Month: June 2017 (Page 2 of 2)

Pan-Am: Brazil, Mexico and Colombia Victorious on Day Three

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By Steven Ellis Eurohockey.com

Colombia A 8, Argentina B 1

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Colombia, will finish the preliminary round with an 8-1 victory over Argentina B on Wednesday afternoon.

Nathan Jones was the star of the opening round of the tournament, scoring an extra goal to go on top of the four goal game on Monday. Alejandro Villalon and Kevin Medina had three markers each while Juan Diego Fierro scored four goals and an assist. 

Argentina finished the opening round with a win and a loss, having beaten Brazil’s B team 6-1 on Tuesday. 

Brazil A 4, Colombia B 1

For just the third time in the history of their team, Brazil was victorious on the ice after beating Colombia’s B squad 4-1.

Luis Custodio, Joao Vasconcelos, Henrique Deganoi and Daniel Vannuchi all scored for Brazil, giving the team five different goal scorers for five goals over two games. Allen Ruane was strong in both performances, allowing just three goals for a team that’s hoping to improve on a previous bronze medal performance.

Colombia’s opening round was tough, with the team recording just a single goal. An individual effort by Kelsey Murkin provided to be the team’s only goal in two games of action, while the squad allowed 11 goals.

Mexico A 5, Argentina A 0

In the final game of the round robin, Mexico’s top team finished with a 5-0 victory over Argentina on Wednesday.

Star player Carlos Gomez finished the preliminary round as Mexico’s best player, posting three goals and four assists for seven points. Guillermo Martinez and Jorge Perez Luethje scored three goals each, while defenseman Thomas Giorgi had four goals and two assists.

In two previous meetings at the Pan-Am, Mexico took home 9-1 and 10-1 victories, meaning that the loss on Wednesday was the closest Argentina has been when facing the Division IIB World Championship team.

Pan-Am: Argentina Wins Big, Mexico Sweeps on Day 2

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By Steve Ellis – Eurohockey.com

Brazil lost both games they took part in as Argentina and Mexico swept their games on Tuesday.

Argentina B 6, Brazil B 1

Argentina’s B team has secured their first win of the 2017 Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament with a victory over Brazil’s B squad on Tuesday.

The game started well for Argentina, who controlled most of the early pressure. Eventually, the team’s hard work paid off with the first goal of the game coming midway through the first period. 

But Brazil wasn’t interested in trailing for long. Mauro Bontempo De Souza would score the first goal for the Brazilians, but Argentina would score less than a minute later to take the 2-1 lead. They’d extend their lead even further in the final minute of the third, using relentless pressure to take the two-goal advantage into the middle frame. Argentina would score three more in the third to finish off the 6-1 victory, starting their tournament on a high note.

Mexico B 2, Brazil A 1

Mexico’s B squad has taken their first win of the tournament following a 2-1 win in a thriller against Brazil A.

The story of the game was Allen Edgard Ruane in net for Brazil. A veteran for the Brazilian national team, Ruane was a popular player after making stops on all of Mexico’s top stars, showing great speed with his leg movement. Unfortunately for the team, a chance by Mexico would give the team the lead halfway through the game, putting the hosts back on top.

But minutes later, Gustavo Tecchio made it 1-1. Tecchio kept his country in the game by receiving a pass in close and jamming it past Mexico’s netminder, knotting the contest up at one apiece.

Mexico, using their second best team at the tournament, came in as underdogs, but came out on top thanks to a third period goal. Ruane wasn’t able to stop everything despite a magnificent performance, as eventually Mexico found a way past him late in the game to take the 2-1 lead and take the victory in the process.

Mexico A 17, Chile 0

In what could have ended up being the most one-sided game of the tournament, Mexico’s A squad defeated Chile by a score of 17-0 to end off action on Tuesday.

Guillermo Martinez and Jorge Luethje led the way with three goals each, while both Carlos Eduardo Gomez Lopez and Santiago Sierra Sanchez Medal posted two goals and two assists each.

It was a game where people expected a much higher deficit, especially after Argentina beat Chile’s nine players by a score of 26-0 on opening day. Mexico perhaps was not playing at full strength, but are looking forward to their final pre-tournament game against Argentina on Wednesday evening.

Wojtek Wolski back on ice 8 months after breaking neck in KHL game

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Wojtek Wolski is back on the ice less than a year after a headfirst dive into the boards that left him with two broken cervical vertebrae, spinal cord trauma, and a concussion.

