Year: 2021 (Page 1 of 8)

The future is female: Kenya’s Ice Lions

By Liz Montroy –Women Hockey Life

If you were to stop by the Solar Ice Rink in Nairobi’s Panari Sky Centre on a Wednesday night or Saturday morning—pre-COVID-19, that is—you’d come across the Kenya Ice Lions playing three-on-three shinny on the small, 32 by 12 metre ice surface.

Amongst the players you’d probably spot Faith Sihoho, who is currently the only adult Kenyan female engaged in the sport.

“She was one of three women players who turned up fairly regularly,” Canadian Tim Colby, who has been helping the Kenya Federation of Ice Sports (KEFIS) build their hockey program, said of first meeting Sihoho when she picked up the sport in 2017. “They stood out not just because they were the only women, but because of their determination. We didn’t have much equipment back then and you came out with more than a few bruises and cuts, but none of these women backed down despite the fact they were just starting to learn the game.”

While Sihoho enjoyed roller skating, she didn’t know ice hockey was played in Nairobi—at least, not until one of her friends invited her out to watch.

“The first [time] I sat on the bench and I watched, the second time the same,” said Sihoho. “Then one day […] our captain, he just gave me the skates and told me to get in. It was my first time using even the hockey stick and everything, but slowly, slowly I learned.”

Now Sihoho is a key member of the Ice Lions, playing and coaching in addition to lending her accounting knowledge and experience as an assistant financial manager for KEFIS. She is extremely dedicated to the team, even building a career for herself (her own business selling organic self-care products) that gives her the flexibility she needs to attend ice times.

“Faith brings a lot to the team,” said Colby. “She’s tough, she doesn’t complain, and she’s come a long way learning the game, and this gets noticed. It not only earns her respect, but it demonstrates to others the relationship between hard work and success and to never give up.”

The story of the Ice Lions has been well documented, with the team receiving heightened media attention in 2018, including a video feature produced by Tim Hortons and an ESPN article focused on the team’s female players. Since then, the Ice Lions have experienced a series of ups and downs. While they found opportunities to face new competition through tournaments organized by groups such as the Howe International Friendship League, they’ve also seen their rink—the first to be built in East and Central Africa—close indefinitely due to local pandemic restrictions and lockdowns.

When and how the ice surface will be available again is unknown. However, that doesn’t mean that the Ice Lions have been inactive. On the contrary—despite not having access to ice for over a year, the team has been hard at work and focused on the future, which looks particularly bright for Kenya’s young female players.

Having enough women playing to be able to form a female hockey team is still one of their goals. The number of Kenyan women playing has fluctuated over the last few years, but KEFIS has upwards of 16 girls in their youth program.

“We hope the upcoming ones, we have so many, the young girls, so we hope they will stick to hockey,” said Sihoho. “It’s challenging to get females to play here [… ]but people are trying to change, people are trying to be accepting of women in sports[…]for us grown-ups over 20, we just hope the [younger players] will get support in playing.”

“We have a very small ice rink, but the youth sessions were getting so popular we had to split the ice into two halves for practices, and there were a lot of young girls coming out,” said Colby. “You can really see immense progress with the girls. I work them pretty hard and they pick things up fast—much faster than when I coached kids back home [in Canada].”

With on-ice sessions not currently possible, Colby, Sihoho, and the Ice Lions have been getting creative with inline and ball hockey outreach.

“The Ice Lions are very generous and support some children homes and play ball hockey with them, raise funds, and we’ll get these kids skating when the ice is back,” said Colby. “Many Ice Lions come from an inline roller hockey background so we’re organizing tournaments for this and engaging with inline players to get them interested in ice hockey.”

In addition, steps are being taken to join the IIHF, gear inventory is in progress, and yearly budget plans are being developed. The team is also working with the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya to organize off-ice skills development sessions with a Hungarian coach, and they’ve continued to engage with their community and fans through social media and their GoFundMe campaign.

For Sihoho, sharing her love for hockey with others, particularly young up-and-coming female players, has made the challenges of the last year worth it.

“Personally for me, ice hockey has made me become more disciplined, and I have been able to accomplish so much in that,” said Sihoho. “It forces you to work hard […]there’s just something, a renewed energy, and you feel like you want to keep on doing it.”

