Category: Europe (Page 1 of 8)

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. 

Toni Soderholm Resigns As National Coach and Joins SC Bern

Toni Soderholm

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The German Ice Hockey Federation complied with Toni Söderholm’s short-term request for a premature termination of  his contract. The day after the end of the Deutschland Cup 2022, the 44-year-old approached the DEB executive committee with the desire to join the Swiss club SC Bern. The DEB has decided to accommodate the request and to gave approval for the move. Soderholm is giving up his position as national team coach, which he has held since 2019. Both sides have agreed not to disclose the terms of the termination of the contract. The search for a suitable successor to coach the Germany National Team  will be started immediately. 

In January 2019, Toni Söderholm took over as national coach of the German team. Before that, he worked as an assistant coach for the U20 national team. During his time as head coach of the DEB selection, he coach in three IIHF World Championships and led the team to quarterfinals twice (2019, 2022) and semifinals once (2021). In addition, Söderholm looked after the DEB selection at the Olympic Games in Beijing (2022) and won two titles at the Deutschland Cup (2021, 2022) with the team.

The traditional Catalonia-Euskadi ice hockey returns this Christmas

Catalonia Euskadi Ice Hockey

Source:  FCEH

Five years after the last edition, the two powers of state ice hockey will meet again on December 28th, 2022, at the Puigcerdà ice rink. Tickets for the men’s and women’s national team matches can now be purchased on the FCEH website.

In another sign of a return to normality prior to the pandemic, the schedule games had to be postponed last year due to covid-19 prevention measures, on December 28th, 2022, the Puigcerdà ice rink will host a new clash between the teams of Catalonia and Euskadi. A duel with a certain tradition behind it that had not taken place for five years. The last one was in 2017, also in Puigcerdà, with a Catalan victory.

With the organization of the Catalan Federation of Winter Sports (FCEH) and the support of local institutions and entities, the Christmas holidays will once again have a match between two friendly teams with powerful social and sporting roots in state ice hockey. And it is expected that a large part of the players that make up the squads of the men’s and women’s teams will be from C.G. Puigcerdà and FC Barcelona, in the case of Catalonia, and CHH Txuri-Urdin, in terms of the Basque Country.

Puigcerdà will alive a Wednesday with a festive atmosphere where ice hockey the usual protagonist of the daily life of the area, will be the great attraction. The day will have the celebration of two matches –male and female–, the schedule and order of which is pending confirmation.

Tickets for the double event on December 28, 2022, are already on sale on the FCEH website, at a promotional price that will increase slightly later, depending on the month in which they are purchased. In addition to the tickets for each match, you can also buy the All in 1 pack, which includes access to both matches for a cheaper price.

The face to face, favorable to Catalonia

2008 was the opening year of this match, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, with a 3-5 Catalan victory. It was not, however, the official debut of the national team, which began its journey in 2003 with a duel against the Belgium team. Since then, the balance between Catalonia and the Basque Country has been favorable to the former by three wins to one, as well as a draw.

Both national teams have a significant weight in Spanish ice hockey, where C.G. Puigcerdà, FC Barcelona and CHH Txuri-Urdin have dominated state competitions in recent years. La Liga is a clear example of this, as you have to travel until the 2015-2016 season to find a champion who is not Catalan or Basque (CH Jaca)

Young ice hockey player puts heart issues behind him

Sam Watkins said his love for ice hockey had kept him going through health difficulties.

Source: BBC Sports

A young ice hockey player who overcame injuries and a heart defect is ready to play for Great Britain at the under-20s World Championships.

Sam Watkins, 18, from Telford, was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with ventricular septal defect; a life-threatening condition if not treated.

He needed multiple heart operations and also surgery to fix two broken legs, causing him to miss time on the ice.

But he said he was now “fully fit” and looking forward to the tournament.

He had his first operation to correct his heart defect when he was just four days old, and that was followed by open heart surgery when he was a one-year-old.

Despite that, Sam said he started playing ice hockey when he was four, with the encouragement of his father, former GB player Tom Watkins who is now his coach at Telford Tigers.

