Category: Europe (page 2 of 7)

Andorra National Team will debut at the 1st edition of 2017 Development Cup

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Andorra national ice hockey team will be playing for the first time at the end of the month.
It will be hosting the first edition of the 2017 Development Cup, which will be held at the Palau de Gel d’Andorra  in Canillo from September 29 to October 1st.

It is being organized by the Andorran Ice Sports Federation  and the participating countries are Portugal, Ireland and Morocco along with hosts Andorra.
The project emerged at the international congress of the international Ice Hockey Federation that was held in Moscow in May of last year. “40% of the countries do not play in IIHF Tournaments so in order to develop our sport we can play amongst ourselves,” says Aleix Mañosas, vice president of Andorran Ice Sports Federation.

Of the conversations that took place in the Russian capital came the idea of ​​the Development Cup, which “as a future project can go far if everyone implies”.
The international Ice Hockey Federation is not officially involve in it, but it supports some members of its structure to disseminate it through its means.

Argentina wanted to part in this first edition but could not make up a team.
  For the next editions there are interests from countries like Greece, Brazil and Armenia. “A competition like this helps to promote  ice hockey in each country where it is not practiced as much, and in addition to making it known it is a way to make new partnerships ,” says Mañosas.
The intention is that the Development Cup event is to be a rotating tournament every year in selected  country.

The 2017 Development Cup at the end of the month will be “a first stepping stone of this project that must have a progression, that every year the tournament grows.
We can always say that the beginning of everything was in Andorra. “
This will be the first time the Andorran national team will compete. The coach will be Oriol Boronat, player of the Spanish national  team and the C.G Puigcerdà.
With his resume and “his experience we believe it will help bring our players to excel at an international competition”. Each team will be composed of a maximum number of 18 players.
On September 29th and 30th  the Development Cup will begin with the teams facing off each other.
The first two teams will play the final on October 1, and the remaining two will play for third and fourth place. Instead of playing three periods of 20 minutes, each period will be 15 minutes.

NWHL/Team Russia Summit Series set for October

By Staff

Russian Women’s National Team to Play Two Games Each Against the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters

In a collaboration between the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and Russian Ice Hockey Federation, the Russian National Team (RNT) will come to the United States this October for two weeks of training and competition.

The “NWHL/Team Russia Summit Series” will feature the RNT playing two preseason games each against the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters. Team Russia will also participate in training sessions during the trip.

“Our players and staff are very excited to come to the USA again to play hard and wonderful hockey against the high-level players of the NWHL,” said Olga Votolovskaya, general manager of the Russian Women’s National Team. “I want to say special thanks to NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan for supporting our initiative, and to the Russian Ice Hockey Federation for financing such a long and far away trip. For a team to improve, you have to go up against some of the best – and that’s what the NWHL represents.”

The two-week visit from Oct. 11-23 will serve as training for Team Russia as it prepares for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and as preparation for the three NWHL clubs before the league’s regular season begins in late October. The RNT faced NWHL clubs in five preseason games in 2016.

“We welcome the Russian National Team and thank them for an ongoing partnership that is beneficial for everyone involved,” said Rylan. “These games may be between friendly rivals, but they are intense – perfect preparation for our teams before the start of the NWHL season.”

Dates, times and venues for the games will be announced this summer.

Additional comments from Olga Votolovskaya:

  • “We enjoy the warm hospitality and kind attention from American people that meet us at the hotels, in the hockey arenas and on the streets during our trip. We will definitely bring some ‘Red Machine’ hockey souvenirs for our American friends. I am looking forward to seeing their smiling faces again.”
  • “Last time we managed to win two games out of five (4-1 vs. Riveters and 3- 2 over Whale). The games were very interesting and tough and it was noticeable that my girls were improving from game to game. We have no other North American trips planned at this time. We will concentrate all our efforts on this series vs. the NWHL. Our plan for October is to bring some young and talented players to the battles with a hope of winning three games out of six.”

The 2017-18 NWHL regular season is set to begin in October, featuring founding four franchises Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters playing a full slate of home games as well as neutral site games.

Team Luxembourg Meeting with the Prime Minister

By Ice Hockey Luxembourg

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel very kindly invited Luxembourg’s proud Gold Medalists to his office to congratulate them on their win in the 3rd Division Championship in Sofia. He said that he was very proud of the teams achievements and what it meant to Luxembourg and that it deserved to be highlighted.

After that the team presented him with a personalized jersey carrying his name and the number 17 in honor of Luxembourg’s win in 2017. He was visibly moved. The Team followed then the PM outside for a group picture where the Mr. Bettel proudly displayed his jersey.

After having the picture taken Mr. Bettel took even more time out to discuss over a glass of Crement and a slice of Riesling Pasteit the game, the players’ personal histories and the championship. There were many laughter. To finish this special day he gave the Team a tour of his arty office giving a peek inside the job of Prime Minister. At the end Mr. Bettel even expressed interest in coming to a hockey game. It looks Team Luxembourg has won a new fan and Mr. Bettel 25 grateful ones in return.