The Ukraine Ice Hockey Federation announces the restart and reboot of hockey in the country

New Logo of Ukraine Ice Hockey Federation

Source : Ukraine Ice Hockey Federation

The Hockey Federation of Ukraine presented a new program for the development of hockey in Ukraine until 2033 as part of an official presentation in Kyiv.

The new strategy is designed for 12 years old and up, the time during which a young sports fan grows into a professional hockey player. One of the ambitious tasks of the public organization is to represent the national team of Ukraine at the Winter Olympic Games in 2034, and for this it is necessary to prepare a powerful team that will be capable of fighting in 2033.

Children dream of playing ice hockey. You understand that in 2034 today’s children will play. It seems so far away, but in reality it is our immediate future. Our task is to ignite, to capture the imagination and of course, to develop a new method of training athletes. That get higher results “ , – the president of the Federation Georgi Zubko emphasized.

The Federation team has already done a tremendous job of researching the best models for hockey development in the world – from the US to Slovakia, enlisting the support of experts from Sweden, Finland and Canada and finding world-renowned partners who are ready to make every effort to develop hockey in Ukraine. 

The Federation plans to implement a state program to develop hockey infrastructure in Ukraine, which is already being considered by President  Volodymyr Zelensky  to increase the number of professional clubs from 8 to at least 16, improve the skills of Ukrainian coaches, support amateur hockey and create a hockey fan family for the Ukraine. 

A new information campaign of the Federation “Hockey starts with« “will start on August 20. Its goal is to light a fire in the hearts of hockey fans and make new fans fall in love with the fastest team sport in the world. 

So far, fans have been presented with an updated logo of the Federation – a trident with the silhouette of a hockey player. It should be an impetus for in-depth collaboration with new marketing partners and sponsors in the future. The plan is to actively work on further updating the identity of the public organization to make it modern and easy to remember and associate with hockey.

Growing the girls’ game in Indonesia

Indonesian female players of a mixed team at the 2019 South East Asia Youth Cup pose for a photo after the closing of the tournament

By Liz Montroy – IIHF.com

October of 2019 marked the second year in a row that World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend (WGIHW) celebrations were held at Indonesia’s Bintaro Xchange Ice Skating Rink. Young girls flocked to the rink to don skates and gear for the first time, accompanied by others already familiar with the sport who were eager to share their love of hockey with potential new players.

The WGIHW festivities have been highlights in the development of women’s ice hockey in Indonesia, a country that is still relatively new to the sport, having joined the IIHF in 2016. Driven largely by the efforts of coaches Ronald Wijaya and Andianto Hie, Indonesia got a boost in 2014 when Malaysian coach Gary Tan arrived to help build their development program.

“To coach the coaches,” Tan, who was the head coach of Indonesia’s men’s national team from 2016 to 2018, said of what his initial focus was when he first started working with the Indonesian Ice Hockey Federation. “That’s the most important thing, because the coaches are the ones who are going to develop the kids… At that time there weren’t many coaches, maybe three, but I think it has grown due to the nature of the sport right now. So most of the kids that I taught when I first started are coaching right now.”

While still a work in progress, the number of female players has seen some growth as well, in particular following the WGIHW events held in 2018 and 2019. The majority of Indonesia’s female players started out as figure skaters, transferring to ice hockey after seeing siblings or parents play the sport.

“At first I actually wanted [to play hockey], but my parents told me to do figure skating because there are more girls in figure skating,” said 15-year-old Qanita Feira Larasati.

Indonesia has a number of rising star players; 17-year-old Chiara Andini Salsabila, for example, was one of 44 female goaltenders who attended the 2019 IIHF Goaltending Development Camp in Slovakia. She regularly practises with expats and men’s teams.

“The commitment level from the girls, from what I’ve seen, is really incredible,” said Tan. “[In Indonesia, hockey is] a unique thing for a girl to participate in, and to have the passion and the drive to push themselves to improve is incredible.”

Despite sometimes having to travel long distances to get to the rink and struggling to overcome the stigma associated with girls playing hockey, Indonesia’s female players have developed an unbreakable love for the game and their teammates.

