Month: May 2024

In 2025, the IIHF Men’s World Championship is expected to welcome two new participants, Armenia and Uzbekistan

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The IIHF Men’s World Championship, scheduled for 2025, will witness the inclusion of Armenia and Uzbekistan as new entrants. Both countries have expressed their desire to participate in this renowned ice hockey tournament, highlighting their commitment to developing the sport within their borders. This expansion reflects the increasing interest and enthusiasm for ice hockey worldwide, as nations strive to showcase their skills on the international stage.

The President of the Kuwaiti Winter Games Club, Fuhaid Al-Ajmi, recently revealed that the upcoming Division 4 tournament organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation will include Iran, Kuwait, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, and Armenia. This expansion will see the number of participating teams increase from four to six, providing more opportunities for countries to compete at the international level.

Despite the exciting news of the tournament expansion, one key detail remains uncertain – the host country for the championship. With no official host announced yet, the participating teams are eagerly awaiting further updates from the International Ice Hockey Federation. The addition of two more teams to the tournament lineup adds an extra layer of anticipation and excitement for both players and fans alike.

Singapore’s participation in the IIHF World Championship

The IIHF has recently announced the tournament hosts and participants for the upcoming 2024-25 season, in both the Men’s World Championship, and the Women’s World Championship. It is noteworthy that Singapore has been selected to be a part of both categories. This decision by the IIHF showcases the growing recognition and development of ice hockey in Singapore, as the country joins other nations in hosting and competing in this prestigious event.

EXCLUSIVE: Former Swiss hockey star Mark Streit on the IIHF Worlds & playing in the NHL

Mark Streit started his overseas career in Montreal

By Martin Tomaides

Source: Flashscore.com

Before the current generation of Swiss hockey players emerged in the NHL, Mark Streit (46) was one of the few who proudly represented the Alpine country in the best league in the world.

The former New York Islanders captain and 2017 Stanley Cup winner with PittsburghStreit was in Prague during the IIHF World Championship to show off the latest edition of the watch company he co-founded, Norqain.

In this exclusive interview with Flashscore, he talks about the ongoing tournament, the thirteen World Championships he played in during his career and, of course, his rich career in the NHL.

Tell me, is it a coincidence that you found yourself in Prague promoting the Norqain brand at the exact moment of the IIHF World Championship or was that planned?

“Actually, it’s half and half. The CEO of the company, Ben Küffer, came to us with the idea that we were going to have a company event at the Koscom store in Prague in May, so I immediately thought it was the perfect date.”

And how did you enjoy Switzerland‘s win over Finland in the group stage?

“It was no big deal for Finland, but the atmosphere in the arena was still great. I love Prague, I played here at the championships in 2004 and 2015 and when I connect it to all the championships I’ve been to, Prague is the top for me in terms of the city, the fans, the hotels or the infrastructure.

“Although playing at home in Switzerland was of course great too.”

What made the tournament so special for you?

“People love hockey here, the stadiums are always full, the people are friendly, there is beer drinking, singing and cheering everywhere. Plus, it’s beautiful here. There are lots of interesting things to do in the city on your days off.

“That’s why I convinced Ben that we should come during the tournament and experience it all again.”

The Swiss have advanced to the final four at the tournament

So you only caught one game live, but I assume you watched the tournament before that?

“I didn’t miss the Swiss matches on TV, and I still know a lot of the players and am in contact with them. I texted Nino Niederreiter and goalkeeper Leonardo Genoni after the game, that’s all I could do. They had to quickly head to Ostrava for their quarter-final against Germany.”

‘The best team we’ve ever had’

Switzerland have a really strong squad at the current tournament, led by defender Roman Josi and forward Kevin Fiala. How do you evaluate the tournament from a Swiss point of view?

“It’s probably the best team we’ve ever had at the World Championship. It’s great that all the NHL players were able to come, the only one missing from the stars is actually the injured Timo Meier.

“For me, it is very important to have experienced players in the team, because in key games patience, calmness and the aforementioned experience are irreplaceable.”

If you have to single out one Swiss player, who do you like the most?

“Roman Josi is without a doubt one of the best defenders of today. He regularly plays 82 games in the NHL, averages 24 minutes on the ice, struggles in the playoffs and then comes to represent anyway, even though he’s definitely banged up from the season.

“I really appreciate this dedication, Switzerland need him and he’s playing great. I met Roman at the championship in 2009, we started training together over the summer and became good friends. We even attended each other’s wedding. He is an excellent hockey player.”

Josi is now 33 years old but the Swiss have a younger generation, such as 2017 No. 1 draft pick Nico Hischier.

