Month: July 2022

Chinese Taipei earns promotion

Chinese Taipei’s dramatic 5-4 overtime win over host Mexico at the U20 Division III Worlds sees it promoted for the first time in IIHF history.

By Lucas Aykroyd –

Hung-Li Chou scored the overtime winner as Chinese Taipei’s U20 men topped host Mexico 5-4 to win the gold medal at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III in Queretaro.

On a 2-on-1 break, Mo Peng passed over to the 18-year-old sniper and he slammed a one-timer home at 2:19, throwing away his gloves and helmet in ecstasy. It was Chou’s tournament-leading tenth goal.

“After three years of the pandemic, winning this tournament is just unreal,” said Chou, who was named Best Forward. He also got the sudden-death winner in a 6-5 semi-final victory over Israel.

Under coach Chung-Yu Cheng, Chinese Taipei earns promotion to the Division II Group B in 2023. Meanwhile, Mexican coach Diego de la Garma’s troops will have to dream of what could have been, at least for now.

“I think we played a pretty well-rounded tournament with a lot of heart and second effort,” said de la Garma. “We didn’t lose a single game in regulation, which is always great. And yeah, at the end of the day, we came up a little bit short.”

Chinese Taipei, which debuted in IIHF U20 competition in 2010, has never advanced out of Division III before.

“This is a huge step forward,” Chou said. “We’ll keep developing our skills and our environment for hockey and strive for new goals.”

For this tournament, the Lakeside Ice Park was a great host venue and a change of pace from staging IIHF events in Mexico City. The recently constructed rink is situated just outside the state capital of Santiago de Queretaro in central Mexico. Festooned with the home country’s flags, the arena shook with cheers and chants on Saturday night from the adrenalized partisan crowd.

Mexico, which has iced U20 teams in IIHF events since 1997, peaked when it was promoted to Division II in 2010. Also under Diego de la Garma, Mexico finished last in Group A with five straight losses that year.

It was a duel between starting goalies who both sport #25, Mexico’s Tomas Payro and Chinese Taipei’s Po-Yu Hsiao. Final shots favoured Mexico 32-28. Payro took home Best Goalie honours.

The first period started with a scrappy battle in all three zones, with little open ice. Mexico’s Max Rullan, who took the game’s first minor penalty, made amends at 8:42 with a shorthanded breakaway goal to open the scoring.

At 14:12 Alexander Valencia scored his team-leading fifth goal for coach Diego de la Garma’s team with the man advantage. This was particularly delightful for the locals since assists went to Valencia’s brothers Luis and Eduardo, and their roots are in the Queretaro area.

But just 44 seconds later, Cheng’s squad cut the deficit to 2-1 on Yo-Chen Lin’s goal.

Chinese Taipei wasted no time in taking an early second-period lead. After Yo-Chen Lin potted his second goal of the night at 3:14, Zheng-Wei Li made it 3-2 with a snipe from the right faceoff circle at 3:31.

Undaunted, Ignacio Soto Borja got loose for a power play one-timer at 8:41 that made it 3-3. The 16-year-old defenceman fell to the ice and spread his arms in glee as his Mexican teammates rushed to him to celebrate. However, Chou struck back at 15:14 for a 4-3 edge.

In the third period, the Mexicans came out hungry as the crowd’s fervor hit new heights. They exerted great pressure around Hsiao’s cage during a mid-period man advantage with Yi-Kuan Lin in the box. With just 1:01 left in regulation, Soto Borja’s seeing-eye shot from the left point – with Payro pulled for the extra attacker – bulged the twine. It was a thrilling moment, even though the game ended in disappointment for the hosts.

“I think the people really enjoyed it,” de la Garma said. “There were a lot of people here that didn’t know anything about hockey. And they just came to see one game and then they bought tickets for the entire tournament. So I think for Queretaro and for Mexico, it’s going to be a huge step forward to develop hockey in new cities in our country.”

The gold medal game score was reminiscent of the preliminary round, where Chinese Taipei edged Mexico 6-5 in a shootout. The Asian victors understand the importance of simply persevering, as they hail from an island nation with just three indoor rinks.

“It’s really difficult for us to train,” said Cheng. “We have to train late at night and in limited hours. This is one of the difficulties we struggled with and overcame in the end. Now, after being promoted to Division II Group B, we want to win another championship and just keep going up.”

Due to the pandemic, it was the first time this tournament has taken place since 2020. This year’s eight-team edition was originally slated for 6 to 16 January, but got bumped to the end of July for health and safety reasons. Australia originally elected to pull out of the January tournament, but participated here.

