Month: February 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Владислав Шелест: «Раз в 10-12 лет стабильно выходим во второй дивизион ЧМ

17-летний хоккеист сборной Люксембурга Владислав Шелест, родившийся в Новосибирске

Автор материала: Виталий Нестеров –NToIH

17-летний хоккеист сборной Люксембурга Владислав Шелест, родившийся в Новосибирске, дал эксклюзивное интервью для NToIH, где поведал о себе и о том, в каком состоянии находится хоккей в герцогстве

О себе?

Я родился в городе Бердск, Новосибирская область, 7 ноября 2002 года, но в 2004 году мы переехали в Люксембург. Если честно, до сих пор не знаю почему мы переехали. Хоккеем я начал заниматься в 6 лет. Отец привел меня на каток попробовать, у меня неплохо получалось, понравилось, так все и началось. До 16 лет я играл за команду “Хаски” в чемпионате Франции, а с 16 начал играть за «Торнадо»

Что такое хоккей в Люксембурге?

Хоккей — это экзотика в Люксембурге. Своего чемпионата в Люксембурге нет и команды с U11 до U17 играют во Франции. В нашей детской команде как-то было аж 16 национальностей. Мы даже подавали заявку в Книгу Рекордов Гиннесса, как самая многонациональная хоккейная команда. Нас номинировали, но процедура длилась долго и почему-то вообще по итогу в книгу рекордов не попали.

Местных ребят хоккей, как впрочем и другой спорт, мало интересует. Особых достижений в хоккее у клуба “Торнадо”, где я сейчас играю, и сборной Люксембурга нет. Нас устраивает третий дивизион чемпионата Мира.

В детских клубах и вплоть до национальной сборной все играют для удовольствия. В стране два клуба: в столице страны “Торнадо/Люксембург” и на севере команда “Бофорт”. Команды играют в разных чемпионатах — в бельгийском и французском. Иногда проходят игры кубка Люксембурга, где мы играем друг против друга. Наши клубы составляют основу сборной страны + легионеры из шведских низших дивизионов. В “Торнадо” больше иностранцев, конечно. В “Бофорте” больше своих, которые работают в страховых компаниях, банках, и т.п. Тренируются они только когда у них есть свободное время. Основной возраст от 24-40 лет. Я, получается, самый юный среди игроков из Люксембурга и один из юных в Лиге.

Во французской хоккейной структуре существует три дивизиона плюс Лига Магнус. Третий дивизион самый нижний. В нашей группе 8 команд, мы играем 14 игр в сезоне. Команды находится в радиусе от 2,5-6 часов езды на автобусе. Игры проходят по субботам. В основном мы играем с командами из пригорода Парижа или с Реймса (где играл и тренирует сейчас детские команды Владимир Ковин, его номер 10 весит на стадионе в Реймсе). Иногда мы с ним встречались в Люксембурге. Далее из группы выходят в плей-офф 6 команд, которые играют с командами из других групп. Система выхода из третьего дивизиона во второй довольно сложная. Чтобы подняться, нужны мотивированные игроки, деньги и огромное желание. Уровень нашего дивизиона не очень высокий, у нас здесь играют хоккеисты практически из двадцати стран мира. Есть и Африка (Алжир, Тунис), есть и прибалты, есть хоккеисты со всех частей Европы. Однажды у нас в “Торнадо” играл даже хоккеист из Монголии. Некоторые игроки имеют контракты, но платят им немного. Клуб оплачивает расходы на проживание, питание и транспорт + 600-800 евро в месяц. Это лишь в тех клубах, где стоят какие-то задачи на сезон. Сезон заканчивается в середине марта.

Затем у нас идет подготовка к чемпионату мира третьего дивизиона. В этом году матчи пройдут в Люксембурге. Особых спортивных задач нет, но раз в 10-12 лет сборной Люксембурга удается подняться во второй дивизион. В апреле будем мы играть с Турцией, Туркменией, Тайванем, Северной Кореей и Эмиратами. Турнир короткий, но напряженный, мы проводим 5 игр за 7 дней и поэтому важно правильно распределить силы и настроиться на все эти игры. Одно поражение и шансов на выход из группы уже нет. В этом году команды примерно равны, будет интересно. Таковы хоккейные будни Люксембурга.

Влад в составе «Торнадо» ( нижний ряд крайний справа)

Хоккейные условия в Люксембурге?

Условия для хоккея в Люксембурге близкие к идеальным. Много льда для тренировок как клуба, так и сборной, доступность и хорошие условия для начинающих. Многих удивляет отсутствие реальных результатов. Причина проста — никому нет дела до хоккея. И еще местный менталитет, отсутствие конкуренции, которая играет свою негативную роль. Хоть страна одна из первых вступила в IIHF, хоккей в Люксембурге не очень популярен. Каких только тренеров в сборной не было: чехи, словаки, канадцы, русские…. Результат стабилен — 3 место в третьем дивизионе ЧМ. Болельщики в Люксембурге, конечно, есть. Их иногда можно встретить на стадионе на домашних матчах “Торнадо” или сборной. Фанатов человек 20 и то это из числа родственников или друзей. В “Бофорте” немного получше. Отсутствие афиш матчей и любой информации о хоккее в стране отражает такой малый интерес к хоккею. Правда в последнее время ситуация немного меняется. Будем надеяться на перемены к лучшему.

О приглашении во взрослую сборную?

Я дебютировал за основную сборную на третьем дивизионе ЧМ-2019. Не ожидал получить приглашение во взрослую команду, ведь там были и другие кандидаты повзрослей и поопытней. Я практически через месяц после окончания юниорского чемпионата в 2019 году уже играл за взрослую сборную Это были мои первые шаги в взрослом хоккее. Там скорости другие, надо быстрей действовать, поэтому было маленькое давление с непривычки. Но команда меня хорошо приняла, это мне помогло быстрей привыкнуть и настроиться на игру.

Влад в составе основной сборной (первый хоккеист слева в среднем ряду)

Планы на будущее?

