Month: November 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Introducing Canada

By Organizing Committee – IIHF.com

One of the biggest attractions for fans at the upcoming 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship is the most successful team of the history of the tournament – Canada. Last season was a disappointment for the Canadians, who failed to claim a medal on home ice for the first time ever. However, they have claimed a medal at all previous World Junior Championships held in the Czech Republic, and this year they return to the arena where they won gold in 1994.

Ambassador’s take: Tomas Plekanec

Tomas Plekanec was chosen ambassador of the Canadian team. The long-time captain of the Czech national team played most of his 1,001 NHL games for the Montreal Canadiens. Near the end of his time in the league, he played 17 games for Canada’s other “Original Six” team – the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 
The 37-year-old Plekanec emphasizes the interest Canadian fans have in this event, stating: “The World Junior Championship is followed far more closely than the men’s World Championships over there. The fans are crazy about these young players, as there is huge interest in junior hockey in general.”
 
That’s also a reason why the last three World Junior Championships took place in North America – twice in Canada and once in the United States. “At the time of the World Juniors, more people watch those games on TV than the NHL,” said the current Kometa Brno centre.

Historic World Junior Championship results

Canada has taken part in every World Junior Championship so far and is the most successful country in its history with a total of 17 gold medals. That includes two separate stretches where the Canadians finished on top five times in a row – first from 1993 to 1997 and then again from 2005 to 2009.
 
During both of those five-year stretches, one of Canada’s titles took place on Czech ice. 25 years ago, the Canadians claimed gold at the same Ostravar Arena that will host this year’s tournament, although at the time it was called the Palace of Culture and Sport. The other occurred in Pardubice in 2008, with an overtime victory over Sweden in the final.

Last year

Expectations are always high for the Canadian national junior team, but this is especially the case at home, where the team receives much media attention. In the 11 previous World Junior Championships held in Canada, the home team had claimed five gold medals, five silvers and one bronze.
 
Tim Hunter’s team started last year’s tournament strong, crushing Denmark 14-0 in its first game. The first hitch came in the group’s final game when the Canadians fell 2-1 to Russia in a tight game for first place. That was a prelude to what awaited them in the quarter-finals.
 
Awaiting Canada was a hardworking Finnish team that perhaps underachieved in the group stage and finished third. Despite the troubles, the Canadians seemed on the verge of advancing, leading 1-0 into the final minute of the third period, when Aleksi Heponiemi scored the tying goal. Then in overtime, defenceman Toni Utunen struck the fatal blow, stunning the Canadian team and the fans in Vancouver.

Team stars

Every year, Canada can rely on an incredibly deep roster of talented players, some of whom already have NHL experience and all of them either have been or will be drafted. This year in Ostrava, the team’s most notable player in the age group is centre Kirby Dach, the third overall pick in last year’s draft who currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
It will be interesting to see if Cole Perfetti and Hendrix Lapierre get into the Canadian lineup. The two showed incredible chemistry together at the Gretzky Cup in Breclav this past summer, where they finished and second in tournament scoring.
 
Tomas Plekanec, ambassador of the Canadian team, says that it’s difficult to find weak players on the Canadian team. “There will be plenty of talented players, not only for Canada, but in the entire tournament,” he figures.
 
“What I always like about these tournaments is that some player, who was not expected to dominate, jumps out. Certainly there will be someone new, whether it be from Canada or any other team,” says Plekanec.

Coach

The head coach of the Canadian team is 59-year-old Dale Hunter. Hunter enjoyed a successful NHL career, most notably for the Quebec Nordiques and Washington Capitals, where he combined high offensive output and toughness. He played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1997 and is the all-time leader in penalty minutes during the Stanley Cup playoffs. In 2000, a year after he retired as a player, Hunter and his brothers (Dave and Mark, who also played in the NHL) purchased the OHL’s London Knights. For most of the time since, Dale has coached the team, except for a brief stint coaching the Capitals in 2011/12. Internationally, he led the Canadian U18 team at the 2013 Hlinka Memorial Cup.

At this year’s World Juniors, Hunter’s assistant coaches are Mitch Love and Andre Tourigny.

Preliminary-Round Games (times local/ET):

26 December 2019: Canada – USA (19:00/13:00)  
28 December 2019: Russia – Canada (19:00/13:00)  
30 December 2019: Germany – Canada (15:00/9:00)  
31 December 2019: Canada – Czech Republic (19:00/13:00)

Introducing Czech Republic

Czech player Jakub Lauko protects the puck from USA’s Quinn Hughes in last year’s World Junior quarter-finals.

By Organizing Committee – IIHF.com

The IIHF World Junior Championship is returning to the Czech Republic after 12 years, and the host team is anxious to put on a good show in front of the home fans. The Czechs would love to reach the podium for the first time since 2005, when they finished third. For the second year in a row, they will be coached by Vaclav Varada, who has a bunch of interesting players with international experience to choose from.

