by his Costa Rican-born son hoisted among some of the legendary names in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

Even though Callow’s Knights came up short in each of their four games, he said he was more than happy to watch the Calgary team take home the medals.

“I played on the Knights tournament team, but I was cheering hard for the Citizens in the final,” he said.

“It was an exciting tournament with excellent parity and Citizens were an exciting team to watch. The people in the crowd were thoroughly impressed with their skill and sportsmanship and the success of this tournament helps pave the way for future tournaments at the Castillo Country Club.”

Kemp said he and his teammates, who range in age from 32 to 50, plan to spend the rest of the week in Costa Rica, returning to Calgary on Friday. And he’ll be first to volunteer for any future tournaments in the growing Central American hockey mecca.

“Walking into a rink in flip flops is a real challenge,” he said. “We’d love to come back.”

KHL closer to preventing players from Olympic participation

Canadian goalie Ben Scrivens, left, would be unable to play at the Olympics if the KHL bans its players from competing in Pyeongchang.

By Benjamin Blum –  CBC Sports

The Kontinental Hockey League is getting closer to preventing its players, including potential members of Team Canada, from playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to reports.

Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, is reportedly assisting the KHL in preparing a bill to allow the league to withhold its domestic and foreign-born players from playing at the upcoming Games.

“Should [the KHL] have the right not to let Americans, Canadians and other hockey players [go] to the Olympic Games … the same rights as the NHL?” said Mikhail Degtyarev, head of the Duma’s Sports, Tourism and Youth Committee, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant. “We are simply working on this bill.”

Earlier this month, KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko referenced the NHL’s absence from Pyeongchang this February after failing to reach a deal with the International Olympic Committee, adding in a statement that “the KHL is ready to respond accordingly.”

Chernyshenko also said the IOC “is destroying the existing world order in sports” by pursuing doping cases against Russians in other sports who are suspected of using banned substances around the time of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

International impact

If enacted, the KHL ban would be detrimental to many of Canada’s Olympic hockey hopefuls — 16 members of Canada’s 25-man-roster at the recent Karjala Cup in Finland play in the KHL, including goalie Ben Scrivens and forwards Wojtek Wolski and Teddy Purcell.

Countries like Finland and Sweden would be impacted as well, especially given the fact that Helsinki’s Jokerit is a prominent team within the predominantly Russian league.

The efficacy of a KHL ban is still up in limbo, given that Canada and the United States believe their KHL players are eligible for the Olympics, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

“KHL, being a member of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, has to follow the statutes and bylaws of the IIHF and they have to release foreign players and the national team players from other countries to play in the Olympics,” International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel told Russian news agency TASS.

The ban would presumably excluded prominent Russian players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Andrei Markov from representing their country at the Games. Russia’s participation in the upcoming Olympics is still to be determined by the IOC, which will decide the country’s fate on Dec. 5, according to The Associated Press.

“We hope that the IOC will decide in favor of the Russian team going to Pyeongchang. In ice hockey we do not have really big problems in doping and regarding the McLaren report we do not have any of the men hockey players being in concern,” Fasel says.

Comtois, Harvey rise to the challenge as QMJHL takes series in shootout finale

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Moncton, NB – Now in its farewell season, the Moncton Coliseum has one more memory to include in its extensive 44-year history. One one of the most exciting nights in the 15-year history of the CIBC Canada Russia Series saw Russia score late to win Game 6 by a score of 2-1 before Team QMJHL captured the series on a shootout winner from Anaheim Ducks prospect Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres).

The Russian Game 6 victory came on a late goal from Comtois’ newly acquired teammate Vitalii Abramov (Victoriaville Tigres) as the Russians tied the series at nine points apiece.

The series would be settled in a shootout, one where Team QMJHL goaltender Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) emerged as the hero. Harvey stopped all five shooters he faced, turning away Mikhail Maltsev to seal the deal and give the Canadian Hockey League its third straight series victory behind Comtois’ lone shootout marker.

“I gotta be honest, it’s my go-to move,” said Comtois with a smile. “I saw our two guys go first before me and watched the goalie all the way and found a weakness between the pads. I just kept it simple and it worked out.

“We knew when we lost the game in regulation we deserved the series,” Comtois added. “We played so hard, we played with structure and Harvey played two awesome games for us.”

