Year: 2021 (Page 2 of 5)

When The Vikings pillaged on Southampton’s ice rink

By Maurice Keys – Daily Echo

Despite being one of the lesser well-known sports ice hockey has enjoyed a passionate following over a number of years, during which time the local teams have experienced a number of highs and lows.

The date of the origins of the game are unclear but it’s believed to have originated as a spin-off from hockey in Canada.

It was first seen by Europeans being played by native Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia in the 17th century.

Early years of hockey in Canada

The early examples of the game were played with a stick and ball but over time the game developed.

It is understood that in 1860 a group from the Royal Canadian Rifles Regiment played a game in Kingston, Ontario using a ball that was partially sliced to give a flat side. The game was played on the frozen harbour.

Here in England a league was formed in 1903 and consisted of five teams that played at two ice rinks in London.

This influence increased the interest in ice hockey with the formation of the national ice hockey team. These teams enjoyed some amazing results culminating in winning a bronze medal at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix and a gold medal at the 1936 winter Olympics in Garmish- Partenkirchen, Germany.

As the interest in skating and ice hockey developed Southampton opened an ice rink on the 18th July 1931. The first ice hockey match was to follow in November 1931 between Great Britain and Germany.

The original Ice rink in Southampton

That win at the Olympics made some impact locally for in 1936 Southampton tasted its first match by a team of its own.

The game was played by a local team against a team of London All-Stars with Southampton winning the game by 10 to 5.

The Southampton team became known as the Vikings in 1936 and this came about following the collapse of the French team named “Club Francais Volants”, from Paris, who played in a team strip with a large V on the front of their shirts. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, the club folded after only one season just as the French team had done.

The outbreak of the Second World War further hampered people’s enjoyments and the ice rink was also to suffer as a result.

In 1939 a local businessman Charles Knott purchased the ice rink with the intention of building a new team. That team was named the Southampton Imperials with the intention of playing in the London Provincial League.

Nicky Drew scores his first senior goal for Vikings 79-80 season

However, during one of the air raids, a parachute mine landed on the site promptly ending any prospect of sport being enjoyed at that location until after the war.

In 1952 a further attempt was made to resurrect the sport in the town and once again Charles Knott was instrumental in the construction of the new rink by obtaining an ice plant from the neighbouring Purley rink and a steel building structure from the Woolston Supermarine site.

A new team was arranged and play recommenced.

This new team initially achieved great success by winning the Southern Intermediate League at the first attempt. Alas, this success was short-lived and by 1964 the latest attempt to have an ice hockey team in the town was over.

Vikings League Winning side 83-84 season away at Peterborough

This however was not the end of the story for in 1976 a further attempt was made to create a team for the city.

Once again success followed with the team winning the league in the 1983/1984 season. The Vikings would again be avidly watched until the closure of the ice rink in 1988.

First Iranian champions

The first Iranian men’s and women’s ice hockey championships in history were played in Tehran in March 2021

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

Recently Mika Zibanejad, the Swedish NHLer of Iranian roots, made headlines with two six-point games in the NHL. At the same time the country of his roots itself is starting to gain ground in ice hockey.

Iran, which has joined the International Ice Hockey Federation as a member in 2019, has made another step forward in the coolest game on earth by hosting the first men’s and women’s ice hockey championships in Tehran.

The country aimed to start ice hockey during the past few years but was restricted to small sized ice rinks in Tehran, Mashhad and on Kish Island. But in 2019 the opening of the first full-size ice rink, the IceBox located at the Iran Mall in the capital of Tehran, made it possible to bring the game to another level.

The ice is there as are the players. Iran has been playing inline hockey for decades and is a giant in the sport in Asia. That’s why it hasn’t been a big issue for the Iran Skating Federation and the Iran Ice Hockey Association to find players with experience on rollerblades to take on hockey on the ice and enjoy the new experience.

The championships took place this month on the 60-on-30-metres ice sheet at IceBox, which also offers 450 seats and a standing area for 2,500 fans around the rink.

It’s not an easy time to start the first championship with the COVID-19 pandemic but after PCR tests of all team members and safety measures at the rink it started with the four-team men’s championship that ended in a tight gold medal game that Online Tire won 2-1 against IceBox.

The first Iranian champions in men’s ice hockey, Online Tire Tehran

After the first champions crowned, the women took the ice with the three teams playing a round-robin event. The name of the champion was the same as Online Tire shut out its opponents and won the championship ahead of M.R. Farmanie and IceBox.

The first Iranian champions in women’s ice hockey, Online Tire Tehran

While there could be only one champion in each category, the big winner was ice hockey in the country as the players got the chance to play each other on the big ice and 20 reporters covered the tournaments. The men’s final was broadcast live by a national sports channel and you can watch it in full here.

The next ambition will be to go international as the Iranians plan to join the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia program once it resumes after the pandemic.

Goalie Charlotte Cagigos skates a rare path in men’s pro hockey in France

Charlotte Cagigos training among the men

By Romain Houeix – France 24

Charlotte Cagigos is the backup goaltender for the Drakkars of Caen, an otherwise all-male team in France’s Division 1 ice hockey league. Her story is exceptional in French professional sport.

A woman plying her craft surrounded by male colleagues is rare in French sport, but that is what every day on the job looks like for Charlotte Cagigos.

“When I arrived in Caen, I never thought I’d make the pro team someday. And then, I never thought I’d play a game with them,” the 20-year-old goalie tells FRANCE 24. “I don’t want to set limits for myself.”

Cagigos played her first minutes as a first-team player for the Normandy-based club in an exhibition friendly against the Neuilly-sur-Marne Bisons on January 6.