In Saturday’s bronze medal game, Australia edged Israel 1-0 on a second-period power play goal by captain Ethan Hawes, who was named Best Defender. Israeli goalie Daniel Reiner was heroic in defeat as the Australians outshot his side 43-15. Between the Aussie pipes, Jeremy Friederich recorded his first shutout. Australia was coming off an excellent group stage with a 33-3 goal difference through three games, and lost narrowly to Mexico, 3-2, in the semi-finals.

Israel’s Mike Levin led the tournament scoring race with 16 points.

In other notes from these U20 Division III Worlds, Kyrgyzstan returns home with good memories after upsetting Chinese Taipei 3-1 in the preliminary round and coming seventh. That win was the first ever for the Central Asian newcomer as it made its IIHF U20 debut this year.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, another first-timer, fared even better, falling 5-1 to Türkiye in the fifth-place game. South Africa, outscored 26-7 in the preliminary round, came eighth, as it also did in 2020.

Hockey celebration in Israel

Full house at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem for ice hockey at the Maccabiah

By Martin Merk –

Not many people you meet on the street might think of ice hockey during the summer in Europe and North America right now. Even less in the south of the continents. But for the ice hockey family in Israel it was high season in July as the coolest game on earth was one of the hottest events of the Maccabiah.

Sometimes described as the “Jewish Olympics”, the Maccabiah labels itself as third-largest sporting event in the world with about 10,000 athletes from 80 countries who beside the love for their sports also share their faith and heritage. The delegations in various sports include one from Israel as well as delegations of the Jewish diaspora from other countries. In case of ice hockey the Israeli teams competed against teams of Jewish heritage players from Canada, the United States and a Team Europe with players from various countries from the continent.

Ice hockey wasn’t part of it from the beginning. The first ice rink in Israel opened in 1986 and the country became an IIHF member in 1991. Ice hockey was played three times at the Maccabiah. In 1997 and in 2013 in Metula in the north of the country while for the 2017 edition a big move was made to set up an ice rink at the Pais Arena in the southwest of Jerusalem that is normally home to the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team. The event was a success with thousands of fans fleeing the heat for ice hockey setting a record for Israeli ice hockey so that it was repeated for the 21th Maccabiah this month at the same venue.

The move to a big facility in the holy city was also made with the help of the North American diaspora that dreamed of playing there rather than 240 kilometres away at the north end of the country.

“The Jewish community in Canada and the U.S. helped with having a temporary ice rink in an arena that is normally used for basketball, which is a big sport here. It is a unique opportunity for us and it’s very special. In the last 10 years ice hockey has grown a lot in Israel and ice rinks have opened,” said Levav Wienberg, the President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel.

Although ice hockey is a small sport in Israel, Amir Gissin, the CEO of the Maccabi World Union, recently called it one of the most popular events of the Maccabiah in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, even talking about the prospects of extending the organization’s sports facilities in Ramat Gan with the addition of an international-size ice rink.

Every day’s ice hockey in Israel looks a bit different than the Maccabiah experience in a state-of-the-art sports hall. For a long time of the country’s hockey history there were two ice rinks at opposite ends, in the very north in Metula as the only full-size ice rink, and in the very south in Eilat a smaller one not suitable for ice hockey. Many games in recent years, however, have been played in Holon since most teams are from Central Israel but the ice sheet built in 2013 is only 900 square metres big. Another rink earlier operated in Ma’alot shut down while a new rink opened in Tnuvot. A recent hockey program includes Yarka, a town in the north populated mostly by Druze, an Arabic-speaking ethnic minority.

There are plans to add a full-size ice rink in Holon to the existing one.

Premiere for women’s ice hockey

Last time three ice hockey tournaments were played in the category men’s senior, men’s U18 and men’s masters (40 and older). In 2022 a women’s tournament was staged for the first time.

Five years ago there was no women’s team in Israel but a growing number of female players participating with men’s teams.

The numbers have grown in the meantime and an Israeli women’s national team was formed for the first time for the 2021/2022 season while there was also desire from North America to form women’s teams for the Maccabiah. Players of Jewish heritage extensively searched for other players in Canada and the U.S. to be able to form teams for the Maccabiah and create a three-team tournament with the Israeli women’s national team.

The three women’s team pose for a joint photo together with IIHF President Luc Tardif after their historic Maccabiah participation.

This year several sports saw their first women’s tournament at the Maccabiah, beside ice hockey also football and futsal.