Harvey’s 31 saves gave Team QMJHL a chance to win Game 6 and his five stops in the shootout paved the way to a series victory.

“We lost the game but we came back in the shootout and we’re very happy now,” he said. “Comtois came through with a huge goal and its just a great feeling to win this.”

Harvey was rewarded for his fine play in Tuesday’s Game 5, getting the call from head coach Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) once again.

For the first time in the series however, Russia would get on the board first as leading scorer Alexey Polodyan stretched his point streak to five games. The speedy winger orchestrated a give-and-go with linemate Andrey Altybarmakyan, wiring a shot over the shoulder of Harvey from the right circle at 8:16.

After Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) had what looked to be the tying goal pulled off the goal line by Russian defenceman Daniil Kurashov, Team QMJHL drew even at 10:20 as Philadelphia Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres) tipped a Jocktan Chainey (Halifax Mooseheads) point shot past Alexey Melnichuk.

Team QMJHL managed to survive a late Russian power play to close out the first period as big saves from Harvey off Maxim Tsyplakov and German Rubtsov (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) kept the game tied at one.

The second period was all about the goaltenders as Harvey and Melnichuk went save-for-save to keep the score tied at one through 40 minutes with Russia outshooting Team QMJHL 18-17.

Harvey’s second period was highlighted by a pair of saves off defending QMJHL scoring champion Abramov, providing a big glove denial of the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect inside the final five minutes of the frame.

The hero of the night, Comtois elevated his play in the third period, serving as a catalyst for a pair of Shawn Boudrias (Gatineau Olympiques) scoring chances that were denied by Melnichuk.

Harvey managed to keep the game tied with a save off Artyom Manukyan alone in the slot with five minutes remaining, but Russia would prevail before time ran out as Rubtsov and Abramov capitalized on a 2-on-1 rush.

After Rubtsov blocked a shot at the defensive blue line, the two were off to the races as Abramov slipped a rebound under the pad of Harvey. The puck snuck over the goal line at 17:03, bringing a hush to the 6,253 in attendance at the Moncton Coliseum.

Russia would ride out the remaining three minutes of regulation, out shooting the QMJHL 33-24 on the night to hold on for a big 2-1 victory and force a series determining shootout.

With Team QMJHL shooting first, Melnichuk and Harvey both turned away the first two opponents they faced before Comtois managed to snap a hard shot through the legs of the Russian goaltender. Harvey proceeded to stop Manukyan, Altybarmakyan and Maltsev to give the CHL a 10-9 series win in points.

“We had to play for the series in the shootout and we got it done,” said head coach Ducharme post game. “Overall, I think our guys deserved this.”

After 15 years of the CIBC Canada Russia Series the CHL boasts an overall record of 61-22-1-6, with the QMJHL playing to a mark of 17-10-3. Russia holds an overall record of 29-58-0-3.

The CHL has now won the CIBC Canada Russia Series 12 times in the event’s 15-year history.

Harvey the difference as Team QMJHL triumphs in Charlottetown

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Charlottetown, PEI – Russia came out firing early but Team QMJHL finished strong, outlasting their opponent in a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) turned in a 25 save performance, denying several high quality Russian scoring opportunities as the CHL took a 9-6 lead in points entering Thursday’s series finale in Moncton.

“He had a strong game for sure and made some key saves at the right moments,” Team QMJHL head coach Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) said of Harvey, who became the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies all-time goaltending wins leader last week. “We need to be good at every position and we were certainly good in net tonight. He stood out for sure.”

Team Russia came with intensity in the early moments of Game 5, forcing Harvey into some big saves in order to keep his team in the game.

After Team QMJHL failed to record a shot on goal in the opening nine minutes of action, their first quality chance went into the net as Shawn Boudrias (Gatineau Olympiques), a former Islander, brought the Charlottetown faithful to their feet.

QMJHL captain Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) won an offensive zone draw as Boudrias carved a path to the net, snapping a quick shot over the shoulder of Alexey Melnichuk at 12:31.

The Russians responded under three minutes later as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan scored his third of the series. Speedy linemate Alexey Polodyan forced a turnover at the Russian blue line, carrying the puck up ice to force a rebound off the pad of Harvey that found its way straight onto the stick of an oncoming Altybarmakyan who tied the score at one.

Russia carried the play, outshooting the QMJHL 11-6 in the first frame.