“He’s excellent, of course, and I also expect a lot from Lian Bichsel, the 20-year-old defenseman drafted in the first round by Dallas two years ago, but otherwise I’m not so optimistic. We need more young and skilled players, right now I don’t quite see us producing another first-round draft pick.”

Streit was captain of the NY Islanders for two seasons

On the other hand, ten Swiss have played in the NHL this season, nine of whom have key positions in their clubs. Slowly that number is going up. Do you know how many Swiss were in the competition when you started there in 2005/06?

“There were goalkeepers David Aebischer and Martin Gerber, and I think… Timo Helbling?”

That’s right. I must say, especially with the last name, you surprised me. However, the difference in quantity and especially in the roles on the ice is noticeable these days.

“The truth is that when I started in the NHL, I was one of a few. Now it’s easier, it’s known that Swiss hockey players can be good and they can be winners. They are personalities.

“When I established myself overseas and came to the World Championships in May, the pressure was really high. Everyone looked at me then as someone who had done something. And they thought that my arrival automatically meant a medal. Which was also hard for me, I was putting a lot more on my shoulders than I should have. And of course, the media didn’t help either, but this is a team sport, one or two players mean absolutely nothing.”

‘I’m worried about the future of Swiss hockey’

You had thirteen seasons in the NHL. You started at the famous Montreal, you became the first-ever Swiss captain at the NY Islanders and you broke the forty-point mark six times in a season. Do you feel like you’re the man who opened the door for other players from your country in the league?

“We already had a lot of very good hockey players before me, but the NHL was kind of far away. And we had it set in our heads that it was very hard to break in – a lot of games, a lot of travel, competition from the best players in the world.

“We had a number of good players who tried but came back home again without success. Then I broke through that thinking and got a solid position on the roster. Until then, only the goalkeepers had actually made it, but not the field players. But I think that helped a lot of the others, they saw that if I could do it, they could do it.”

And thanks to you, there are a lot of quality compatriots in the competition.

“But in my opinion, there should be a lot more. We have some star players in their ideal years and then there is a big gap. There’s a lack of lower-tier hockey players like Pius Suter in Vancouver.

“It makes me wonder what our national team will look like in, say, ten years. We need more competition from our own players in the Swiss league, right now every team is allowed to have six foreigners on the roster, that seems like a lot to me. And I’m not even talking about the second-highest league, which has many problems of its own since the days of COVID.

“This competition is important for young players between 16 and 17 years old. That’s where they should learn, so that’s why I’m a bit worried about the future of Swiss hockey. Besides, the Swiss league is attractive and the quality of life in the country is high, I understand that sometimes players don’t want to leave.”

Let’s go back to the NHL, you played 786 games in the league between 2005 and 2017 and scored 434 points. What’s the memory that ranks highest for you?

“The fact that I played for Pittsburgh at the end of my career and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning campaign was amazing. Sharing the locker room with (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin, (Kris) Letang and (Marc-Andre) Fleury was great, you just needed a few moments in the locker room and you could immediately feel why you were there to win. Pittsburgh is a top-notch organization.”

Streit brought the Stanley Cup to Bern

What was it like to hoist the Stanley Cup over your head?

“You see very quickly why it’s such a valuable trophy. It’s hugely addictive. But I also have fond memories of my first NHL game because it was always a dream to play there.

“I made my debut in Toronto as a player from rivals Montreal and I was so nervous I almost couldn’t play. To have that jersey with my name on it was unreal. Hockey is like a religion in Montreal.

“I also really appreciated the opportunity to be captain of the New York Islanders and play in the 2009 All-Star Game.”

But the Cup is just a Cup?

“That moment when you win it and then you have the opportunity to spend one whole day with it, read the names engraved on it… I’ll never forget it.”

What’s Sidney Crosby like?

“He’s an unbelievable fighter and his will to win is contagious. Plus he’s awfully humble and nice – when I was traded from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh he called me right away and welcomed me to the club. He’s also a huge professional and just watching him work hard every day and take care of his nutrition and his own body is great.”

You retired from active hockey seven years ago, how has retirement been?

“I didn’t have anything prepared ahead of time, I wanted to play as long as possible and I didn’t finish my career until I was 39. Shortly before that, I got married for the first time and we started a family. Professionally I tried my hand at being an expert on television, I was also at the hockey association for a while and then it came to setting up Norqain, which I am now involved in. But I’ve stayed with hockey a little bit because I’m on the board of directors of Bern Hockey.”

Do you still go on the ice?

“I used to go with the younger ones, especially the defensemen, and try to pass on something to them, but now it’s more about the watches. However, when you do something for so long, it’s hard to leave it. I miss hockey.