When the Israeli women’s national team was formed one year ago there were 40 female players in Israel to choose from. “Now we have 60 and it’s growing also thanks to the national team. We have more younger players and I believe in a few years from now we will have over 100 female players to be able to have more teams in the league,” said Wienberg. “It’s a new process and everybody involved is very excited. It’s exciting for them to see other female players. It’s very unique since ice hockey is not such a popular sport in Israel.”

Game practice for Israeli teams

Competing against players from North America is also welcome game practice for the Israeli teams of any category since they don’t play many international games beside the official IIHF events.

“We have Jewish players in North America that play at a very high level of hockey and they are hard to play for us but it’s a very high level of hockey to compete,” said Wienberg. Especially for the women’s national team that just started competing recently. “We didn’t have women’s tournaments in Israel before. Of course it’s not easy to play against these teams but our team doesn’t make life easy for the other teams.”

Players on the North American men’s teams included many collegiate players especially from Division III programs. In the men’s open category the United States won for the first time beating Canada 5-1 for gold while Europe took third place edging the Israeli men’s national team 8-7.

Canada beat the U.S. for gold in the other three tournaments and became the first-ever women’s ice hockey champion at the Maccabiah with a 6-2 final win against the Americans. The teams included current and former collegiate players as well as players with PWHPA and CWHL experience.

For Israeli ice hockey the Maccabiah is less about the results than about having a competition and bringing the sport to the people and media.

“I very enjoy that more and more people come to see the games and to gain knowledge about ice hockey. For some games including the opening game and the last game the arena was sold out,” said Wienberg. The capacity for ice hockey in the arena is 9,000.

“Also the scores went down, games were more competitive and the Israeli teams have become stronger to compete against these players.”

Presidential visit

Beside the teams from abroad, the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel also got a presidential visit as IIHF President Luc Tardif joined the event for a few days and was also on the ice for ceremonial puck drops and closing ceremonies of the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments.

Beside Jerusalem, Tardif also visited the facilities in Holon, Metula and Tnuvot.

“The purpose was to visit the facilities before hosting the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division III Group B and it was interesting to see the Maccabiah, to meet the authorities and talk with the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel in general and about the development of ice hockey in particular,” said Tardif.

“I saw at the Maccabiah that they have the tools and ability to host an event. It was important to be there and I was impressed about the Maccabiah, what a big organization it is and that ice hockey is the most popular sport, with many fans at the arena and broadcast on TV. I was impressed about the level of organization. It is important not only for Israel but also for the Jewish community around the world. The facility is great and more is to come. There is a new ice rink in Tnuvot and for 2024 they plan the new rink in Holon. Those ice rinks, just after the pandemic, are a success and will help ice hockey in Israel.”

IIHF President Luc Tardif (second from right) and Ofer Yanay (second from left) on the ice for the award ceremony following the USA-Canada gold medal game of the men’s open tournament.

For Israel, which is ranked 33rd in the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Ranking, it was a big deal for the local ice hockey community to welcome Tardif.

“Israel is a small country that is not on the front page of the hockey world and the fact that President Luc Tardif decided to come and to support what we are doing here is a big thing for us and it gives us understanding of how to do things in the right way,” said Wienberg.

“We haven’t had an IIHF President coming to Israel for a long time so having an official visit shows that the IIHF supports not only the big countries but also small and developing countries and shows the new vision.”

Hosting at home

Israel has less experience in hosting international ice hockey on home ice than other countries. Only once did the country have the chance to host an IIHF-sanctioned event and that was back in 1996. Israel lost a qualification game for the Nagano 1998 Olympics in Metula against Greece 10-2 but due to the use of ineligible players on the Greek side it became a 5-0 win for Israel, which advanced but lost in the next round.

Ten years later the 2006 the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III was planned in Metula but was eventually moved to Romania due to tensions at the Israeli-Lebanese border that eventually led to a war the same year.

Things look better these days and Israel was awarded the hosting of the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division III Group B. The tournament that also includes Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina is planned from 27 to 30 March 2023 at Israel’s most traditional ice rink at the Canada Centre in Metula.

For the women’s team, which had its IIHF debut earlier this year, competing at the Maccabiah also gave valuable experiences for next year’s challenge on home ice.

“It’s very exciting because we haven’t hosted an IIHF event in Israel for almost 30 years. It will make waves in Israel and help us promote ice hockey in Israel and the Maccabi Games are helping us to prepare ourselves to host an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. We will be much more ready for that,” said Wienberg.

“We really hope that the facility in Metula will be ready to host the event and we will need to make some adjustments to the venue. We have now a few facilities in Israel to host tournaments.”