Historic World Junior Championship results

The Czech Republic – and before that, Czechoslovakia – is one of the six countries that have never been relegated from the top division of the World Juniors. At the first tournament they hosted in 1977, the Czechoslovaks won the bronze medal, and they finished even better on home ice again in 1987 when they won the silver. In total, Czechoslovakia took five silver and six bronze medals during 17 tournaments, but never struck gold.

However, that was accomplished by the independent Czech Republic in 2000 and 2001. Famous players such as Martin Havlat, Zbynek Irgl, Martin Erat, Radim Vrbata and Tomas Plekanec were part of those championship teams. Their most recent medal, a bronze, the Czechs grasped in 2005. Since then, their best finish was fourth place two years ago in Buffalo.

Several Czech names are among the all-time leaders in several individual statistical categories. Robert Reichel collected 18 goals and 22 assists for a total of 40 points during his three-tournament stint, making him the second-highest scorer in World Junior history, behind only Peter Forsberg. Additionally, Vladimir Ruzicka is the tournament’s all-time goals leader with 25, and Michael Frolik belongs to a small group of players who participated in four tournaments – in Frolik’s case, from 2005 to 2008.

Last season

After their fourth-place finish in 2018,  the Czechs wanted to return to the semi-finals again last year. However, their route was cut short in the quarters. The Czechs finished third in Group A – where they beat Switzerland and Denmark but lost to Russia and Canada – with five points.

In the quarter-finals, the Czechs put up a valiant fight against the United States but fell 3-1 with an empty-net goal, which ultimately placed them seventh. Despite the early exit, goaltender Lukas Dostal pushed his save percentage above 95 during the four games he played.

Team stars

The aforementioned Dostal should play again in Ostrava, as he was born in 2000, and is expected to remain the starting goalie. During the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected by the Anaheim Ducks, and the Brno native currently guards the Ilves Tampere net in the top Finnish league.

In addition to Dostal, the team will be led by several other players who were members of the second-place team at the 2017 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Forwards Jan Jenik and Matej Pekarare currently plying their trades in the OHL, while Karel Plasek plays in the Czech Extraliga for Kometa Brno. Jakub Lauko should also get a third chance to play in the World Juniors; however, this depends on the Boston Bruins freeing him from the AHL’s Providence Bruins to attend the tournament.

From 2001-born players, it is important to mention defenceman Martin Hugo Has, who already played in last year’s tournament. Has was drafted by the Washington Capitals in June and is currently playing his third year in Finland. All-round forward Jaromir Pytlik could also be given a shot – the member of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is expected to be picked in the early rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. There is a chance also for a talented 2002-born forward Jan Mysak, the HC Litvinov prospect who is also highly ranked for 2020.

Coach

For the second year in a row, the head coach of the Czech national junior team is Vaclav Varada. The former NHL right winger also played at the World Juniors in 1995 and 1996 and led his team with five goals in the 1996 tournament. In the senior category, Varada was a member of Czech World Championship teams in 2000 and 2005. During his career, he played in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators and won the Calder Cup in the AHL. After returning to Europe, Varada won the Spengler Cup and the Swiss National League with HC Davos and was able to dominate the Czech league during his stint with Ocelari Trinec before calling it a career.

In addition to coaching the Czech juniors, Varada is also in his third year behind Trinec’s bench, leading the team to the Czech title last season.

Preparations for the championship

After finishing the summer camps and games, the Czech team met again in early November at the four-nations tournament in Helsinki. With their roster supplemented by players based in North America, the Czechs’ last tune-up games for the Czechs before the tournament will be against Sweden on 20 December and Slovakia two days later.

Preliminary-Round Games (times CET)

26 December 2019: Czech Republic – Russia (15:00)
28 December 2019: Czech Republic – Germany (15:00)
30 December 2019: USA – Czech Republic (19:00)
31 December 2019: Canada – Czech Republic (19:00)

Introducing Slovakia

Goaltender Samuel Hlavaj is a returnee from Slovakia’s World Juniors team last year

By Organizing Committee – IIHF.com

The Slovaks will try to advance from Group A in Trinec, where besides two Nordic teams – Finland and Sweden – they will also encounter predatory Switzerland and unpredictable Kazakhstan. It is also the start of a new era in Slovak junior hockey, with Ernest Bokros being replaced by Robert Petrovicky as head coach. It has been exactly five years since Slovakia last managed a medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships. Since then, they have advanced no further than the quarter-finals, being eliminated at that stage by Sweden three times.

Ambassador’s take: Vladimir Vujtek Sr.

“Slovaks love hockey,” says former player and coach Vladimir Vujtek Sr. The Czech has many ties to Slovakia, having served in the military there and played for Dukla Trencin in the top Czechoslovak league in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. He also coached the Slovak senior men’s national team at four World Championships – capturing a silver medal in 2012 – and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“The Slovaks will play every game for everything,” Vujtek believes. “The opening game against Kazakhstan will be very important for them.”

Historic World Junior Championship results

Slovakia has played in the top division of the World Junior Championships since 1995, when it made its way through from the C-Pool. Since then, the team has remained in the top division and won two bronze medals. The first came in 1999 in Winnipeg, when the team led by Ladislav Nagy managed to beat Sweden 5-4 in the game for third place. It was the first IIHF medal in any category for the six-year-old country.

