The Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China said Thursday it will issue a “written reprimand” to the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association over a national anthem blunder.
The association was also urged to submit supplementary info within 14 days on how it would improve its corporate governance, integrity management, and membership system.
The SF&OC’s decision follows fierce exchanges between them and the ice hockey association since the association submitted an 11-page report to the top sports authority on the February incident in which the organizers of an international ice hockey tournament in Bosnia played a protest song rather than the national anthem at the event.
Speaking to the media today, SF&OC’s honorary secretary-general Edgar Yang Joe-tsi said the board has found the team leader of the ice hockey team not following relevant guidelines in the Bosnia game after reviewing the report, in which it decided to issue a “written reprimand” – a very stern warning instead of a general warning.
Yang said the SF&OC will also refine the guidelines to provide solutions for sports teams when they run into extraordinary circumstances.
He said the sports team will be requested to collect a tool kit from the committee before setting off for games, with the organizers of the events required to acknowledge receiving the kit with a written receipt.
Should the organizers refuse to acknowledge or confirm the national anthem and the national flag, team leaders must not let athletes attend the ceremonies, he added.
The Kuwait and Lebanon men’s ice hockey teams have advanced to the final of the first Arab Ice Hockey Championship, currently taking place in Kuwait, after defeating Oman and Bahrain, respectively, in the semi-finals on Thursday evening. The Hockey Blue team secured a well-deserved victory over Oman with a score of 13/3, while Lebanon dominated its match against Bahrain with a score of 8/1.
The two teams will face each other in the tournament’s final on Saturday, while Bahrain and Oman will compete for third place. In placement matches from fifth to eighth place, Tunisia defeated Saudi Arabia 14/3, and Algeria beat Egypt 8/3. The Vice-President of the Kuwaiti Winter Games Club, Khaled Al-Mutairi, expressed his admiration for Al-Azraq’s qualification to the final and praised the tournament’s technical and organizational success.
The Chairman of the Omani Ski Sports Committee, Saeed Al Zaabi, was proud of Oman’s progress to the semi-finals, while Kuwait national team player Jassem Al-Awadi expressed the team’s determination to win the championship and dedicate it to their fans. The final match promises to be a competitive and exciting event as it brings together the tournament’s top teams.
Azam Sanaei, the 34-year-old captain of the Iranian women’s ice hockey team, has just returned from Thailand where her team ended up as the runner-up in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Asia and Oceania Championship.
After impressive performances against formidable opponents throughout the tournament, the Iranian team went down fighting in the summit clash against reigning champion and hosts Thailand 3-1.
On the road to finals, Sanei’s girls defeated India 17-1, Kuwait 20-0, Kyrgyzstan 26-0, United Arab Emirates 14-0 and Singapore 3-0, conceding only one goal in five exciting games.
It was the IIHF debut for Team Melli, and they managed to create history in their first foray.
Speaking to the Press TV website, the proud skipper said the impressive result shows the women’s ice hockey team “holds enormous potential”.
“Undoubtedly, the Iranian women’s ice hockey team holds great potential, and if we keep on doing a good job, we will definitely get a gold medal in the next tournament,” she said, oozing confidence.
The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Asia and Oceania Championship was held in Bangkok, Thailand, from April 30 to May 7, organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
According to Sanaei, all seven teams that took part in the tournament were much stronger and more experienced than Iran. The Iranian side went into the competition with only three years of training.
“Our team trained day and night because we knew other teams were more experienced,” the captain told the Press TV website. “We only trained for three years and had to make up for the gap.”
Sanaei has accompanied the female inline hockey team since it was first formed in 2012.
In the last more than a decade, the team participated in only three Asian championships and came third every time, Sanaei said, which prompted her girls to work harder this time.
In 2018, after Asian Roller Sports Championship in South Korea, Iran’s inline hockey team decided to replicate the success in ice hockey.
The first standard-sized ice hockey rink measuring around 1,800 meters was built only three years ago in Tehran’s northwestern outskirts.
“It was a dream come true for inline hockey players who wanted to play on the ice,” she said.
Since then, the captain said, young players began training hard to secure a spot in the first Iranian women’s national ice hockey squad.
As the ice hockey team’s training coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, international tournaments were postponed indefinitely. The tournament in Thailand presented the first opportunity for Sanaei and her team to prove their mettle at the international level.
“In the final match, our players played beyond their abilities. Our rival was the host country and a title holder, their professional experience led to our defeat,” she said.