“Ice hockey is really fun, and the atmosphere and the people in the rink and the team – it’s really fun,” said 13-year-old defender Ghina Rameyza Salsabila. “It’s like my second or third home.”

Happy Indonesian players at the 2019 South East Asia Youth Cup

One thing Tan has encouraged the program to do since its inception is play in tournaments to gain game experience. Indonesia regularly sends mixed kids’ teams to tournaments around South East Asia, and while the first few were challenging, the teams have progressively seen improved performances and benefited from an increased following.

“I remember at the South East Asia Youth Cup, [when] we scored our first goal,” 15-year-old Farrah Zabreena Belle Synarso said as she recounted one of her fondest hockey memories. “Even though we lost [the game], we were so happy.”

Competing in tournaments has given Indonesia’s players something to aim for – a crucial element for improving player retention and giving aspiring athletes opportunities to achieve excellence. Many of Indonesia’s players have their sights set on moving up the podium at the South East Asia Youth Cup and improving upon their previous bronze medal finishes.

Meanwhile, the coaches are collaborating on delivering a development program that will see Indonesia climb the ranks in South East Asia and one day play in the both the men’s and women’s IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia tournaments – and introducing more girls to the sport will be key to this.

“As [my dad] said to me, sports have no gender,” said Synarso. “So if you’re a girl and you want to play, than sure, why not?”

Stewart raising Jamaica’s game as national team co-coach

Former NHL forward aims to inspire squad, which hopes to qualify for Olympics

By William Douglas  – NHL.com

Chris Stewart took the unsolicited email as a sign.

The 33-year-old former NHL forward was grieving the recent deaths of relatives in Jamaica when the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) reached out to him to inquire whether he’d be interested in becoming a co-coach and hockey ambassador for its national team.

“I had an uncle die of cancer that was living in Jamaica and two weeks after that I had another uncle die of COVID on Jamaica,” Stewart said. “To say that Jamaica was on my heart and mind at the time was a massive understatement. I’m a big believer that everything kind of happens for a reason.”

Now Stewart is on a mission to help Jamaica defend its 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup championship Oct. 14-17 at the Florida Panthers practice facility in Coral Springs, Florida, and boost the Caribbean country’s effort to one day compete in the Winter Olympics.

After Stewart received the email, he spoke with Sean Caple, JOIHF director of hockey operations, in May about the team comprised mostly of Canadian players of Jamaican heritage, including co-captain Jaden Lindo, a forward selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round (No. 173) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Jamaica defeated Colombia 3-2 in a shootout to capture the LATAM Cup in 2019

“We got talking about where they’re going and the vision of the federation going forward, and we just aligned,” said Stewart, whose father, Norman, migrated to Montreal from Jamaica in the early 1970s and quickly became a Canadiens fan. “There’s a foundation there, for sure.”

Jamaica defeated Colombia 3-2 in a shootout to capture the LATAM Cup in a tournament that also featured men’s and women’s teams representing Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Falkland Islands. The tournament was canceled in 2020 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“Winning that trophy, I can’t tell you how important that was for Jamaica,” JOIHF president Don Anderson said. “It made … Jamaica proud of the team because, obviously, not very many people in Jamaica knew we had a hockey team.”

Anderson said Stewart’s hire adds the exclamation point to Jamaica’s effort and Olympic ambitions.

Team Jamaica 2019

Selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 18 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Stewart scored 322 points (160 goals, 162 assists) in 668 NHL games with seven teams from 2008-20, and 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 39 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He also played for Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

“Chris is going to bring tremendous expertise, knowledge in the sport of hockey,” Anderson said. “He also has tremendous influence within bigger hockey circles, the NHL and IIHF and we expect that we will be able to use some of that experience and know how that Chris has to be able to present programs that we believe will be worthwhile enough for the two bodies to support us on.”

Stewart will join former NHL defenseman Jamie Huscroft behind the Jamaica bench. Huscroft scored 38 points (five goals, 33 assists) in 352 NHL games with seven teams from 1988-2000 and one assist in 21 playoff games.

Anderson said Stewart is already paying dividends in his hockey ambassador role. One of his first acts was to connect the JOIHF with the NHL Players’ Association Goals & Dreams fund to apply for a donation of hockey equipment to help grow the game in Jamaica.