Добиться чего-то в хоккее хочется, но я не буду каркать. Сначала надо выбраться из Люксембурга в Австрию или в Германию. А потом уже можно думать дальше. Мыслей бросить хоккей не было, но скажу, что иногда надоедает, когда что-то не получается какое-то время. Но так как у меня есть 2-3 свободных дня от тренировок, я отдыхаю, расслабляюсь, набираюсь новых сил и к новой неделе я опять готов работать на все 100%

Ugarte optimistic for Mexico

Mexican captain Fernando Ugarte during the Olympic Pre-Qualification Round 2 Group L in Barcelona

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Mexico’s captain, Fernando Ugarte, is one of the great survivors of the sport in his country. He first appeared in the national jersey in the U20 championship in 2001 and he’s been a fixture on the senior team since making his debut in a Division II Qualification campaign the following season. Along the way, he’s taken part in three previous Olympic qualifying tournaments, wearing the ‘C’ in World Championship play since 2007.

So, after a tournament that saw the Mexicans suffer heavy losses not only against the Netherlands and Spain, but also lowly Chinese Taipei last December in the Olympic Qualification process, he’s well placed to take the longer view. In Barcelona he was one of just three players who featured in last season’s World Championship campaign. That made a tournament in which Mexico was seeded three out of four even tougher.

Among the absentees in Spain were Hector Majul and Carlos Gomez, the team’s leading forwards at last year’s home-ice World Championship Division IIB event. First-choice goalie Andres de la Garma was also unavailable. Ugarte, one of his country’s longest-serving players, found himself adopting a role as mentor as well as defenceman.

“Sometimes it’s like I’m a coach, but on the ice,” he smiled. “The thing is, I love the game. I came to this tournament because I love being a part of it, I love to give some feedback and help the younger players.”

Despite his country’s difficulties in Barcelona, Ugarte is optimistic about the future.

“Some of our players here are part of a new generation,” he added. “Some are older, but it’s a first international tournament for a lot of players. There are good players but, especially when coming from U18 or U20 hockey, it’s an important step. It’s hard for them to know how these tournaments are until they play here.

“Hopefully in a few years we can get our country promoted. We’re well established in the Division IIB now, but we hope in a couple of years we will be able to fight for the gold medal with our emerging players.”

The challenge in Mexican hockey remains unchanged. In a tropical climate, in a country where football is king and baseball remains the closest pretender to the crown, it’s not easy for the game to garner much public attention. The player pool is close-knit, often relying on family connections to keep the flame burning.

“I started when I was 10 and Mexico got its first ice rink,” Ugarte said. “But my father used to play back in the 50s. I learned to skate with him, he introduced me to the sport. But in Mexico, nobody talks about hockey so it’s difficult to get support and sponsors.”

Without support, especially financial backing, trips to Europe and beyond for international tournaments can strain the resources of Mexico’s players. A recently established league boasts just four teams – colourful names like Ugarte’s own Teotihuacan Priests, the Mayan Astronomers and the Aztec Eagle Warriors speak of the country’s rich history – but could be a starting point for more.

“Right now it can be difficult to keep people coming back year after year,” Ugarte admitted. “Now we have this league, we’re starting to work with it. It’s still small but we want it to keep people in the game.”

Максим Андреев: «Мы стали первым официальным клубом в Португалии»

Автор материала: Виталий Нестеров – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Родившийся в Казахстане игрок сборной Португалии, Максим Андреев, специально для NToIH рассказал свою историю жизни, а также поведал много интересного о хоккее в стране, где нет ни одного катка.

Немножко о себе ?

— Родился я 27 февраля 1989 года в столице казахстанского хоккея, славном городе Усть-Каменогорск. Любовь к хоккею, начиная примерно с 5 лет, мне привил дедушка. Мы вместе ходили на матчи родного “Казцинк-Торпедо”, а зимой гоняли шайбу во дворе. Профессионально заниматься мне не довелось, родители говорили, что не было во мне заметно тяги к хоккею, но страсть к этому виду спорта была у меня всегда. После школы с одноклассниками зимой часто гоняли шайбу на катке. Я всегда играл в защите, но тянуло попробовать сыграть в воротах, была в этом какая-то своя романтика. Денег на покупку экипировки не было, поэтому первый опыт был получен в самодельных щитках, и основное правило дворового хоккея было “выше колена не бросать”.

Когда мне было 13, после одного из таких дворовых матчей ко мне подошёл один из зрителей, наблюдавших за игрой, и спросил не хочу ли я попробовать сыграть за команду одной из школ города, в нормальной экипировке. Конечно, я согласился. Это был Дмитрий Савин, помощник главного тренера команды школы № 7. Я пришёл к ним на первую тренировку и меня взяли в команду под руководством главного тренера Сидорова Николая Ивановича. Команда эта была создана на средства простых работяг местной теплоэлектростанции, но все необходимое у нас было. В это же время я являлся лидером фанатского движения ПХК “Казцинк-Торпедо”. Кричалки, дуделки и лица раскрашенные в цвета клуба, в общем, романтика.

Перед одной из тренировок, ко мне подошёл тренер и сообщил, что сегодня я еду на тренировку со сборной командой той самой УК ТЭЦ, ибо один из вратарей травмирован. Это был мой первый выход на лёд во Дворце спорта. Было мне тогда лет 15-16. Тренировка прошла успешно, и теперь я тренировался и со школьной командой, и вместе со сборной УК ТЭЦ

Самый первый матч ?

Помню мой первый выход на лёд во взрослом чемпионате имени нашего легендарного Бориса Александрова. Играли на главном льду дворца спорта против команды “Ветераны Казцинка”. Можете представить себе эмоции 16-ти летнего пацана, который выходит играть на большую арену первый раз в жизни против 37-45летних мужиков, некоторые из которых только в прошлом году закончили профессиональную карьеру и чьи фамилии мы с группой поддержки скандировали с трибун. Отчётливо помню момент, когда один из хоккеистов ломает клюшку об лёд от досады, что не смог реализовать выход 1 на 1 со мной. Игра получилась провальной, мои мужики все-таки были любителями, и статистика бросков в том матче была 83-6 в пользу команды ветеранов. Нас по нескольку минут подряд закрывали в нашей зоне, разыгрывая “до верного”, выводя защитника на бросок, когда пара игроков уже неслась на добивание. Итоговый счёт игры был 0-23. Самое разгромное поражение в моей жизни, которое тем не менее я вспоминаю с теплотой.