Slovakia’s second medal came in 2015 in Toronto, when they again faced off with Sweden for bronze. Led by Peter Cehlarik, Martin Reway and goaltender Denis Godla, the Slovaks played an excellent third period and won 4-2.

Last year

Last year’s World Junior Championship left a bitter taste in the Slovaks’ mouths. In a tough group that included the USA, Sweden and Finland, they started well. They held a one-goal lead with 10 minutes left in their opening game against the favoured Americans, but late goals by Mikey Anderson and Evan Barratt turned the score upside down and left the Slovaks with nothing.

Following back-to-back games where they conceded five goals each, the Slovaks faced a must-win situation in their last group-stage game against Kazakhstan, and thanks to a six-goal first period, they cruised to an 11-2 victory and a spot in the elite eight. In the quarter-finals, though, the Slovaks hit a brick wall against Russia, falling behind early and eventually losing 7-0.

Team stars

Last year, Slovakia relied mainly on players born in 1999, with only two players on the roster that are eligible to return for another tournament. One of them is up-and-coming goalie Samuel Hlavaj, who appeared in four games as an 18-year-old. This season, he is the starting netminder of the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix and one of the best European goalies in the league, and will look to parlay another solid showing at the World Juniors into getting picked at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

The other returning player from last year is Marcel Dlugos. The sturdy defenceman is currently patrolling the blue line of HC Nove Zamky in Slovakia.

Martin Fasko-Rudas, now in his third season in North America, is one of the best players for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and is eager to be drafted by an NHL team. Like Hlavaj, a strong showing at the World Juniors could help his cause.

Another great young Slovak player is Kristian Kovacik. Last season, he was named one of the top three players of his team in the U18 category. He currently plays in the Slovak Liga for Dukla Trencin, his hometown club to which he returned after a season in Canada.

Coach

The coaching staff of the Slovak national junior team was completely changed this year. Ernest Borkos was replaced as head coach by Robert Petrovicky, a star centre from the 1990s and 2000s who played in the NHL and KHL. This is the first-ever head coaching position for the Kosice native, but for the past two seasons he worked as an assistant for Slovan Bratislava and the Slovak senior men’s national team.

Petrovicky’s assistants will be Viliam Cacho and Martin Strbak, while Rastislav Stana has been named goaltending coach.

Preparing for the tournament

After the U20 Summer Hockey Challenge, the Slovak national junior team didn’t meet again until early November, when it hosted Germany, Norway and Switzerland as part of a four-nations tournament in Piestany, taking six of a possible nine points. Just before the start of the World Junior Championship, Petrovicky’s squad will play in Zilina against Russia.

Team’s preliminary-round games (times CET)

27 December 2019: Slovakia – Kazakhstan (19:00)
28 December 2019: Finland – Slovakia (15:00)
30 December 2019: Slovakia – Switzerland (19:00)
31 December 2019: Sweden – Slovakia (15:00)

Q & A с Анастасией Сершниовой

By vk.com/ntoih

В декабре стартует новый сезон IIHF, а начнётся он с женского Чемпионата Мира третьего дивизиона в Софии (Болгария), и мы поговорили с одной из хоккеисток сборной Литвы – Анастасией Сершниовой.

Здравствуйте Анастасия, расскажите о себе, как оказались в хоккее, какой клуб представляете?

Мне почти 20 лет, в хоккей пришла из фигурного катания, на льду уже 14 лет. Сейчас не выступаю ни за какой клуб, большое внимание уделяю учебе. В этом году еду играть на чемпионат мира по хоккею среди женщин в Болгарии.
Всю жизнь играла с парнями в Литве, в городе Клайпеде.

Расскажите о женской лиге Литвы ?

В Литве нет женской хоккейной лиги, девушкам остаётся два варианта, либо играть с парнями, или в латвийской лиге (Балтийская), но там всего два клуба представляющий Литву. Но хоккей именно женский, начал популиризаваться молодое поколение начало заниматься хоккеем.

Меньше чем через месяц, сборная Литвы будет проводить дебютный для себя турнир в Болгарии. Скажите как проходит подготовка к турниру?

Подготовка идёт полным ходом, пока идёт набор в сборную, тренировки проходят раз в неделю, скоро состав будет сформирован, затем будет лагерь и товарищеские игры с Латвией. Ну а потом и сам чемпионат.

Какой настрой у сборной, какие цели ставит перед собой Литва, по Вашему мнению какая команда составит конкуренцию Литве?

Настрой боевой, конкуренты все сборные, считаю нельзя никого выделять.
Цель – попасть на призовые места!

WHL drops Game 6 but wins second shootout to capture series victory

By CIBC Canada Russia Series

It was as if a Hollywood producer wrote the script for the series-deciding Game 6 of the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Requiring extra time for a record fourth time in event history, Team Russia would prevail in the initial shootout session after scoring in each of its first three attempts to even the six-game set at nine points a side and set up a series-deciding shootout in order to decide a winner.