Harvey’s fine play carried over into the second stanza as the 19-year-old provided a breakaway save off Damir Rakhimullin and turned away Maxim Rasseykin on a one-timer in the slot moments later.

Team QMJHL managed to hold Russia’s power play at bay, being outshot 8-5 in the second for a two-period total of 19-11.

Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) put Team QMJHL in the lead for good 4:11 into the third period, striking for the team’s second power play marker of the night. 2018 NHL Draft prospect Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) moved a puck down low to Anaheim Ducks draftee Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres) who made a power move to the net, creating an opportunity in the slot as Batherson cleaned up a loose puck in the crease.

The grind of five games in three different provinces over the past week seemed to catch up with the Russians in the third period as they were limited to seven shots in the final 20 minutes but still managed to outshoot the QMJHL 26-24 on the night.

Nicolas Guay (Drummondville Voltigeurs) would add an unassisted empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining to secure a 3-1 victory for Team QMJHL, giving them four straight wins against Russia dating back to 2015.

Team QMJHL went 2-for-3 on the man advantage while holding Russia to an 0-for-5 mark. The Russians are now 1-for-13 on the power play throughout the series.

Team QMJHL featured a roster loaded with young talent including four 2000-born standouts in Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs), Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) and the Halifax Mooseheads duo of forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac. All four players won gold medals with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament this past summer and saw plenty of ice in Tuesday’s victory.

“I really liked the way our young guys performed,” Ducharme added post-game. “You could see at the beginning we needed to make an adjustment but we got better and better and I really liked our third period.

“We managed the game well, we were good on the power play and we didn’t give them much late in the game.”

Up 9-6 in points, a QMJHL win on Thursday in Moncton would secure a third straight series victory for the Canadian Hockey League.

Thursday’s Game 6 will be the final CIBC Canada Russia Series matchup held at the Moncton Coliseum that will give way to a brand new facility set to open in September 2018.

Catch the series finale Thursday on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific when the puck drops at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Suzuki and Timmins connect as Team OHL strikes back in Sudbury

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Sudbury, ON – Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack) and Colorado Avalanche second rounder Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) both had three points, leading Team OHL to a 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series in Sudbury.

Team OHL rebounded from a 5-2 loss in Game 3 as a pair of quick third period goals broke open a 2-2 tie. Suzuki scored his second of the night for the game winner 4:09 into the final frame.

“We didn’t want to come here and go down 0-2 against the Russians, so it was good to get the job done tonight,” said Suzuki post-game. “I thought the whole team worked really hard and we got the result we wanted.”

Typically Western Conference foes, Suzuki and Timmins connected three different times in the win.

“When you’re on a power play with a guy like Suzuki and others like Tippett, Katchouk and Gadjovich, you just want to move the puck and let them do their thing,” said Timmins of his approach. “That worked out nicely for us tonight.”

Team OHL head coach Trevor Letowski (Windsor Spitfires) came away impressed with his club’s effort, citing better execution in the win as the series heads east knotted 6-6 in points.

“I really liked our compete level again,” Letowski noted. “Our power play is really dangerous and it played a big factor in the game and I thought DiPietro was very solid in net and made some good saves when he had to.

“Overall our guys dug in and we really wanted to get that one,” Letowski added. “Obviously we weren’t happy with the loss in Owen Sound. The boys are proud of being here and representing the league and they wanted to have a good showing. I thought we did that tonight.”

The Owen Sound tandem of Gadjovich and Suzuki went to work offensively early on Team OHL’s first power play of the night at 3:12 of the first. The former provided a screen in the slot while the latter ripped a wrister over the shoulder of Vladislav Sukhachev in the Russian crease to put Team OHL up 1-0.

After being outshot 6-1 in the opening five minutes of action, Russia responded at 6:36 as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan forged a lane to the net and beat DiPietro on a forehand move off the rush.

Sukhachev provided some timely saves in the latter half of the first period, stopping Gadjovich on a backhand opportunity before getting a little help from his post as Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes) struck iron inside the final minute.

Both goaltenders provided big glove saves in the opening shifts of the second as both Sukhachev and DiPietro kept the score knotted at one before a local fan favourite used his big shot to put Russia in the lead.

After a pair of failed OHL clearing attempts, Sudbury Wolves star Dmitry Sokolov drifted through the slot and took a pass from Artyom Manukyan to beat DiPietro under the crossbar at 8:29.

