Category: Asia (page 1 of 12)

Ice on the Prize

By Bong Lozada – Inquirer.net

The 2017 Southeast Asian Games gold medal is more than a month old already. But forgive the country’s national ice hockey team if they are still giddy over their unexpected triumph.

If it’s any consolation, they already have their eyes set on a bigger prize.

With the country hosting the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia, the team hopes to make another Disney-like run to the podium in front of a home crowd and build on what a rag-tag “bunch of kids who grew up on SM rinks” accomplished during the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

“The gold was really important for the sport of hockey in Manila and in the Philippines,” said goalkeeper Gianpietro Iseppi. “You guys [the media] are now talking to us because we won the gold, if we came in fourth or fifth we probably won’t have this kind of exposure or this opportunity to talk to the young kids out there or the people out there who could potentially learn more about the sport.”

Indeed, the 5-3 stunner over regional power Thailand in the final in Kuala Lumpur lifted the veil of obscurity off the team—and piled up the Mighty Ducks references on the players.

But with the recognition comes the responsibility of continuing push the sport into the public eye. And there’s no better way to do it than being heroes on home ice.

“We are speaking of the perfect timing that the tournament is being held in Manila,” said team captain Steven Füglister. “The SEA Games gold, the new rink inside Mall of Asia, it feels special and everyone is excited to hold this official IIHF tournament in Manila.”

“I’m confident our team will play attractive, fast-paced, and physical hockey and get good results.”

This is the first time the Philippines will join the Challenge Cup of Asia, an opportunity Füglister and the team want to take advantage of to grow the sport’s fan base—and talent pool.

“We hope that we can welcome big crowds to our games and support Team Pilipinas,” said Füglister. “[Anyone] who has never seen a hockey game live will [find it] a thrill to experience it live and at this high level.”

The Philippines is still unranked by the IIHF but the Challenge Cup of Asia could shine a brighter spotlight on the team which, based on its finish in the tournament, could earn spot in the Asian Winter Games.

Already, there is a subplot bubbling beneath the surface of preparations for the tournament next year: a budding rivalry with Thailand.

“I expect that they [the Thais] want to take revenge for the loss at the SEA Games and this could be the start of a nice rivalry,” said Füglister.

Thailand flew to Malaysia brandishing a four-year-old perfect slate and was the favorite to win, and even forward LR Lancero was unsure if they had the chops to take down the regional power.

“We’ve seen Thailand play and they’re really a good bunch of skaters,” said Lancero. “They’re fast, their team plays amazing, and we actually look up to them when they were playing against Singapore.”

“And we were like ‘guys can we do this?’ We were just a bunch of kids growing up in SM’s skating rinks; we are the underdogs.”

But that’s what made the Mighty Ducks movie franchise a hit. The all-too-familiar plot of the underdog overcoming adversity to reach their goal.

Fittingly, it was Lancero who orchestrated the pivotal play in the gold medal match.

The Philippines took a 4-1 lead in the championship but Thailand finally figured the Filipinos out and breathed down their necks, 4-3, in the fourth. That was when Lancero fired a pass straight to Niko Cadiz’ stick for the goal that iced the final count.

Iseppi felt that the team’s obscurity helped them trip the Thais, who fell behind early trying to feel out their foes.

But whether or not the Filipinos could spring a surprise to shake the Thais early didn’t matter. What mattered was they weren’t skating out of Malaysia without the gold medal.

“For me it was what it was—gold or bust,” said Iseppi. “I said it three, four weeks before and everyone was like ‘wow you’re overconfident’ but I didn’t feel overconfident. I feel like if we played in the level we’re capable of, we were going to win.”

And Füglister believes that win achieved more than just add a gold to the medal haul of the Philippines.

“What makes it even more special is that it has put our sport on the map after years of operating in the shadows with limited awareness in the general public,” he said.

And now that the team is on the sporting map, it is going to do its best to find its way to Asian glory.

Ice ladies eager to put women hockey on the global map

Image result for Ice ladies eager to put women hockey on the global map

By Fahd Shefaqa – Kuwait New Agency

Pushing themselves beyond their limits on a hard freezing surface of the skating rink, members of the national women’s ice hockey team have set their minds on honorably representing Kuwait at regional and international  tournaments. 

Marking October 31st on their calenders, Kuwait “ice ladies” who recently formed their team with the support of Kuwait Winter Sport Federation  – – said that they would stop at nothing to attain recognition from the global ice hockey community during their participation in an international tournament in Thailand. 