Next step for Georgia

From left to right: Georgian Ice Hockey Federation President Zakaria Khechuasvhili, Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia Thea Tsulukiani and IIHF President Luc Tardif.

By  Martin Merk –

IIHF President Luc Tardif traveled to Tbilisi this week to meet with the Georgian Ice Hockey Federation and with the Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani.

It was Tardif’s second visit to the country. Ten years ago he visited Georgia and inspected the infrastructure when the federation applied to join the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. The country joined the IIHF as a member in 2009 and had its debut with the men’s national team in 2013. In 2018 the Georgians gained promotion to the Division IIB and will play next year for the first time at the Division IIA level. 

“It’s a good time to move a little further and the commitment of the government makes us believe that this is the time to be by your side in the development, have new targets such as organizing a World Championship in the upcoming years with the success of the team for example in Tbilisi or Batumi. It’s important that the infrastructure will be built in a sustainable way and we will be by your side,” Tardif addressed Tsulukiani at the meeting.

“The new arena will be an important step for the development of ice sports in general and of ice hockey in particular.”

All parties agreed to contribute to the participation of Georgian players, coaches and officials in international competitions and other events and to the development of the general ice hockey infrastructure in Georgia.

Tsulukiani praised the recent success of the Georgian Ice Hockey Federation in IIHF competitions and of the figure skaters at the Olympic Winter Games. “All this shows us that winter sports need help and we decided to build an ice palace in the Olympic Village in Digomi,” said Tsulukiani announcing a decision to build a modern ice rink in the Digomi area of Tbilisi with the technical consultation of the IIHF. The Ice Arena Tbilisi is foreseen with two ice sheets, tribunes and construction will begin next year.

Construction work for the new Ice Arena Tbilisi will start in 2023.

Why Olympics silver medalist Oduya is on a mission to establish ice hockey in Kenya

Former Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman with Kenyan roots Johnny Oduya in action with the Kenya National team The Ice Lions hockey team at the Panari Solar Ice Rink on July 13, 2022.

Just like former US President Barack Hussein Obama, the life script of Winter Olympics ice hockey men’s silver medalist David Johnny Oduya quite reads the same.

They both had a white mother, and a black father who passed away when they were really young and the dads were from Kenya and of Luo descent.

Oduya, a two-time National Hockey League (NHL) champion is in the country this week for two missions; to support the establishment of ice hockey in Kenya and to trace his Luo roots in Kendu Bay, Karachuonyo Constituency in Homa Bay County where his late father hailed.

The former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman on Wednesday night took part in an exhibition game with the national team, the Ice Lions, at the Panari Ice Rink in Nairobi.

He played the full match where he also supported the budding local players with expensive standardized playing gear including gloves, hockey sticks, pads, jerseys, roller skates, bags, clothing, and other variety of gifts. He also furnished the players with technical skills of the game.

“The players have great potential, they are very good from what I had initially thought of them, and they have the commitment, the drive and the love for the sport.

“They love playing hockey more than anything else, I think that’s the most beautiful thing,” Oduya told Standard Sports.

From the match he played, Oduya believes Kenya has great potential to produce a professional player who can be a force in the NHL.

“For one to be a pro, they need to have passion, dedication, fun, persistence, and commitment.

“I mean they should just love what they do for a very long time. I have seen all these qualities from the game we just had,” he underscored.

The Stanley Cup champion is very confident that the sport will gradually pick up in Kenya after overseeing its establishment in Thailand ten years ago.

 “We went to Thailand in 2012 during the NHL break and helped develop the game and the players.

The sport has so far grown there, Thailand is building new rinks and more youths are loving the sport. They are playing it with passion.

“I strongly believe this will also be possible with Kenya as well, now that the country, at least, has an ice rink, one of the few ice hockey arenas in the continent,” he underlined.

Despite winning an Olympics silver with the Sweden national team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and bronze at the World Championships in Kloten, Switzerland in 2009, Oduya says his greatest moment in the sport was when he lifted the coveted NHL Stanley Cup with the dreaded Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015.

“Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in team sport. So I felt proud in those times as I’m the first player, of African heritage, from Europe to make that bold move to America to make that dream come true in my professional career,” he said.

Since his retirement from the sport four years ago, Oduya, 40, has been having a strong urge to spread the game in Africa, starting with Kenya.

It is on this note that he is also seizing the opportunity to establish a connection with his father’s roots. 

Oduya, whose mother is Swedish, will this weekend head to Kendu Bay where the remains of his father, who passed on in 1993, were buried.