Почему Португалия ?

В 11 классе я параллельно работал фотографом в одном из фотосалонов города, что помогло мне к концу учебного года накопить сумму, достаточную для поездки в Европу. Почему выбрал именно Португалию, честно говоря, не помню. Но в итоге приехал на 2 недели отдохнуть в Лиссабон. Без преувеличения, через неделю я понял, что я влюблен в эту прекрасную маленькую страну. Мне нравились открытые и добродушные люди, мягкий климат, шикарная португальская кухня, самобытная архитектура, богатая природа… В общем, все, что меня окружало. По возвращении домой, на семейном совете я сказал, что хочу попробовать остаться жить в Португалии. Мама меня поддержала, сказав, что если хочется, то нужно попробовать. Я совершеннолетний, и она постаралась хорошо меня воспитать. Поэтому документы из университета, в который планировал поступать в Усть-Каменогорске, я забрал, и через 6 месяцев, в феврале 2008 года, вновь стоял в аэропорту Лиссабона, на пороге новой жизни.

Что было сначала ?

Поехал я туда один, но в Португалии я познакомился со многими украинцами, они и помогли мне устроиться на первую работу – летом я собирал фрукты в садах. Работа непростая, по 9 часов в день под палящим солнцем. Работы никогда не боялся, потом были и стройки, и работа официантом на южном побережье страны, и 3 года на цементной фабрике, где, начав с лопаты и метлы, через какое-то время стал бригадиром. Кстати, первый язык, который я выучил в Португалии, был именно украинский. Жил примерно в 150км от Лиссабона, в маленьком, но очень красивом городке Алкобаса. В 2012 случайно через соцсети познакомился с парнем из Хабаровска, который рассказал мне о том, что в Лиссабоне существует инлайн-хоккей.

Лиссабоне существует инлайн-хоккей

Как началась хоккейная карьера ?

С тех пор раз в неделю я начал ездить после работы на тренировки в Лиссабон. 300км пробега, и все это ради часа тренировки. Непросто было приспособиться к роликам после коньков. Как оказалось, неимоверно трудно защищать ворота, не имея возможности скользить. Команда называлась “Oeiras Sharks”, меня там хорошо поддерживали и я обретал уверенность. Параллельно я смог поступить в Политехнический техникум по специальности “Информационные системы и обслуживание сетей”. Думал, что там где-то 90% терминов на английском и мне будет проще. В целом, я не ошибся, но через год обучения возникли разногласия с начальством на фабрике, и меня “под шумок” попросили написать “по собственному”. Обучение в Политехе пришлось заморозить, потому что обучение недешевое, а денег было не так много. Найти работу в маленьком городе очень сложно, и я решил переехать в Лиссабон, поближе к хоккею. Меня приютил у себя на полгода один из друзей, живущих в Лиссабоне. Хоккей все это время был и развивался, товарищеские матчи с другими инлайн-клубами, зимой периодические вылазки на временные ледовые катки, чтобы немного поиграть там. Обычно они совсем небольшие по размеру и борта не выдерживают броска шайбы.

Luso Lynx

О Luso Lynx ?

По факту Luso — команда по хоккею на льду, однако тренируемся мы на паркете на роликах. Все наши игроки играют в других инлайн-клубах, которые участвуют в местном чемпионате. Клуб Luso существует с 2017 года, однако в ноябре 2019 года клуб существует официально, то есть все документы, все налоги, страховки. Мы официально стали первым зарегистрированным португальским клубом. Благодаря официальной регистрации команды нам стало проще сотрудничать с правительством, с Федерацией зимних видов спорта. Тем более, если мы хотим играть в больших турнирах IIHF, то нужно же по бумагам иметь команду, которую ты представляешь, за которую ты играешь. Все благодаря двум людям – нашему тренеру и его жене, которая является сейчас генменеджером Luso и сборной. Наш тренер Джим Алдред – бывший игрок НХЛ, канадец, тренер с большим опытом.

Наши игроки имеют работу: кто-то маляр, кто-то программист, комментатор, бухгалтер, кто-то вообще студент. А я с другом год назад открыл транспортную фирму, и работаем, растём. Занимаемся турпоездками, трансферами, работаем с Uber.

О лиге Андалусии ?

Мы играем в этой лиге третий сезон. Это чемпионат региона Андалусии среди испанских клубов, плюс там играем мы и иногда там принимала участие даже финская команда. Играем мы в Гранаде, весь турнир проходит там, поскольку там аж две ледовые арены.

О сборной Португалии ?

Сборная Португалии существует, да. И в ней играют не только игроки Luso. На важные матчи и турниры, например, на Development Cup, приезжает “десант” португальских хоккеистов, играющих в Швейцарии, у них намного больше опыта. Так что у нас хорошая команда, мы практически готовы к серьезным турнирам. Португалия — член IIHF и мы практически готовы к настоящим турнирам.

2 место в Кубке развития

Об интересе португальцев ?

Для Португалии этот вид спорта, конечно, новый, но именно поэтому есть огромный интерес. У нас есть люди, которые хотят отдать детей в этот вид спорта, но огромная проблема в том, что в Португалии нет катков. Когда появится ледовая площадка, произойдет невероятный скачок вперед.

О гражданстве ?

Паспорта, как такового, нет, он просто не нужен. У меня есть гражданство, карточка. Ну, да, я официальный гражданин Португалии, только по карточке. Карточка — национальное удостоверение, которого достаточно для передвижения по стране и Европе. Понятие паспорт у нас одно — это загранпаспорт. Для гражданина ЕС загранпаспорт делается за 3 часа в любом аэропорту. А пока я никуда заграницу вне ЕС не собираюсь, загранпаспорт мне не нужен, достаточно этой карточки. Казахстан не разрешает двойное гражданство, поэтому пришлось от него отказаться. Самое смешное, что когда я делал карточку гражданина Португалии, местные не могли понять как это по национальности я русский, но паспорт казахский, да еще и место рождения был Казахстан. Я им долго объяснял как это возможно. А сейчас у меня на карточке красуется на португальском языке фраза “Место рождения — СССР”.