Bearing witness to the devotion and sacrifice of the Kuwait women ice hockey team, Manger Reham Najaf told KUNA that though the unofficial origins of the team date bake to 2007, they got a strong boost from the federation through the formation of the national squad and unconditional financia support. There are around 56 women athletes registered so far, she said.

Manager Reham Najaf

Manger Reham Najaf

The upcoming international tournament in Thailand (Land of Smiles 2017) will be the first testing ground for the players who are giving it all during the preparations, said Najaf who indicated that the federation showed keenness to develop the team’s skills via holding training camp in the Czech Republic in preparation for the tournament.

While manger Najaf could speak about the administrative aspects of the game, team captain Rawan Al-Bahhou and her teammates are the ones who will fend off the pucks from getting inside Kuwait goal and they are also the ones responsible for drawing smiles on people faces once they score.  Playing ice hockey is a dream come true and I cannot imagine a better thing to do, said Al-Bahhou enthusiastically. 

Team captain Rawan Al-Bahhou

Team Captain Rawan Al-Bahhou

The team is ready to take on other squads who are far more experienced and disciplined, she affirmed, adding that the participation in Thailand was not only about winning, but rather making a statement Kuwait women are ready and willing to square off against the best of the best.

Not to be outdone by the captain of the team, teammate Aisha Al-Diweli said that her squad was not less important then the male national team who have performed very well in recent regional tournaments. 

The relative young age of the women’s team, 20 years and below, and the players willingness to compete will have an impact on the future of the Kuwait national women team, said Al-Diweli.

The Team, through “blood and sweat”, will gain respect of their international peers and the upcoming tournament will provide a chance just to do that, she affirmed.

Teammate Aisha Al-Diweli

Teammate Aisha Al-Diweli

Abu Dhabi Storms aim to be a finishing school for UAE’s best hockey players

Coach Matti Fagerstrom trains youngsters during a practice session of the Abu Dhabi Storm. Chris Whiteoak / The National

By Amith Passela – The National

As Emirates Hockey League resumes in October, Juma Al Dhaheri is determined to win a third title, but the bigger picture includes developing Emirati talent.

Teams in the EHL

White Bears, Al Ain Theebs, Dubai Mighty Camels, Abu Dhabi Storms, Abu Dhabi Scorpions and Vipers

Even as they get ready to chase a third Emirates Hockey League (EHL) title when the season kicks off next month, the Abu Dhabi Storms will be using the competition to develop upcoming Emirati players.

UAE captain Juma Al Dhaheri, who also leads the Storms – a side comprising of mostly UAE players – has said that the primary objective since the EHL was founded in 2009 has been to deepen the talent pool.

“Obviously our aim is to win the title and if we can achieve that, it’s a bonus for us. But the emphasis really is on the development of the national team,” said Al Dhaheri, who is also general secretary of the UAE Ice Hockey Federation.

“This season we have a few youngsters, and the plan is to provide them as much exposure as we can.”

Al Dhaheri also hailed the clubs for their commitment to raising the bar every year.

“The league was at a good level from the time it was founded,” the forward said. “The league consists of several expatriate players from established hockey playing nations in the teams. They bring load and loads of experience to the league.

“The EHL was founded on the recommendations of the IIHF [International Ice Hockey Federation] with whom we are working closely to develop the sport in the region.

“The teams can employ three professional or semi-professional players,” he pointed out. “The EHL is widely regarded as the best national league in Asia. Our objective is to keep improving it all the time.”

Such has been the quality of competition that as many as five teams have won the title over the past eight years.

The Dubai Mighty Camels lifted the trophy three times and the Storms twice. The Al Ain Vipers, the inaugural champions, the Dubai Oilers and the White Bears won once each.

Last season was a good one for the Dubai-based White Bears, not just because they won the league, but also due to the fact they went on a record 10-match winning streak. It was a run that included a 2-0 triumph over Al Ain Theebs in the best-of-three finals.

As the new season gets underway when the White Bears visit the Garden City to take on the Theebs on October 2, player-coach Troy Kahler is confident about their title defence.

“As the champions, we are very excited for the action to begin,” the Ontario native said.

“We have some new players crossing over from the Vipers and some arriving from Sweden, so we are going to look a little different from the last season.

“The team looks younger with quite a few youth players in the side. We started our training eight weeks ago and are fully committed to retain our hold of the league title.”