“The match went pretty well. There was a bit of pressure because it was my first match but that’s not what weighed on me the most. A lot of media were interested in my story and I thought ‘Wow! This actually isn’t very common,’ when for me this game was the logical next step in the journey. I knew the opportunity would present itself at some point since I had been with the group since September,” Cagigos recounts. “I saw that I represented a woman who was playing with the men. And I told myself that, if I had a bad game, it would reflect badly and people would say that women don’t belong here.”

“It’s bizarre to be in the spotlight suddenly when I’m a fairly discreet person. But I tell myself that it’s good for our sport, for the goaltender position and for women’s hockey,” Cagigos explains. “When I was little, I would have loved to see a girl playing on a top team and have her as a role model. I don’t necessarily want to become a symbol but I’d just like to show that it’s possible for little girls to play hockey,” she adds.

Originally from the southern French city of Montpellier, Cagigos first hit the rink at the age of three, following in her big brother’s footsteps. Her parents signed her up for skating lessons, expecting she would gravitate towards figure skating. But Cagigos only had eyes for hockey. “It very quickly became a passion. When I got home after practice on the ice, I’d put my rollerblades on to keep playing hockey,” she says. “While my big brother stopped hockey, my little brother took it up. At home, we always played together.”

At 14, Cagigos enrolled in a sport study programme and left her hometown to join France’s women’s hockey centre in Chambéry, in the Alps. “That’s where I discovered high-level sport. I was with the top girls in France and we played against the boys,” recalls the goaltender, who kept up her studies while in the programme, even passing her high-school baccalaureate final exams a year in advance.

Goalie advantage

Cagigos is an exception in France, not just within hockey but among all team sports. She is the only woman playing alongside men at the highest level.

Ice hockey is distinctive in that a woman can work her way into a men’s team in front of the net. “In hockey, the goaltending position is particular. The skills it requires are more technical than physical. Mixed sports, why not, but it seems to me difficult to extend to all sports,” Cagigos says.

In 2017, she felt she “needed a change” after a knee injury. “I was looking for a club that would give me ice time and allow me to learn, even as a girl. Not every team has that open-mindedness,” the goalie says. “During an interview in Caen, Virgile Mariette, who was in charge of the up-and-coming players, immediately told me that it wasn’t an issue for him whether I was a girl or a boy. As long as I worked, it would make no difference. That appealed to me right away.”

Another woman had already prepared the groundwork for the Drakkars in Caen. Nolwenn Rousselle, who was trained by the club, was the Drakkars’ official back-up netminder in the mid-2000s. Rousselle was the first woman to appear on a scoresheet in the Magnus League, France’s top men’s hockey championship, one notch above Division 1.

“It’s true that this club is distinctive in that way,” Drakkars’ coach Luc Chauvel tells FRANCE 24. “Nolwenn and Charlotte were used to playing with boys up to the Under-17s and so it was natural for them to move towards goaltending within the men’s leagues. We also try to encourage the development of women’s hockey, but it’s complicated to put together a team,” he laments.

Women’s hockey is considerably more developed in North America than it is in France. At the Olympics, only Canada and the United States have managed to claim gold in the sport since the women’s tournament began in 1998. Olympic goaltenders also have a history of trailblazing in top men’s leagues.

Canada’s Manon Rhéaume made history in 1992 as the first woman ever to play in the National Hockey League when she backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning in a pre-season exhibition game. Rhéaume went on to win silver at Nagano in 1998. She and Canadian three-time gold medalist Charline Labonté both tended goal in the otherwise all-men’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Goalie Kim St-Pierre, who also won three Olympic gold medals for Canada, has filled in at practice for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. The road to success is a narrower one in France.

‘One of the team’

In Normandy, Cagigos has been climbing the Drakkars ranks step-by-step. After two years with the Under-17 elite squad, she spent a season alternative between Caen’s Under-20s and the reserve team, playing in Division 3. Then, in August 2020, when the first team’s back-up goalie left the club, Cagigos officially claimed the job.

“Without being officially on the team, I was already training with them. From that point on, fitting into the team came pretty naturally. The boys were super welcoming,” she recalls.

“Charlotte completely deserves her spot. She’s a hard-worker. She gives it her all. She’s always fully invested and always wants to make progress,” says Chauvel. “She has fit in successfully. The boys consider her one of the team like anyone else.”

Cagigos has taken advantage of the absence of Caen’s number-one goalie, veteran France international Ronan Quemener, who is preparing the next steps of his own career by taking courses in neighbouring Rouen.

While the French hockey luminary has been sharing his experience with her, Cagigos knows she has a long way to go before she can score the role of number-one starting netminder like Quemener. “As it stands, I think I’m still a long way from a number-one goalie job,” she says.

“She still has a lot to learn and experience to acquire to be the number-one starter,” her coach confirms. “But I know that if I need her during a match, she is ready to go.”

The sensible young goalie wants to stay at Caen at least for the next two years, while she completes her Master’s degree in sport sciences “as insurance”. Beyond that, she wants to “not close any doors”, she says.

“I think I’ll find a Division 2 club where it would probably be easier for me to have ice time. Or I might try my luck abroad, in which case I’d switch to women’s championships,” Cagigos says.

Olympic dreams

Beyond her nascent dreams of a club career, Cagigos especially hopes to earn a spot on France’s national team. She has already had the opportunity to take part in several gatherings with Les Bleues. “Permanently joining the group to be able to compete in the Olympic qualifying tournament for 2022 would be a dream,” Cagigos smiles. “With Covid-19, the competitions were cancelled, just as the World Championships were, but the group has one objective in mind: Competing in the Olympics,” she says.

In Caen, Cagigos’s coach is on board. “She’s dreaming of the Olympics. We’re trying to do everything so that she can make it onto the national squad. The club’s objective is to lead her to the elite level, which would be tremendous for her and for us,” Chauvel says.