“It was nonetheless a close fight, until the end of the second half we were tied 1-1. However, in the third and last period, we were left behind and settled for the second place.”
Fatemeh Esmaili, a 25-year-old striker of the Iranian women’s national ice hockey team, said she and her teammates “did a great job” to make it to the final, even though they had bigger expectations.
“We cried hard after finishing in second place, but we still pulled off an amazing feat,” the leading goal-scorer of the tournament told the Press TV website.
“When we lost to Thailand, we thought we blew it all, but in all fairness, it was the first time we participated in an official IIHF tournament, and we defeated teams with more professional experience,” she hastened to add.
Their impressive performance didn’t go unnoticed in Iran and across the world. Social media has been flooded with messages of congratulations for the “winner” team since the final.
Iranian government spokesman Bahadori Jahromi, foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani and sports minister Hamid Sajjadi in separate messages lauded their incredible achievement.
On Tuesday, it was announced that all expenses incurred by the members of the team would be paid by the sports ministry, acknowledging their contribution to women’s sports in the country and bringing laurels to the country on the international stage.
Due to some changes at Iran’s Ski Federation and budget-related issues, the female ice hockey squad had to pay for the visa fee and other expenses, which according to the sports minister will now be covered and the players will be also getting a win bonus for their epic feat.
“While Skating Federation was previously responsible for ice hockey, the discipline was merged with the Ski Federation six months ago and due to the changes, no budget was allocated to ice hockey in last year’s budget plan, so the private sector sponsored the team,” Kaveh Sadeqi, Ice Hockey Society chief said.
“But while we were in Bangkok, the (sports) minister announced they will pay for the expenses.”
Iranian women’s national ice hockey squad, however, is not alone in making history and bringing laurels to the country. Other female national teams, including the women’s futsal team, are also on song.
In January, the Iranian women’s team was crowned champions of the 2023 CAFA Women’s Futsal Championship.
More recently, in April, young Iranian girls confirmed their spot in the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup Indonesia 2024.
Massoud Hussain, a Tehran-based veteran sports journalist, told the Press TV website that Iranian women’s futsal and football teams have raised the bar in the past years.
“In past two editions, women’s national futsal team defeated Japan, a formidable side, which shows they possess great potential for further progress.”
He added that in addition to team sports, women have done brilliant job in individual sports as well, such as shooting, karate, weightlifting, track and field, and Taekwondo.
Zahra Nemati is one of the most successful Iranian Paralympic and Olympic archers who has won several medals for the country in international competitions.
At the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Nemati won an individual gold and a team bronze.
Following her performance at the 2015 Asian Archery Championships in Bangkok, Thailand she secured Iran a qualification slot for the Rio 2016 Paralympics as well as the Olympics.
At the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, she made history by taking home her second gold.
In 2019, Poupak Basami became the first Iranian woman to compete in International Weightlifting Federation World Championships.
She finished sixth in the D session after managing a total of 158kg – 72 kg in the snatch and 86kg in the clean and jerk – breaking her own national record.
Elham Hosseini also made history in the 2022 Asian Weightlifting Championships by winning a gold medal in the women’s 81kg weight class.
In the 2023 Asian Weightlifting Championships, five female Iranian weightlifters are expected to show up for the second qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
“Iranian sportswomen are highly motivated, and they can be great representatives and ambassadors for their country,” Sanaei said. “All they need is the support and encouragement they deserve.”
National Hockey League (NHL) players are eligible to play in the World Championship as long as their NHL franchise is no longer involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and those players could well make the difference again this year.
Teams and players to watch at the 2023 Men’s IIHF World Championship
Group A will play at the Nokia Arena in Tampere, which was only opened in November 2021 and also served as a host venue for last year’s World Championships. That indoor stadium holds over 13,000 people and is the main arena for the championships, also holding two quarter-finals, both semi-finals, and both medal games. In Group A are Austria, Denmark, hosts Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, and the United States.
Group B, meanwhile, will be based in Riga at the Arena Riga, a stadium well used to hosting the IIHF World Championships having done so in 2006 and again in 2021. Some 14,500 spectators can fit in the arena, which will host Group B games along with two quarter-finals. The teams in Group B are Canada, Czechia, Kazakhstan, hosts Latvia, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
Finland, Sweden, and the United States are the front-runners to qualify from Group A, with Germany and Denmark likely contesting the fourth spot between them.