The former NHL winger took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce he’s preparing for the new KHL season, capping off a long road to recovery that began back in October. Wolski was playing for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk at the time of the accident and subsequent diagnosis.

Drafted 21st overall by Colorado in 2004, Wolski has spent the past four seasons in the KHL after finishing his NHL career with a brief stint in Washington in 2013.

He’d registered five goals and five assists in 19 games prior to the injury, after helping Magnitogorsk win the Gagarin Cup as KHL champions in 2016.

Q & A With Adrian Mizzi AKA: The Travelling Goalie

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

In case you don’t know who Adrian Mizzi is and have been living under a rock or in a cave.
Mr Mizzi is the Travelling Goalie. He has played in over 30 countries and has seen places that most of us only dream of.

I don’t know anyone that knows more people in the game of hockey then Adrian. If I starting shouting out names he says he meet him or he is friends with or he took picture with that person and it does not matter whether he or she is well known or not in the hockey world Adrian knows who they are.

We had the great pleasure of talking with the Travelling Goalie and asking him a few questions, I hope all of you enjoy this Interview.

Where did your love for hockey come from?

Good Morning George ,

When I was a kid everyone was playing street hockey and the obvious way to make friends was to play and obviously to this day I still feel the same way about the game . It brings people together , not everyone is compatible but when you are on the ice nobody thinks about that and friendships grow out of this . I’ve loved the game almost all my life.

How did your hockey travels start for you?

When my best friend was killed in a tragic construction accident I decided I needed to leave the country to start something new so I moved to Amsterdam …. you can fill in the blanks , regardless I was bored and needed to play hockey and the internet was very new to me at this time . I didn’t know where to play in Holland and I didn’t have my gear with me so I found a team in Malta and contacted them and made plans to go meet them and travel with them to Dubai to play in their international tournament . I moved back to Toronto and one year later I made the trek and I was instantly hooked as I have always loved tournaments but at the same time I caught the travel bug really hard . After that I came home and immediately started looking for other interesting countries to visit to play hockey and then I ended up in Singapore .

Adrian Mizzi & Best friend

What attracted you to playing in ice hockey tournaments around the world?

The people ! The camaraderie ! and definitely the beer LOL ! as I mentioned earlier … the travel bug is a very real thing .

How many countries have you played in and do you have plans to travel to more countries in the future?

Currently I have played in 36 countries and planning a trip to play in Australia and New Zealand which I am pretty sure will make me the first goalie to play on every inhabited continent .

Do you have any plans to join our friend Ryan Bahl in is attempt to play a hockey game in the South Pole?

I have signed up to go play in Antarctica but will try to make my own way over someday if I don’t get the invite . It is very expensive and would take a lot of work to make happen but nothing is impossible .

Did you ever think of playing in any leagues around the world and make it a career?

Of course I have dream t of playing professionally and unfortunately when I was younger we were never told of any pro leagues outside of North America or any of the other northern countries in Europe and Asia which probably would have been an option when i was younger . I have been offered coaching positions overseas but currently I am very content with my job in the film industry in Toronto and I have no plans of ever moving away … I am very proud to be a Canadian and there is nowhere else I would rather call home .

You recently played in Egypt, can you tells about that trip and about a famous picture of you
that got a lot of attention?

Egypt was fantastic . I have always wanted to go there ever since I was a small child , seeing the pyramids was an absolute dream come true . Getting a picture in my goalie gear in front of it was one of the highlights of my life . I am pretty sure that I was not supposed to do this and I did it anyway with the help of my Egyptian friends ( Ahmed & Ayman ) . The picture got a lot of attention and for all the right reasons as I want to get ice hockey growing in Egypt . Since the picture went crazy online my friends from Anubis Ice Hockey ( https://www.facebook.com/EgyptAnubis/ ) have had a few television interviews and there has been some more people joining to play …. the sport is growing and they need as much help as possible and that is why I am keeping my GoFundMe page going to collect more money to take more gear to them hopefully in December .

Egyptian Goalie with Adrian Mizzi

You also start a Egyptian Ice Hockey Drive, How is that going and if anyone want to help where would they go?