Cagigos feels fulfilled by her career so far, but she does miss one thing: The atmosphere in the dressing room, so important in a team sport. “I am all alone in mine. It’s the only sacrifice I make,” she says.

Countdown to Beijing 2022 Canada, Sweden favorites at Beijing 2022 men’s ick hockey – Czerkawski

Source: Xinhua

Canada and Sweden will be favorites to win the men’s ice hockey title at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could work in favor of less experienced teams, Polish legend, and former National Hockey League (NHL) player Mariusz Czerkawski said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

“Obviously, Canada, Sweden, and the team with Russian players will be very strong in any case. If the competition is played without NHL stars, the teams like Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, or Switzerland will have their chance to get to the final,” the Pole said.

Czerkawski is believed to be the greatest ice hockey player in Poland as the 48-year-old spent 12 seasons in the NHL. He made his debut in 1994 and played subsequently for several clubs, among others Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Edmonton Oilers. After a 30-goal plus season at the Islanders, the pole was named in the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.

Czerkawski played at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, the last Olympic tournament for Poland. The Polish team can still dream about Beijing after they surprisingly won the Olympic qualification’s preliminary phase. The Poles beat the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

“Polish team played very well. In the crucial game against Kazakhstan, they were effective on defense. The goalie, John Murray, delivered a great performance, while his teammates took over 50 shots to prove that they had an advantage. The team made a surprise as no one could have predicted that scenario. I regret we couldn’t continue the momentum as every competition was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak,” he claimed.

In August, the side coached by Robert Kalaber will face Belarus, Slovakia, and Austria in Bratislava for the only ticket to Beijing.

“It’s a really tough group, and we aren’t favorites to secure the ticket for the Olympics. However, the team has already achieved a positive result,” Czerkawski added.

The Pole emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic influences the discipline.

“We feel a lack of excitement without the fans on the stands as the supporters create a good atmosphere. It’s hard to find full motivation when you play behind closed doors. Like other disciplines, ice hockey became even more unpredictable due to the pandemic. The strong teams know how to play under pressure. It’s maybe a little easier for the less experienced sides to make a surprise when the matches are played in front of empty stands,” Czerkawski concluded.

IIHF working to postpone women’s world hockey championship to May

The women’s world hockey championship is scheduled for April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, N.S., replacing the 2020 tournament that was cancelled due to the pandemic

The Canadian women’s hockey team opened a camp in Halifax on Monday wondering if and when there will be a world championship there.

Nova Scotia’s government has yet to approve the world championship April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, and the International Hockey Federation wants to postpone it until May.

“We are working now on a postponement,” IIHF president Rene Fasel told The Associated Press on Monday.

“We saw it last year with the virus as soon as the weather was warmer, maybe the restrictions will be different.”

Halifax and Truro were co-hosts of the 10-country 2020 women’s championship cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IIHF awarded Nova Scotia the tournament again.

The 35 Canadian players arriving Monday in Halifax are preparing as though they’ll compete for a world title in May.

“I think we had an inclination it would get pushed at some point,” Hockey Canada’s director of national teams Gina Kingsbury told The Canadian Press from Halifax.

“We’re moving ahead like worlds are happening in that time frame.”

14-day isolation is problematic

Kingsbury views a postponement as an indicator both Hockey Canada and IIHF are committed to making the tournament happen, instead of cancelling a second time.

“I really do feel the postponement is to make sure it happens … and to make sure we’re in a good position to be able to host and to do so in a safe manner,” she said.

“There’s definitely a process in place and I think Hockey Canada is going through the right process step by step to ensure we will have a world championship in May.”

Canada requiring travellers arriving from outside the country to isolate for 14 days is problematic in hosting international sport.

Hockey Canada obtained federal government permission to alter that restriction for December’s spectator-free world men’s junior championship in Edmonton, where players and personnel were walled off from the public in a secured zone and underwent regular testing for the virus.

Nova Scotia presents another layer of restriction requiring people arriving from outside the province to isolate for 14 days, which isn’t the case in Alberta.

Nova Scotia health authorities approved the women’s camp with several conditions.

“The players and staff will be maintaining a quarantine between the hotel and rink and will have no contact with anyone outside of their ‘camp bubble”‘, Nova Scotia Health said Monday in a statement.

25-person limit on ice at camp

All players self-isolated for seven days and were tested before arrival in Halifax, Kingsbury said.

She says she could throw a baseball from the team’s hotel and hit Scotiabank Centre across the street, but the players travel by bus to the arena so they don’t mix with the public.

Nova Scotia limited the number of people who can be on the ice at one time to 25 last Friday, so the women’s camp format had to be quickly adjusted, Kingsbury said.

Six goaltenders, 10 defenders and 19 forwards were invited camp, including captain Marie-Philip Poulin, forwards Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse, and Nova Scotia natives Blayre Turnbull and Jill Saulnier.

“Being here is a good thing in a lot of ways,” Kingsbury said. “It’s always good to get a sense and a feel of where you’re going to compete. We’re going to be skating on the same ice as worlds.

“Any time you can mimic your biggest competition is a huge advantage I would say in your preparation.”

Since Canada finished third in the 2019 world championship in Espoo, Finland, the team has played five international games against the United States.

Canada the team to beat as Olympic seedings announced

Sidney Crosby (center) of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses with teammates Mike Matheson (right) and Evgeni Malkin to honor Crosby for his 1,000th NHL appearance prior to their home game against the New York Islanders on Saturday. Crosby is expected to star for Team Canada at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

By Murray Greig – China Daily

The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced its seedings for the 22 teams slated to play at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and as expected Canada is ranked No 1 in the men’s tournament and No 2 in the women’s.