It was then the opposite outcome in the second shootout as Team WHL found its offense, though the session was not without further dramatics as after surrendering two goals the Russians subbed in cold netminder Amir Miftakhov who came off the bench and turned aside three shots before Kelowna Rockets captain and Tampa Bay Lightning first-round pick Nolan Foote sealed the victory for the CHL side.

The tally marked the third of the game for Foote, who claimed Player of the Game recognition, after he had lit the lamp with a two-goal effort in the middle frame as part of a special teams showcase that produced a trio of goals on the man advantage that ended with a final power play marker by Medicine Hat Tigers forward Ryan Chyzowski who completed a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence to help his side rally for three goals in 3:56.

“It was an intense game,” Foote said following the victory. “They came out hard in the second period, and those powerplays we had gave momentum to the team and guys were going. It was a hard-fought game and of course it went down to overtime and a shootout again, so it was fun.”

Not to be outdone, Russia scored a power play goal of its own after forward Zakhar Shablovskii cashed in from the doorstep after grabbing a feed from Vegas Golden Knights prospect Ivan Morozov to even the score with just over six minutes remaining in regulation and eventually send the game to extra time where the CHL claimed the winning side for the 13th time in event history.

Georgian hockey player now plays for Canadian team

By Mikhail Simonov – Vestnik Kavkaza

Temur Vedyapin went down in history. The twenty-year-old striker of the Georgian ice hockey team became the first native of this country to sign a professional contract in Canada’s homeland of hockey. Now Temur is a Foward of the Maniwaki Mustangs club, which serves in one of the youth leagues – CPJHL (Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League). This is one of hundreds of hockey leagues in North America, and the tournament in its format can be considered as the championship of the province of Ontario.

Vedyapin successfully started – in his debut match, he scored a goal for his new club. The other day will be another debut – after a short field trip, the Mustangs return home and play on their home ice with their fans.

And this significant event occurs when the Georgian hockey players playing in group “B” of the second world division, in fact, have no ice. By and large there is nowhere to train. At their disposal are non-standard-sized ice rinks (one hockey zone in size, i.e. one third of the court) in Tbilisi, built for skaters back in 1950, and where they were very reluctantly and very irregularly allowed to go, an ice rink in Batumi, and in winter an open area in the winter resort of Bakuriani, built by local hockey players of the Mimino team – the most titled in Georgia. Tbilisi clubs Fiery Crusaders, Ice Knights, Gray Wolves are trying to stop her from winning the country’s champion year after year. By the way, Temur Vedyapin also played for the latter.

The conditions for Georgian hockey players who are a few steps away from knocking on the next division in the class, after which the elite already follows, the one where Canada and Russia, Czech Republic and Sweden, etc., Spartan fight for the world title. The authorities promise to start building a normal sports palace for winter sports in 2020. But there were many such promises, and so far the matter has not budged. Therefore, I don’t want to say that the problem is about to be solved. At least because of signs, such as not to jinx it, it will turn out like in one of the cities of Western Georgia.

There, a kindly businessman of good will suddenly became preoccupied with the state of affairs in winter sports and decided to build a small palace of his name for hockey players and figure skaters. But he hoped for something to build a kind of object for local builders, and he did not call foreign ones who had experience in building ice arenas. In the end, they say, it turned out to be something unsuitable for anything. And it was completely not intended for hockey, because the court turned out to be square, and ordinary glasses, although of extraordinary thickness, were used as protective glasses. In general, a platform for hockey players, fed up with life to the extreme. Perhaps the story is hyperbolized, but the fact is that hockey players still do not have their own arena.

Meanwhile, the history of hockey in Georgia is not so few years. The national team participated in the sports days of the USSR in the 1960s. Even without success. In the 1970s, during the years of the beginning of the battles of the Soviet national team with Canadian professionals, a fan boom was observed at all. Ice battles of the USSR national team at world championships, Olympics, in North American tours, people watched on television, of course, not totally, but with enthusiasm. The names of Maltsev and Kharlamov, Clark and Esposito were not an empty phrase in Georgia. And not in one Tbilisi or Kutaisi yard, the kids drove a puck or a small ball with their sticks on the asphalt, and sometimes the recessed but quickly melting snow. A group of fanatics gradually crystallized out of the mass, always playing, at any time of the year, selflessly, until the legs were numb. In summer – on asphalt, in winter – on compacted in very hard hypostasis snow, less often ice. But snow did not fall in Tbilisi every winter. But the team even managed to win some tournament. In those years, by order of Leonid Ilyich, who loved hockey, they began to develop this wonderful game throughout the immense USSR. So much so that even in Tashkent a hockey team of masters appeared.