Al Dhaheri is also looking forward to the all-round development of the sport in the UAE. “The President’s Cup in November [14-17] is one of the major events we have been hosting,” he said.

“We invite four overseas teams to play against two local sides. This time we have invited a team each from Egypt and Lebanon, both comprising former players from the NHL and other established leagues from around the world.”

Other upcoming events include the Bangkok Land of Smiles tournament from October 28 to November 1 and the Belarus International men’s competition from January 4-7.

There will be key tournaments to look forward to in March: the women’s team feature in the Challenge Cup of Asia and the youth side play in the U20 Challenge Cup of Asia.

The highlight, however, will be the senior team’s participation in the World Championship Qualification Division 3 competition in Turkmenistan.

Kings defeat Canucks in shootout to sweep China Games

By Lisa Dillman – NHL.com

BEIJING  Jonny Brodzinski scored the only goal of the shootout and goalie Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in the second leg of the 2017 NHL China Games Presented by O.R.G. Packaging at Wukesong Arena. 

The win, in front of a crowd of 12,759, gave the Kings a sweep of the historic two-game preseason series. The Kings defeated the Canucks 5-2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Thursday in the first NHL game played in China. 

“The crowd got a little bit of everything tonight,” Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler said. “Hopefully it was fun and exciting for them.”

Brodzinski, going second for the Kings in the shootout, beat Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson with a backhand shot. Kuemper ended the game when he stopped forward Sven Baertschi in the third round.

Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev sent the game into overtime when his wrist shot beat Kuemper’s with 1:52 remaining in the third period. 

“I didn’t know what to expect with the trip, but I have nothing but great things to say,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”

Forward Nick Shore gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the first period, taking a pass from Trevor Lewis and beating Nilsson from just below the right circle. Defenseman Jake Muzzin made it 2-0 at 17:07. Muzzin, who had three assists on Thursday, was named MVP of the China Games.

Baertschi, who scored the Canucks’ first goal on Thursday, finished off a sustained flurry in the Kings’ zone by tucking the puck between the left post and Kuemper’s pad to make it 2-1 at 8:50 of the second period. 

Forward Tyler Toffoli gave the Kings a 3-1 lead at 1:15 of the third, beating Nilsson in close on the glove side. But the Canucks made it 3-2 at 11:52 when Loui Erikssons shot went off the leg of Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and past Kuemper.

Canucks forward Bo Horvat was scratched because of an upper-body injury sustained in the game on Thursday.

 

Lebanon gets its own national hockey team — and it’s in Montreal

Claude Kfoury

Claude Kfoury, 39, proudly shows off the Lebanese cedar on his T-shirt,
his native country’s national symbol. Kfoury learned to
play hockey as
a teenager, when his family came to Canada. (CBC)

Elias Abboud – CBC News

Team is brainchild of Lebanese Montrealers who love the game, but players fly in from as far away as France

“Twenty bucks, guys,” says a player who’s just suited up in his hockey gear, as he makes his way around the locker room collecting his teammates’ contribution to pay for the ice time at  Montreal’s Collège Brébeuf arena.

It’s after 10 p.m.

Most of the guys are here after work, and they have to get up early the next morning to return to their jobs.

It’s a scene repeated at beer-league hockey games in arena locker rooms across the country.

These players, however, aren’t your average beer leaguers. They’re members of Lebanon’s first national ice hockey team.

Joe Bouhaidar, Frédéric Nassif

Joe Bouhaidar, left, and Frédéric Nassif, centre, suit up for practice at the Collège
Brébeuf arena. (CBC)

Canadian hockey players speak of the immense pride they feel when they pull on the maple leaf jersey to represent their country. The Lebanese players say they feel the same way about the cedar tree — the national symbol of Lebanon.

“I feel like someone gave me a mission, and this mission is to represent my country,” said winger Joe Bouhaidar.

Joe Bouhaidar

Joe Bouhaidar, 29, played Midget AAA hockey in Quebec City. He said he always wanted to
play for a national team. He just didn’t know it would be Lebanon’s. (CBC)

Bouhaidar, 29, was born in Quebec City and grew up playing hockey, reaching Midget AAA.

“Since I’m young, I always wanted to play for a national team,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a great honour to play for a team like Canada or U.S.A.

“When I heard [Lebanon] has a national team, I said I have to try myself there and give it all I got. I made the team, and I was pretty happy.”