The men’s tournament will use the same format as the four previous Winter Olympics, with 12 teams split into three groups of four.

Team Canada will compete in Group A with the United States (seeded No 6), Germany (7) and host China (12). Group B will include Russia (2), Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (8) and qualifier 3 (11), while Group C consists of Finland (3), Sweden (4), qualifier 1 (9) and qualifier 2(10).

The qualifiers will be determined in the final pre-Olympic tournament, scheduled for Aug 26-29 in Latvia, Norway and Slovakia.

The women’s tournament at Beijing 2022 will be contested by a record 10 teams, in two tiered groups of five. The top five according to the 2020 IIHF world rankings-the US, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland-will play in Group A, while Japan (6) will head Group B, along with three qualifiers from the final pre-Olympic tournament in November (seeds 7-9) and China (10). The top three finishers in Group B will compete in the playoff round.

With the exception of host China and perhaps one qualifier, all the men’s teams will include players from the National Hockey League.

That gives Canada a huge advantage, with the likes of superstar forwards Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche) among their ranks, along with perennial All-Star goaltender Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and defensemen Cale Makar (Colorado), Shea Weber (Montreal) and Morgan Reilly (Toronto Maple Leafs).

The NHL did not allow its players to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and the fact that Crosby, who will be 34 when the puck drops in Beijing, is probably the only member of the 2010 and 2014 gold-medal teams assured of a return trip in 2022, bears out general manager Doug Armstrong’s pledge that “youth will be served, for sure”.

“Team Canada will see something of the changing of the guard in 2022,” Armstrong said after being appointed GM last month. “We want to be fast, we want to use our skill and we want to use our depth to our advantage.

“The NHL is a quick league right now and I think that we have the players that can play the 200-foot (61-meter) game. We want to be a fast and difficult team to play against.”

Canada dominated the 2014 Sochi Games with a suffocating defensive performance on the larger international-size ice surface, but high-octane offense will be paramount on Beijing’s NHL-sized rink, led by players like McDavid, MacKinnon and Auston Matthews of the US, each of whom helped light up the 2016 World Cup as members of the 23-and-under Team North America.

“I think that the World Cup showed the excitement and the flair that Young Guns team put on the ice,” said Armstrong. “This group that we’re going to assemble is probably going to have a lot of faces that have never worn the Canadian jersey at this level of competition. It’s going to be fun.”

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of Harbin native Yu Baiwei as a playing assistant coach bodes well for China’s hopes of advancing out of Group B and possibly making the podium in the 2022 women’s tournament.

Yu, 32, is the highest-scoring defender in the history of the Chinese national team. She competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she was one of just three defenders on Team China to earn a point. She’s a veteran of a dozen IIHF tournaments and was named China’s top player at the 2014, 2017 and 2019 Division 1 Group B world championships.

Yu has also made her mark at the pro level, playing for Kunlun Red Star and the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the Edmonton Chimos of the Western Women’s Hockey League.

“In 2007, I was a young rookie,” Yu said in an interview with iihf.com. “Now I’m the oldest person on the team and am also working as an assistant coach.

“I’m appreciating more every single day I am training with this team. I want my athletes to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Furthermore, I want to provide more individual thinking for my athletes as well. I am willing to let them explore their talent and potential within ice hockey. Most importantly, to enjoy the game and enjoy life.”

Вопросы и ответы с Юрием Грошевым

By Альфред Муталлпов – National Teams of Ice Hockey


Юрий, по традиции расскажите, как оказались в хоккее?

В принципе все стандартно. Отец часто смотрел, как играет Салават. Мы зачастую ходили на игры тогда ещё во Дворец Спорта на ул.Зорге. То ли по телевизору при просмотре очередной игры, то ли еще где-то было объявление о наборе в хоккейную школу детей 99-98г.р. Как-то так мы об этом узнали и меня привели попробовать свои силы.

Опыт игры в Толпаре?

Отличная команда родной для меня системы. Очень сплоченный и дружный коллектив, профессиональный и грамотный тренерский штаб в лице Гареева Алика Амирхановича, Полозова Константина Александровича, Василевского Андрея Леонидовича, Буторина
Анатолия Геннадьевича и всех остальных тренеров и персонала. Остались лишь тёплые воспоминания о этих двух сезонах. Сейчас так же слежу за успехами Толпара и вижу постоянный рост потенциала клуба и сопутствующие ему успехи. Так же хотелось бы поблагодарить всех вышеперечисленных за опыт и знания предоставленные за это время.

Чего не хватило, чтоб попасть в Салават Юлаев?

Салават Юлаев, по моему мнению топ-клуб КХЛ во всех аспектах, чтобы попасть в такого рода клуб нужен огромный труд и опыт, особенно от вратаря, посчитал лучшим для себя вариантом набраться игрового опыта. Мы зачастую не знаем куда приведёт нас то или иное решение, но в любой ситуации нужно работать и стремится, это обязательно вознаграждается.

Юрий Грошев сыграл 48 матчей с Салаватом Юлаевым Уфа

Как оказались в Софии?

В связи с общемировым локдауном, оказался в довольно затруднительной ситуации с поисками клуба. Терять время на ожидания, что тебя куда-то позовут посчитал несостоятельным. Агент Ботев Иван сам является уроженцем Болгарии и предложил такой вариант. Любовь к хоккею, желание работать над собой и играть, повлияло на мое решение в первую очередь.

Первое о чем Вы подумали, когда узнали, что будете играть в Болгарии?