“Just like Obama, I’m trying to know more about my roots, I feel there is a part of me in Karachuonyo that I need to explore. I want to know more about my people from my father’s side.

“I interacted with my father briefly, not that much, the last time he was in Sweden in 1993 shortly before he passed away.

“I have been looking forward to meeting my other family in Kenya for a very long time and I’m really excited about that,” he said.

  • David Johnny Oduya at a glance
  • Born: October 1, 1981 (age 40)
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
  • Weight: 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
  • Position: Defence
  • Shot: Left
  • Teams played for:

  • Djurgårdens IF
  • Frölunda HC
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Atlanta Thrashers
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Dallas Stars
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • National team: Sweden
  • NHL Draft: 221st overall, 2001 Washington Capitals
  • Playing career: 1999–2018
  • Medal record
  • Men’s ice hockey
  • Representing Sweden Sweden
  • Winter Olympics
  • Silver medal – second place  2014 Sochi        
  • World Championships
  • Bronze medal – third place  2009 Kloten
  • wards and honor        
  • NHL Stanley Cup (Chicago Blackhawks)   2013, 2015

Querétaro will host the Under 20 World Championship

By Victor Terron – Noticias de Queretaro

Everything is ready for Querétaro to host the Under 20 Division III Ice Hockey World Championship from July 22 to 30, which will feature the participation of 8 countries that will compete for the crown at Lakeside Ice Park Juriquilla, unique in the country. with the official measurements of the National Hockey League (NHL).

In addition to Mexico, the host country, the nations that will meet at this World Championships are: Australia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chinese Taipei, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and Turkey; highlighting that 4 athletes from Queretaro are summoned in the Mexican team: Emmanuel Santiago, Eduardo Valencia, Luis Valencia and Daniel Valencia.

“We are ready to give the best possible result in this World Cup, rest assured that we will give our best effort to raise the name of our country”, assured the young man from Queretaro, Emmanuel Santiago.

During the official presentation of the tournament, Edward Sánchez del Río, general director of the Institute of Sport and Recreation of the State of Querétaro, stated that being able to develop a competition of this level in the entity is due to the joint work with the private initiative.

“We recognize in an important way the people from Querétaro who will be participating, they are a reality of our current sport and an inspiration for several generations, when we have people from Querétaro as part of the teams, that enriches the events that take place in Querétaro”, he declared.

For her part, Aline Forat, general manager of Likeside Icepark Juriquilla, highlighted the benefits of practicing this sport, while inviting the general public to cheer on the National Team. Ticket sales will start on July 20 at the venue.

“Going up to Querétaro in sports is the best thing we can do, for the children, give them other options. Many children had a hard time during the pandemic and those who play hockey continued to skate in the street and now that they do it on ice, it changed their lives. I invite everyone  to come to the games and get to know the sport, you’re going to love it”.

Next Friday, July 22, the actions of this World Championships will start, the inauguration will take place at 8:00 p.m. and later the duel will take place between Mexico and Chinese Taipei, in the following days they will face Kyrgyzstan and Israel, respectively, in Group A activity; highlighting that the medal round will be played from Wednesday 27th.

Northeastern Graduate Chelsey Goldberg Helps Bring Women’s Ice Hockey To Maccabi Games

By Ian Thomsen – News Northeastern

Chad Goldberg, a hockey player at Tufts University, was headed to Israel in 2013 for the Maccabiah Games, known as the “Jewish Olympics.” The event, held in the year after the Summer Olympic Games, brings together the best Jewish athletes from around the world.

His twin sister, Chelsey Goldberg, a hockey player at Northeastern, wanted to compete in Israel too. Her request to play on the U.S. men’s team alongside her brother was rejected. There was no other path for her because women’s hockey was not part of the competition.

She decided to do something about that.

Nine years later, Goldberg is in Israel for the upcoming 21st Maccabiah as a player on the inaugural U.S. women’s ice hockey squad—a team she helped put together.

“It lit a fire within me to make this happen on the women’s side,” says Goldberg, a 5-foot-6-inch forward who has played professionally since her Northeastern career ended in 2015. “I didn’t know how long it would take. I didn’t know what it would entail. But I was determined to get women’s hockey over to Israel.”

Goldberg began her mission by contacting Devra Schorr, co-chair of ice hockey for Maccabi USA, which is committed to building Jewish pride through sports. Schorr had helped restore men’s ice hockey as an event at the Maccabiah Games in 2013. She began searching for potential sponsors and players while building support from the Maccabi World Union, which oversees the Maccabiah Games. The 2017 event brought 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries to Israel, making it the world’s third-largest sporting event (after the Summer Olympics and Pan American Games).

