Month: June 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Canada wins “little miracle” gold

The Canadian players celebrate the gold medal

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Nick Paul scored at 6:26 of the three-on-three unlimited overtime to give Canada gold.

Only three teams have ever won World Championship gold after losing three games. The Czechs lost three in 1999 but two of those losses came in the playoff round when the format was best-of-two. Canada lost three in 1997, including one of the best-of-three finals, and Sweden lost three in 1987 when there were two tiers of round robin games.

No team has ever lost four games and won gold.

There were only two returning Canadians from the 2019 finals, captain Adam Henrique and defenceman Troy Stecher.

For the Finns, they had eight who won gold two years ago: goalie Jussi Olkinuora, captain Marko Anttila, as well as Miikka Koivisto, Oliwer Kaski, Niko Ojamaki, Atte Ohtamaa, Petteri Lindbohm, and Jere Sallinen.

Canada had a tough start, incurring 16 minutes of penalties in the opening period to none for Finland. Ten of those came on a 2 + 10 call to Justin Danforth in the early going. Although the Finns didn’t capitalize on that man advantage, they did on the second one to Nick Paul for high sticking.

Kaski took a point shot with Mikael Ruohomaa in front. Rather than tip the puck, Ruohomaa stopped it, spun and put the puck onto his forehand, and lifted the puck in the open side as he was falling. The penalty to Paul had expired one second earlier, but he wasn’t able to get back in play in time.

The Canadians took a third penalty but managed to kill that as well. But the toll wasn’t so much on the Finnish side of the scoreboard as it was that Canada wasn’t able to get any flow to its game, and the big line of Henrique-Brown-Andrew Mangiapane managed only a few shifts without testing Olkinuora from in close.

Maxime Comtois tied the game for Canada early in the second after the Finns took two consecutive penalties that gave Canada 12 seconds on five-on-three in the process. Comtois hit the post on the first man advantage, swiping quickly at a loose puck, only to see it miss the empty net and dribble off the iron.

Next shift, though, Comtois converted. Brown took a long shot that drifted off the crossbar, and this time Comtois didn’t miss on the rebound opportunity.

The Finns had another power play later in the period, but Kuemper made his best save of the game when he stoned Kontiola from point-blank range.

With four minutes left in the period, Canada scored again when Adam Henrique knocked in a rebound, but as has become the norm in the tournament the defending team immediately went to its iPad to check for an offside. Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen challenged the play, and sure enough the goal was called back because the entry into the zone was offside.

Canada almost went ahead early in the third on a flukey play. Olkinuora misplayed a shoot-in and the puck bounced off the back of the net and rolled to the side, but Brandon Pirri couldn’t poke the puck in before he was checked.

That miss proved costly. Seconds later, Petteri Lindbohm fired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle through traffic that beat Kuemper over the glove at 5:27, giving the Finns their second lead of the game.

But Canada pressed and drew a power play of their own. And they converted. Brown got the puck to the goal where Comtois put the puck between his legs and Henrique poked the rebound in at 12:37, tying the game, 2-2. The rest of the period felt like overtime, but neither team could score before 60 minutes. That set the stage for Nick Paul’s heroics.

U.S. defeats Germany for bronze

Team USA celebrates with the medals after a 6-1 bronze medal victory over Germany at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga, Latvia

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

Conor Garland led the way with a goal and two assists as the U.S. defeated Germany 6-1 in the bronze medal game of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on Sunday.

Garland, a 25-year-old winger from the Arizona Coyotes, tied Canada’s Connor Brown for the tournament points lead (13) prior to the gold medal game. Jason Robertson and Christian Wolanin added a goal and an assist apiece. Trevor Moore, Jack Drury, and Ryan Donato also scored, while Tage Thompson recorded three assists.

“It just proves how much character guys they really are,” said U.S. head coach Jack Capuano. “It was disappointing the other night to lose [to Canada], but we played a great team again here today. You saw the penalty-killing, the special teams today, that’s just who we are. Whatever it takes, the sacrifices, the brotherhood we talked about, coming together in this tournament and growing together as a group.”

The U.S. succeeded in winning its fourth bronze medal in the last eight World Championships (2013, 2015, 2018). The only two losses for coach Jack Capuano’s team in Riga were to the 2021 finalists. The U.S. fell 2-1 to Finland in its opener and 4-2 to Canada in the semi-finals.

“It was tough, but it was worth it,” said 36-year-old captain Brian Boyle, who represented his country for the first time at these Worlds. “Being a part of this team is going to be one of my fondest memories of playing. I’m really thankful that they let me come on and I’m really proud to be part of that group.”

German coach Toni Soderholm mixed things up in net by starting Felix Bruckmann over Matthias Niederberger, who carried the load at this tournament. Bruckmann’s two previous Riga appearances were in the 2-0 group-stage loss to the Americans and the opening 9-4 romp over Italy. Unfortunately, his teammates weren’t able to generate enough goals on Sunday.

“We’re all incredibly sad,” said German captain Moritz Muller. “In the dressing room, no eye stayed dry. We would have deserved it. We felt that our team was very special. The fans watching on TV felt how unique this group is. We’re thankful we could have experienced this and sad we have not been rewarded.”

For the U.S., starter Cal Petersen returned the day after taking the loss versus Canada in the semi-final. Shots favoured Germany 34-30.

Petersen hailed the leadership of Justin Abdelkader, who was limited to six games as captain due to a lower-body injury, and Boyle, who wore the “C” the rest of the way. Neither veteran played in the NHL this season, although Abdelkader enjoyed a championship run with Switzerland’s Zug, and helped out Capuano on the bench after being sidelined.

“These are two guys that have already proven a lot in their own careers,” Petersen said. “And they made the choice to come over here and leave their families and sit in a bubble with 20 other young kids that maybe didn’t fully realize or have the kind of experience that they did. For them to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and put everything into this tournament, showing us what it means to be a leader and a winner, I think, is awesome.”

It was a rough conclusion for the Germans. Although they struggled to score goals as these Worlds progressed, they showcased their character and skill in key wins over Canada (3-1) and Latvia (2-1). They shocked Switzerland with a 3-2 quarter-final shootout win, and delivered a gritty effort in two losses to defending champion Finland (both 2-1), including the semi-finals.

“It’s been an experience for my lifetime,” said Soderholm. “Ever since we came together for camp and landed here, we felt that something is possible. We had good character here and it was an honour to work with them.”

Under Soderholm, the Germans have improved from sixth place in 2019 to fourth place this year.

Germany’s last IIHF World Championship medal was silver, back in 1953. The Germans stunned the hockey world at the 2018 Olympics in Korea by capturing the silver medal with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

« Older posts