The fund is the world’s largest grassroots hockey program, providing more than 80,000 children in 34 countries the opportunity to play the sport over the past 21 years through equipment donations. It has donated more than $25 million to help grow the game of hockey.

“I just connected the dots, I know the PA and know they’re always looking for things to help out on,” Stewart said. “Yeah, they’ve been speaking and, hopefully, we can build the relationship into something that can materialize into something good.”

Jamaica would join Costa Rica as the second Caribbean country to benefit from the Goals & Dreams fund if the JOIHF’s application is approved.

Stewart hopes to further assist the effort in Jamaica by being one of five North American coaches at a week-long hockey clinic at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St. Catherine, Jamaica, which has added the sport to its curriculum.

“We anticipate 25 to 50, even more kids,” Caple said. “It would be free of charge. We’re going to go through a lot of the basic skills and concepts of hockey that you would on the ice rink.”

Jamaica’s biggest hurdle to full IIHF membership and Olympic qualification is the lack of a skating rink on the island. Anderson said JOIHF officials hope Stewart’s presence and hockey resume will help serve as a selling point in getting one built.

There were reports in 2019 that a Canadian investor was interested in building a rink as part of a resort on the island’s north coast and Anderson told Jamaican media the federation has spoken with some private companies about constructing a synthetic ice sheet as a short-term solution.

In the meantime, Stewart is keeping his eyes on the prize that potentially awaits in Coral Springs in October.

“We’ve gone from the hunter to the hunted. We’re the defending champs,” he said. “We’re the measuring stick, right? So it’s no different than Tampa Bay (Lightning) or Chicago (Blackhawks) when they were going through it. Every team is preparing to beat you that night. We’re the measuring stick.”

Canadian helping bring ice hockey culture as China imports Winter Olympics talen

Clint Hazen is known as ‘“the hockey guy” at the rink where he works in Beijing

The Chinese recognize ice hockey is Canada’s game and want to learn more about ice hockey culture,’ says Clint Hazen.

Known as ‘the hockey guy’, the Canadian is lending his expertise in helping China import culture in a bid to grow winter sports.

With less than 250 days, China is nearing the final stages of preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A number of international coaches, executives, builders and planners have been brought in to help the government pull off its second edition, after a successful 2008 Summer Olympics.

Expatriates have long been a staple in key sectors in Beijing and Shanghai, mainly in finance and tech. Now China is importing knowledge and experience in sports, winter ones specifically.

Multiple data points suggest there are close to a million foreigners working in China, many of them brought in specifically for their professional skill sets. After two years of vetting, including interviews, background checks and loads of paperwork, Canadian Clint Hazen became one of them, and said his 18 months in China have been an interesting and expansive experience.

“Some steps took weeks, even months, so it was exciting as everything came together,” said Hazen, who touched down in Beijing in September of 2019, and started working as a performance coach for the Chinese Olympic Committee.

Clint Hazen has grown up surrounded by ice hockey his entire life in Canada, and now hopes to help bring some of that culture to China

Hazen, who has a master’s degree in sports medicine, health and rehabilitation sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, is your typical Canadian. He’s been playing hockey his whole life, as a goalie, and this was exactly what China was looking for when they hired him, said Hazen.

“At first it seemed almost too good to be true and a few friends asked, ‘Are you sure this is for real?’” said Hazen, who played college hockey for Duquesne University in the US.

“China is serious about foreign expats and earning a position alone is a real accomplishment,” he said.

The first day after touching down from Vancouver, a friend invited him to the Renaissance Cup, an ice hockey tournament in Beijing.

Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, and old hockey buddies were lacing up their skates to play in the tournament.

“My first 24 hours in Beijing and I was a few stick lengths away from Ovechkin, watching my friends play in China. It was definitely a surprise.”

Then Hazen was off to a training base north of Beijing to help with the women’s ice hockey development team, and then he joined the men’s national team for a trip to the Czech Republic where they played a number of games in preparation for the upcoming Games.

Hazen said China, who will have a men’s and women’s team compete at the Olympics, are serious about cultivating a home-grown culture, and have pinpointed Canada to help them achieve this goal.