‘I was just hooked’

Claude Kfoury, 39, didn’t lace up skates until his teen years. His family came to Canada in 1991 to escape the violence in their war-torn home country.

The defenceman remembers, soon after he arrived, watching the 1991 Stanley Cup finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota North Stars.

“I was just hooked.”

Kfoury wanted to play right away. One problem: his family arrived in May.

“No more ice, no more snow,” said Kfoury. “The next winter, I was playing in the parks around Ville Saint-Laurent. I was on the ice for 10 hours a day. I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want to eat. Since then, I hit it off and I haven’t stopped skating.”

Why not Lebanon?

The team was the brainchild of Ralph Melki and a group of friends — Lebanese Montrealers who loved the game.

Melki, now the team’s coach, said they realized other Middle Eastern and Arab teams have national teams. So why not Lebanon?

“We started something here in Canada, because there’s a lot of Lebanese in Quebec. There’s a lot of Lebanese that play the game, and this is how it all started,” said Melki.

Coach Ralph Melki

Ralph Melki, the Lebanon team’s coach, said the team’s goal is to be accepted into the
International Ice Hockey Federation. (CBC)

The group created a Facebook page, and word spread. At the first tryout last spring, 75 players came out.

There’s no formal structure. The team doesn’t even play in a league at the moment, instead arranging exhibition games against other national teams such as Egypt, Morocco, Haiti, Algeria.

Melki says Lebanon’s team has players coming in from Toronto, Ottawa, Michigan and France. Four players even flew in from Calgary for the team’s first game in April.

That game was a 7-4 win over Team Haiti — a group of Montrealers who grew up playing hockey much the way the Lebanese players did.

Since that first win against Haiti, the Lebanese national team has gone on to beat Egypt and Morocco. Tonight they play Algeria — a team made up of players of Algerian descent now living in France.

Melki says the team is aiming for a bigger stage — being accepted into the International Ice Hockey Federation. To accomplish that, the team needs the backing of the Lebanese government and proof that the country has at least one ice hockey rink and a league with teams.

No politics, no religion on the ice

Skating on the national team has done more than bring hockey players together from far and wide.

It has also bridged a stark cultural and political gap: the two prominent religions back home, Islam and Christianity, have long been a source for conflict.

Goalie Frédéric Nassif

Off the ice, Frédéric Nassif is a Montreal documentary producer. He plays goal for the
Lebanese national team. (CBC)

Once the players pull on their jerseys with the cedar tree on the front, political and religious differences are set aside.

“No one talks about it,” said Bouhaidar. “We look like a united team, and that’s what we like about it. I have fun with those guys. Now I’m chilling with those guys outside of the ice, and before I didn’t know them.”

“We’re all Lebanese, we all care about the cedar,” said Coach Melki. “So once they put that jersey on: ‘Be proud to represent your country.'”

Tonight’s matchup between Lebanon and Algeria takes place at Place Bell, 1950 Claude-Gagné Street in Laval.

Game time is 9:15 p.m. ET.

From centuries-old traditional roots to the modern game, hockey in China ‘ready to blow up

http://wcmimages.theprovince.com/images?url=https://postmediaprovince2.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/rn3285-jpg.jpg&w=840&h=630
Misha Song of the USHL’s Madison Capitals is the first Chinese-born
player drafted in the NHL.

By Ed Willes – The Province

Misha Song, a true hockey pioneer in China, can look back over his career and understand he’s had a front-row seat for the game’s remarkable growth in his country.

Now, there are hockey-specific facilities sprouting up all over China. Then, the only ice available to Song was the straightaway of a short-track rink in his native Beijing. 

Now, with the Beijing Winter Olympics set for 2022, the Chinese government, the NHL and the IIHF are all pouring money into the sport. Then, the game was little known outside the city of Harbin in China’s remote northeast corner.

Now, Chinese nationals are playing in elite developmental streams in Canada and the U.S, and it only seems a matter of time before one of them cracks an NHL lineup. Then, Song was the first Chinese-born player to be drafted by an NHL team when he was selected by the New York Islanders in the sixth round, 172nd overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Yes, with a perspective that can only be gained through experience, Song has witnessed something special between hockey and his country, something which will reshape the sport and elevate it to a new place in China. Where it all goes from here is the next question, but the defenceman with the USHL’s Madison Capitals is excited about what will come next.

http://wpmedia.theprovince.com/2017/09/name3.jpg?quality=60&strip=all Misha Song, then eight years old, played with the Sinoca Beijing
Dragons in a tournament in Ottawa in 2005.