While the Finns are defending champions, they will be without Patrik Laine, the Columbus Blue Jackets forward who suffered an injury towards the end of the NHL season and has opted out of the world championships to focus on recovery. Meanwhile, veteran forward Valtteri Filppula, who captained Finland to double gold last year, has not been selected for this year’s team. They will instead rely on the Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen as one of the side’s strongest players this year.
On Team Sweden, the Anaheim Ducks’ Jakob Silfverberg – a Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medallist – is the most experienced head with an NHL background on the team’s extended 27-man preliminary list. Other NHLers include Rasmus Sandin and 21-year-old hotshot winger Lucas Raymond.
The United States have named a team mostly centred on players in the minor American Hockey League as well as college teams, with two-time Stanley Cup winner Nick Bonino the most experienced name on the squad. With yet another inexperienced and experimental squad, the Americans’ gold-medal drought might continue. They haven’t won World gold since clinching Olympic gold in 1960 that doubled as the world title. Indeed, they haven’t even reached the gold-medal game at a Worlds since then, although they did win bronze in 1996, 2004, 2013, 2015, 2018, and 2021.
Over in Group B, Canada are the favourites to win the group, even with a relatively young squad. An exception to that is the 34-year-old Milan Lucic, in line to make his World Championship debut for the Canadians.
Tyler Toffoli, who scored a personal-best 34 goals in the NHL this season, will help lead the front three. The 31-year-old Calgary Flames winger should help provide some experience, having won World gold in 2015. Additionally, World Junior Championship gold medallist Adam Fantilli – projected to be drafted second overall in this year’s NHL Draft – is in the squad and could raise his own stock even higher. In defence, Canada will rely on 34-year-old Brad Hunt to bring his know-how to the ice.
Czechia, Slovakia, and Switzerland all pose significant threats to the Canadians in this group. The Czechs have both Filip Chytil (22 goals for the New York Rangers) and Dominik Kubalik (20 goals for the Detroit Red Wings) among their forward group to provide the firepower. There is bad news for Slovakia however, as the breakout star from Beijing 2022 Juraj Slafkovsky has been excluded from the side after failing to recover from an injury sustained in January while playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Switzerland’s Nino Niederreiter is perhaps the most recognizable NHL name on a roster full of experience, mostly playing in the Swiss league.
Backed by the near-perfect goaltending of Thamida Kunthadapakorn, Thailand won the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Asia and Oceania Championship (IIHF WAOC) with a 3-1 win over Iran in the gold-medal game Sunday in Bangkok. The eight-team tournament saw Kunthadapakorn surrender just one goal in 260 minutes of playing time while her teammates outscored the opposition by a whopping 51-3 margin. The final game was the only one in which the Thais didn’t score at least 11 goals. Other countries competing in what was formerly known as the Challenge Cup of Asia included Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, India, Kyrgyzstan, and Kuwait. Singapore won the bronze earlier in the day with a 3-1 win over India. For Iran and Kyrgyzstan these were historic games, their first women’s participation under the IIHF umbrella. The tournament is particularly valuable to these nations which are not competing in an IIHF World Championship event but nonetheless gives them international experience and also helps prepare them for the Asia Winter Games which will next be played in Trojena, Saudi Arabia, in 2029. The IIHF WAOC tournament started in 2010, and was won by China in that inaugural season. This year marked the second time Thailand won, the first coming in 2019, the last time the event was played before covid-19 forced the cancellation of hockey worldwide. It also marked the second time Thailand had hosted the event, and all 20 games were played at the Thailand International Ice Hockey Arena in Bangkok, which has the standard international dimensions of 60m x 30m. The explosion of hockey in Asia, and Thailand in particular, is further evident by the imminent opening of another rink, in Chiang Mai, about 700km north of Bangkok, this summer. In the case of India, the team was coached by Canadian Darrin Harrold, and some 18 of the 20 players came from Ladakh, a region in the far north that is making a major push to develop hockey. The winning Thais were also coached by a Canadian, Rory Rawlyk, while the players came from a national women’s league that has also made a push to promote hockey. And in Iran, their first rink opened four years ago, and the following year a women’s team was formed, mostly from Inline players. The Tehran Times covered the 2023 IIHF WAOC, an important symbol of respect for the emerging popularity of the game. In the United Arab Emirates, the team held a two-week training camp prior to the tournament, an event they hosted in 2019. The tournament was played with two groups in vertical structure, the top four in Group A (Thailand, Singapore, Macau, UAE) and the lower-ranked four in Group B. The last two teams in Group B—Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait—didn’t qualify for the playoffs while the top two in A—Thailand and Singapore—automatically advanced to the semi-finals. Key to Thailand’s win in the final game was holding tournament scoring leader, Fatemeh Esmaeili, in check. Although she led all players with a whopping 17 goals and 26 points in just five games, she was held pointless in the game for gold. At the other end, it was captain Thipwarintorn Yannakornthanapunt who led the way, scoring two goals in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and carry her team to victory. Incredibly, she also took 34 of the team’s 38 total faceoffs in the game, winning 19 (64 per cent). Supitsara Thamma had given the Thais the early lead, but Zahra Rezaei Jafari tied the game for Iran midway through the second, setting the stage for Yannakornthanapunt’s heroics in the final period. All in all, the Thai win was impressive and important, but the tournament was, in the bigger picture, indicative of an ever-growing development of the women’s game in the Far East and the evident sense that this growth is only just beginning.