In non-hockey areas it was … easier. For the report, several children’s matches and all the best were held in front of Moscow. A man from the district committee of the city committee came to these games and pretended to be involved in the organization of the match. Just after all. Matches were? There were. Was Raykom? It was. Hockey, then, is developing. Hello beloved Ilyich. Just in case – to the mausoleum too. However, the legendary Anatoly Tarasov, the former coach of the USSR and CSKA national teams, and Anatoly Firsov, one of the best strikers in the world of the 1960s and 70s, somehow arrived at one of the tournaments in Tbilisi. After observing the children, they issued a verdict: Georgians will be able to play well, but constant conditions are needed.

However, the “big” people who praised greetings and reports, additional expenses and troubles were useless. And hockey fans were not among them. Of course, they did not prohibit the ban on playing, but waved their hands so that hockey began to seem doomed. The only skating rink, the mentioned skater school in Tbilisi, was reluctant to let them in. And so that the ice does not really spoil, it was forbidden to play the puck. Instead of her – ordinary socks, twisted into a ball and secured in such a form with electrical tape.
Winter was easier. In Bakuriani, this time of year is always snowy and cold. The guys on their own filled the rink (by the way, many hours of exhausting work) and played. Few people knew about this …

So, in spite of everything, Georgian hockey players quietly “played out” before the World Championships in the fourth (lowest) division. Let’s go to Luxembourg. Expectedly lost all matches. Not all dry – which was a success. They piled not childishly a couple of rivals than me, a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, enthralled. Came back home. And again, the same perennial problems. Although not really …

With ice it became a little easier. In Tbilisi, the city hall in the winter began to arrange artificial ice rinks, which hockey players sometimes managed to break through and arrange demonstration matches. Four clubs continued to play their championship in Bakuriani. About all this, Tbilisi Go Group Media made a wonderful watch film “Rare Breed”. In a word, hockey players began to pay attention. And they immediately paid off truly fantastic successes – they won their division, then the next one and, as they said, reached the group “B” of the second division, in which they took third place in April this year. In April 2020, in Iceland, Georgian hockey players will once again compete in this division for promotion – in rivals: Belgium, Bulgaria, Iceland, Mexico and New Zealand. With a successful performance at the next tournament, rival teams of Georgia, such as Poland, Kazakhstan, Japan, Slovenia, can become Georgian rivals.

“The team is carefully preparing for the tournament in Iceland, where there is a struggle with rivals who have much better conditions for regular training and matches than ours,” says Ilo Davydov, president of the Georgian Hockey Federation.

His brother – Denis, has a special colossal role in the fact that hockey survived in Georgia. It was Denis Davydov who headed the Federation, probably in the most difficult period for Georgian hockey. Then the country was absorbed by catastrophic problems, which put a question mark before the existence of statehood as a whole. And in those conditions, only an extraordinary person who wholeheartedly devoted to the idea could go to instances, achieve something for hockey. Denis Davydov retained hockey for Georgia. Alas, he himself does not see the success of the case to which he devoted himself entirely – ten years ago he died in a car accident in Turkey, where he went on hockey affairs.

In Iceland, the Georgian national team will probably have a harder time than other tournaments. The application with the names of the hockey players and the names of the clubs they represent will feature the Canadian team. And this is a guarantee of increased attention of rivals.

 

Cornell Sophomore Min Shin ’22 Shines as Member of Korean National Women’s Ice Hockey Team

Sophomore Min Shin’s dreams of playing for Korea’s National Women’s Ice Hockey team came to fruition as she prepares for the 2020 IIHF Championships in Poland

By Renee Hoh – The Cornell Daily Sun

At just 12 years old, Min Shin ’22 appeared on Korean national television declaring her dream to one day play for the Korean National Women’s Ice Hockey team. Now, seven years later, the Cornell sophomore can finally don the Korean jersey.

Shin’s determination to play college hockey and for Team Korea has jetted her across various states and countries. Most recently, Shin travelled to Ottawa, Ontario for a two-week training camp with her new teammates in preparation for the 2020 IIHF Championships in Poland. Balancing hockey and school work, Shin brought all of her studying materials and returned to Cornell from the camp a few days early –– just in time for her Introductory Oceanography prelim.

“Playing college hockey at Hamilton [College] before I came here really taught me to stay on top of my work, because as a college athlete, you’re always really busy,” said Shin, who transferred into Cornell this semester.

Shin was born in South Korea, but spent her childhood in Ithaca. Growing up, Shin’s parents used to drive her to ice rinks in Lansing, thinking that she would pick up figure skating. Shin, however, had other ideas.

“My brother was playing hockey, so obviously I wanted to also play hockey, not figure skate,” Shin said with a laugh.

Getting serious about ice hockey, Shin moved back to Korea, where she played alongside boys for club teams and was invited by the Korean national team to participate in training camps by fifth grade. However, the opportunity to play high school hockey prompted the goalie to return to the U.S. and attend the Groton School in Boston, where she captained the varsity ice hockey team during her senior year.

Still, every summer, Shin would lug her hockey gear back to Korea with her, dedicating her time to showcases, camps and tournaments. Shin tried out for Team Korea during her high school junior year, but narrowly missed out on playing in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and was the “last goalie cut in the final roster.”

“I was pretty bummed out about it,” Shin said. “I was planning on quitting hockey after that.