And he should be. Misha Song is 20 and just 12 months away from entering his freshman year at Cornell University.

When I started almost 15 years ago, hockey was an unknown sport in many parts of China,” Song writes in an email.

“Now there are more rinks being built, more people playing, and more resources dedicated toward hockey. 

“The changes have a profound effect on me. When I started, barely any of these resources were available. It is amazing to see more people welcome hockey into their lives.”

But is there a permanent place for the game in the Chinese heart? The larger hockey world is about to find out.

This week, the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings meet for a pair of exhibition games in Shanghai and Beijing in what’s being advertised as a watershed moment for the sport. These games, the first live action for an NHL team in the Asian giant, represent a significant development for the NHL and a chance to plant its flag in a country of 1.4 billion.

But it’s also just one frame in a story that’s moving a million miles an hour. The intent of this piece is to provide some background on the game’s history and development in The Red Dragon, which is tricky because hockey’s history in China is what happened yesterday.

Yes, the game has a tradition in China, and there is a backstory to tell. But that history has been overtaken by the powerful forces which now promise to take hockey to some exhilarating new places.

If I’m being reasonable about it, we’re not there yet,” said David Proper, the NHL’s executive vice-president of media and international strategies and the league’s point man on the China games.

“We’re not going to grow hockey in two games. What we’re trying to do is get people into the doors to watch live hockey.

“It’s definitely at the embryonic stages. But the fact is things can move very quickly in China if you have the support of government and business.”

http://wpmedia.theprovince.com/2017/09/64677618.jpg?quality=60&strip=all     Charles Wang is the owner of the New York Islanders.

And hockey is moving quickly now, even if it’s unclear where it’s going.

For its first 100 years, hockey in China was almost the exclusive domain of the northeast and its two biggest cities: Harbin and Qiqhar. Going back 1,500 years or so, the Daur people of that region had played a game called beikou, which resembled field hockey. But puck came to Harbin and the surrounding area via Russia — Siberia is located just to the north — around 1915 and set down some deep roots.

It was charming to find a northern place that had a kinship with the game, and they do love the game,” says Dave Bidini, a writer/musician/journalist who first traveled to Harbin to play hockey in 1999.

“But it’s detached from the rest of the country, and travel in China wasn’t easy 20, 30 years ago. The game never spread. Consequently, it didn’t grow.”

Still, it found a home. Harbin first hosted a tournament for teams from the north in the 1930s, which led to the formation of a Chinese league in the mid-50s. In ’57 China joined the IIHF. By then, the Chinese national team had toured in the Eastern bloc and teams from Czechoslovakia and Japan had toured in China.

Anatoli Tarasov, considered the father of modern Russian hockey, visited the region frequently to set up camps and training programs. He was still traveling to Harbin in the early ‘80s.

Hockey, in fact, was enjoying steady growth and caught the attention of the Communist Party in the late 1950s, which loved the spirit of the game. Alas, the Cultural Revolution wiped out the infrastructure of most sports in the ‘60s and the game was largely abandoned until the early ‘70s.

It started to come back in 1972 when China went to the C pool of the world championships and finished fifth. By then, the first indoor rink was being built in Beijing. China would go on to win four straight gold medals at the Asian Games in the 1980s, but while there was isolated growth, the sport remained largely in the northeast.

As it happens, the 1980s was also the period China began opening its borders to the larger world under Deng Xiaoping who, among other things, opined: “Poverty is not socialism. To be rich is glorious.” It took hockey a while to catch the new spirit which was transformed the country, but in the 2004-05 season, both Harbin and Qiqhar joined the nascent Asian League and the game caught a spark. 

For the next 10 years, China would be represented in the Asian League which drew former NHLers like Esa Tikkanen, Tyson Nash, Jamie McLennan and Claude Lemieux. In 2007-08, Harbin and Qiqhar consolidated into the China Sharks, which were owned and operated by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks for two years before the Chinese Hockey Association took over the franchise.

“It was a positive experience, but it was probably a couple of years ahead of its time,” says Sharks GM Doug Wilson. 