Sam said: “It’s definitely where I’ve got it from, the enjoyment of it and the love of it.”

His travails, however, did not end in his early years. He needed cardiac catheters inserted on several occasions before having open heart surgery again in November 2013.

Sam Watkins plays for Telford Tigers in the NIHL National Division.

In December, he travels to Lithuania with fellow Tiger Bayley Harewood and Rhodes Mitchell-King for a seven-day international tournament, involving five games.

Great Britain hopes to win promotion from Division II Group A.

“We’re all young, fit and excited to be there,” Watkins said.

He said his ice hockey friends were closer than school friends and added: “When we go to these GB camps, or play for the GB teams we have a brilliant time.”

But he said his mother still worried about him every time she watched him play.

“She’s not the biggest of fans, she doesn’t like it when I block shots,” he said.

Andorra applies to be a IIHF full member in 2024


Andorra applies to be a full member of the  International Ice Hockey Federation.
The inclusion would allow Andorra to compete in IIHF World Championships to be contested in the last division, and to have financial and technical support to promote the Ice Hockey in the country.  The president of the Ice Sports Federation,  Josep Garcia, recently returned from the IIHF congress in Turkey with  hopes of meeting the this goal.

He assures that one of the most conflicting points has been the  number of senior players in the Principality . “There is a certain criteria that we did not fulfill, such as the fact that we had to have 60 senior players. Then they always play the card of the volume of players based on the population of the country and they already see that we have a ratio similar to other countries or even better and they have shown us that they will be flexible on this point and that we will be allow to be full members in the year 2024”.

The Andorran Ice Sports Federation currently has close to  150 members, 42 of whom are seniors. Having its own league and a arena with Olympic sizes ice and plexiglass are other requirements demanded by the IIHF. Garcia confirms that Font-romeu and Puigcerdà will be alternative Arenas when the Palau de Gel works begin, in the spring, as they have been informed.       

The Andorran Ice Sports Federation is working with its Spanish counterpart to create a  second division league with six teams: 1 Andorra team, 4 Spanish teams and 1 Portuguese team.

The History of Ice Hockey in England

Source: British Ice Hockey

Ice hockey has progressively risen in popularity since it was first played professionally in Canada in 1895. The game’s popularity is particularly noticeable in the winter when several local and international leagues are played worldwide. Like field hockey, the game requires players to move around using sticks to shoot at a target, but with skaters instead of grass or artificial turf. It is a very physical and fast-paced game, which makes it a very entertaining sport, for fans to watch,

In England, the first recorded ice hockey games took place in the early 20th century, but it was not until after a few years that it generated enough interest to form permanent teams. However, the sport has grown significantly in England from its humble beginnings as a five-team league in the early twentieth century to now being played professionally in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) today.

Origin of ice hockey

The origins of ice hockey have been traced back to a variety of stick and ball games popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the games closely associated with the origins of ice hockey is bandy, a winter sport played with ice skates and sticks to direct a ball into the opposition’s goal. Other similar games included the Irish game of hurling, Scottish shinty, and North American lacrosse. However, because these three games were played on a field rather than on the ice, the bandy remains the most similar to modern ice hockey in terms of gameplay.

The game of bandy is said to have evolved from a group of similar ice skating games. It was first played in British North America (present-day Canada), where it was known as “hockey on the ice.” However, since field hockey developed in 17th century England, there is a belief that some of the games took place on the ice, which means England can also be credited directly with the development of ice hockey.

While the sport’s origin seems contradictory, there is no doubt that modern-day ice hockey began in Canada. In March 1875, the first modern ice hockey game was played in Montreal, Canada, between two teams of nine players each.

Early days

The first English ice hockey game was said to occur in 1885 between Oxford and Cambridge universities. However, there are doubts that this said match even occurred. Some believe it was a bandy game that took place, not ice hockey. Nevertheless, by 1903, the first European ice hockey league was formed in England. It consisted of five teams, and the London Canadians won the league that year.

Five years later, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) was established, with Great Britain as a founding member. Great Britain went on to win the IIHF European Ice hockey championship in 1910. By 1914, the British Ice Hockey Association (BIHA) was established. However, it was later replaced by the Ice Hockey UK (IHUK) in 1999.