“And to end on a good note because, my senior year, I was voted captain and we beat our rival school in more than six years,” Shin continued. “It was such a great final game and I was good with ending my [hockey] career here.”

Shin had the option to attend University of California, Los Angeles, but still could not give up the prospects of playing college hockey. Instead, she walked onto the DIII hockey team for Hamilton College in the NESCAC league before transferring to Cornell, where she intends to major in anthropology and minor in law & society.

“No! I want to keep going,” Shin said, when asked if attending law school would end her hockey career. “Playing hockey, playing for Team Korea, that has been my dream for as long as I can remember.”

Next semester, Shin will have a few more stops to hit. She’ll be traveling to Korea for the Legacy Cup, the Czech Republic for a training camp, and Poland for the World Championships. If Team Korea plays well, Shin may have the opportunity to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, flying out to another country and fulfilling yet another dream of hers.

While Shin does not currently play for the Cornell women’s team, she skated with the team to prepare for her training camp. Despite her already busy schedule, Shin said she would love to play for the team she grew up watching.

“When I was younger, I’d go watch the college hockey games at Lynah [Rink],” Shin said. “So, coming back here it’s been like ‘oh my gosh, if I could play for this team that would be so cool.’ Cornell’s ice hockey is amazing.”

A stuck Russian team & amateur talent jumpstart Aces hockey in Anchorage

By Patrick Enslow  – KTUU.com

As the Aces Alumni prepare to return to the ice this week we take a look back at the franchise’s humble beginnings and rise to prominence in the professional ranks in three-part series leading up to Friday and Saturday’s charity games.

The Russians

Aces hockey can be traced all the way back to the 1930s when a seniors men’s hockey team took the ice and played on an outdoor rink on Fireweed Lane. An Aces program from 1993-94 had a history of the team and said the team made their own ice, and hot-mopped between periods.

The spirit of that team would live on years later when former UAA hockey player Dennis Sorenson brought the team back.

“We needed something to do here locally, and we thought there would be a good draw for it,” said Sorenson.

After previous failed attempts to put together a senior men’s amateur team a unique set of circumstances brought hockey back in December of 1990.

A Russian team got stuck here because of weather,” said Sorenson. “I got a phone call from the rink one night that said can you get a group together to play this club?”

Prominent local Anchorage hockey coach Dempsey Anderson suggested Sorenson call his new team the Aces, as a throwback to the 1930s Anchorage Men’s team. The newly-formed team would skate to a 3-3 tie, and lose in overtime to the Russians.

“We were all ex-UAA, and myself UAF college players like some local high school players,” said Keith Street, a member of that 1990-91 team.

Following that game Sorenson decided to secure ice time, a schedule and voilà!: the Anchorage Aces were in business.

“I was running it off my American Express Card and my sporting goods store,” said Sorenson. “It was difficult, we were making due, and nobody was getting paid we were just having a good time, putting on a pretty good brand of hockey of former college players

Playing and coaching Sorenson quickly found out the business of sports is expensive, and he didn’t have the deep pockets to keep the team on the ice.

“The big turning point for me is the first ownership group for me that helped me get it going, as the player-coach it was difficult to have friends on the team, and tell them who’s going to play when,” said Sorenson.

With financial backing, the team headed to the amateur national championships. The Aces took down in-state rival the Fairbanks Gold Kings on their home ice to win the team’s first-ever national title.

Building on momentum from their early success the Aces would make a name for themselves in the world of senior amateur hockey slowly creating a fan base in Anchorage.

“It was tough dealing with UAA (hockey) at the time because UAA was good, UAA was winning games in the early 90s, they were having great crowds, and were trying to build on their success just a different type of hockey,” said Sorenson.

The local hockey team would get another chance to face off with international talent when the Arctic Challenge came to Alaska in September of 1993 leading up to the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

The pre-Olympic hockey tournament was made up of Teams USA, Russia and Canada. Along with some of the world’s best was Team Alaska, made up of many players from the Aces roster.

Building a resume against national and high-level senior amateur teams the Aces would soon eye a leap to the pro ranks in 1995.

“We were all young enough where we had that passion to play at higher level than a local men’s team,” said Street.

Aces get paid to play & transition to life on the road

In the fall of 1995, the Aces officially become a professional hockey franchise joining the West Coast Hockey League. Turning pro also meant the team would look a lot different than the senior men’s amateur team for which it was known from 1990-95.

“There was more on the line, guys getting traded, guys getting moved around, picked up, you kind of knew you had to perform or get traded,” said former Aces center Keith Street.

The former Univ. of Fairbanks standout, Street was one of a handful of players who would remain on the Aces as they made the transition to professional hockey.

“We had the two-week road trips,” said Street. “The longest one we had was 28-days that’s a long time to be away from your family, and it was tough for some of the local guys with jobs.”

Longtime Aces public address announcer Bob Lester recounts the ‘early days’ of Aces of hockey comparing it to the 1970’s hockey movie ‘Slap Shot’.

“It was great hockey,” said Lester. “College Hockey is a totally different animal, that’s fine, it’s not Aces hockey, and I think that’s what they (Aces) were able to market.”