Still, the Sharks wouldn’t be the last North American entity to invest in Chinese hockey. Last season, the Asian league operated without a Chinese franchise for the first time in 13 years as Kunlun Red Star, based in Beijing, joined the KHL. Kunlun is now coached by Mike Keenan and forms the basis of the national team program preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

A similar model is being used for the women’s program, which operates two Chinese-based teams in the Canadian Women’s League out of Shenzhen. Digit Murphy, the 18-year coach at Brown who coached the CWHL’s Boston Blades, oversees the women’s national team.

It’s further expected a second China-based KHL team will be added next season and there are plans for a Chinese domestic league. New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, a champion of the game in China, has helped fund 28 rinks in China and the Islanders have partnered with the Beijing Hockey Association to sponsor a junior team which plays out of the Islanders practice facility. The Boston Bruins have also partnered with O.R.G., the packaging giant which is the presenting sponsor of the Canucks-Kings series.

The old rink at Harbin, meanwhile, has been replaced by a new facility, and the sports institute there offers a hockey-specific program designed to grow the sports’ administrative and coaching base.

http://wpmedia.theprovince.com/2017/02/china1223_hockey_china_part_2_232004894.jpg?quality=60&strip=allChinese men play a game of pick-up ice hockey on a frozen canal on
December 14, 2016 in Beijing, China.

Yes, you can get a degree in hockey in China.

Aaron Wilbur, the former coach of the Richmond Sockeyes, was coaching at UBC seven years ago when he was approached about an opportunity in China. By his own estimation, he’s since been back 30 times and now represents ProSmart, a digital education platform for sports which provides a coaching blueprint for hockey and soccer.

When Wilbur first started working in China, coaches wouldn’t allow players to drink water during practices for fear of stomach aches. Wilbur recalls one session where a coach lit up a cigarette on the ice.

Seven years later, he sees a completely different picture.

It’s pretty cool,” he says. “I started with some kids when they were five. Now I’m writing letters to get them into prep schools (in the States).”

Wilbur has also done some work in arena management with the Chinese. A year ago, he was at Huaxi Live, the rink where the Canucks and Kings will meet in Beijing this week. Huaxi Live was formerly known as LeSports Centre, the Wukesong Arena before that, the MasterCard Centre before that and the Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena before that.

Did we mention things move quickly in China?

At any rate, Wilbur was informed plans were in place for a three-rink training centre to be built near the larger arena and it would be completed in September 2018. 

It can’t possibly be ready by then, Wilbur opined.

Don’t worry, it will be ready, his Chinese hosts said.

“And I believe them,’ Wilbur says, adding, “There’s so much going on over there. The game is ready to blow up.”

S. Korea women’s hockey team to play friendlies with NCAA teams

http://img.yonhapnews.co.kr/etc/inner/EN/2017/09/08/AEN20170908009300315_01_i.jpg

By Yonhap News

South Korea’s women’s national ice hockey team will play friendly games with top college teams in the United States starting next week, the sport’s national governing body said Friday.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association said the women’s team will depart for the U.S. on Sunday for a three-week training period. Led by Canadian head coach Sarah Murray, the national team will face NCAA Division I teams to tune up their skills for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

South Korea will first meet Murray’s alma mater Shattuck-St. Mary’s under-18 team on Thursday, and then play against teams from the University of Wisconsin, Bemidji State University, St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota and Ohio State University before returning home Sept. 29.

Of the American teams, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are considered powerhouses in U.S. women’s collegiate ice hockey.

The Badgers won three straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) championships. The WCHA is regarded as the best women’s ice hockey conference, as teams there won every NCAA Women’s National Championship from 2001-13 until Clarkson University from the ECAC Hockey conference claimed the title in 2014.

The Golden Gophers are six-time NCAA tournament winners and they have only missed the final once — in 2014 — in the last five years. The Badgers, meanwhile, are four-time NCAA champions.

South Korea’s women’s ice hockey team is in Group B at the PyeongChang Olympics, along with Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. After completing their schedule in the U.S., the team will take a two-week break then return to training at the National Training Center in Seoul in mid-October.

Schedule Here

Australia clinch ice hockey’s Trans-Tasman Challenge with shootout win over the Ice Blacks

https://scontent.fybz2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/21430480_1549656378431119_4851213007930092799_n.jpg?oh=603b01c50c62eef7bf7d425d97b4b53b&oe=5A19B928

By News Hub

Australia have won the ice hockey Trans-Tasman Challenge by beating New Zealand in a shootout in the deciding game three in Queenstown.