Thanks for asking . The hockey drive I did for Egypt was fantastic . My friend here in Toronto ( Brendan Krick ) donated his old goalie equipment so I traveled from here for the first time without my own full kit and I flew to England to meet my friends from the Birmingham Rockets ( https://www.facebook.com/birminghamrockets/ ) and they donated loads of gear thanks to Gemma Taylor Albutt who runs the team there . From there I needed to transport the gear and that is where the GoFundMe page came in (  https://www.gofundme.com/Egyptianicehockey ) and with the money I collected I paid the hefty baggage fees to fly the gear over …. the fundraising went better then I thought before leaving Toronto with a lot of my amazing friends pitching in enough to even pay for 2 full sized nets and I can’t forget the donations and deals that I got from my friends at my favorite hockey store on the planet Toronto Hockey Repair/Goalie Heaven ( http://www.goalieheaven.com/ ) If anyone is interested in helping out for the next trip then please make a donation and I will do my best to get another 100 kilos of gear over to Egypt ! 

friends from the Birmingham Rockets

You have played in many places around the world and I am sure you have countless stories, but can you share with us one your two stories that stand pout for you?

you do know I’m a goalie and I get hit in the head with pucks a lot right ? hahaha ! my memory is a bit shot buddy …. the first trip I received an invite for was to go play for a team from Jakarta , Indonesia . My good friend from Singapore ( Matt Wheeler ) invited me to stay with him and play for the first ever team to travel from Indonesia to play in an international tourney (Singapore) . Matt was such an amazing guy and unfortunately he is no longer with us and I will never forget him and that trip where I was treated very well . Another trip that stands out was my trip to South America with my German buddies Andi Tanzer and Timo Korner . We went to Brazil , Argentina and Chile and in Chile it was actually my idea to start a tournament there in Punta Arenas which is still going on . We played under my club team as the Ghetto Blasters and played in the first ever live televised match in Chile in front of a crowd of approximately 700 spectators .

Do you have any tips for people who may want to travel and play hockey like you have?

If you are a hockey player flying from anywhere always make sure to check if the airline carries ice hockey equipment for free and follow the guidelines and tape sticks together or buy a stick bag . If you have to pay for those sticks to come home then consider leaving them behind for people that can use them sometimes the baggage fees outweighs the cost of the twigs .

In 2009 you start a team called the Ghetto Blasters can you tells about this team and why you started it?

The Ghetto Blasters ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/ghettoblasterhockey/ ) started when I hurt my neck and realized I have degenerative disc disorder and I almost needed surgery . The two teams I was playing for both promised to have the spot for me when I returned and both lied blatantly to my face … I was upset and sick of being treated like a rag doll so I started my own club which has been going strong now for 8 years and have been mentioned on the IIHF website for winning Copa Invernada in Chile and I am pretty sure that I have left a jersey in pretty much every country I have visited so we are quite well known in certain circles . We play twice a week in Toronto and we are always welcoming international friends to join us for our games .

Ghetto Blasters logo

You are also a huge football fan and in particular a Aston Villa fan, how did you become a fan of this team?

To make a long story short … I have family in Birmingham , England . My great aunt who is my grandmothers sister is very dear to me and I visit her as much as I can ! Her husband who is no longer with us was a Birmingham City fan and my cousin Steven is a Derby supporter and my cousin Paul is an Aston Villa supporter … lets just say Paul put in the best effort to get me into watching football as I honestly was not a big fan because I never liked the diving and embellishing that goes on during the games because as a hockey player I have grown up with the values of not flopping around and making a fool of myself . To this day I still don’t like that but have grown to enjoy the game and definitely will be a Villa supporter until I die … VTID ! UTV !

Adrian Mizzi at the Aston Villa Football club

Of all your travels so far do you have any favorite places?

These questions flow so well , its like you know what I’m gonna say already ? hahaha ! My home away from home is

and family there are fantastic and I always have a place to crash and a team to skate with and most of all … someone to have a pint with 🙂

Friends & Family in Birmingham

If you want to learn more about the Travelling Goalie check out his blog The Travelling Goalie

Pan-Am: Argentina, Colombia and Mexico Score Shutouts on Day One

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By Steve Ellis – Eurohockey.com

Argentina scored just their second ever victory and Colombia started their tournament with a big victory at the 2017 Pan-American Ice Hockey Games.

Argentina 26, Chile 0

In Chile’s very first ice hockey game, Argentina’s top team managed to record the biggest victory in the four year history of the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games with a 26-0 win to begin the 2017 tournament.

The win was a historic one, and not just for the score. The match was the first ever that Chile played in an international tournament, with the team expected to show growing pains in their inaugural event. The Chilean Ice and Inline Hockey Federation was joined the IIHF in 2000, becoming the third South American country to do so. The country currently has three ice rinks, with Punta Arenas playing host to the annual Copa Invernada tournament each July.

