Month: January 2023

Germany ice hockey team appoint Harold Kreis as head coach

The Canadian-born Kreis has spent most of his adult life in German hockey

By Chuck Penfold –

The German Ice Hockey Association (DEB) confirmed on Monday what had been widely expected since late last week, appointing Harold Kreis, 64, as the man to lead Germany into the upcoming World Championship and beyond. Kreis, who is currently coach of the Schwenniger Wild Wings of the Germany’s top league, the DEL, will step into the role at the end of current domestic season. 

He replaces Toni Söderholm, who surprisingly stepped down in the autumn to take over as head coach with top Swiss National League outfit SC Bern. Kreis’s contract runs through the next Winter Olympic Games and the 2026 World Championship. Alexander Sulzer, a former NHL defenseman, who had spells at the Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators, will be his assistant. 

DEB President Peter Merten said the association’s board believed that the coaching team of Kreis and Sulzer were capable of “permanently establishing the men’s national team among the world’s top eight (ice hockey) nations.”

Aiming to build on recent progress

“I have experienced a lot in my career, but now to work as a national coach is something very special, it’s a great honor for me,” Kreis said, before acknowledging the work of his predecessors, Söderholm and Marco Sturm, who led Germany to an unprecedented silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

“The development of the team has been extremely positive in recent years. The team has progressed in terms of attitude, conviction and self-confidence. This started under Marco and continued under Toni. It’s my aim to ensure that this continues under Alex and myself,” Kreis said. 

“The days when you (Germany) would go into a game against Sweden or Canada and think ‘let’s just try to keep the score down’ — those days are over.”  

Vast coaching experience

The Winnipeg, Canada, native never played professionally in North America, instead turning pro at the age of 19 with top German club the Mannheim Eagles, where he spent 18 seasons, culminating in the retirement of his No. 3 jersey. He represented West Germany 180 times, including at the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics.   

Kreis went into coaching shortly after hanging up his skates in 1997, starting out as an assistant before going on to become a head coach in both Germany and Switzerland. His two greatest successes were winning Swiss titles with Lugano and ZSC Lions Zurich. 

Kreis is also no stranger to being behind the bench with the national team, having worked as an assistant coach at the 2010, 2011, and 2012 World Championships. 

His first major test as national team coach is set to come at the World Championships to be hosted by Finland and Latvia from May 12 to 28. 

Chinese juniors make winning return

The Chinese players celebrate after receiving the gold medals and trophy at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II Group A.

By Andy Potts –

China’s U20s national team returned to the ice after a two-year absence – and duly secured gold for the first time since 2019. Next year the team could play at its highest level since relegation to Division III in 2011.

The People’s Republic arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland, for this Division IIB tournament as something of an unknown quantity. The competition was cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic and the Chinese team was unable to compete in last year’s edition as the country continued with strict travel restrictions. As a result, none of the 2023 roster had previous experience of U20 competition. However, on its return to the international stage, the team started out with a battling overtime win over Belgium and went on to defeat all opponents on its way to gold.

After that nerve-jangling start, China went from strength to strength. Game two brought a 4-0 win over Mexico, then came an 8-2 thrashing of top-seeded Serbia. Host nation Iceland could not capitalize on home advantage and the final game on Sunday ended in another 8-2 scoreline against Chinese Taipei.

Wei Ziyao, China’s ‘Mr. Versatile’ in Iceland, reflected on the tournament for the IIHF’s Weibo broadcast. “We got better and better throughout the five games,” he said. “When we first arrived, we were nervous in the first game. Through our constant discussions with each other and communication with the coach, the whole team gradually got better. We are excited about the result.”

His captain, Chen Kailin, paid tribute to his colleagues’ adaptability and willingness to learn – game to game, period to period and shift to shift. The players responded well to the input of head coach Aleksandrs Macijevskis. The 47-year-old Latvian, a much-travelled forward in a playing career that criss-crossed the Baltic, previously coached his homeland’s women’s national team and won a Latvian championship with Kurbads in 2018.

Wei was a great example of that. After arriving in Iceland expecting to play on the blue line, he found himself moved to the other end of the rink after a couple of games. He responded with 5 (3+2) points in the concluding games.

“I started playing defence,” Wei added. “Our coach thought we needed more power on the offensive side and changed my position to forward. I was a bit nervous at first, but then I realized that as long as I focused on my own game, it was actually a bit less difficult than I expected. If I just concentrate on my own game, I can play better and better. It’s a process.”