Интересная история напоследок ?

В январе 2015 года посол Чехии в Португалии пригласил своих друзей из Чехии к нам поиграть в хоккей. И вот приезжает два автобуса чехов. Значит, один автобус с чехами, а второй просто битком забит чешским пивом, потому что маленькая пивоварня в Чехии проспонсировала им эту поездку. Это было самое лучшее пиво в мире, которое я пил. Затем у нас было застолье накануне одного из матча и вратарь их, так сказать, получил травму, если вы понимаете о чем я (смеется). И мне пришлось встать на ворота на одну игру за команду Чехии

Americans win Rivalry Series

Hilary Knight (right, with Alex Carpenter and Dani Cameranesi), who topped the points race en route to gold at the 2019 Women’s Worlds, led the way again as the U.S. women won four out of five Rivalry Series against Canada

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

February looms large on the international women’s hockey calendar, and the U.S. showed it’s still the big-time favourite heading into the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Canada (31 March to April 10 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia).

The Americans finished up with four wins in the five-game 2019-20 Rivalry Series against Canada. Relying on speed and puck possession, coach Bob Corkum’s team dictated the play and outscored their cross-border foes 15-9. The U.S. are the defending Olympic champions and have won five straight Women’s Worlds.

Meanwhile, in the Euro Hockey Tour playoffs, Finland triumphed with three straight victories, blanking host Sweden 4-0 in the final. The Finns made history with a silver medal on home ice at the 2019 Women’s Worlds in Espoo.

U.S. superstar Hilary Knight led that tournament with 11 points (7+4=11), and the two-time Women’s Worlds MVP (2015, 2016) paced the Rivalry Series with three goals and an assist. Alex Carpenter (2+2=4), who was profiled by the New York Times prior to Saturday’s 4-3 series-closing win in Anaheim, and Kelly Pannek (0+4=4) also had four points.

Of Knight’s continuing prowess, Corkum said: “Not surprised at all. She’s been doing it for a long, long time. She’s one of the many, many leaders we have in that dressing room, and she certainly answered the bell.”

Victoria Bach was the top-scoring Canadian (2+1=3), and 2018 Olympic MVP Melodie Daoust and Halifax native Jill Saulnier also totalled three points apiece (1+2=3). Bach, who was the 2019 CWHL rookie of the year with the Markham Thunder, won U18 gold in 2014. However, the slick 23-year-old forward, a former Boston University star, has yet to make her official IIHF debut.

In a worrying reminder of Espoo, Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin sat out the concluding 4-3 overtime loss at the Honda Center with an undisclosed injury. The lone woman to score in three Olympic finals, Poulin, 28, only hit the ice for a grand total of 4:44 at the last Women’s Worlds, where Canada settled for its first bronze medal ever.

Both teams struggled to convert with the power play during the Rivalry Series. Special teams will be particularly crucial for new Canadian coach Troy Ryan’s team as it quests for its first Women’s World gold medal since 2012.

Let’s take a look at the highlights.

Rivalry Series

The Rivalry Series, now in its second year, kicked off with a pair of December games. The U.S won Game One (14 December) 4-1. Amanda Kessel scored the winner and added an assist, and goalie Alex Cavallini (nee Rigsby) shone with 31 saves in Hartford.

In Game Two (17 December) in Moncton, Carpenter’s first-period goal lifted the Americans to a 2-1 win. Goalie Aerin Frankel (Northeastern University) won her national team debut with 27 saves. U.S. newcomer Abby Roque (Wisconsin) scored a goal in each December game.

Game Three (3 February) in Victoria attracted a capacity crowd of 7,006 to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, reminiscent of the vibe during the 2019 World Juniors. Bach sent the Canadian fans home happy when she tallied the 3-2 overtime winner on a beautiful set-up by Nova Scotia native Blayre Turnbull.

“It was so exciting,” said Canadian veteran Brianne Jenner, who opened the scoring on a shorthanded breakaway. “Every goal tonight, the bench just went wild. Especially when it’s one of our younger players, to see them get a goal, we’re pretty excited.”

In Victoria, Knight got her 200th career national team point on a second-period power play goal. She would play an even bigger role in Game Four (5 February) in Vancouver.

This was the first time the Americans had played there since the 2010 Olympic final, and Knight, 30, hadn’t forgotten that bitter 2-0 loss. First, she fed Hayley Scamurra for the winner, and then she shushed the partisan crowd after adding a late empty-netter to clinch the Rivalry Series with a 3-1 victory. It all happened in front of Knight’s childhood idol, Cammi Granato, who had welcomed the U.S. team for dinner at her North Vancouver house the night before.

Asked afterwards about what she recalled about the back-and-forth with Canadian fans following the Olympic gold medal game, Knight didn’t hold back: “We were told to go back to our country and die. So I took it pretty personally. It’s salt from 10 years ago. We could play these guys 100 days out of the year and it would still be the same. And I think that’s what the fans feel – they feel that fabric of the competitive rivalry.”

The blinding speed of the U.S. trio of captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, and Dani Cameranesi gave the Canadians fits as the series wore on.

Game Five in Anaheim (8 February) was far from a formality. With an attendance of 13,320, it was the largest U.S. crowd ever to witness a national women’s team game. The previous record of 10,158 was set on 6 January 2002 when the U.S. beat Canada 7-3 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

Megan Bozek potted the 4-3 power-play winner just 42 seconds into overtime. Canadian starter Genevieve Lacasse made a stellar glove save on Bozek’s initial howitzer and then flailed Dominik Hasek-style to sweep the puck out of the crease. But Lacasse couldn’t recover in time to stop the hard-shooting American blueliner’s follow-up.

Monique Lamoureux-Morando tipped in the 3-3 equalizer for her first Rivalry Series goal with 11 minutes left. She is vying to solidify her return with the Stars and Stripes, along with her sister Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. The 30-year-old twins took time off to have children after leading the U.S. in the 3-2 shootout win over Canada in the 2018 Olympics final.

The U.S. gained momentum as this series went on, and if the shots on goal totals in the last two games (26-12 and 30-20) are any indication, Canada’s netminding needs to be elite if the Americans are to be dethroned in Halifax.