Team OHL re-established the tie just over three minutes later as the power play struck again. After being set up by Timmins earlier in the game, Suzuki returned the favour, putting the puck on a tee for the Colorado Avalanche prospect who blasted home a slapshot at 11:53.

Team OHL outshot Russia 14-7 in the second for a two-period total of 27-19 as the game entered the third period in a 2-2 tie.

The OHL carried its momentum from a strong second over into the third as Suzuki picked up his second goal and third point of the night at 4:09.

Suzuki was sprung in alone on an outlet pass from Timmins, dekeing to the forehand before sliding a low shot through the legs of Sukhachev to give Team OHL a 3-2 edge. Owen Sound Attack teammate Sean Durzi also picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal.

Big 17-year-old blueliner Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) gave Team OHL some much-needed insurance just 31 seconds later. Bahl, who’s scored just once in 78 career OHL regular season contests, picked up his first of the 2017-18 season on a wrister through traffic. With Gadjovich providing another valuable screen out front, Bahl picked a corner and put Team OHL up 4-2 with roughly 15 minutes to go.

DiPietro stood his ground in the late going, but Team OHL tightened things up and held the Russians to just six shots on goal in the final frame to take a 4-2 victory.

The OHL outshot Russia 33-25 and went 2-for-6 on the power play while limiting their opponents to just one power play opportunity.

Team OHL improves to an all-time record of 24-5-1 in the CIBC Canada Russia Series while Russia drops to 1-13-0-1 all-time in Game 4 of the series.

The series shifts to Charlottetown, PEI on Tuesday night as Team QMJHL awaits Russia for Game 5. The action gets underway at 7:00pm ET/8:00AT on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.

Abu Dhabi Storms plotting a way to end Belarus President’s Team title run

Juma Al Dhaheri, centre, is hoping to stop the Belarus President's Team in their tracks this season. Reem Mohammed / The National

By Amith Passela – The National

Abu Dhabi Storms are determined to end the dominance of the Belarus President’s Team at the President’s Cup ice hockey tournament, which gets underway at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink on Tuesday.

In a move to stop the visitors from claiming a fourth trophy in as many years, the Storms – a side usually made up of Emirati internationals – have recruited six foreign professionals, including three Finns and three Slovenians.

“They are the team to beat and we’ll try our best,” Juma Al Dhaheri, the Storms and UAE captain, said at the launch ceremony in the capital on Sunday.

“It’s not just the Belarus President’s Team. Others in the competition are not pushovers,” Al Dhaheri added.

“A majority of the teams have several former NHL [North American-based National Hockey League] and KHL [Eastern European-based Kontinental Hockey League] players in their ranks, and we’ll only know them after seeing them play the first game.

“For us, as local players, it’s a great experience to play at this level, and the reason to bring in some professional players is to match our opponents as well as learn by playing alongside them.”

The competition played in a league format consists of six teams. The Belarus President’s Team are joined by Hockey Legends from Germany, Parch from Czech Republic and Team Lebanon, a side made up of Canadian expatriates living in Lebanon.

The two local teams challenging them are the Storms and a team representing the Emirates Hockey League – the EHL All Stars.

“The bar is raised every year in this tournament and we expect all teams to be equally strong,” said Al Dhaheri, who is also the general secretary of the UAE Ice Sports Federation.

“It’s also part of our development programme to stage a top-flight competition in the country where hockey fans both local and expatriates can enjoy by witnessing some top quality action on the ice, aside the EHL.”

Belarus President’s Team and Hockey Legends will be the first sides to take to the ice at 5.15pm on Tuesday.

The Storms then face Parch in the second game at 7.15pm and EHL All Stars take on Team Lebanon in the final game at 9.15pm.

Talal Al Hashemi, head of technical affairs at Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said the sport has a big following, particularly among Canadians, Americans and Europeans living in the region.

“This tournament has received a strong foundation and we want to build on that every passing year,” he added.

“Hopefully we’ll have teams comprising full professionals which is our long term ambitions.”

US beats Canada 5-1 to win 3rd straight Four Nations Cup

Hannah Brandt (20), seen here at this year's world championships, scored twice in the second period to lead the U.S. to a 5-1 victory over Canada in the Four Nations Cup final.