With the win, Argentina put themselves in the history book with the biggest victory ever at the tournament. Previously, Mexico beat Argentina’s B team 19-0 in 2015, which was the biggest victory ever until today. Argentina has only won one previous game against other nations, having beaten Brazil in the inaugural Pan-American tournament in 2014.

Colombia 11, Brazil B 0

In a meeting of last year’s champions and Brazil’s second best team, Colombia managed to take an easy 11-0 victory to start off their tournament.

Nathan Jones was the star of the game, posting four of the team’s 11 goals. Juan Diego Fierro and Kevin Medina and scored twice to add to the score sheet while Alejandro Villalon, Felipe Sanchez and Nicolas Fierro scored a goal each. Zack Frost posted a shutout in the game, with Colombia taking a victory in a game they expected to win from the start.

Mexico B 7, Colombia B 0

In the first game of Group C action, Mexico finished off a perfect day for winning teams at the Pan-Am tournament with the third consecutive shutout.

Mexico was dominant from the start, taking a 3-0 lead early on. The team kept the battle rolling with three more goals in the second, allowing just one shot in the first 17 minutes of the middle frame. The Mexicans would add an extra marker in the third, scoring seven times to take the 7-0 win.

Is Europe an underrated coaching market?

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At some point the Winnipeg Jets are going to have to find a new head coach because all coaches are hired to get fired. When they get to that point with Maurice, they should look to European leagues and the KHL for coaching options. The Jets should look beyond those who they know and interview new candidates to see what they think they could do with the Jets. There are good pieces in Winnipeg if they are used smartly.

This is where the NHL making itself an even smaller world than hockey already is hurts them. Hockey is big in Russia and Europe, but there has not been a European coach since the failed experiment of Ivan Hlinka in Pittsburgh. Hlinka was not the first European-born coach to coach in the NHL, that honour goes to Johnny Gottselig, but he is the first European raised coach. Hlinka did not work out because of the language barrier amongst other reasons, but that does not mean that another coach might not work. Since Hlinka’s time globalization has made it so more and more European coaches speak strong English, allowing them to potentially be able to coach in North America.

There are so many people out there that could potentially offer new ideas to North American hockey as a whole that it would be foolish to not at least interview some good coaches in Europe to hear their thoughts and bring in some fresh ideas. This means going beyond the Marc Crawfords and Paul Maurices and interviewing coaches who have never coached in North America to see how their perspectives differ from someone who learned hockey on this side of the Atlantic. They may not find a match for a head coach; they may only find an assistant or no one at all, but it is better to try and not find the match than never try at all. Europe and Russia have had professional leagues for years and yet only three men have ever called themselves European and coached in the NHL. There are others who have coached in Europe between NHL jobs, but that is not the same as growing up in the different culture and having different perspectives on the same game. It is about having a broader world view and wanting to bring in a different perspective.

Every coach in professional sports is hired to be fired. The NHL has not had a European coach since Ivan Hlinka in 2001. The league as a whole would benefit from including Europeans as coaches. The first team that does this might just get rewarded with some new thinking that changes their tactics for the better.

Hungarian Hockey Team Launches VR Experience For Young Players

By Dave Claxton – Sport Techie

The Hungarian national hockey team has launched a motivational 360 virtual reality experience to inspire the next generation of ice hockey players in the country.

In the experience, the team sings along with a stadium full of Hungarian fans to the national anthem and is intended to inspire younger players by seeing fans encouraging the national team.

To launch the experience, two members of the national team, forward István Bartalis and defence man Arnold Varga visited a youth training session and provided the players with cardboard VR headsets.

The initiative was launched by Gyerehokizni.hu, the organization which has responsibility for encouraging young people to play ice hockey. It is supported by Skoda, the Czech automotive manufacturer and also the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation.   

Hungary is currently ranked 19th in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world rankings. Last year they claimed their first victory in the Ice Hockey World Championships after 77 years of waiting beating Belarus.

 

Q & A With Luis de Almeida Johansson

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Who is Luis de Almeida Johansson, Not known in the hockey circles so let me introduce him he is the national team goalie for Portugal and we had the great pleasure of speaking to him about hockey in Portugal.

Can you tell our viewers where did you start playing hockey?