But over the past seven days in Nottingham,Great Britainmanaged to do that. And then some.
The fairytale ending that everyone connected with the national team wanted for captainJonathan Phillipswas delivered, the Sheffield Steelers’ skipper bowing out of his international career on the ultimate high of leading his team back to the elite group of powerhouse hockey nations such as Canada, Sweden and Finland.
Five games, five wins. The only blemish – if it could be called that – was not putting Poland away in 60 minutes on the second day of the Division 1A tournament at the Motorpoint Arena.
But they got the job done in overtime, the same as they got the job done overall – the party atmosphere that followed Friday night’s deserved 5-3 win over Italy a stark contrast to the tears that were shed when they came down from the top pool after three years just under 12 months ago in Finland.
With Poland having taken care of business earlier in the day against Romania – as expected – it meant the hosts and their Italian opponents went into the final game knowing only one of them would be returning at the first attempt.
Home ice is clearly an advantage at such events but, by the same token, it can also bring with it added pressures, greater expectations.
GB had dealt with that situation well all week but, with everything on the line it was always going to be the toughest examination of their top-tier credentials so far.
The chanting from the sellout home crowd started before the first puck was dropped and it hardly relented all night.
The crowd got their reward just over five minutes in when the hosts went on the power play for the first time following a hooking call on Italy’s Phil Pietroniro.
The man advantage was only 13 seconds old when Mike Hammong took the puck from Evan Mosey and picked out Brett Perlini to poke it home at the back post.
Johnny Curran almost doubled the lead when firing from the right circle following a break by Josh Waller but the next goal came at the other end.
A delayed penalty call gave Italy the extra skater and they used it well, creating space for captain Thomas Larkin to fire through traffic from centre ice just inside the blue line, his effort taking at least one deflection on its way past Ben Bowns and into the net at 11.21.
Ben O’Connor and then Mike Hammond saw shots blocked shortly after as GB tried to hit back quickly whenLiam Kirkshowed his agility to drive behind the back of the Italy net.
It wasn’t too long into the second period, however, before the GB crowd were on their feet again, only 59 seconds having elapsed before Cade Neilson deceived Fazio by looking to pass across the front of net before steering the puck through the Italian netminder to make it 2-1.
But the Italians refused to go away and were level again just over three minutes later, Alex Petan driving the puck through Bowns from 10 yards out as he fell to the ice off-balance at 24.34.
The scoring pattern continued for the rest of the period, but it was a special goal which put the hosts ahead for a third time when Hammond received the puck at the bottom of the left circle from Ollie Betteridge before proceeding to deceive Fazio by sending him the wrong way and backhanding home into the exposed net from a tight angle to make it 3-2 at 28.43.
But, like a bad smell, Italy came back once more, Daniel Perli showing great composure to fire past Bowns’s left shoulder to drag his team level for a third time at 34.29.
It seemed as if GB were simply unable to press home their advantage any further when forging ahead each time, something they did for a fourth time when – on a delayed penalty – Kirk found Hammond in the left circle again and, in an almost carbon copy of the opening goal, he picked our Perlin at the back post to tap home again at 35.57.
Now the challenge was building on that lead and making it tougher for their opponents to get back in the game.
But they couldn’t pull clear, although they were able to keep the Italians at bay, with Bowns hardly tested at all during the third period.
Mike Keenan’s team huffed and puffed but failed to create any meaningful clear-cut chances.