A Belgian battle

That opening win against eventual runner-up Belgium proved decisive for the entire tournament. It was the only game the Belgians lost, and they came within five minutes of winning it in regulation. The European team led three times in the game. A second-minute tally from Lowie Verys, assisted by his brother Tijs, was cancelled out by China’s captain Kailin Chen in the first period. The second session saw Tobi Gentry and Tenghe Huang exchange markers, then Huang turned provider in the third as Rong Luan replied to Enrique de Meyere’s effort.

China got its tying goal on 55:00, having previously survived a three-on-five penalty kill with the score at 2-3. Overtime saw the Chinese produce some of their best hockey of the game, and Zhiyi Lyu potted the winner 33 seconds before the need for a shoot-out.

Lyu, the game-winner in that opener, is one of a clutch of players currently based in North America. His eight points placed him among the team’s leading scorers, just behind captain Chen (who plays in the OJHL) and Li Mingshenhao, another OJHL prospect. They both had nine points.

Netminder Chen Shifeng got the directorate prize for the best goalie in the tournament. His 95.32% save ratio was the best in the competition, while his colleague Tian Boyan was second for that metric with 92.65%. Those figures also speak to the solid defence that guided China through the competition.

Chen Kailin talked up the value of his previous tournament with China, a pre-Covid U18 championship in 2019. “Everyone was a bit nervous in the first two games,” he added. “There were players who were playing at a World Championship for the first time. It was my second time playing for a junior national team and as a senior player I should lead the team, lighten up the dressing room and cheer the players up when we were behind. The result is good. I feel very happy.”

Silver for Belgium, another bronze for Serbia

With China unbeaten, the battle for silver and bronze was settled on the final day when Serbia faced Belgium. The Serbs, who finished third on home ice last season, peppered Belgian goalie Stijn Raeymaekers with 56 shots, but only managed three goals. At the other end, Lowie Vreys produced a 5-point game to lead the Red Devils to a 6-3 win. His contribution also took the defender to the top of the tournament scoring charts, beating his brother Tijs. Lowie was named best D-man for the competition, with Serbia’s Matija Dinic named best forward after finishing with 11 (4+7) points to help his team to a second successive bronze.

At the other end of the standings, the relegation battle went to the final game. Mexico, promoted from Division III last season, lost its opening four games but still had a shot at salvation if it could defeat Iceland and force a three-way tie that would also involve Chinese Taipei. However, backed by the home crowd, Iceland was in no mood to jeopardize its status at this level. The home team romped to a 7-0 victory, finishing in fourth and sending the Mexicans back to the level they came from. Chinese Taipei, one of two promoted teams last season, preserved its status thanks to victory over Mexico.

An agreement on the establishment of the Association for the Development of Ice Hockey of Islamic Countries was signed in Kazan

Source: Kazan hockey Cup

On January 17, at the international hockey forum of the first tournament among Islamic countries, the KazanHockey cup, the first meeting of the working group of the Association for the  Development of Hockey of Islamic Countries took place.

Delegates from 13 countries, leaders of the hockey federations of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, Iran, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and representatives of the Ice Hockey Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan agreed on cooperation and interaction in the development of hockey, organization of joint sports tournaments, exchange of experience between federations.

The President of the Tatarstan Ice Hockey Federation, Nail Maganov , was elected as the head of the international Association with headquarters in Kazan  . President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Kyrgyzstan Anvar Omorkanov was elected Vice-President in the Asian region, President of  the UAE Winter Sports Federation  Hamel Al- Qubeisi was elected Vice-President in the Middle East region .

The purpose of the organization is the development of hockey in states with the leading religion of Islam, the development and popularization of hockey in the regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Cooperation will allow countries to adopt the experience of Russian hockey, train players, coaches and referees and gain access to methods for training young hockey players.

Anvar Omorkanov , President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Kyrgyzstan:

– Tatarstan has a long history of hockey development, there is the country’s leading club Ak Bars, where the best hockey players of the country play, the best training conditions have been created for the players on the basis of the team. We are amazed at the level of infrastructure for children’s and adult hockey, and we are also very pleased that we were able to take part in such a tournament.