“Chelsey kept saying, ‘Why can’t I play?’ We had those discussions multiple times,” says Schorr, whose daughter played ice hockey at Boston University. “I told her, ‘I’m working on it, and as soon as I get the go-ahead, you’re going to be the first one I call.’ And she was the first one I called.”

The U.S. team of 22 players and two coaches met for the first time on the July 4 weekend in Philadelphia. After practicing four times over two days, they flew to Israel with plans to practice over the next week while touring the country’s historical sites as part of the Israel Connect program sponsored by Maccabi USA.

“When you become an athlete for Maccabi USA, you are not just there for the sport,” Schorr says. “You are there for the entire experience.”

They’ll be competing in a three-team tournament against Canada and Israel at the Maccabiah Games, which run July 12-26.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” says U.S. head coach Justin Levin, a longtime men’s coach for Drexel University and other programs in the Philadelphia area. “It’s bigger than just the on-ice stuff. We’re going there to compete and don’t get me wrong, when we’re on that ice, we’re looking to be successful. But we understand it’s a big deal and there are bigger things involved.”

Goldberg, who overcame two broken legs during her college years, helped win two Beanpots as a Husky and earned a place on the 2012-13 Hockey East All-Academic Team. She spent three of her Northeastern seasons alongside Kendall Coyne Schofield, who went on to earn the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in women’s college hockey in 2016.

Goldberg’s career has been curtailed by the downfall of women’s professional hockey in North America. She has been competing in showcase events run by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association while working full-time in commercial real estate and property management in her hometown of Los Angeles. She’s a double Husky with an undergraduate degree in human services and a master’s in sports leadership.

“I’ve just been training on my own,” says Goldberg, who was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. “I’ve been making it work.”

Her first trip to Israel is a culmination for Goldberg athletically, religiously and culturally. “I’ve never been to Israel,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to participate in my Birthright trip, but because I’ve been so involved with hockey at the elite level, I’ve never really had that much time. I was fortunate enough to get sponsored to go—I’m very, very grateful to my sponsors for that.”

Goldberg is fully aware that she is helping to advance the sport.

“I’m passionate about growing the game of women’s hockey,” she says. “I’m very, very excited and proud to represent Team USA at the first games.”

Thai juniors celebrate gold

The Thai U20 national team celebrates after winning the tournament on home ice in Bangkok.

By Andy Potts –

A short-benched Thailand team battled to gold in the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 Asia and Oceania Championship. Despite missing five players in Saturday’s gold-medal game against a Singapore team that upset the seedings, the host nation edged a 4-3 verdict on home ice in Bangkok.

Thai forward Sittinon Promthong, who was named his team’s best player in Saturday’s final, said: “It was an exciting and very competitive game. We all gave our best, and I’m glad we got the gold against a very worthy opponent.”

True to the spirit of a tournament that marked a return to action after the pandemic, he added: “More than just the games was the friendship we built with players from the participating countries.”

Thailand edges hard-fought final

Defender Ramin Chan-Urai grabbed Thailand’s winning goal with 5:38 left in regulation time, firing in a shot from an acute angle after Promthong collected the puck on the boards and circled his way to the danger zone, carving a path through the defence. Chan-Urai’s effort got past Singapore’s goalie, Joshua Lee, who had put up some heroic resistance in this game and deservedly led the rankings for netminders after stopping 91.67 per cent of the shots he faced.

However, Lee struggled to stop Thanachai Sakchaicharoenkul. The forward, who is part of the Canstar Rangers club in the Thai championship, grabbed a hat trick and was credited with an assist on the game-winner. His efforts saw the young Elephants battle back from 0-2 early in the game to seal a second U20 tournament win for his country after the 2019 success in the Challenge Cup of Asia. It made a fine belated birthday gift for a young man who celebrated his 18th birthday last Sunday with the competition still in its group stage.

Singapore, too, had plenty to be proud of. This tournament followed a similar format to the eight-team U18 Women’s World Championship of recent years, with the top seeds in Group A and the outsiders in Group B. Singapore was placed in the lower-ranked pool, topped the pile, then defeated Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates in knock-out play to earn its place in the final. In addition to Lee’s impressive goaltending, forward Joshua Chan led the scoring race with 19 (16+3) points from six games and was named tournament MVP.