Euro Hockey Tour Playoffs

Ranked third in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking as the best European team, Finland lived up to its advance billing in this six-nation tournament. Coach Pasi Mustonen’s team had a perfect 3-0 record and a 15-3 goal difference in the final event of the current Euro Hockey Tour, held in Tranas, Sweden.

The Finns never trailed, beating Germany 3-1, Switzerland 8-2, and Sweden 4-0 in the final. Forward Petra Nieminen led the tournament in scoring (3+5=8). The 20-year-old is enjoying a breakout season with the SDHL’s Lulea HF (24+30=54 in 34 games for third in league scoring). Established stars Susanna Tapani (1+7=8) and Michelle Karvinen (4+3=7) placed second and third respectively in the points race.

All things considered, coming second was a worthy feat for Sweden. 2019 was tumultuous for the Damkronorna.

The Swedes were shockingly relegated for the first time ever at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship after a 3-2 loss to Japan left them in ninth place. The blue-and-yellow women’s players also staged a protest in search of better treatment from the Swedish federation. That resulted in the cancellation of the annual 4 Nations Cup, originally slated for Lulea in November.

It wasn’t a totally consistent performance for the hosts. The Russians outshot coach Ylva Martinsen’s troops 29-19 in their opener, but goalie Sara Grahn’s strong performance helped the hosts to a 3-1 win. However, the Czech Republic’s Natalia Mlynkova scored twice, including the shootout winner, to lift her nation to a 2-1 victory over Sweden. Czech goalie Klara Peslarova sparkled in this tournament, surrendering just two goals on 53 shots in her two starts for a 0.96 GAA and 96.2 save percentage.

That said, the Swedes are favoured to secure promotion back to the top division in April. They will face Austria, the Netherlands, Norway Slovakia, and host France in Angers in April’s Division I Group A tournament.

The resurgent Russians topped Switzerland 3-1 in the third-place game, sparked by a pair of assists from team scoring leader Anna Shokhina (1+4=5). The Swiss are still looking for answers after the post-PyeongChang retirements of key players like goalie Florence Schelling and defender Christine Meier.

Long-time Czech captain Alena Mills stepped up with the winning goal and added an assist as her team edged Germany 2-1 for fifth place. There was a significant historical highlight in Transa for the German women, however.

Andrea Lanzl became the all-time leader in international appearances among German national team players (both male and female) when she suited up against Finland. It was her 322nd international game, surpassing Udo Kiessling (321), who was also the first German NHLer in 1982-83 with the Minnesota North Stars. Lanzl, a 32-year-old forward, has played in eight top-level Women’s Worlds, starting in 2005, and two Olympics (2006, 2014).

IIHF Council Member Franz Reindl, the President of the German Ice Hockey Association, extended his congratulations: “Andrea Lanzl has achieved a milestone in ice hockey, but also in German sport, thanks to her attitude, great successes, and sporting and human qualities that are revealed through the record number of 322 international matches.”

Swedes perfect at home

Sweden’s Magnus Hellberg led all goaltenders in save percentage

By Derek O’Brien – IIHF.com

The third leg of the 2019/20 Euro Hockey Tour stopped in Stockholm, Sweden for the Beijer Hockey Games. The host Swedes took the maximum nine points from three games. They were followed by the Czech Republic with five points, Finland with three and Russia with one.

Entering the weekend’s final game on Sunday night, Finland had an opportunity to beat Sweden and win the tournament. However, before at crowd of 12,166 at the Ericsson Globe, the Swedes built up a 3-0 lead in the first period before cruising to a 5-1 win. Linus Johansson scored the game’s first and last goals, while five Swedes topped the tournament in points. Mathias Brome and Marcus Nilsson had four points each while Samuel Fagemo, Lukas Bengtsson, Fredrik Handemark and Finn Julius Junttila had three each. Handemark, captain of the SHL’s Malmo Redhawks, is the EHT’s overall scoring leader this season with six points in nine games. 

Fagemo’s goal against Finland was his second for the Swedish senior men’s national team in as many career games. After winning the Champions Hockey League final with Frolunda Gothenburg on Tuesday, the top scorer of this year’s World Junior Championship didn’t play in Sweden’s first game against the Czechs on Thursday but scored his first goal in his men’s national team debut on Saturday in a 5-2 win over Russia.

“Everything’s happened so quickly and I’ve just tried to enjoy it the best I can,” Fagemo told hockeysverige.se before Sunday’s game. “It’s fun to score goals and it was great to contribute, and I hope another good game can help us win on home ice.”

Fagemo isn’t the only former World Junior player to score his first two senior men’s international goals this weekend. Earlier on Sunday, the Czechs secured second place with a 4-3 shootout win over Russia. Defenceman Jan Kostalek of Sparta Prague scored twice in the third period, including the equalizer at 59:58 to force overtime.

“I took a shot, Keba (Jakub Jerabek) drove to the net and deflected it on goal, the puck bounced off someone, it came back to me at the top of the circle and all I did was take another whack at it and it went in,” the 24-year-old told hokej.cz after the game. “I was getting lots of shots, so it’s nice that they’re finally going in for me.” 

Swede Magnus Hellberg and Czech Dominik Furch were the only goalies to win two games over the weekend, and the pair dominated all goaltending categories, finishing 1-2 in goals-against average, save percentage and saves. 

Finland’s three points all came from their opening 3-0 win over Russia, which took place in Helsinki. In his home rink, IFK Helsinki goalie Frans Tuohimaa made 18 saves to record the tournament’s only shutout.

The single point gained in the shootout loss to the Czechs was Russia’s only in the tournament after two straight regulation losses, but denied them a chance to force a three-way tie for second. Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk forward Pavel Poryadin, 23, scored two of the team’s five goals over the weekend.

With three of four legs complete, Sweden and the Czech Republic are now tied for first place in this season’s Euro Hockey Tour with 16 points each, followed by Finland with 14 and Russia with eight. The last stop will be in the Czech Republic on the first weekend in May, just before the start of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. For that event, the rosters of the four teams will look very similar to the ones they take to Switzerland.

Europe’s top four hockey nations use the Euro Hockey Tour to prepare their men’s national teams for the annual World Championships and the quadrennial Winter Olympics.