In the end, the only goal in the final 20 minutes came at the other end, good hassling by Kirk turning the puck over behind the Italy goal, before he laid it back into the path of Neilson who, with Fazio having been pulled with over two minutes remaining, stroked it home to finally give GB the two-goal cushion they had craved all night.
It was a cushion they were not going to let go of.
The Polish team finished runner-up, behind hosts Great Britain, at the championship, which was held in Nottingham from April 29 to May 5th
The Polish men’s national ice hockey team won four matches in the tournament, defeating Lithuania 7-0, Italy 4-2, South Korea 7-0, and Romania 6-2, according to the Polish Ice Hockey Federation (PZHL).
The Poles, coached by Slovak Robert Kalaber , lost to Great Britain 4-5 in extra time, the Polish Ice Hockey Federation said.
The Polish team went into the tournament ranked 22nd in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
Poland are returning to the elite pool after a hiatus of more than two decades, news outlets reported.
“It’s really amazing,” said Poland captain Krystian Dziubiński. “I’ve been waiting for Poland to go back to the top division since I was a kid.”
Forward Alan Ł yszczarczyk said: “It’s awesome. I’ve been working for this my whole life. We all have. Now the dream has come true for everyone.”
Poland will face off against the likes of Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland at next year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Czechia.
Japan capped off a perfect Division I Group B tournament with a victory over Ukraine in the last game. As a result, Japan has earned a promotion to Group A next season. Led by two power-play goals from Yushiroh Hirano, Japan built up a 5-0 lead and then held on to win 5-3 before a largely pro-Ukrainian crowd of 3870.
“I don’t care how we play, just as long as we win this one,” said Hirano, holding the gold first-place trophy. “I appreciate the work of my teammates and the coaching staff too.”
The Ukrainians, who had won three in a row after opening with a 5-4 overtime loss to China, could have finished first with a regulation win and were not badly outplayed in the game, but failed to capitalize on their chances until it was too late. Ukraine outshot Japan 33-29 in the game.
“It was a hard game for us,” said Ukrainian head coach Vadym Shakhraichuk. “I believed until the last second that we could come back but Japan was unbelievable. Only second place this year but maybe next season we can win first place.”
Kento Suzuki opened the scoring just shy of the eight-minute mark. Right off a faceoff, he leaned into a one-timer that hit a Ukrainian player and bounced down off the ice, fooling Bogdan Dyachenko.
The next bad break for Ukraine came late in the first period when Dymitro Nymenko was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding. With 31 seconds left in the period, Hirano struck for the first time, teeing up a slapper from the point that went over Dyachenko’s glove.
Early in the second period, two straight Japanese penalties gave Ukraine plenty of power-play time and 34 seconds of 5-on-3. They moved the puck well but the Japanese penalty-killers were relentless, blocking numberous shots, including one that robbed Danil Trakht of what looked like a sure empty-net goal.
“Every single player sacrificed himself, that’s why we won this game,” said Hirano.
And then two nearly identical goals 21 seconds apart put Japan in firm control. The first was another power-play goal by Hirano and the second was by Kenta Takagi, both lasers over the glove. At that point, Dyachenko was lifted in favour of Eduard Zakharchenko.
Less than a minute later, just past the game’s midpoint, Ukraine appeared to get on the board but Japanese coach Perry Pearn challenged for goaltender interference, which was upheld.
“I looked up and saw the replay on the board and that made me really confident to call it,” said Pearn. “It looked pretty obvious to me, so it was an easy call and we’d been killing penalties pretty well anyway, so we were confident.”
In the first minute of the third period, Ukraine suffered another bad break when Zakharenko charged out of the net to play the puck, but his clearing attempt hit the chest of Japan’s Kosuke Otsu and bounced into the net to make it 5-0.
Cue the Ukrainian comeback attempt.
On the power play with 14:48 to play, Olexi Vorona’s fifth of the tournament finally got Ukraine on the board. Then it was Ukraine’s turn to get a lucky bounce when Yuta Narisawa stopped Vitali Lialka’s shot and played the rebound to teammate Takagi, who inadvertently played the puck into his own net.
Finally, Illia Korenchuk found the top corner with 3:27 to play and it was suddenly, and surprisingly, a two-goal game.
“We opened the door a little bit with the penalty, and they pushed and pushed.” said Pearn. “Ukraine, you gotta give them credit, they played hard till the end.”
Zakharchenko came out of the net for a sixth attacker as the Ukrainians went for it all, but although they furiously attacked the Japanese net, they simply ran out of time.
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