“Winning the silver medal was an incredible achievement for our team as we are a growing nation,” Chan said. “I hope we will continue to develop as a team, as we are the future players for our men’s national team.

“There were challenges along the way, with injuries which shortened the bench, but we stuck together and believed we could win every game.”

Chan, 18, was on target in the final as well; his power play goal opened a 2-0 lead for Singapore in the sixth minute. Thailand, red-hot favourite after a free-scoring performance up to this point, was rocked. And the host nation’s problems intensified when alternate captain Patpoom Patong was ejected from the game after eight minutes.

Patong’s departure added to a list of absences that already included defenceman Poon Harnchaipibulgul, who had a rating of +25 after his three games before injury. His dismissal meant that head coach Kim Aarola, a Hameenlinna born Thai-Finnish dual national, had only twelve skaters available for the rest of the game – a situation almost as tough as the semi-final against Hong Kong, China where Thailand edged a 7-6 come-from-behind overtime verdict despite icing just 11 skaters.

However, Sakchaicharoenkul rose to the challenge. Two goals in the 17th minute turned the game around then his hat-trick marker gave the Thais the lead for the first time in the 34th minute. Singapore hit back immediately through Shaw Hsiang Lee but the balance of the game had already tilted in Thailand’s favour: after the first-period shot count was 13-12, the home team outshot Singapore 18-5 in the middle frame and 16-6 in the third, limiting Singapore’s scoring chances despite dressing just three recognised defenders.

One of that trio, Punn Phasukkijwatana, was chosen as the best defender in the tournament after collecting 11 (5+6) points from five games and a gaining +24 ranking.

“The award belongs to everyone on the team,” he said. “We played our hearts out and gave it our all together as one big family. I thank all my team-mates, staff and fans for this wonderful experience. It’s been an honour to play hockey for our nation.”

Bronze goes to Hong Kongers

There was more success from Group B in Saturday’s bronze-medal game, where Hong Kong, China beat the United Arab Emirates 6-5. The team from the South China Seas pushed Thailand all the way in the semi-final and produced another battling performance to take third place. The Emirates led 2-0, then 4-1, but the Hong Kongers would not be denied. Five unanswered goals, including two each for Ernest Keung and Ryan Cheuk, turned the game around. Talal Binsammoud’s second of the game gave the UAE hope in the closing stages, but HK held on to take the medal.

Hong Kong, China also had the tournament’s best goalie, with Boyce Wong getting the prize from the directorate. He played in all five of his team’s games, collecting three wins on the way to that bronze medal.

“Having not played hockey for months at a time due to Hong Kong’s Covid-19 restrictions, we weren’t sure what to expect coming into this tournament,” Wong said. “A lot of our players had just returned from studying overseas and we didn’t have much team chemistry. However, we practised hard in the weeks leading up to the tournament and the team meshed together really well after the first few games.”

The teams come together for a joint photo after the closing ceremony.

The Emirates, meanwhile, included Nolan Murphy, whose father Ron was a hockey pioneer in the Gulf. Murphy Snr, a long-term expat in Dubai, brought his love of the game when he arrived from Canada. He played a pivotal role in popularizing the sport among local players in the early 2000s. He also dreamed that his son Nolan, born in Dubai in 2006, would represent the UAE’s national team. Sadly, Ron passed away three months before Nolan could make his international debut at this tournament, but his son delivered a perfect tribute on the ice with 12 goals in the competition to finish as the second-highest goal scorer in Bangkok. He was also the directorate’s selection as the best forward in the tournament.

“I think overall we did well for the team we had,” Murphy said. “We had so many tough games. Overall, the tournament was tough. However, I know that myself and the team enjoyed and I’m looking forward for the next one.”

Away from the medal games, fifth place went to Malaysia while the Philippines were left in sixth place after a Covid-19 outbreak in the squad forced the team to withdraw partway through the tournament and forfeit its remaining games. The remaining placement game saw Indonesia defeat India 8-2 to take seventh place among the eight competing nations.

New arena, new prospects

Off the ice, the competition in Bangkok represents a reactivation of hockey among Asia’s emerging nations. For most countries, this was a return to international junior play for the first time since 2019 after the pandemic forced the cancellation of tournaments in 2020 and 2021.

It was also the IIHF tournament debut for Bangkok’s new International Ice Hockey Arena, which opened earlier this year. The modern facility was a hit with the fans. Thailand’s games attracted an average crowd of over 500, demonstrating interest in winter sports even in the tropical summer. The arena also earned praise from the players. Hong Kong, China goalie Wong said: “We were impressed by the facilities at the rink, especially the built-in hockey shop. Some of our players who were missing minor pieces of equipment could get it on-site instead of having to travel or wait for it.”