С агентом долго обсуждали варианты, даже не помню тот момент когда это все было решено. Помню что стал интересоваться в принципе болгарским хоккеем, в частности клубом в который попал. Однозначно могу сказать, что после долгого перерыва был рад снова оказаться в условиях моего любимого дела. Ещё в Уфе выходя на тренировки на льду, получал огромное удовольствие, а новость о начале сезона была радостной, хотя и были некоторые мысли о незнакомой для меня стране и новом менталитете людей, но клуб создал все условия для быстрой адаптации в Софии, и конечно же для тренировок, как на льду, так и вне льда.

Вы писали, что, чтоб играть в Салавате Юлаеве Вам нужно больше опыта и труда, считаете уровень болгарского хоккея позволит Вам расти как вратарю?

Из системы Салавата я перешёл в клуб Вхл «Сокол» из Красноярска, а уже в связи в вышеупомянутом локдауном был произведён переход в «НСА». Но в любом случае, все зависит от твоей работы и желания, и если есть условия для работы, а они здесь есть, то рост зависит лишь от тебя. С Константином Лавреновым, игравшем в словакии последние несколько сезонов и по совместительству воспитанником «Сибири». Работаем над собой каждый день, мы оба оказались в непростой ситуации, но совпали в желании расти и продолжать свой путь в хоккее.

Юрий Грошев выступал за красноярскую рысь

Как проходил переезд в другую страну?

Все переезды были организованны клубом. Из Уфы на несколько дней приехал в Питер, для решения вопросов по визе. После чего прилетел в Стамбул, где меня встретил агент и персонал клуба. На машине добрались до Софии, первые несколько дней жил в гостинице, после чего переехал в квартиру. Как я уже упомянул все организационные нюансы взял на себя клуб.

Встречались уже с игроками с которыми проведёте сезон?

Да, с самого приезда в Софию мы приступили к тренировкам. Пока что возникают трудности в коммуникации из-за незнания языка, но по глазам ребят можно сказать, что у них есть желание играть и выигрывать . Приняли нас в коллективе очень тепло.

Учите ли болгарский язык, как общаетесь с командой во время игры?

Болгарский язык целенаправлено не учил, но в принципе из-за схожести языков и проведённого тут времени начал его понимать. Некоторые игроки и вовсе учили русский в школе и знают его на базовом уровне, так что во время игры иногда использую русский, а с теми кто не понимают общаюсь на английском.

АНБ София Команда

Уровень зарплаты в Болгарии дотягивает до зарплат хоккеистов из России? И платят ли местным игрокам?

Зарплаты конечно не дотягивают до уровня ВХЛ, а вот с ВХЛ Б, насколько мне были известны условия во второй команде Красноярска, можно сказать что условия организованные тут можно сравнивать, и я бы сказал, что они по многим пунктам даже более привлекательны. О зарплатах с местными игроками я почти не общался, знаю лишь что платят какие-то деньги тем, кто помимо игр, ещё работает с детьми на тренировках.

Чем помимо хоккея занимаются игроки клуба?

Ребята в команде находятся в разном возрастном диапазоне, кто-то работает, кто-то учится в университете.

Приходят ли болельщики поддержать любимую команду, и вообще есть ли у людей в Болгарии интерес к хоккею?

На вопрос о болельщиках полноценно ответить не смогу. Все игры проходили в условиях карантина, и на них не пускали болельщиков, кроме друзей и семей игроков. Когда интересовался о прошлых сезонах, парни говорили что вроде как поддержка есть, особенно в принципиальных играх бывало. Интерес к хоккею конечно невелик, но как мне кажется, определенный потенциал есть.

Приходят ли болельщики поддержать любимую команду, и вообще есть ли у людей в Болгарии интерес к хоккею?

На вопрос о болельщиках полноценно ответить не смогу. Все игры проходили в условиях карантина, и на них не пускали болельщиков, кроме друзей и семей игроков. Когда интересовался о прошлых сезонах, парни говорили что вроде как поддержка есть, особенно в принципиальных играх бывало. Интерес к хоккею конечно невелик, но как мне кажется, определенный потенциал есть.

В чём для Вас главные отличия хоккея в двух странах?

В первую очередь это – уровень развития хоккея, здесь его развивают отдельные люди и он не входит в приоритет на государственном уровне. Ещё бы отметил разницу менталитета, на ребят нет сильного психологического давления, поэтому они просто получают удовольствие от игры, вне зависимости от результата.

Если Вам предложат стать вратарем сборной Болгарии, то примите предложение?

Будущее сложно предугадать, моя задача работать над собой в любых условиях, конечно в первую очередь хотелось бы реализоваться как вратарь на хорошем уровне.

 

 

Women’s Ice Hockey’s Jesse Compher Has Her Sights Set on the 2022 Winter Olympics

After planting herself in the BU women’s ice hockey record books, Jesse Compher (SHA’21) hopes to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

By Brady Gardner – BU Today

Jesse Compher is a first-liner who plays like a fourth-liner, her coach says. On the surface, that might not sound like a compliment. To a hockey coach, though, it’s one of the best qualities you can ask for in a player, especially a captain.

“She plays so hard, competes so much…and she can do so much skill-wise,” says Brian Durocher (Wheelock’78), BU women’s ice hockey head coach. “It’s a great combination to have as a hockey player.”

Compher (SHA’21) is in the final sprint of a remarkable BU hockey career. Even while missing time from injury and the pandemic-shortened 2020-2021 campaign, she has posted 123 points, good for ninth all-time in BU women’s ice hockey. This year, she was picked as a team cocaptain.

Her talent is evident, but Compher attributes her success on the ice to her competitive edge.

“I think that if you watch a BU practice or BU game you can kind of see it—I don’t like to lose,” she says. “I don’t care if I’m playing against my best friend or anybody on the other team, I don’t like to lose and that’s kind of the mindset I go into it with.”