Lester felt the quality of hockey – plus fighting and beer – fueled the early popularity of the team.

On the ice, the team was built around centers Keith Street and Dean Larson, from 1996-99 Street would register three straight 100-point seasons, and Larson would post similar stats records four 100 point seasons from 1996 to 2000.

Kelly Cups and the end of the Alaska Aces

From losing games to losing money, things were not looking good for the Aces in the early 2000s. Fresh off their worst season in franchise history in 2001-2002, it didn’t look promising for Anchorage’s professional hockey franchise.

In June of 2002 the team faced $2,000,000 in debt, and then owner Mike Cusack Junior put the team on eBay. The franchise would soon be saved by a seven-member group who bought the team in bankruptcy court.

“First season was really tough. We got in August, started playing in October,” said Aces owner and managing partner Terry Parks. “We didn’t have a coach, we didn’t have a team, and we didn’t have any employees. So it was a tough first year.”

2002-2003 would be considered a rebuilding season, and safe to say, times were changing from the team’s name, ownership to their head coach.

In any line of business, who you hire is key to success. Professional hockey was no different, and many consider the hiring of Davis Payne as a turning point for the franchise.

“Davis was the most prepared interview that I’ve ever done, and I’ve probably interviewed 500 people in my life,” said Parks. “By far the best-prepared and had a plan.”

When the team made the jump to the ECHL in 2003 they would change their name to the Alaska Aces, and their success on the ice would soon change as well.

“When Davis Payne came in things became much more businesslike and professional,” said public address announcer Bob Lester.

By 2004 the team had built a winning culture, and soon it would have Stanley Cup talent to match when they added East Anchorage’s Scotty Gomez during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout.

“They managed to keep it a pretty big secret, not a lot of people knew,” said Gomez Aces teammate Kimbi Daniels.

Not only did he help the Aces on the ice, but in the ticket sales department as well.

“I think it made a big difference in the philosophy of the team. I said it was the best recruiting I ever had,” said Parks. “I think Scotty was making about $4,500,000, and we paid him $500 a week.”

After the lockout Gomez would return to the NHL, but the best days were yet to come for the Glacier Blue as they won the Kelly Cup, ECHL’s version of the Stanley Cup, in 2006, 2011 and 2014.

But the end of the franchise was quickly approaching.

“I remember we were in the third round of the playoffs in 2014, and we weren’t selling out the games,” said Lester.

In February of 2017 the ownership group announced the franchise would fold for financial reasons.

The announcement took many by surprise, but Parks said it was declining ticket sales, the economy and keeping the players on the ice.

“What most people don’t understand the real risk with minor league hockey is not only do you have payroll and travel, but we also had workers comp, all the injuries, we had to take care of those financially,” said Parks.

Since 2017 many hockey fans have speculated when professional hockey will return to Anchorage.

Alaska Aces Facebook Page Here

Sweden’s juniors lead the way in Finland

Nils Hoglander (left, with Fredrik Granberg) was Sweden’s biggest offensive threat as the team won an U20 Four Nations tournament in Finland in preparation for the World Juniors

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Sweden came out on top in the U20 Four Nations tournament played in Finland over the weekend. The Tre Kronor juniors had 2-1 wins over Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as an emphatic 6-1 victory against Russia.

That Russia game was the highlight of a generally low-scoring tournament. The teams traded first-period goals, but Sweden took control in the second thanks to two goals from Nils Hoglander. Three more unanswered strikes in the final frame secured the biggest win of the competition.

Surprisingly, though, Russia recovered to take second place thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Czechs on the final day. Two goals for Metallurg prospect Nikita Rozhkov led the way, and there were also contributions from Lokomotiv’s Grigori Denisenko and another Metallurg youngster, Pavel Dorofeyev.

Hoglander and Rozhkov were among a clutch of players to finish with three points; Rozhkov and Czech forward Jan Sir were the leading goal scorers, with three each. Sweden’s Hugo Alnefelt was the top goalie, allowing just two goals in his two appearances for a save ratio of 96.36%.

At the foot of the table, the Czechs edged third place ahead of Finland thanks to Sir’s winner 18 seconds into overtime after the teams shared a 1-1 tie in regulation.

Swiss edge a three-way tie in Slovakia

Switzerland took first place in Piestany – but only by the narrowest of margins. The four-team tournament saw the Swiss in a three-way tie with Slovakia and Germany on six points, and the Alpine nation prevailed by virtue of a two-goal margin in its victory over the host on the opening day. The other games between those nations finished 3-2, giving Switzerland the lead by a single goal in the three-way head-to-head. Norway lost all three of its games and finished last in the group.

The second period was the crucial passage in the opening game, with Switzerland building on a 3-2 lead and adding further goals from Sandro Schmid and Noah Fuss. That put the game beyond Slovakia, which could only muster a solitary reply in the third through Martin Chromiak. However, after easing past Norway 2-0, the Swiss lost 2-3 against Germany after two late goals. That meant the final game, between Slovakia and Norway, would be crucial. A Slovak win in regulation would force a three-way tie and give Switzerland the honours; any other result would see Germany take top spot by virtue of a head-to-head advantage against the Swiss. Despite an early Pontus Finstad goal putting Norway in front, Slovakia responded to win 4-1.