Cooperation with the Ice Hockey Federation of Tatarstan will be a great impetus for the development of hockey in Islamic countries. By adopting the experience of the leaders of the hockey world, our colleagues from the Middle East and Africa will be able to do even more to promote and develop our game.

There are still many Islamic countries in the world where hockey is also played, and our organization will grow. One of the goals of the association is to include hockey in the Islamic Solidarity Games, which will give our sport even more momentum.

Hamel Al-Qubeisi , President of the UAE Winter Sports Federation:

– Many thanks to Kazan and Tatarstan for their hospitality, we thank the participants for the tournament, the forum and our meeting. We are glad that now our cooperation in the field of hockey is reaching a new level. The popularity of hockey in our countries is growing, in the UAE the demand for classes already exceeds our capabilities, especially hockey is attractive to girls.

The conditions of Tatarstan for the development of sports impressed all the guests, and it was not in vain that we chose Kazan as the headquarters of our new organization. It is the northernmost capital of the Islamic world and the hockey leader among Muslim regions. We are confident that through our joint work we will achieve high results and do our best for the development of hockey in the world.

The First Hockey Tournament Among Teams of Islamic Countries & The Republic of Tatarstan

Source: The Ice Hockey Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan

From January 14 to January 17, the first ice hockey tournament among teams of Islamic countries and the Republic of Tatarstan will be held in the city of Kazan at Tatneft Arena and the Sports Palace. The event was organized following the decisions of the international summit “Russia – Islamic World: Kazan Summit 2022”.

12 male and 5 female amateur teams will take part in the competition. Hockey players from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan will play in the men’s division, players from Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon will form a combined team. Tatarstan will be represented by the Ak Bars team and the hockey team of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan. The men’s teams are divided into three divisions. They will play each other in a round-robin format.

On January 17 at 19:00, a gala match will take place on the ice of the Tatneft Arena, in which the best players of each team will take part

Athletes from Tatarstan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will compete in the women’s Division. The five women’s teams will play in one group, and the two best of teams will advance to the final

The opening match of the tournament will be held on January 14 at the Sports Palace at 13:00.

National Ice hockey team set to tour USA and Canada

The Kenya Ice lions hockey team pose for a photo with playing equipments donated by Former Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman with Kenyan routes Johnny Oduya after a playing session at the Panari Solar Ice Rink in Nairobi on July 13, 2022.

Kenya Ice Lions captain Benjamin Mburu is glad to be among the pioneers of ice hockey that is slowly gaining interest in Kenya.

The 28- year-old center player feels honoured and privileged to skipper the national team that has started to go places.

The team is already planning for a tour of the USA in August and Canada in December where the players will gain vital skills from world beaters contesting the coveted National Hockey League (NHL).

It will be the second time that the Kenyan side will be visiting North America following their successful tour of the region four years ago.

“We gained vital lessons during our visit to Canada in 2018,” Mburu told Standard Sports.

*The trip completely transformed the team for the better.”

After Canada the Kenyan outfit had a change to travel to South Africa where they did a commercial advert for e-commerce firm Ali Baba.

They Also had a opportunity to attend the Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to learn more about the game.

Mburu is definitely happy with the rise of the sport after he was introduced to the game by a close friend in 2015.

His dedication and hard work has made him scale up the ladder to a point where he is now the nation team skipper.

For one to be a force to reckon with in the game, Mburu says they need to be resilient.

He warns that the sport is quite physical and very unforgiving.

“There are lots of body checks during play, so you need to train hard and cultivate a mental fortitude ,” he advises.

Mburu believes Kenya has the potential to become a powerhouse in the sportin the continent if the team gets proper playing gear and an Olympic size ice rink.

Guenther’s golden goal in OT helps Canada down Czech Republic, capturing 2nd straight WJHC title

Canada’s Dylan Guenther, center, celebrates his power-play goal with teammates during the first period of the gold-medal game against the Czech Republic at the world junior hockey championship on Thursday in Halifax.

Source: The Canadian Press

Canada got the revenge it desperately craved — and is golden again at the world junior hockey championship.

Dylan Guenther scored his second goal of the night at 6:22 of overtime as the tournament hosts survived a blown 2-0 lead in the third period to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2 in the final of the world junior hockey championship Thursday in Halifax.

The Arizona Coyotes forward took a pass from Joshua Roy on a 2-on-1 to give his country its 20th title at the men’s under-20 event.

Shane Wright, on his 19th birthday, had the other goal for Canada. Thomas Milic made 24 saves.