And Aivaz Omorkanov, IIHF Vice-President for Asia and Oceania, was encouraged by the action in a hugely competitive tournament.

“This was an unbelievable tournament and I would like to thank everyone involved to make that tournament happen, especially the Organizing Committee. Definitely we saw a lot of talent and potential,” he said. “We as the IIHF, together with are Member National Associations, now need to unfold this potential and make it visible across the whole region.

“I’m very happy for all the players who made it to their national teams and represented their home countries. At last we can say – Asia and Oceania is back on the ice after years of waiting.”

This week’s tournament promises to be just beginning for hockey in the region. “We will work with every Asia and Oceania member on structured and systematic development progress, so that everyone can make the next important step,” Omorkanov added.

Singapore win silver at Ice Hockey Under-20 Asia and Oceania Championship

A 4-3 defeat by Thailand in the final saw the team narrowly missing out on gold.

By Kimberly Kwek – The Straits Times

Just hours after clinching a silver medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey Under-20 Asia and Oceania Championship on Saturday (July 2), Singapore team captain Cael Chua was already thinking ahead to next year’s competition.

A 4-3 defeat by Thailand in the final saw them narrowly missing out on gold, and the national U-20 men’s team are plotting revenge as they target the title next year.

The 19-year-old said: “The team did well. Previously against Thailand, the scoreline was bad, maybe a difference of four to five goals. But from this, you can actually tell we’re improving and catching up with Thailand, who are one of the best in South-east Asia so next year we’ll try our best to get the gold medal.”

Competing at the Thailand International Ice Hockey Arena in Bangkok on Saturday, Singapore found themselves 2-0 up within the first six minutes thanks to goals from Benedict Qian and Joshua Chan, but the hosts drew level after two strikes by Thanachai Sakchaicharoenkul at the end of the opening period.

Thanachai put the Thais ahead in the 34th minute, but Singapore’s Lee Shaw Hsiang pulled one back to make it 3-3. A goal by Thailand’s Ramin Chan-Urai in the 55th minute then sealed the title for the home side.

Although this was the U-20 team’s first international competition, many of them have played together for some time and they also train with the national men’s team.

A number of players were also part of the national men’s ice hockey team who clinched a historic bronze medal at the Ice Hockey World Championship Division IV in March.

Chua, a Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, said: “Most of us train together for the men’s team, so we have this chemistry and we’re always supporting each other and boosting each other’s morale.”

Teammate Joshua Chan, who finished the campaign as the tournament’s top scorer with 16 goals and was named its Most Valuable Player, noted how the team had to overcome challenges such as not enjoying the squad depth that other nations had.

While teams like Thailand had 18 players and two goaltenders, Singapore had 15 players and two goaltenders, which meant they could not make as many substitutions.

The Anglo-Chinese School (International) student, 18, said: “There’s a lot of physical contact, which makes us prone to a lot of injuries so in the final game we were missing a few key players.

“We just tackled it as a team – we have to give credit to our parents and team staff who kept us going and encouraged us as well as take care of our injuries.”

Head coach Joewe Lam praised his charges for their fighting spirit, which they displayed throughout the tournament.

Their 2-1 victory over Malaysia in the quarter-finals was achieved in extra-time, while they scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of the semi-final match against United Arab Emirates to win 4-3 and book their spot in the final.

Lam said: “Thailand were the overwhelming favourites, but they gave them a hard fight which is what we wanted to see. The players trusted my plan and we planned according to the opponent’s forte and had to counter that. I’m overall very satisfied with their performance.

“We are definitely not intimidated (when coming up against stronger teams). They never back down and always go in with that never-say-die attitude… they want to prove that ice hockey is a sport that can excel in Singapore.”

Historic moment For the women’s national team of Andorra

Source: Donna Secret

The Andorran team played a friendly game against Club Gel Puigcerdà, in the Ice Palace of Canillo. The  feelings were very positive Despite the final result a convincing victory of Puigcerdà CG against Andorra Women by a 7-1.

Just a year ago, the journalist Carles Alonso explained that Andorra Hockey Gel was desperately looking for girls who wanted to join, it would be possible to have a female squad large enough to be able to play the Iberdrola Ice Hockey League in Spain and form a Women National Team.

Little by little, dreams  became a reality and, as proof, finally the girls of Andorra made it happen and the return of Women’s ice hockey in the Principality.

Enjoy all the photos of this event here:
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