Austria, Slovakia and Switzerland win other events

Meanwhile, at the Kaufland Cup in Poprad, Slovakia, the hosts beat Belarus 4-3 and the Russian B team 2-1 to finish first. Russia B finished second with three points and Belarus lost both games.

“We played as a team. The players battled for each other,” Slovak head coach Craig Ramsay told hockeyslovakia.sk following the last game of the tournament on Saturday, in which his team scored twice in the first 13 minutes, then held on to beat the Russians. “I think it was our best game of the season.” 

The Osterreich Cup took place in Klagenfurt, Austria, with the host Austrians finishing first by beating Denmark 3-2 in the final on an overtime goal by Ali Wukovitz. Denmark never trailed in regulation time and held a 32-22 edge in shots but Bernhard Starkbaum was solid in the Austrian net. The game for third place was a defensive affair, with France beat Norway 2-1 in a shootout.

Finally, Switzerland won two games against Germany in a series called Prospects Games, in which each team tested young players with limited previous experience with their men’s national teams. With no players over 25 on their roster, the Swiss won 4-2 in Herisau and 2-1 in a shootout in Olten.

Six international stars who should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame

Anatoli Firsov

By James Benesh – Hockey News

The 2018 and 2019 Hall of Fame inductions of 1970s international superstars Alexander Yakushev and Vaclav Nedomansky – and especially the 2016 induction of Sergei Makarov, arguably the world’s most talented player in the early 1980s after Wayne Gretzky – were received warmly by historians and international fans. There is a renewed sense of optimism that a few more previously overlooked international greats will get their due in the coming years.
If you’re looking for the best international players of all-time who didn’t play in the NHL during their prime, look no further than the 30-year period from 1960 to 1990. That’s because since 1990, most of the best European players at any given time have been in the NHL – and no all-time greats have built a Hall of Fame resume outside of the world’s top league. Before 1960, though there was a burgeoning international scene, the caliber of play was not up to NHL standards. Too many nations’ hockey programs were in their infancies, so pioneers such as Vsevolod Bobrov, Vladamir Zabrodsky and Josef Malecek were not close to the world’s best players and miss this list as a result. The six players below, however, have resumes that can stand up to the Hall of Fame standard and thus deserve serious consideration.

All of these international greats had extensive careers in their home country, but their most important work was done in international tournaments. Most fans consider the Canada Cups, World Cups and 1998 through 2014 Olympics to be the only “best-on-best” tournaments, and technically that’s true, but before the top European players arrived in the NHL, any major tournament was still best-on-best to them, save for a few Swedes and Finns already in the NHL – only Canada and the U.S. weren’t sending their best. (For the purposes of this story, the World Championship, Olympics, Summit Series and Canada Cups are considered major tournaments.)

Anatoli Firsov
(USSR, 1958-74)
A phenom and a favorite of legendary coach Anatoly Tarasov thanks to his dedication to training, Firsov almost has too many accomplishments to name. He was a six-time Soviet league all-star, three-time MVP (the award only existed in the second half of his career), voted top forward in three major tournaments, led four tournaments in scoring and finished with 117 points in 67 international games. Seth Martin, a star goalie for Canada in the 1960s, said no other Soviet player could compare with Firsov. Indeed, it was the Soviets’ 1960s dominance that fueled Canada’s complaints of, “but those aren’t our best players, let’s see them go against our pros” which led to the 1972 Summit Series, and Firsov was the key to that dominance. (He didn’t play in 1972 in protest of Tarasov’s ouster as coach of the national team). Firsov was a versatile forward who could play the wing and center, and he was not deficient in any area: he was both the fastest skater and fastest thinker on the ice, he could score as well as set up teammates, he played a powerful game down low, was responsible defensively, killed penalties and could hold his own physically. Describing his playing style, he once said, “If the opponents treated me fairly, I never touched them. But if they played dirty, I always kept my stick on the level of their teeth,” while making a cross-checking motion.

Boris Mikhailov

Boris Mikhailov
(USSR, 1962-81)
No Soviet star has epitomized the “Canadian” style of play like Mikhailov. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet described him as “tough, mean, speedy, probably not flashy, but without doubt the sweet dream of any coach.” Mikhailov, who captained the Soviets, was physical, had boundless energy, and could be downright dirty – he had famous battles with Canadian players over the years. Tarasov recounted a World Championship in the 1970s: “Mikhailov really went after the Canadians the way they went after our players and beat them all over the rink…Canadians became much less aggressive every time he was on the ice.” Even though he was seen as the lesser-skilled grunt of his line with Vladimir Petrov and Valeri Kharlamov, Mikhailov was loaded with high-end skill.

Jiri Holocek

Jiri Holecek
(CSSR, 1961-81)
They called him ‘Kouzelnik,’ meaning “magician.” Many believe Holecek, not Vladislav Tretiak, is the greatest European goalie of all-time. The evidence in favor: Holecek was named the best goaltender or all-star six times at major tournaments, all of which Tretiak was also competing in. That’s the same number of similar honors won by Tretiak, and Holecek did this with a much less dominant team in front of him. This is not to say the Czechoslovaks were unsuccessful, though – they won three World Championship gold medals with Holecek, plus a silver and bronze at the Olympics. For his part, Holecek agrees with his supporters, feigning no modesty. He called Tretiak “average” and said he’d only be about fifth-best in the Czech league. After watching Canada’s Martin during the ’60s, Holecek adopted the spread kneeling position and achieved great success with it. The 1970s Soviets were his favorite opponents because of how technical and tricky they were. He loved to watch their plays develop and predict who they’d eventually pass to for the finishing move – his mobility served him very well against this style of play.

Valeri Vasiliev

Valeri Vasiliev
(USSR, 1966-84)
Before the emergence of Slava Fetisov, Vasiliev was the Soviet Union’s top defenseman, and it wasn’t close. He was a Soviet league all-star eight times in nine seasons from 1973 to 1981, winning top defenseman five times in that span. During that same period, he was also named to five World Championship all-star teams and was named best defenseman three times. Although he posted respectable offensive stats, it was defensively and physically where he shone. Firsthand accounts from his time are rife with descriptions of his punishing physical play and smart technical defense. The excellent international chronicle, Kings of the Ice, details it well: “Strongman Vasiliev eventually transformed into a refined technician. He was able to determine quite well when to get physical with his adversary and when to concentrate more on the puck, when to forecheck aggressively and perhaps even con his rival into skating alongside him for a while until the right time came to smash him into the boards and when to recognize an opportunity to steal the puck using nothing but his stick…he truly enjoyed making his opponents feel like rabbits facing a boa constrictor.”