By Associated Press

Hannah Brandt scored twice in the second period and the United States women beat Canada 5-1 on Sunday to win their third straight Four Nations Cup championship.

Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel each added a goal and an assist. Kendall Coyne had a goal, and Dani Cameranesi added four assists.

Maddie Rooney made 18 saves and improved to 3-0 in the Americans’ four games at this tournament.

The United States won the event for the eighth time overall. Better yet, the Americans now have beaten their biggest rivals for the third time in four games over the past month as they tune up for the Pyeongchang Games in February.

Meghan Agosta scored just past the midway point of the third period pulling Canada within 2-1. Knight and Kessel scored power-play goals to pad the margin as the Americans went 3 of 7 with the advantage.

2017 4 NationsCup champions!

The Russian Olympic team are the Deutschland Cup winners

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

At the Deutschland Cup, the Russian Olympic team defeated Slovakia 4:2 to become the tournament’s winners!

Alexei Makeev scored an early goal, before two Slovakian goals gave the opponents the lead. Nevertheless, Russia proved to be strong for Slovakia, as Alexei Makeev and Mikhail Naumenkov scored further markers to earn a 4:2 victory!

The Russian Olympic team won all matches at the Deutschland Cup.

Dominik Kahun assisted on goals by Frank Mauer, Brent Raedeke and Brooks Macek as host Germany beat the United States 5-1 on Sunday in the Deutschland Cup finale. 

United States finish last in the competition losing all their Games.  

Finns claim Karjala Tournament

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Eeli Tolvanen scored a power-play goal midway through the third period to break a 3-3 tie with Canada and give the home side victory in the Karjala Tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. The game was played before a sold-out crowd at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

The loss put Canada in fourth place with one win and two losses. Russia and Sweden finished with 2-1 records, the former receiving superior placing based on goals difference.

The Czechs tied with Canada with one win and the Swiss finished in last, going winless in the tournament.

Normally a pleasant event during a league break in European club play, this year’s Karjala Tournament had greater importance because teams used the event as a testing ground for players hoping to represent their countries at next February’s Olympics. To that end, Canada and Switzerland were added to the schedule which is usually reserved for four teams (Finland, Czech Republic, Russia and Sweden).

Finland won its three games thanks to several positive factors. Mikko Koskinen was sharp in goal for Suomi in two games; the defence allowed only two goals a game; and, the players gelled like a team. As well, 18-year-old Miro Heiskanen played like a veteran and looks to be a good bet to go to PyeongChang.

Russia scored the most goals of the six teams (13), in large part thanks to Mikhail Grigorenko, who scored four of his team’s goals and finished atop the scoring table with six points. Three of those goals came on the final day in a 5-2 win over the Czechs.

Sweden lost a 3-1 decision to Finland to start the Helsinki part of the tournament and played its best in completely shutting down Canada in a 2-0 win. Par Lindholm was the hero there, scoring two power-play goals – one in the second, one in the third – to give Tre Kronor all the offense it needed.

The team then posted an emphatic 5-3 win over the Czechs thanks to two more power-play goals, these from Dick Axelsson in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Indeed, five of the team’s eight goals in the tournament came with the extra man.

Canada’s GM Sean Burke has had to cobble together a lineup like no GM in Canada’s long Olympic history. While most of the players are from the KHL, there are also participants from Switzerland, Sweden, the AHL, and NCAA. Coach Willie Desjardins had to be happiest with the final game when the team showed some offensive flair and legs that had been absent previously. But there is clearly work to be done before Canada can claim to be in the medal mix for PyeongChang.

The Czechs haven’t won a medal at the World Championship since 2012, the longest drought in the nearly hundred years of IIHF participation, and this result continues a worrisome trend. With its best group of players in the NHL, they are fighting to generate offence and play strong defence.

The Swiss are clearly in trouble without their NHLers. The incredible success of the nation’s program has now sent 13 players to the world’s top league, but without those stars, coach Patrick Fischer, like every other coach, has had to scramble. Losing all three games and scoring only six times doesn’t bode well for next February.

In all, teams learned a great deal about who they’ll have and what kind of team they’ll have. The news is good and bad, but time is running short. One can be sure the various general managers and coaches will confer in the coming days and do what they can to improve further. In the meantime, there are only two mini-tournaments left before Korea – the Channel One Cup in mid-December in Moscow and the Spengler Cup at the end of the year in Davos, Switzerland.

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