Born to athletic parents, Compher grew up in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Ill., and she spent her childhood competing with her older sister, Morgan, and her older brother, JT, now a forward with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing around the house, nobody likes to lose,” she says.

That mentality set Compher up for early athletic success: she was part of a team that won four consecutive state hockey championships and a national title in high school. She also skated on the international scene, where she earned two gold medals with the US Under-18 Team at the IIHF Women’s World Championship in 2016 and 2017.

When the time came for college, Compher was recruited to BU by Katie Lachapelle, then a Terrier assistant coach and a US U-18 assistant coach, now U-18 head coach and Holy Cross head coach. 

It didn’t take long for Compher to draw attention in Hockey East. Appearing in every game her freshman year, she posted the second-most assists (17) of any first-year in the conference, the third-most points on the team (26), and was chosen for the 2017-2018 Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

Compher exploded as a sophomore, leading Hockey East with 61 points, putting her second of any Terrier in a single season and third nationally that year. She was unanimously named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, a Second Team All-American, and was a top-10 nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the most valuable player in NCAA women’s hockey. 

Durocher says the biggest contributing factor to Compher’s breakout sophomore season was her ability to harness her “super intensity,” especially in her skating.

“In her time at BU, Jesse has evolved as an even better skater,” he says. “There was a relaxation element that came up somewhere between her freshman and sophomore years and really assisted her to move forward as a hockey player.” 

The highlight of that sophomore year was BU’s 2019 Beanpot win, the first in program history as a varsity team. Compher says the victory was her favorite moment as a Terrier. Her assist on the overtime winner by linemate Sammy Davis (CGS’17, Sargent’19, Wheelock’20) brought the Beanpot trophy to Commonwealth Avenue for the first time in nearly 40 years.

“Being out there and being a part of the overtime goal was definitely something special and something I’ll never forget,” she says.

Jesse Compher (no. 7) hoists the 2019 Beanpot trophy alongside fellow Terrier Abby Cook (Sargent’20), who Compher says was one of her biggest mentors when she arrived at BU

Ankle surgery delayed the start of Compher’s junior season. Despite that, she was voted a Second Team All-Star, tying for fourth in Hockey East in points per game (1.11) and finishing in the top four on the team in goals (13), assists (16), and points (29) despite playing 10 fewer games than most of her teammates.

Between her hyper-competitiveness and the bar set by a stellar second season, Compher says sitting out the start of the 2019-2020 season was the most challenging time of her BU career. She credits her teammates with helping her overcome that hurdle.

“We have such a close-knit team here, everyone’s so supportive,” she says. “With the people around me, I was able to get through it.”

As a senior, Compher leads the Terriers with five goals, averaging a goal a game, and is tied for the team lead in points (7). She was entrusted with the “C” on her jersey, a dream of hers since close friend Rebecca Leslie (Questrom’18) captained BU Compher’s freshman year. “I kind of always looked up to her and just wanted to follow in her footsteps,” she says.

Teammates say Compher is a natural to helm the team. Courtney Correia (CGS’20, Questrom’22), who has shared the ice with her for three seasons, says Compher’s captaincy was well-deserved and has had a positive impact on the team. “She has definitely been a leader on the ice since I came to this school,” she says. “She’s extremely committed—every time she steps on the ice, she really wants to be there.”

Durocher cites the “innate confidence” Compher brings to the ice for her success and lists her among the top Terriers he has coached in his 16 years behind the BU bench.

“Without a doubt, she’s one of those people in the history of our program that sticks out in any conversation as one of the elite players,” he says. “She checks an awful, awful lot of the boxes to be thought about with some of the top kids here.”

With a player of her skill and motivation, Compher’s ceiling is “super high,” the coach says. She has skated with the USA women’s national team on multiple occasions, cracking the roster for the 2019 and 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship tournaments and the 2019-2020 rivalry series against Team Canada.

 Next on Compher’s list: the 2022 Winter Olympics, set to take place in Beijing. Durocher says he can easily see her on the roster. “If I’m that coach,” he says, “maybe she’s not knocking a Kendall Coyne or Brianna Decker off the first line, but she can play with everybody, and…will be a heck of a great addition to any third line or fourth line.”

In her pursuit of a regular national team spot, Compher says she has learned from BU assistant coaches Tara Watchorn (CAS’12), an Olympic gold medalist with Canada in 2014, and Liz Keady Norton, a former Team USA player.

“It’s been cool to learn from them and kind of get things from their perspective and just learn the little details of what it takes to be a national team player,” she says.

Compher credits that attention to detail for much of her success. “In the back of my head, I’m always thinking about what I can do to be better on and off the ice,” she says. “You can have skill, but if you don’t have the right mindset of wanting to be better, wanting to win, and wanting to support your teammates, then you’re not going to get very far.”

In addition to her personal ambition and goals, Compher has a bigger mission—to help grow the sport of women’s hockey.

“I wouldn’t be here playing college hockey without the women who paved the way for me,” she says. “As long as I can, I’m going to try to promote women’s hockey…and do what I have to do to not only make a national team roster, but to grow the game as I go.”

Hockey night in New Zealand. A.J. Spiller growing the Canadian game in Southern Hemisphere

William Levien, Johann Kwok, A.J. Spiller, Mason Beetham, Corey Marsh

By: Mike Sawatzky – Winnipeg Free Press

On the surface, it seems like an unlikely career path.

Seven years ago, A.J. Spiller moved from Canada to New Zealand to play fastball during the sub-tropical summer. He repeated the trip the next year and again the year after that. But at some point, those trips to the Southern Hemisphere became something more than fufilling his sense of adventure.