Aleksandr Maltsev

Aleksandr Maltsev
(USSR, 1967-84)
Maltsev, a tiny finesse center who could also play either wing, was a fixture on Dynamo in the Soviet league from 1967 to 1984, finishing top-six in scoring five times, with one scoring title, seven all-star teams and one MVP award (he was a five-time finalist). He was even more impressive internationally, where he led three major tournaments in scoring and finished third in points three other times. He totalled 198 points in 150 international games and was named to a remarkable six all-star teams. He was somewhat of a free spirit – not a big fan of strict on-ice systems, he preferred creativity and unpredictability. Maltsev was not a big publicity seeker either, and his name quickly faded once he retired, but his talent and accomplishments are worthy of the game’s highest honor.

Vladimir Martinec

Vladimir Martinec
(CSSR, 1967-85)
Although a pure winger and not a center, you could say he was the Czechoslovaks’ answer to Maltsev: a small finesse player, born in the same year, with similar domestic achievements: seven times top-six in CSSR league scoring, one scoring title and four MVP awards. Internationally, it was difficult for any non-Soviet to rack up massive point totals and achievements, but he still managed to lead one tournament in scoring, finishing top-six four times in all. Martinec scored 133 points in 117 international games, making four tournament all-star teams. Known as ‘The Fox,’ Martinec’s calling cards were creativity and resiliency. As Jyrki Laelma recounts in his 1979 book, Winter Sports Heroes, “Martinec’s significance is demonstrated by the fact that every time the Soviets had difficulties with Czechoslovakia, he has been the man who has been taken out first. In 1973, Vasiliev hit him in the neck with his stick and he was carried off on a stretcher; in 1974, Gennady Tsygankov cross-checked Martinec in the face; in 1975, Vladimir Petrov butt-ended him in the mouth. After that, (Czechoslovakia coach) Jan Starsi had had enough: ‘The Soviets always talk about how cleanly they play compared to the professionals. But I would like to know why Martinec always ends up in a hospital when CSSR is leading a game versus the Soviets.’ ”

Q & A With Bhuban Pathak

Bhuban Pathak Chairman of Nepal Ice Hockey Association

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Nepal & Ice Hockey “Yeah” it does not sound right, but a enthusiastic group of people are introducing the game to the Nepalese people. We had the pleasure of talking to the Chairman of Nepal Ice Hockey Association Bhuban Pathak.

Where did this idea to bring Ice Hockey to Nepal start?

Idea to bring ice hockey started 5 years ago. We used to watch various Ice hockey tournaments on television for a long time. Since Ice hockey is a dynamic and frequent physical contact sports, and ice hockey being an adventurous sports its appeal in Nepal has grown over the years.

Does Nepal have any history with the game of Ice Hockey?

Hockey has been a popular sport in Nepal but Ice hockey has no history in Nepal.

How was the Nepal Ice Hockey Association created and why was it so important to join the IIHF at this time?

Nepal Ice hockey association was created by passionate sports personalities that want this sports to grow in our country. It is very important to join IIHF because we believe that it will help develop the sports in our country. IIHF technical support in issues regarding ice hockey and with participation from our side we strongly believe that ice hockey will see an immense growth in Nepal in coming years.

Nepal Logo

Have you spoken to the sports leadership of Nepal if so what was their response?

Yes, we have been in constant contact with different sports leadership in Nepal. Their response has been positive towards ice hockey development.

Ice Hockey is one of the most expensive sports to play, where will the Association find the financial funds to develop and build infrastructure to play the game?

We have been in touch with Nepal’s government and also with IIHF and other countries to develop and build infrastructure in Nepal.

Given that ice hockey is so new to the country how are you introducing the game to the public?

On the occasion of Visit Nepal Year 2020-Feb 14 there is a friendly ice hockey international match on Gokyo lakes of Mount Everest. This has helped the popularity of this sports among the general public. From our side we been in touch with different schools, associations and media to further popularizing Ice hockey towards the young generation.

When do you think an arena will be built in Nepal?

We are planning to build an ice hockey rink in Nepal and some business man are trying to build it in Kathmandu and Pokhara city, but Nepal Ice Hockey Association have don’t have enough funds for it.
We are trying to search donation to Build it.

Do you know of any players with Nepalese descent playing outside of the country?

So far we have no knowledge about this.

How soon will we see a game between India and Nepal, club or national team level?

We are planning to organize an international ice hockey tournament by next year 2021.

Where do you expect Nepal to be in the next 5 years from IIHF status and participating at Challenge Cup of Asia or World Championships?

We believe that in next five year Nepal will have a good Ice hockey team. Certainly, we plan to participate in international tournament in the near future.

Nepal invite you and yours friends to country of Mount Everest Nepal.

2022 Olympic Ice Hockey Qualification Round 3 Round-up

Poland earned a dramatic victory over hosts Kazakhstan to advance to the final round of Beijing 2022 ice hockey qualification

The final match of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Olympic pre-qualification round three Group H event was a head-to-head battle to decide which team progressed.

It followed both Kazakhstan and Poland having won their early matches against the Netherlands and Ukraine at the Barys Arena.

Kazakhstan were stunned in the seventh minute of the match when Bartosz Ciura gave Poland a 1-0 lead.

Martin Przygodzki doubled Poland’s advantage early in the second period, but two strikes from Dustin Boyd in a five-minute period saw Kazakhstan hit back to level the match.

Poland regained the lead early in the final period when Maciej Urbanowicz found the net.

Kazakhstan were unable to muster a response in the closing minutes, as Poland secured the 3-2 win to top the group and reach the final round of Beijing 2022 qualification.

Ukraine finished the group stage on a high by beating the Netherlands 3-0 to place third in the standings.