Canada is the first team to repeat since the country won five straight gold medals between 2005 and 2009 after Connor Bedard and seven other returnees also topped the pandemic-delayed summer showcase in Edmonton.

Bedard was named tournament MVP.

Jiri Kulich and Jakub Kos replied for the Czech Republic. Tomas Suchanek stopped 35 shots.

The Czechs beat a disjointed Canada for the first time in 3,285 days when they picked up what was at the time a stunning 5-2 victory on December. 26th, and appeared in the final for the first time since their only gold-medal triumphs in 2000 and 2001.

The Czech Republic finished fourth in the summer and earned its first medal since 2005. The United States picked up a wild 8-7 overtime victory against Sweden to take bronze earlier on Thursday.

Bedard, the Canadian phenom who rewrote page after page of both tournament and national records book in Halifax, was held off the scoresheet Thursday.

It didn’t matter.

The Czechs came close inside an ear-splitting Scotiabank Centre midway through the first period when Gabriel Szturc hit the crossbar.

Unhappy with the Czech Republic’s exuberant celebrations following its Boxing Day victory, the Canadians made good on their first power play.

Guenther, one of three NHLers loaned to the national team for the tournament along with Wright and Brandt Clarke, blasted a shot bar down for his sixth of the tournament at 12:41 before the familiar strains of “Heave Away” by The Fables rang around the rink washed in red and white.

Milic, who made 43 saves in a 6-2 semifinal victory over the Americans, was excellent again as the period wore on with stops on Kulich and Martin Rysavy.

Caedan Bankier nearly made it 2-0 for Canada early in the second on a short-handed breakaway, but the goal was waved off for goalie interference after he crashed into Suchanek.

The Czech netminder then made big stops on Zack Ostapchuk and Logan Stankoven on separate one-on-one sequences before Wright struck.

The No. 4 pick in last summer’s NHL draft, who had an up-and-down tournament until Thursday, grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and fought off a defender before stepping past two more and roofing a backhand upstairs on the shortside for his fourth at 4:35.

Wright watched every world junior final on his birthday growing up, and the crowd responded after his goal by singing “Happy Birthday” for the Canadian captain.

Brennan Othmann, who turned 20 on Thursday, nearly made it 3-0, but Suchanek made to massive pad stops on a man advantage.

Wright nearly scored on a 2-on-1 midway through the third on a chance that would have sealed it, but the Czechs finally got on the board with 7:30 seconds left in regulation when Kulich pop a rebound off the post home.

Jakub Kos then tied it to stun the Canadians and the partisan crowd just 54 seconds later after Clarke couldn’t clear the puck twice from his own zone to force the extra period.

Guenther then etched his name in world junior lore.

Projected to go No. 1 at the 2023 NHL draft, Bedard set a boatload of records in the Maritimes.

The scintillating 17-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., Bedard owns the national record with 23 all-time points and 17 all-time goals at the world juniors.

Bedard also established a new mark for the most points by a Canadian in a single tournament with 23, owns the national record with 14 assists at one event, and registered the most points by a player aged 18 or younger.

Bedard’s 19 assists all-time are one short of the national mark held by Ryan Ellis, while he was a point shy of tying Markus Naslund and Raimo Helminen for the second-most by a player from any country at a tournament.

He’s also the first player in history to score four goals twice — doing it against Austria this summer and again in Halifax.

Canada beat Slovakia 4-3 in overtime in the quarterfinals on Bedard’s jaw-dropping solo effort before roaring back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the United States in the semis.

The Czechs walloped Switzerland in the quarters and scored late in regulation to set up a 2-1 OT victory against Sweden before falling to the pre-tournament favorite’s in the final.

Lucius completes hat trick in OT as U.S. beats Sweden for world junior bronze

The American team poses with their bronze medals following their overtime win over Sweden on Thursday at the world junior hockey championship in Halifax.

Source: The Canadian Press

Chaz Lucius completed a hat trick in overtime as the United States beat Sweden 8-7 in a wild bronze-medal game Thursday at the world junior hockey championship in Halifax.

The Winnipeg Jets prospect scored in the three-on-three sudden-death period when he flipped a backhand over Swedish goaltender Carl Lindbom.

Lindbom had stopped an initial chance from Lane Hutson, but the rebound went unclaimed until Lucius swept in and clinched a game that saw the U.S., which was coming off a 6-2 loss to Canada in a semifinal on Wednesday, give up multiple leads before finally prevailing.