“When I quit I couldn’t watch the NHL at all, it bothered me that I couldn’t still be there. I’m so grateful that I was able to play hockey for so many years and that I had such a successful career. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I would, and that makes me very happy. Plus, playing in the NHL is the greatest job in the world.”

But by the watch, it’s good too, right?

“We have a great team in Norqain and many great collaborations, for example with the NHLPA and the Spengler Cup. So I’m still kind of a part of the hockey world, and I’m doing something that’s traditional for our country.”

Finally, let’s quickly get back to the ongoing tournament. Who will dominate it?

“I haven’t really been able to follow Group B that much, but I’ve heard that Sweden are playing unbelievably. On the other hand, it has happened in the past that teams that played great in the group have unexpectedly dropped out in the first battle for everything.

“However, look at how we unexpectedly lost to Germany a year ago, just one game! However, I still believe that Switzerland can make it to the final. And I really liked Canada, they played physically, they went after our best players… Canada definitely has a great chance too.

Women’s National Team Qualification Groups for the 2026 Olympic Games

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) recently unveiled the qualification groups for the women’s ice hockey teams aiming to participate in the 2026 Olympic Games held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. These groups will serve as the battlegrounds where teams will vie for their chance to represent their nations on the grand stage of the Winter Olympics.

Pre-qualifications will begin on November 7-10, 2024.

Tatarstan and the Baku Flames are Champions

 

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Over the span of five days, a total of 16 matches were played by seven teams divided into two groups. Group A witnessed the remarkable performance of the Tatarstan team, securing the first place by achieving three victories in three meetings. Their dominance continued in the semifinals as they triumphed over the combined team of Turkey and Mongolia (MIXED TEAM). In the final showdown, the hosts of the tournament showcased their strength by overcoming the resilient resistance of Kazakhstan in a thrilling shootout, ultimately emerging victorious with a score of 3:2. The bronze medal was awarded to Turkey and Mongolia (MIXED TEAM), who narrowly defeated Dordoi of Kyrgyzstan in a closely contested match, ending with a score of 7-6.

Meanwhile, the Baku Flames from Azerbaijan made an impressive international debut in Group B, clinching the top spot with two victories. Their journey culminated in the final match, where they achieved a resounding triumph over Bahrain with a score of 7:3. On the other hand, Iran secured the third place in the group, despite not securing any wins. However, they did engage in a friendly match against Turkey and Mongolia (MIXED TEAM) on the final day, emerging victorious with a score of 11:5.

Overall, the tournament showcased the exceptional skills and determination of various teams, with Tatarstan and the Baku Flames emerging as the champions of their respective groups. The intense matches and close contests demonstrated the competitive spirit of the participating teams, making the event a memorable one for both the players and the spectators.

Hungary & Slovenia Back Up to the elite group

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

As the match progressed, Hungary’s confidence grew, and they maintained their lead with strategic plays and quick counterattacks. The team’s resilience and focus were key in securing their victory in the final World Championship  game. Zétény Hadobás’s leadership and the players’ unwavering commitment to success were instrumental in ending the tournament on a high note for the Hungarian team.

Despite the Slovenian team’s potential for a swift response, Bálizs managed to hold them off once more. Following this, Mihály attempted to advance towards the goal, but was obstructed by Podlipnik who prevented him from regaining his footing – resulting in a two-minute delay. The puck was effectively utilized during the man advantage, with shots being directed at Kroselj’s goal, however, it appeared improbable to increase the lead. Hári’s shot came closest to scoring, but unfortunately ricocheted off the iron.

Despite the pressure from the opponents in the following two minutes, the Hungarian defense continued to operate smoothly. The team managed to hold off the attacks and maintain their composure. The players showed great determination and coordination in thwarting the opposition’s attempts to score.

The subsequent period marked a significant shift in the game dynamics. Initially, the Hungarian team played with great intensity, dominating the opponent. Papp, in particular, showcased his skills with a powerful shot that unfortunately hit the iron. However, in the 24th minute, Hári made a remarkable play from deep, causing the opposing full-back to slip, but he couldn’t outmaneuver the goalkeeper. Gradually, the Slovenian team started to find their rhythm, and Bálizs had to make several saves to protect the Hugarian goal. Unfortunately, in the 26th minute, he was unable to stop an unfortunate goal as Ticar managed to score while lying on the ground, catching the goalkeeper off guard. Papp had another opportunity, but the following minutes belonged to his opponent as Magovac made several attempts, with Bálizs standing firm in his position. However, in the 33rd minute, Ortenszky received a penalty, and during the two minutes, the Hungarian goalkeeper displayed his skills with four impressive saves, resulting in a draw. Varga capitalized on one of the few chances Hungary had and scored a goal, while Drozg and Cepon attempted to score on the opposite side.