Britain and Hungary met in a decisive match in Group J in Nottingham with the winner also taking their place in the final round of Olympic qualifying.

Hungary took the lead early in the second period through Bence Stipsicz before Csanad Erdely doubled their lead later in the period.

Early in the third period, Britain gave themselves hope when Matthew Myers reduced the arrears to make it 2-1.

Five minutes later Janos Hari restored the Hungarians two goal lead before Istvan Sofron made it 4-1 and sealed Hungary’s place in the final qualifying round.

Estonia and Romania have already been eliminated, but completed their Group J campaign by playing each other in a dead rubber which the Romanians won 7-3.

Hosts Slovenia and Japan also met in a crunch Group G qualifier in Jesenice with Slovenia running out 6-2 winners in an entertaining affair.

Shogo Nakajima gave Japan the lead in the first period before Jan Urbas levelled for Slovenia in the second period to make it 1-1.

The hosts got off to a flying start early in period three with two goals in two minutes from Ken Ograjensek and Robert Sabolic making it 3-1.

Goals flew in during the final five minutes as Slovenia initially made it 4-1 through Rok Ticar before Nakajima scored his second of the game a minute later to give Japan hope at 4-2.

Ticar scored his second of the game 30 seconds later to make it five before Miha Zajc rounded off a convincing final quarter for the hosts to make the final score 6-2.

Miklos Rajna was the star in net with a 47-plus save performance.  Hungary defeat Great Britain 4-1 to secure a place in the Final Olympic Qualification.

Poland, Hungary and Slovenia will now progress to the final qualifier.

Each of the top teams from the final three qualifying groups will go forward to the Beijing Olympics.

Hosts China are already assured of a place and will be joined by the top eight teams in the world rankings following last year’s World Championships.

They are, in order, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, United States, Germany and Switzerland.

Kyrgyzstan’s first female team shatters stereotypes

By Reuters

A group of girls from a remote village in Kyrgyzstan have come together to form the central Asian country’s first all-female ice hockey team — Shapak.

Based in the northern village of Otradnoe, 400km (249 miles) east of the capital Bishkek, the team of some 15 schoolgirls began training three years ago on a plot of farmland belonging to their coach with whatever equipment they could muster.

“In the winter, I create an ice rink. This is already the sixth year I’ve done it, I use my allotment all year round,” the team’s coach Salamat Abdyrakhmanov told Reuters TV.

News of the team reached as far as Switzerland and they soon had professional hockey pads thanks to donations from the Kyrgyz community living there.

With no other female teams to play against, Shapak honed their skills against male teams and the injuries suffered by some of the players left parents concerned.

“I was against it at the beginning, only recently I forbade her from playing,” Aynura Zhasyrkeeva, the mother of one of the players, said.

A puck hit her in the eye and she received a concussion, but she’s better now. Now she’s come to play again.”

Having shattered gender stereotypes in the country where the sport is dominated by men, the female team is now a firm fixture in local leagues.

“My classmate, the coach’s daughter, suggested I come and try to play,” goalkeeper Zarina Karabaeva said.

“I tried going in goal and because I was good at it and they made me goalkeeper … it never even occurred to me that I would ever play hockey.”

(Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Korean juniors bounce back

The Korean players celebrate with the winners’ trophy after winning the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II Group B on home ice in Gangneung

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Offense wins games, defence wins championships. Korea’s juniors showed that they have absorbed that lesson with a perfect record on home ice at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II Group B. In a high-scoring tournament, the Koreans managed a solid 20 goals – but allowed just six to freeze out the opposition and win all five at the Gangneung Hockey Centre, host venue at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Not surprisingly, goalie Hyung Chan Kim was a key figure. He stopped 94.17% of the shots he faced for a GAA of 1.07. His shutout in the 1-0 win over China was pivotal: had that game gone the other way, the gold medals may well have gone with it. But Kim kept the Chinese at bay, and Minwan Kang’s goal midway through the second period was enough to secure the verdict.

Kim, 19, is one of the youngsters benefitting from opportunities to play outside of Korea. After beginning the season on the books at Anyang Halla, a leading Korean team in the Asia League, he has since taken up an opportunity to play in the Czech Republic with Hvezda Prague in the fourth tier.

Another player with experience in Central Europe is defenceman Maejin Lee. He had two seasons in Slovakia with MHK Dubnica and was named an alternate captain for this, his first tournament at U20 level. The 19-year-old has also made four appearances for the Korean men’s national team. In Gangneung he was the pick of the blue liners: 6 (2+4) points and a +10 rating – the best in the tournament – from his five appearances.

Not only did Lee impress in defence, he also produced a crucial goal in Monday’s victory over Croatia. Although Korea ultimately finished six points clear of the pack with a 100% record, it still had a job to do in Monday’s final game against Croatia. Defeat would have given the visitor top spot and denied the host nation an instant return to Division IIA after relegation a year ago.

The early stages went according to plan, with Jinhyuk Mun’s fourth-minute goal putting Korea in front. But Croatia would not be shaken off so easily. The score was still 1-0 at the second intermission, and Sven Paulovic tied the scores at the start of the third. The teams traded two more goals before Lee potted the game-winner on 52:13. It was a little bit special as well: the defenceman collected the puck from his own goalie and set off down the ice. Evading two opponents in the left-hand channel, he moved inside and fired off a wrister from between the hashmarks to spark huge celebrations from his team-mates. A late effort from Hyosuk Kim sealed a 4-2 victory as Korea claimed gold on home ice.

While Korea was all about defence, the Netherlands and Croatia boasted some impressive firepower. Both countries scored more than 30 goals in their five games, and both were bolstered by big wins against an Israel team that found the competition tough in Gangneung. The Dutch won 16-1 and went on to take silver; Croatia had a 13-0 verdict and supplied the two leading scorers in the tournament. Dominic Canic was nominated top forward after posting 16 (4+12) points from five games; Leo Selitaj wasn’t far behind with 14 (6+8). China, too, overwhelmed the Israelis on its way to a bronze medal. All three countries were tied on nine points.

At the bottom, Israel finished dead last after allowing 50 goals in its five games. Belgium came fifth by virtue of its 4-1 victory over the Israelis on Monday morning.

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