I grew up in Quebec, Canada and I started playing hockey when I was a child. It’s almost impossible to not play hockey while your young in Canada. It becomes almost mandatory to everyone to skate and play at least at some stage. It is a true religion over there. And of course, we played hockey everywhere, at school, during winter in the exterior ice rinks, at the back garden.

Why did you became a goalie?

I started playing as a center forward, but to be frank, I always wanted to become a goalie. I truly admire someone that is willing to face dozens of shots per practice and game and still have a smile on their face. I also like the pressure behind it, it’s almost like being a lonely wolf within a wolf pack.

And of course, I had my childhood hockey idols that were all goalies, like Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Jocelyn Thibault and Damian Rhodes. And, one day, my team was searching for a goalie, so that was the moment, when I got the chance to fulfill my dream.

How did you hear about ice hockey in Portugal?

I moved to Portugal in 1996, but it was not until, I guess around 1999 to 2000. The vast majority of players that played ice hockey also played inline, so during those years we had an inline hockey championship and there was an idea to perform an exhibition game between a Portuguese national team and a Canadian team from Toronto area. That was the first major event for the Portuguese ice hockey community and even if I wasn’t part of the group at that moment, that was when I started playing ice hockey in Portugal.

Luis de Almeida Johansson with Team Portugal.

What made you get involved in ice hockey in Portugal?

At the beginning, I would say that it was almost a must to maintain my sanity in a country where football is dominant. I had to play inline and ice hockey to keep reminding me of my roots. It also kept me close to the Canadian expat community.

Currently and with me being already on to my 30’s, it’s really to try to develop the sport in the country and to leave a legacy to the new generation of players.

When you tell people in Portugal about ice hockey what is there reaction?

When we started, I guess people didn’t really believed that we were playing ice hockey in Portugal. But recently we have been playing more and more games that have received some media coverage. As a result, the public opinion is changing. I guess people wonder how can we play ice hockey without a permanent ice rink…

As for the moment, we have a temporary ice rink near the border with Spain, for roughly two months per year, in a town called Elvas. A very peculiar fact about this arena is that it was made primarily for bull fighting spectacle’s.

Jim Aldred is coaching the team. How has he help with the ice hockey program in Portugal?

It was a turning point in the Portuguese ice hockey. Jim is a great coach that has the experience in developing young players. He also played professional and has the knowledge of someone that was within a NHL organization, the Buffalo Sabres. He also knows what it takes to bring us to the next level. I think that having the chance to have a coach with these kind of skills, is clearly the right path for a successful future.

Jim Aldred’s wife, Cristina is also playing a pivotal role within the support for the national team. She is behind many of the backstage organizational tasks, that allows the players to concentrate on their performance.

National Team of Portugal.

Portugal recently played in the Mr Taxi Cup in Spain, how do you think the team perform?

Under the current circumstances, I think that the Portuguese team played within their possibilities. We can’t forget that the vast majority of team practice prior to this tournament, were made in a roller hockey rink. The most important aim for the team, was to gain experience and to face opponents from all over Europe.

On a very positive note we had  Isaac Carreiro who has been appointed as the top left winger for the tournament and it was also the first time that a Portuguese goalie had a shutout, with Max Andreyev’s 5-0 win against the Granada Eagles .

Outside of not having a suitable rink in the country, what other challenge are there for hockey in Portugal?

In first place, we need to quickly have a full up to speed Ice Hockey Federation, so that we can participate and promote ice hockey in the country. We also need to raise awareness within the authorities and civilian society that to have a permanent ice rink is not an unbelievable project and that it can be sustainable in the future, not only for ice sports, but also with a social mission within the community. The construction of the ice rink infrastructure is crucial for the development of the sport, I have no doubt about it.

Regarding the players, I’m sure we have the talent to perform, we have the example of great hockey players like John Tavares and Mike Ribeiro that have Portuguese roots. On another note, the country is also one of the major powers in roller hockey.

Finally, the Portuguese community in countries with ice hockey tradition, like Canada and the United States is so big that, in the near future, I would expect some players that play abroad to join the national team and to get these expat communities to support our project

Are there any future events plan for Portugal National Team?

Currently we have some invitations in hand to attend tournaments abroad. In the upcoming months, we expect to have some more information about the Schedule for 2017-2018.
Personally, I would enjoy seeing the Portuguese team play near expat Portuguese communities. It would be a great way to promote the sport and also to present our project for a future ice rink in the country.

What you like to tell the Portuguese people about ice hockey in Portugal?