“We were not really happy with losing Canada. But it is what it is and right when we got out of the locker room [Wednesday], we said, ‘You know what? We’ve have you got a medal [on the line],” U.S. captain Luke Hughes said.

“It’s really important for USA Hockey. It’s really important for us as a team. We all came together and just focused on playing 60 minutes and just leaving it all out there.”

Cutter Gauthier had two goals for the Americans, who have won a medal in six of the last eight world juniors. Logan Cooley, Ryan Ufko and Hughes also scored.

“It’s not the game we want to be in,” Lucius said. “But overall it’s a really memorable experience.”

Filip Bystedt scored twice, including a tying goal with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, and added an assist for Sweden. Oskar Pettersson, Leo Carlsson, Milton Oscarson, Liam Ohgren and Noah Ostlund had the other goals for Sweden.

It was a second heartbreaking overtime loss for the Swedes in as many days in Halifax after dropping a 2-1 semifinal decision to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Kaidan Mbereko picked up the win in goal for the U.S. after stopping 14 of 16 shots in the third period and overtime. He replaced Trey Augustine, who gave up five goals on 20 shots over the first 40 minutes.

Lindbom made 28 saves on 36 shots.

Cooley opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game. It was the seventh goal of the tournament for the third-overall selection by the Arizona Coyotes at the 2022 NHL draft.

A low-scoring first period gave way to a chaotic second that saw the United States build a two-goal lead three times only to come out of the period tied 5-5.

Ufko put the Americans up 2-0 with a power-play goal in the first two minutes of the period before Bystedt got Sweden on the board less than two minutes later.

Lucius, with his first of the game, restored the Americans’ two-goal lead until Sweden tied it with goals just over two minutes apart from Pettersson and Carlsson.

Once again, the Americans surged ahead on goals from Gauthier and Lucius. But the Swedes replied with another quick pair as Oscarson and Ohgren scored in the final seconds of the period.

Ostlund scored four minutes into the third to put Sweden up 6-5, but the Swedes’ only lead of the game lasted just four minutes 17 seconds. After being knocked to the ice, Hughes shovelled the puck at the net on his knees and beat a surprised Lindbom.

“We’re not losing this game,” Hughes yelled at the players on the U.S. bench while celebrating the goal.

Gauthier appeared to have won the game with a power-play goal 97 seconds from the end of regulation as he tucked the puck under a sprawling Lindbom.

The goal survived a lengthy review, much to the relief of the Americans. The U.S. had two goals disallowed in a 6-2 semifinal loss to Canada on Wednesday.

The Swedes would not go quietly. Bystedt snapped the puck past Mbereko with 21 second left as the U.S. surrendered a lead for the third time in the game.

American forward Tyler Boucher missed the game with an injury and was replaced by Noah Laba.

Tournament of ice hockey begins in Chitral village

Ice Hockey in Pakistan

An ice hockey match under way in Parwak village of Upper Chitral district on Tuesday.

Source: Dawn

PESHAWAR: An ice hockey tournament kicked off in Parwak village of Upper Chitral district on Tuesday, providing a thrilling and rare opportunity of entertainment to the young boys and girls, who were divided into eight teams.

Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad Ms Leslie Scanlon had arrived in the village along with her daughter, who refereed the inaugural match of the event played between the fox and snow leopard teams. The latter won the match by three goals.

A large number of locals had thronged the venue located in the centre of the village, where an ice surface had been developed for the game with the financial support of Canadian High Commission and facilitated by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme.

The people evinced great interest in the newly-introduced game, and were impressed by the performance of the young players, who had worked vigorously during the past two years when ice hockey was introduced here by the Canadian government.

Ice hockey is the national game of Canada.

The participants said it was quite a new and thrilling game for them, adding the game would become popular with the locals like polo, thus becoming the best pastime for them in winter.

A woman councillor, Sara Shah said participation of little girls in the game was highly appreciable and the game promised gender equality in the area, where girls had also excelled in the field of education.

Speaking on this occasion, Ms Scanlon said the topography of the area was ideal for the game. She said future of the game would depend on the interest of the local communities.

She expressed her determination to support the ice hockey and other snow-related games in the area. Later, she visited the stalls of locally made handicraft and food items and expressed her interest in them.

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