Spiller fell in love — he and partner Monique Whareumu met that first summer — and he ended up staying to play and manage grassroots hockey in New Zealand’s biggest city — Auckland.

“When I moved here (permanently) I played one more season and then I started to play hockey and then I kind of chose hockey over fastball after that,” says Spiller, previously a third baseman for the Portage Phillies and a defenceman for the MJHL’s Terriers from 2003 to 2008.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It was just when it got into playing both — I did that for one year — and it was too much to play both hockey and fastball and I went back to university, too. So there was a lot on the go and I kind of decided to pick one over the other.”

Spiller’s academic work dovetailed nicely into his professional life. He enrolled at the University of Auckland to pursue a bachelor of commerce degree in management and marketing, completing it in 2019.

During that time, the 33-year-old interned with the Auckland Ice Hockey Association before taking over as the organization’s general manager 18 months ago. The job with AIHA, which has 800 members including 700 players, requires a healthy amount of multi-tasking. It’s something he may have developed an instinct for since playing for his dad, Blake, the longtime GM and head coach of the Terriers.

“I tie skates, fill water bottles and I kind of run the business side of Auckland Ice Hockey Association and I coach as well,” says A.J.

One of Spiller’s main tasks is to grow the game in a country, which joined the IIHF in 1977 but has just seven indoor rinks, two outdoor rinks and 1,700 players draw from a population of approximately 4.9 million residents.

“We’re definitely trying to grow the game,” he says. “Our big focus right now is on the grassroots and making it you know, as as fun and as accessible as we can for kids. Because that’s really the lifeblood of the sport. If we don’t have a good grassroots program, and nothing else is going to come out of it.”

Competing for attention with the country’s national sport, rugby, hasn’t been easy. Hockey’s March to November season also goes head to head with rugby’s premier team, the All Blacks.

A.J. Spiller at practice with youth player in Auckland, N.Z.

“It’s a little bit of a tough sell in that we play at the same time as rugby does as well — we’re both winter sports,” says Spiller. “Obviously, rugby is gonna draw a lot of people there but we are kind of similar sports. So we try to use that as well.

“We actually had two kids last year, their dad was a video coach for the All Blacks… and the both of them came to play ice hockey. And he came to check it out because he was a rugby guy and he just wanted to make sure that it was good. And he really enjoyed it.”

The country’s top men’s league, the New Zealand Ice Hockey League, has a number of import players making it possible to raise the calibre of play. Spiller took last season off to concentrate on his duties but he’ll return to the ice this year in the NZIHL, which he says is similar in calibre to the senior South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League.

New Zealand sent men’s and women’s teams to the most recent world championships, competing at Division 2, Group B level. But Spiller says the gap in skill level between import players and the bottom of NZIHL rosters is substantial.

“That’s kind of what we’re focused on right now is how can we make that bottom end a little bit better?” says Spiller. “And how can we give more Kiwi players a better chance to play in that league. I’m also coaching the under-18 national team here as well. That’s kind of in line with that, too, is how can we get more of these players playing and playing significant roles so that our national teams get better?”

On a brighter note, New Zealand’s success in limiting the impact of COVID-19 has allowed sports to continue. In 2020, the hockey season had a few stops and starts before eventually finishing as scheduled.

In 2021, it’s been mostly business as usual. Masks are still required on public transit in Auckland and airplanes but grocery shopping, for instance, can go on without masks, providing you adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“As far as the response to COVID, to keep it out and to manage it for the last little while has been pretty impressive when you look at the rest of the world,” says Spiller.

Living without snow or the deep freeze of his home province is nice, too. Auckland enjoyed 17C Wednesday and rarely goes below 8C during the cooler months of April to September.

“I like Canada and I like the winter but I kind of enjoy it here as well,” says Spiller. “It wasn’t a hard sell to come here.”

Recap of Women’s Action

Emily Nix scored two game-winning goals as Germany won two out of three cross-border games against Switzerland

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

For many women’s teams, the pandemic put hockey on pause for a year. But, with the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Canada coming up in spring, February 2021 saw several countries getting back on the ice and making plans for their rosters for April. There was action in Switzerland, Russia, Denmark and Austria over the past week. Some other countries like Finland and Sweden had two cancel their camps due to COVID-19 while the Czechs had a training camp with no games.

Before last week’s International Break, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey also held camps in January and October respectively to get potential candidates for the Women’s Worlds roster together.

‘It’s really special to be back’

Switzerland assembled for its first team camp in a year and welcomed Germany across the border to Romanshorn for three exhibition games at Lake Constance. Each encounter was a close-fought affair, beginning with a goalless tie that was decided in a shootout in game one. With goalies Saskia Maurer and Jennifer Harss on top throughout the action, it took 32 penalty shots before Emily Nix beat Maurer to give Germany the verdict.

Nix also played a big role in game two, assisting on Kerstin Spielberger’s first-period opener before scoring the game winner early in the second. The 23-year-old, who plays for Eisbaren Berlin in the Frauen Bundesliga, converted a 5-on-3 power play to make it 2-0. Switzerland hit back through Sinja Leemann but could not complete the recovery. For the Swiss it was the second defeat despite outshooting Germany in both games.

Game three was the highest scoring of the week, and this time Switzerland claimed a 4-3 verdict. The teams traded goals inside the first five minute before Leemann’s second tally in two games gave the Swiss the lead for the first time in the exhibition series. Twice, the Germans tied it up – the Nix-Spielberger combination delivering again – but Switzerland won it on Nicole Bullo’s 47th-minute marker.

Both teams were delighted to be able to return to the ice after a long break. When the pandemic struck last March, wiping out World Championships at all levels and categories, few imagined that the February 2020 camps and tournaments would prove to be the last time these teams could get together for 12 months. Germany’s plans were disrupted further by the unavailability of head coach Christian Kunast, but Franziska Busch stepped up from her role in charge of the U18s to deputize on the Swiss side of Lake Constance.