“China has said it wants 300 million participants in winter sports by 2022, and ice hockey is and has always been one of the most popular winter sports when it comes to the Olympics,” he said.

“The Chinese recognize ice hockey is Canada’s game and want to learn more about Canadian ice hockey culture. Ice hockey is ingrained in our national history and tradition, and hockey forms communities across Canada. We live, eat and breathe it as a national pastime.”

Clint Hazen, known as”Mr. Hockey”, teaching an ice hockey class in Beijing

Hazen said there are challenges ahead for China but hundreds of ice rinks have been built over the past decade and Beijing 2022 could be a watershed moment for the sport.

“The goal is to increase competition levels both domestically and abroad. And we are working at creating more opportunities for kids to play by forming school, university and professional leagues around the country. The sport is definitely growing exponentially right now.”

Hazen now works as a goalie coach and fitness technology counselor for Bloomage International, a private company that has the exclusive rights to host the NHL China Games. Cadillac Arena, which it built and owns, will play host to the ice hockey competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will kick off February 4th 2022.

“Since starting at Bloomage I have become known as ‘the hockey guy’,” he said with a chuckle, “and have been asked to offer experience on all aspects of ice hockey operations. From training systems to practice plans, hiring coaches and organizing the minor hockey association.

“I’m hoping I can help pass them some of the knowledge I got while growing up in Canada and playing hockey since I was a little kid.”

Hazen said he is loving life in China and thinks ice hockey is well on its way in the country.

“Ice hockey has a long history in China actually, especially in the northeast provinces where they have long, cold winters. This is obviously quite similar to most of Canada when it comes to climate, so they definitely have a good foundation in place and all the right ingredients to become a hockey-loving nation.”

El Paso Rhinos announce expanded Mexico Hockey partnership

Source: El Paso Herald-Post

Officials with El Paso’s championship winning hockey franchise – the Rhinos – announced this week that the club will expand their partnership with Mexico’s national hockey organization as well as the Ice Hockey Workshop Group of Mexico.

“The Mexican and El Paso Hockey communities have similar roots. It’s challenging to grow and develop in a non-traditional hockey market,” shared El Paso Hockey Association and El Paso Owner Cory Herman. “So we think it’s really important to come together and give every hockey player within our communities the opportunity to succeed.”

Since 2019, the El Paso Hockey Association and the Rhinos have worked with the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation.

After months of discussion and planning between Rhino General Manager Corey Heon and the Technical Director of the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation, Diego de la Garma, the U18 Mexican National team traveled to El Paso to play an exhibition game against the Rhinos in 2019.

The series was so successful and well received by both the El Paso and Mexican hockey communities that Heon and de la Garma decided it would be mutually beneficial to broaden the scope of the organizations’ relationship.

Now, not only will the Rhinos work with the Mexican Hockey Federation, they will also collaborate with Ice Hockey Workshop (IHW), an ice hockey development program based in Mexico City.

The IHW, led by Diego de la Garma, includes three teams: the Osos, the Bufalo and Stars.

“We are super excited to expand our working relationship with the de la Garmas, Ice Hockey Workshop and the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation. Our goal is to help further develop hockey in Latin America and help top players get to the next level. By working together, we create unique opportunities for our youth on both sides of the border. The future is bright,” Heon said.

The Rhinos and Ice Hockey Workshop intend to host workshops, coaching clinics and camps for youth and junior players on both sides of the border. Rhino Country also plans to host the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation’s Men’s Mexican National Team, Women’s Mexican National Team and youth national teams for exhibition games.

“It’s a huge honor for us to be able to work with such a successful organization. It will really help our top players to take the next step and eventually develop Mexican hockey at the next level while promoting hockey within the Latin American community all over the United States,” de la Garma explained.

To the excitement of both hockey communities, the bridge between Mexico and El Paso hockey is already being crossed. Last month, the Rhinos’ NA3HL team announced they had tendered Said Ayala, a member of the U18 and U20 Mexican National teams as well as the Bufalos Metepec Club team.

Just two weeks ago, five Mexican Ice Hockey Federation players suited up for Rhino teams at the NAHL Mega Camp in Blaine, MN. Additionally, there is currently a former Lady Rhino in Mexico City vying for a spot on the Women’s Mexican National Team.