As the game progressed, the Hungarian team’s resilience and determination became evident. Bálizs’ stellar goalkeeping skills were instrumental in keeping the team in the game and preventing the opposition from scoring. The team’s collective effort in defense, coupled with Bálizs’ outstanding performance, ultimately led to their successful navigation through a few tense moments near their goal. In the end, the Hungarian team emerged victorious, thanks to their solid defense and ability to overcome challenges on the ice.

Even with an equal number of players on both sides, the Hungarian team displayed a strong and coordinated effort throughout the game. The players maintained their composure and played with confidence until the very end. In the 57th minute, Cepon was penalized for two minutes, providing another chance for the Hungarian team to capitalize on the power play.

The game was intense, with both teams displaying skill and determination on the ice. Erdély and Podlipnik’s actions may have resulted in penalties, but the overall performance of the Hungarian team, particularly Bálizs and the defense, ensured that they emerged victorious. The players’ resilience and teamwork were key factors in their success during the game.

The Hungarian team’s victory over Slovenia not only earned them the gold medal but also established a new standard of success for the team. Their remarkable performance at the World Championship will be remembered as a turning point in their history, setting the stage for future triumphs and solidifying their reputation and a place in the elite group.

Slovenia’s impressive second-place finish also highlighted their capabilities and determination, ensuring that they will be a team to watch in the elite group for the upcoming year.

Ukraine defeats Lithuania and returns to the Division I Group A

Ukraine Promoted to Division I Group A

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The 2024 IIHF World Championship Division I Group B came to an exhilarating end in Vilnius as Ukraine triumphed over the host nation, Lithuania, with a commanding 4-1 victory. This remarkable win not only sealed Ukraine’s dominance in the group but also paved the way for their promotion to Division I Group A next season. After a long wait of seven years, Ukraine will finally make a comeback to the second flight, showcasing their prowess on the international ice hockey stage.

Ukraine’s performance was nothing short of impressive as they showcased their superiority in each match, leaving their competitors struggling to keep up. The team’s cohesive gameplay and strong offensive tactics were evident as they consistently outplayed their rivals.

It is worth noting that some of the team’s players actively participate in Ukraine’s domestic league, showcasing their skills and dedication to the sport even during challenging times. Despite the obstacles, the league continues to operate, providing a platform for these talented athletes to excel and compete.

Alexander Peresunko, the winger, emerged as the top scorer for the team, tallying an impressive 11 points on the scoreboard. Trailing closely behind was defenseman Igor Merezhko, who contributed nine points to the team’s overall performance.

 In the realm of hockey, Ukraine was once a formidable contender, leaving a lasting impact on the sport. Their remarkable streak of nine consecutive appearances in the elite division of the World Championships, from 1999 to 2007, is a testament to their skill and dedication. Although they narrowly missed out on the quarterfinals, their exceptional performance in 2002 propelled them to a commendable ninth place finish. It is worth mentioning that Coach Khristich played a pivotal role in shaping the success of this Ukrainian team.

Dream Nations Cup in NJ

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Men’s Final of the Dream Nations Cup in New Jersey witnessed an exhilarating showdown between Algeria and Armenia HC, with Algeria ultimately clinching a remarkable 7-6 victory in overtime. The match was a true spectacle, captivating the audience with its intense and nail-biting moments.

The Men’s Bronze medal game at the Dream Nations Cup in New Jersey left a lasting impression on spectators, highlighting the excitement and unpredictability of sports. Team Indigenous’s triumph over Egypt not only secured them a prestigious medal but also served as a testament to their talent and potential in the world of international competition. The match will be remembered as a thrilling and memorable moment in the history of the tournament.

Algeria Wins the first ever Dream Nations Cup.

The Dream Nations Cup Women’s Final in New Jersey provided an enthralling spectacle as Team Caribbean and Amsterdam Tigers clashed in a highly competitive encounter. The best 2 out of 3 contest saw both teams showcasing their skills and determination, resulting in a split of the first two games. The final match, however, took the excitement to another level, with Amsterdam Tigers securing an impressive 5-1 victory. Throughout the game, the audience was treated to intense and nerve-wracking moments, making it a truly captivating event that will be remembered for years to come.

The Women’s Bronze medal match at the Dream Nations Cup in New Jersey featured a thrilling showdown between Egypt and Team Indigenous (Six Nations). In a surprising turn of events, Egypt, competing in their first international tournament, emerged victorious with a 4-1 win. This historic triumph marked a significant milestone for Egypt’s inaugural women’s team, showcasing their talent and determination on the global stage.

Amsterdam Tigers capture the first ever Dream nations Cup.

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