Golden era

Ice hockey grew tremendously in popularity in England between 1935 and 1954. At the time, the English National League and the Scottish National League were the two most popular ice hockey leagues, drawing much attention. The Men’s National team also had an incredible run of success, winning the Olympic and European titles and a couple of world titles. One of their memorable games was their 2-1 victory over Canada, the reigning world champions at the time. 

The English and Scottish national leagues were later merged in 1954 to form the British National League. However, things didn’t go well for the game after the merger, which eventually caused the league to fold up in 1960.

Modern era

After the 1960 decline, the sport fell into obscurity for more than 20 years. It wasn’t until 1982 that it began to regain prominence. The former British National League was restructured to form the English Ice Hockey Association. At the time, the association comprised 60 ice hockey teams. 

The sport went on to enjoy even more prominence in the 1990s. At this time, the game became quite popular, attracting an average of eight thousand spectators each match day. One of the most attended matches at the time took place at the 17,000 Manchester Arena, which was completely sold out. One important factor that contributed to the sport’s incredible success at the time was a large sponsorship deal with Heineken, which brought more revenue into the league. 

The Ice Hockey Super League, an additional top-tier league, was later founded in 1996 with the goal of improving the image of the sport. However, the Super League only lasted six years before collapsing. It was replaced by the Elite Ice Hockey League, which suffered from low attendance when it was newly introduced.

Ice hockey in England today

The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) eventually recovered in the 2010s, increasing the national profile of ice hockey. Today, the EIHL is England’s highest-tier ice hockey league. The other league tiers in the country today are the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL), National Ice Hockey League 1 (NIHL1), and National Ice Hockey League 2 (NIHL2).


Despite many ups and downs, ice hockey has gradually grown into one of the most notable sports in England. Today it continues to garner more enthusiasts, particularly during the winter season. 


The Stanley Penguins team from the Falklands Islands will compete at a Miami tournament.

By Amir Razavi – The Sun

Falklands ice hockey team to compete at international tournament despite never training on a rink

Many of the under-20s squad have never even skated on ice before.

Instead, the members of the Stanley Penguins — based in the Falklands — use rollerblades to practise.

Their underdog story echoes the Jamaican bobsleigh team in 1993 film Cool Runnings.

The Penguins will compete at the Amerigol Latam Cup, which starts in Miami on Thursday, alongside teams from Central and South America, plus further afield.

The UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic has a population of just over 3,200 — making it the smallest country to field a side in the tournament.

Grant Budd, the Penguins’ coach and founder, said: “It has been three years since many of the team played on ice, but everyone is looking forward to playing again.”

Amanda Milling, Britain’s minister responsible for the Falkland Islands, said: “I have a feeling the Penguins will take to the ice like ducks to water.”

Luxembourg forms first ever national women’s team

Tornado Women’s team

Source: RTL Today

The newly-created Luxembourg women’s national ice hockey team will compete in the 2022 IIHF Women’s Development Cup in Kuwait.

The Luxembourg Ice Hockey Federation (FLHG) announced the creation of the team in a press release on Thursday.

Ice hockey has been booming in popularity in the Grand Duchy in recent years. For many years there were just two senior teams: Tornado Luxembourg and Ice Hockey Club Beaufort.

Now there are seven active senior clubs, including Luxembourg’s first all women’s team, the Tornado Women.

Luxembourg’s first national women’s team will be composed mainly of players from Tornado Women.

They will get their first chance to compete on the international stage in November, when they compete in the inaugural Women’s Development Cup in Kuwait City.

The Development Cup allows Luxembourg to begin international competition with the support of a few non-Luxembourg nationals, as there are not yet enough registered women players with Luxembourgish nationality.

The FLHG aims to promote the sport with the long-term goal of attracting more Luxembourgish female athletes to the sport, so that the team can eventually compete in the IIHF Women’s World Championships.

Hockey celebration in Israel

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

By Martin Merk –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premiere for women’s ice hockey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game practice for Israeli teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hosting at home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next step for Georgia

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

By  Martin Merk –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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