Kylington, Oduya helping to grow hockey in Africa

Oliver Kylington and Johnny Oduya

By Salim Valji – TSN

On the same weekend the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was being played in North America, a different hockey game featuring NHL talent was taking place in a large parking lot on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya.

Twenty-four-year-old Calgary Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington and 39-year-old Johnny Oduya, who played 850 games in the NHL from 2006-18, were in the East African country playing roller hockey with locals and the Kenya Ice Lions, the nation’s only team playing organized hockey.

The pair of defencemen also donated equipment through sponsors, visited neighbourhoods and met with locals.

To plan the weekend, Kylington and Oduya collaborated with the Ice Lions, who play in a country that has just one ice hockey rink. It’s located in a hotel but has been shut down for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comprised of mainly adult males, the Ice Lions compete in intrasquad games and bring in guest players to participate as well.

“We brought these plastic pucks and they were shooting and guys were going down, blocking shots with no equipment,” Kylington said from Nairobi. “I would never see a Swedish kid do that. We’re like, ‘What is going on here?’” 

“It’s almost like watching a Stanley Cup Final,” said Oduya, who was born in Stockholm and won Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. 

“They’re playing on the street on a Sunday for three hours. It’s fascinating.’”

Oliver Kylington in Kenya

Kylington and Oduya have known each other since Kylington’s father introduced them when he was around eight years old. Oduya became a big brother to Kylington, someone with many shared experiences as a fellow hockey-playing Swede with African heritage. Kylington’s mother is from the Eastern African country of Eritrea, while Oduya’s father is from the Luo tribe of Kenya. 

After meeting, they’ve gone on to train and vacation together over the years. Now, they are trying to grow the sport together on the continent of their ancestors.

“It’s been mind-blowing meeting people and seeing that passion for hockey in their eyes,” Kylington said. 

This was the first time he’d been to Africa since he was 10.

“It’s been really humbling to see where the kids playing here have grown up,” he said. “You get a lot of perspective. You realize quickly not to take things for granted.”

Recently, Oduya created a sports performance brand called Atunya, a word from the Luo tribe which means relentless.

“So, like the action of the lion,” Oduya said, “I wanted to tie it in and try to open up quite a segregated game, which hockey is.”

Three years ago, the Ice Lions were flown to Toronto to play their first organized games and met Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Colorado Avalanche star centre Nathan MacKinnon. A video documenting that trip went viral.

Now, the NHLers are coming to them.

“They put on a huge show,” Ice Lions coach Tim Colby, a Canadian diplomat, said. “They brought tons of gear and jerseys. Things like that are really inspiring for the team.”

He was also impressed with how Oduya and Kylington genuinely wanted to learn about the country’s life and culture. Kylington did much of the legwork in terms of arranging donations and organizing logistics.

“Oliver asked tons of questions about life here,” Colby said. “Neither of them wanted to leave.”

Colby has witnessed firsthand the power of hockey in shaping lives and the influence of having the likes of Kylington and Oduya involved in developing the sport in Kenya. It allows participants to dream big, not just in sports but also in other areas of their lives.

“The players just see the world differently when they start playing,” he said. “The world now is no longer just Nairobi. It’s not where they live. All of a sudden, they have a chance to go somewhere internationally…at least you have the opportunity to think that way now.”

Chances are Kylington, Oduya and Colby will find themselves together on that same parking lot in Nairobi for puck drop again in the near future.

While their first voyage to Kenya was short, Oduya and Kylington plan to return in a year to bring even more gear, play more games, and further integrate into the culture.

Their ultimate goal is to introduce Africans to hockey, both for exercise and as a tool for social mobility.

“It’s a way for them to come to the rink, stay out of trouble, and do positive things,” Oduya said.

For both of them, it has meant even more than that.

“I would say it’s been the best trip of my life so far,” Kylington said.

“I’m taking a lot with me. It’s been amazing. It’s so hard to put into words. For me as a grown-up now, coming back to Africa, you understand more about stuff in life. You’re seeing what people really fight for and how hockey can bring joy to them. It’s amazing and unbelievable to see that passion…just them loving the game.”