That our dream of having an ice rink, it’s not a pharaonic enterprise. We truly believe that once we get this infrastructure in the country we will be able to not only develop ice sports, but also to be an asset to the community. We will be able to introduce children to different ice sports and who knows what they can become.
Also, Lisbon is currently bidding to host the title of 2021 European Capital of Sports. This could be a great opportunity to build an ice rink, unfortunately, Lisbon is still one of the few European capitals without an ice rink, then this would be perfect moment to do it.

Luis de Almeida Johansson in game action with Portugal.

Peterborough player Mike Swift finds hockey success in South Korea

Mike Swift will be playing for Korea at the 2018 Olympics

By Mike Davies – Peterborough Examiner  

Mike Swift never quite reached his NHL dream but he’s making his mark in the hockey world in other ways.

Next year he’ll be on the ice with many of the world’s best at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and 2018 IIHF World Hockey Championships in Denmark.

But the Peterborough native will not be wearing a Team Canada jersey – he’ll represent South Korea. He’ll be joined by Bryan Young, his teammate with High 1 of the Asian Hockey League. Young is an Ennismore native and former Peterborough Pete.

Swift, 30, scored the winning goal in a shootout against Ukraine that clinched second place for South Korea at the 2017 IIHF Division IA World Championship, earning a promotion to the top division next year against world powerhouses like Canada, the U.S., Russia, Sweden and Finland.

Swift moved to Korea in 2011, a year after Young, where the money is actually better for top players than in Europe and North American minor leagues with top players reported to receive upwards of $200,000 a season with all living expenses paid.

They were approached by the Korean hockey federation in 2013 to get their Korean citizenship in order to represent them internationally. With South Korea awarded the Olympics the federation wanted to ensure it iced a competitive team.

They first played for Korea in a Division IA world championship in 2014, when they lost every game and were relegated to Division 1B for 2015. Swift led the tournament in scoring in 2015 as South Korea won the tournament to get back to Division 1A for 2016. They beat Japan for the first time in their history at the 2016 tournament and finished with a 2-2-1 record. This year, they went 4-1-0, their lone loss to Austria, to earn promotion to the top division next year.

Swift says the team has come a long way since his first year when they lost every game.

“That was a real eye-opener,” said Swift. “We basically didn’t even touch the puck in five games. In that same division, four years later, we went 4-1.”

A big turning point, Swift said, was the hiring of former NHL players Jim Paek and Richard Park, both of Korean ancestry, as coaches.

“They brought a system with them and all the guys bought into the system that is working,” said Swift, one of five players on this year’s team not originally from Korea. “These guys in Korea can all skate and they can all shoot the puck, they just didn’t have a sense of direction. Now they have coaching that can tell them and they listen with the wealth of experience the coaching staff brings. All they needed was guidance. It’s part of the process of how we’ve grown.”

Korea is in a pool with Canada, Switzerland and Czech Republic for the Olympics. The NHL has stated it will not be sending its players which is a disappointment for Swift, although, he says he’ll play against NHL players at the worlds two months later.

“Obviously, you want to play against the best in the world with the NHL guys. At the same time it gives us a better chance of winning the games,” he said.

The country’s interest in hockey is growing because of the upcoming Olympics and the national team’s success, said Swift.

“We just made history moving up to the top division,” he said. “When I first came here no one knew anything about hockey. The players didn’t even really follow the NHL. Now, everyone is on their phones at practice watching the highlights or watching the games. With the time change, when I get to the rink in the morning there are NHL games on in North America. Now it’s 24/7 hockey hockey, hockey.”

Swift has become the Wayne Gretzky of the Asian Hockey League, winning the scoring title in five of his six seasons. His 208 goals in 259 games is 10 behind the league’s all-time leader Takeshi Saito who has played 493 games. Swift is 34 points behind Saito with 461. He also has 662 penalty minutes, 205 behind the career leader.

Now that he’s so close to the record Swift says he’d like to catch Saito, who is six years older and still playing.

“When I first went over to Korea I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything about the country, the culture but now that I’ve been there for six years it would sort of put a stamp on my career,” Swift said.

Swift, who retained his Canadian citizenship, admits pulling on a Korean national jersey took some getting used to.

“It was different. I had mixed emotions,” he said. “Four years later, it feels natural because I spend nine months a year in Korea and I’ve been there for six years. I’m living in Korea more than I do Canada where I come home for three months in the summer.”

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