“It was great fun and an honour for me,” she said. “We had some problems getting back to our game after a year, but it was also clear that we continued to work well tactically during that year. We have a stable system that helped us.”

Kunast, watching from afar, was also encouraged by what he saw. “We learned a lot,” he added. “Our younger players are stepping up and the pool of potential World Championship players is growing.”

The Swiss, too, were excited to be back. “We’ve never gone so long without a training camp before,” said goalie Saskia Maurer. “It’s really special to be back with the team after a year apart.”

Happy reunions aside, there was also work to do at the week-long camp. “The focus is a little bit on everything,” said blue-liner Sarah Forster. “After a year, we need to go back to basics. We have a young team, so we have to go step-by-step.”

Head coach Colin Muller was pleased with the progress his team made during the week.

“It’s always difficult against the Germans and this week it was a one-goal game every time,” he said. “We were unlucky to lose the first in a shootout and the second game was also very tight. I’m happy that we were able to react to those losses and win the last game.

“We are always working on our team for the Worlds. This was a test for all of us, everyone had to show what she could do.”

Russia against the world

Russia, short of match practice this season due to COVID restrictions, found an unusual way of getting game time. The Red Machine arranged two warm-up encounters with KRS Vanke Rays, the defending Russian WHL champion. The Chinese franchise, temporarily playing out of the Moscow Region town of Stupino, boasts players from Canada, the USA, Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia and China, making this something of a Russia-against-the-World clash.

Yevgeni Bobariko, Russia’s head coach, had some inside knowledge of the opposition: his alternate captain, Alexandra Vafina, plays her hockey for KRS this season and faced off against her clubmates in these two games. In a pair of evenly-matched encounters, her insight might have tipped the balance as Russia won the first game 1-0, then edged a shootout verdict after a 3-3 tie.

The first game was dominated by goalies. For Russia, Valeria Merkusheva recorded an impressive shutout. That’s the third time this season she’s denied KRS, after twice blanking the league leader in WHL action. At the other end, though, Finnish star Noora Raty was stretchered off in the second period after sustaining a lower-body injury. Last week she announced on her Instagram that the problem was not as bad as initially feared and would not require surgery. However, it’s unclear whether she will recover in time for a comeback already this season. Polina Bolgareva, who plays under Bobariko for Dynamo-Neva St. Petersburg, potted the only goal.

Next day, the teams met again in a higher-scoring clash. Russia opened a 2-0 lead but let it slip and needed a tying goal from Nina Pirogova 33 seconds from the end to save the game. Landysh Falyakova potted the shootout winner.

Olga Sosina, captain of the Russian team, enjoyed the weekend work-out – especially in the absence of the usual Euro Tour schedule: “The Vanke Rays are an excellent opponent,” she said. “They have a skilled team, which plays attacking hockey and went at us from the get-go, finding the places where we weren’t ready and could make mistakes. But in the second game we spent a lot of time in their zone and created chances. We couldn’t take enough of them and got hit with three counterattacks. So we have things to work on.”

For the Vanke Rays, it was a good chance for players to promote their own international prospects. Minntu Tuominen suggested it might also help the Finnish women’s national team get a look at how Russia is shaping up for April’s Worlds in Nova Scotia, while Megan Bozek and Alex Carpenter are both eying a return to the American roster for the big tournament. Carpenter enjoyed her spot of international action during a busy league schedule. “We’ve had a couple of weeks without any games, so these were good tests before the concluding games of the season,” she said. “We had a chance to work on our systems against strong opposition, get a look at our special teams and get ready for a difficult stretch in the season. We have 10 WHL games in a short space of time, then the playoffs.

“The results [against Russia] aren’t so important, but the games were very even.”

 

Newly-promoted nations meet

Denmark and Hungary, promoted to the top division of the Women’s World Championship together back in 2019 when they finished atop of the Division I Group A in Budapest, faced off as part of their preparations for the 2021 event in Canada. The teams met in Copenhagen at Orestad Skojtehall, the venue built next to Royal Arena before the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship when it served as practice facilty, and shared one victory apiece from their two encounters.

In game one, Hungary took the honours in a shootout after a 2-2 tie in regulation. The Magyars led twice thanks to goals from Alexandra Huszak, but Denmark twice tied it up with goals from Silke Lave Glud and a last-gasp equalizer from Josefine Jakobsen with 20 seconds left to play. Fanny Gasparics secured the win for Hungary in the shootout.

Day 2 saw the teams meet again and this time the Danes won 2-1. Regina Metzler, 15, made her international debut and celebrated with the first goal as Hungary once again opened the scoring. This time, though, the host hit back through Michelle Weis Hansen 49 seconds later before Jakobsen’s point shot deflected by Glud brought a second, decisive goal.

Austrians beat Kazakhstan

Outside of the top tier nations, Austria played two exhibition games against Kazakhstan. Neither of these teams will go to a World Championship this year following the cancellation of the lower divisions, but Austria could celebrate back-to-back wins in Vienna ahead of both teams’ Olympic Qualification campaign next autumn.

The first game was tight, with Nadja Granitz getting the only goal in the second period. Goalies Selma Luggin and Jessica Ekrt shared the workload, stopping 33 Kazakh shots between them. In game two, Kendra Broad, enjoying her second season playing in Kazakhstan, got her first goal for her adopted nation midway through the first period. However, the Canadian-born centre was destined to finish on the losing side again. Austria recovered to tie it up in the second through Monika Vlcek before third-period tallies from Emma Hofbauer and Lena Daubock gave the home team a 3-1 verdict.

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