The two sides were locked at 3-3 at full-time before a scoreless overtime period at the NZ Winter Games on Saturday.

Mighty Roos goalkeeper Charlie Smart denied two New Zealand attempts as goals to veterans Brendan McDowell and Thomas Powell proved the difference in the shootout, won by Australia 2-0.

The result continues world No.33 Australia’s dominance over their hosts, winning 16 of 18 games over the past 30 years.

The Mighty Roos were humbled 4-1 in the opener on Thursday before a 2-0 victory in game two

AT A GLANCE:

Game 1: New Zealand 4-1 Australia
Game 2: New Zealand 0-2 Australia
Game 3: New Zealand 3-4 Australia Shootout

Roos get one back off Ice Blacks in Queenstown

By Stuff

A thrilling final and deciding game of ice hockey in the Trans-Tasman challenge has been set up with Australia’s Roos winning game two of the three game series over the Ice Blacks, 2-0.

The three test match series is leveled at one game apiece heading into the final, which will be played in Queenstown on Saturday night. 

The Ice Blacks surprised the Roos on Thursday night with their 4-1 win – only the second time in thirty years of games between the two countries that New Zealand had prevailed. The Australians have now won 15 times, New Zealand twice.

The Trans-Tasman Challenge three game series comes at the end of the Winter Games NZ which hasn’t seen ice hockey as part of the elite winter sport gathering since 2011.

The game began straight from where it was left in game one – intense and fast. There were seven minutes before the first penalty went to the Ice Blacks. Under intense pressure the Ice Black’s held the Roos out to see them back to five on five.

The Roos forced a hooking call and another penalty to them gave the Ice Black’s a 5-on-3 advantage. However, it was a strong first period for Roos goaltender who made some crucial saves. Eventually the Ice Blacks were called for tripping and the Roos capitalized with a power play goal by Per Daniel Goransson.

With seconds to go the Ice Blacks pulled their goalie to go in search of an equalizing goal, however the Roos defence held firm and captain Tommy Powell scored an open net goal to seal the 2-0 win.

Puck drops for the final game at 7pm on Saturday night.

Ice Blacks take down Australia in first of three-match series in Queenstown

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By Stuff

The New Zealand Ice Blacks have turned up the heat on Australia, after taking out game one of their three-test series at the Winter Games in Queenstown on Thursday night.

The 4-1 victory for the hosts was only their second in 16 match ups against their trans-Tasman rivals – the Mighty Roos – and sets up an intriguing final two games at the same Queenstown Ice Arena venue over the next two nights.

Both teams had recently returned from their IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) divisional world championships, where world No 38 New Zealand claimed silver in Division II Group B, narrowly missing promotion to Group A – in which world No 33 Australia claimed silver.

While these three tests in Queenstown are sanctioned by the IIHF, they will not count towards world rankings, as it’s deemed a ‘friendly’ tournament. It’s the first time ice hockey has featured at the Winter Games since 2011, with it not being part of the last two events.

Australia have brought a squad of 17 players, with five making their debut, while New Zealand are blooding six new players and utilising the low travel costs by running with a squad of 31.

With a whopping minus-152 goal differential in 14 losses of 15 meetings heading into the series, the Ice Blacks were playing for some redemption, and they certainly came out meaning business in front of a capacity crowd.

Period one saw action right from puck drop. The first penalty of the game went against the Mighty Roos and the Ice Blacks went into a power play. Andrew Cox redirected a puck along the ice from Paris Heyd and the hosts went ahead 1-0.

With play at a particularly fast pace, the Mighty Roos camped out in the Ice Blacks’ zone and netminder Rick Parry was forced to make several saves. A quick breakout by the Ice Blacks saw Chris Eaden drive the puck into the Mighty Roos’ zone, followed by a quick drop pass to the high slot for Alexandr Polozov to finish and double the advantage going into the break.

Period two began with the same velocity and end-to-end hockey. The Ice Blacks found a third goal after a breakaway by Heyd saw him with just the goaltender to beat, but the Roos headed straight back to the opposite end and hit back to make it 3-1. Late in the period the Ice Blacks were penalized and played the better part of the last two minutes short-handed and under pressure, but they held on.

It was a tough battle for dominance early in the third and final period, but when Matt Schneider pressured the puck carrier and forced an error, Polozov was able to bag his second goal, and despite the Ice Blacks penalized and again down a player with a minute to go, they had done enough to secure victory.

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