Switzerland’s Gian-Marco Wetter topped the tournament scoring with 4 (1+3) points, while Slovakia’s Eugen Rabcan was the pick of the goalies, allowing just one goal and stopping 95% of the shots he faced.

Encouraging signs for Belarus

Belarus took first place on home ice in Bobruisk as it warms up for next month’s U20 World Championship Division I Group A in Minsk. The host took the honours thanks to a 5-1 win over Denmark in Sunday’s decisive game. That comfortable scoreline was something of a surprise: in the earlier two games, Belarus had edged one-goal margins over Latvia (1-0) and Austria (2-1), while the Danes had scored eight goals against the same opposition.

In the tournament decider, though, Belarus made a fast start. Goals from Nikita Pyshkailo, Alexander Palchik and Yegor Buyalski opened a 3-0 lead inside 13 minutes. Denmark pulled one back through Mikkel Jensen, but nothing would stop the home team from cruising to a big win.

Head coach Dmitri Dudik admitted that he had worried for his team, especially since the game was broadcast live on Belarusian television but added that he was pleased with the way the players coped with the pressure and paid tribute to the home support. His opposite number, Olaf Eller, blamed mistakes early in the game for his team’s defeat. “We play well with the puck, but we also need to learn to play when we don’t have it,” he added.

Home success for France

France hosted a four-team tournament in Vaujany and came out on top thanks to a convincing 5-0 victory over Italy on the final day. That was enough to keep the French clear of Slovenia, despite suffering an overtime loss against Hungary on Saturday. Les Bleus had defeated Slovenia 4-2 in the opening game of the tournament. Hungary took third place, one point ahead of Italy. The Italians were unable to build on a shoot-out win over Hungary in their first game.

Belarus B wins in Ukraine

While Belarus U20s were winning on home ice, the Minsky Zubry were representing the country at a four-team tournament in Ukraine. The team, effectively the Dynamo Minsk juniors, won all three games in Brovary. First it defeated Poland 3-2, then it edged Lithuania 2-1. In the final game of the competition, the Belarusians came from 0-2 down to beat the host nation 3-2 and complete a perfect record. The Poles took second place, helped by a 5-1 win over Ukraine. An opening shootout win over Lithuania kept the host nation off the foot of the table.

Division I countries test for April

Slovenia and France both played at the tournament in Liepaja and will meet again at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Slovenia

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Most of the teams that will compete in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A took part in the November international break to test their players and systems.

Belarus and Norway back on top

In the Baltic coastal town of Liepaja, Latvia hosted a four-team tournament with games against Belarus, France and Slovenia.

In what became a fiercely competitive contest, Belarus occupied last place ahead of the final round of games. Having earlier defeated France 4-2 and then lost to Slovenia, Belarus still had a chance to climb up to top spot by beating the hosts in the final game of the tournament.

Mikhail Stefanovich led the way with scoring a hat trick against as Belarus surged three goals up. Despite Latvia replying thanks to Miks Indrasis and 20-year-old Sandis Smons, Belarus held out for a fine win 3-2.

Meanwhile in the outskirts of Norway’s capital Oslo, the hosts took on Austria and Denmark. Norway finished top of the standings with 11 out of 24 players on their roster played for a domestic club.

Emphatically outshooting Austria 31-12, Norway came back from a goal down to win 3-1. In their Nordic encounter against Denmark, all six goals in the game were scored in the middle frame as Norway prevailed 4-2 in front of 1,908 onlookers in Lorenskog.

Hungary victorious

Despite opening with a defeat, Hungary sneaked past Italy on the final day to finish top in Poland´s Gdansk. 

Csanad Erdely had put Hungary 3-1 up in the final frame against Italy, before the top-seeds got into gear as the Magyars lost in overtime to a Marko Insam goal. 

But Jarmo Tolvanen’s Hungary bounced straight back in their next game to beat Japan 3-2 before silencing the home crowd in Gdansk as Poland was blanked 2-0 in their final game. Hungary could celebrate top spot after Japan outpaced a lacklustre Italy 4-1 for the morale-boosting victory for Hungary’s youthful roster. 

Poland and Japan met in Gdansk and will meet again in April when Poland will host the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Katowice

Poland, which will host the Division IB in Katowice in less than half a year, finished in third place by beating Division IB rival Japan 3-2.

In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Latvia B beat Ukraine 3-2 in the final to win the Baltic Challenge Cup. Estonia, Kazakhstan U20, Latvia B, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine took part.

Latvia B, with a roster solely made up of players from their domestic championship, had first beaten Kazakhstan 5-2 and Romania 5-3 to win a place in the final against Ukraine. In the match for top spot, Maris Dilevka scored a brace for Latvia B and also had an assist for Karlis Ozolins´ goal.

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