“You get touched emotionally in a different way when you’re there,” Oduya said. “In some ways it’s challenging to visit, but there’s so much enthusiasm from them. The kids we met have the mindset of possibility.”

Swedish host city gets women’s Olympic qualifier

By Dunn Goodwin – Dealmakerz

In February, the Winter Olympics take place, where Swedish women’s crowns hope to go now. Before that, the team must win a qualifying match to play on Swedish soil. It is now clear that these matches will take place in Lulea.

Sweden have not played in any international championships since the 2019 women’s crown, as the P-WC have been suspended for two consecutive years on the women’s side. The team now has a new opportunity to enter the good room by taking part in the Olympics, which will replace the World Cup next year.

To reach a place in the tournament, the team must first perform well in the qualifying matches to be decided in Louvre in the fall. The national teams of France and Slovakia will try to reach the Olympic spot here along with another team. The teams will all meet each other between November 11-14, and the country with the most points in its meetings will travel to Beijing next year.

– With the canceled World Cup for Tomkronorna in the 2020/2021 season, Olympic qualification has been a clear target for the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and executive staff during the meetings we have held. Olof Astblom, tournament manager of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, says in a statement on their website that it is encouraging to be able to co-host the event and the Olympic qualifiers at home, in conjunction with Lule Hockey, who has shown a commitment to women’s and women’s hockey.

But before Sweden can begin its qualifying journey, low-ranking teams must do everything they can to reach a place in the Olympics.

This is how the women’s qualifiers for the 2022 Olympics play out

Qualifying Match 1 – 26-29 August 2021
Participating teams: Iceland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Lithuania

Qualifying Matches 2 – 7-10 October 2021
Group F: Korea, Great Britain, Slovenia and Qualifier 1
Group G: Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Chinese Taipei
Group H: Netherlands, Poland, Mexico and Turkey

Qualifying Matches 3 – 11-14 November 2021
Group C: Winners of Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway and Qualifying Tournament 2
Group D: Winners of Germany, Denmark, Austria and Qualifying Tournament 2
Group E: Sweden, France, Slovakia and Qualifiers 2 winners

Teams already ready for the 2022 Olympics
Group A: USA, Canada, Finland, ROC and Switzerland
Group B: Three team winners from Japan, China and qualifiers3

Ukraine Ice Hockey Federation began cooperation with Ice Hockey UK

Source: Ukraine  Ice Hockey Federation

The Hockey Federation of Ukraine has started cooperation with the Hockey Federation of Great Britain.

Thus, the Secretary General of the British organization Andy French will advise Ukrainian experts on working with national teams.

It should be noted that the national team of Great Britain actually managed to leave Division IV to the elite of world hockey in 4 years and stayed there at the end of the 2018/2019 season.

Reforms in the coaching staff of the national team contributed to the rise in the class. In particular, the British-Canadian team is currently working with the team. Britain’s Pete Russell has led the country’s national team since 2014, assisted by two Canadian experts – Corey Nilsson and Adam Kiefe. Nilsson joined the United Kingdom in 2013 and Kiffey in 2017. Both had experience working with clubs of the British elite hockey league.

The coaching staff of the British national team has developed a long-term strategy for working with the team, carried out partial naturalization, involving Canadian hockey players, and paid special attention to the development of the national championship with an emphasis on improving the playing qualities of British athletes

Craig Woodcroft to train Belarus ice hockey team for Olympic qualification

Source: Belta

The Belarusian national ice hockey team will be trained for the Olympic qualification by a new coaching staff led by Craig Woodcroft, BelTA learned from the website of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation on 7 June.

Earlier, Mikhail Zakharov left the position of the head coach of the national team.

On 26-29 August, Belarusians will compete for the only Olympic berth against Slovakia, Austria and Poland. Bratislava will host the Group D qualification tournament.

Craig Woodcroft has recently extended his contract with HC Dinamo Minsk. Next season will be Woodcroft’s fourth behind Bisons’ bench.

Craig Woodcroft previously worked with the Belarusian national team at three editions of the IIHF World Championship (2015, 2016, 2017) and Olympic qualification for the 2018 Games, where he assisted Dave Lewis. In the 2017/18 season, he was part of Team Canada that won the 2017 Spengler Cup and a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics.

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