Cause for optimism

By Henrik Manninen –

Following a 26th-place finish overall in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program – the highest position for a decade – Estonia steps up its efforts for a brighter future by honing neighbourly ties while tending its grassroots.

A fourth spot at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Belfast and positive displays from their respective U18 and U20 national teams capped off a fine 2016/17 season for Estonian ice hockey.

With 2018 marking the 100th anniversary of Estonia first winning independence as a nation state, the Estonian Ice Hockey Association now aims at building on their improving results ahead of a landmark season.

“At our association we have two goals: spreading the popularity of the game and our national teams to give play as good as possible and be an aspiration for our young players to want to represent their country,” said Rauno Parras, President of the Estonian Ice Hockey Association.

Parras, a former player who stepped into his current role in September 2014, has since tried to re-vitalize the game and stir up interest in a Baltic nation surrounded by neighbors competing at the highest level.

One such recent initiative saw the Kontinental Hockey League temporarily roll into Estonia’s capital Tallinn. At the end of last year, Latvia’s Dynamo Riga headed north to relocate two of their KHL matches inside the new Tondiraba Ice Hall. With fans flocking to get a glimpse of top-level hockey on their home patch, there are now hopes that this could be turned into a regular event.

In the wake of this success, the Estonian Ice Hockey Association has teamed up with its counterparts in Latvia and Lithuania to announce the creation of a Baltic Challenge Cup tournament. Three tournaments on senior level have been pencilled in to be played during the upcoming season in a concept which for years has been in place for a number of other team sports across the Baltics.

With the first Baltic Challenge Cup set to take place in Tallinn 25-27 August, it will also include the curious addition of Sweden’s Hammarby. Playing in Sweden’s third tier, the Stockholm-based team will travel across the Baltic Sea to lock horns with Estonia, Lithuania and a Latvian team with players composed from the top Latvian league in Tondiraba Ice Hall. This move comes in the wake of a Swedish-based consortium being announced as the Baltic Challenge Cup’s main sponsor with an aim to further pursue Swedish interests in hockey development in the Baltics.

But while neighbours in the south and west are looking to develop closer ties with Estonia at a senior level, it is across the Gulf of Finland where the crucial stage of Estonian player development is gathering pace. With Finland’s capital Helsinki only 80 kilometres away, frantic ferry crossings have been the norm for years with Estonian youngsters playing against Finnish opposition in growing numbers. Last season saw three Tallinn-based clubs – HC Panter, HC Vipers and HK Tornaado – altogether field an impressive eleven different teams in the Finnish junior set-up involving players born between 2000 to 2008.

“During the last season we also for the first time started to play matches further afield from the Helsinki region with a team of older youngsters,” said Parras. “The cooperation with Finland is very important for us. Our kids get to play against players the same age and on a competitive level. When our most promising players then seek an even higher level, we will be able to move them on to other clubs across Finland to continue their development,” Parras continued.

Estonia’s poster boy in hockey, 23-year-old Robert Rooba of JYP Jyvaskyla, is perhaps the best-known example of a player who began his ascent with an Estonian junior team in Finland and has since carved out a career over there. Behind Rooba an ever-growing number of compatriots have since gone down that same well-trodden path with Finland’s impact being very visible at the Estonian national team that next season will be coached by Spiros Anastasiadis, who will double up coaching various Estonian national teams and his work with the University of Lethbridge team in Canada. During last season the senior team competing in Belfast fielded half a dozen players plying their trade in Finland. The numbers were even higher at junior level. Estonia’s U20 had nine Finnish-based players on their roster, while there were eight playing in Finland on the U18 team that finished a fine second in the U18 World Championship Division II Group A played in Gangneung at Korea’s facilities for the upcoming Olympics.

While players venturing abroad in greater numbers will raise the prowess of its national team, there are still a number of challenges facing its domestic game.

“In Estonia we have nine ice hockey clubs but the ones in Tallinn and Narva are in this respect far ahead of the others, so in the Estonian championship we don’t have a lot of players and the level is very shifting,” said Parras of a country with a population of just 1.3 million.

In an attempt to try to capture the interest of a new generation, the Estonian Ice Hockey Association has looked into the rear-view mirror and re-launched local school tournaments targeting kids between 6-10 years. “Kultlitter”, or Golden Puck in English, was previously played until 1991 when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union with Parras himself having had fine memories from taking part in the tournament as a youngster.

With the Estonian Ice Hockey Association providing all the necessary equipment, games are played for 20 minutes across the third of the ice surface. Played across Estonia last season, valuable ground was broken in the southern part of the country, with one of the tournaments held in the newly covered ice arena in Viljanti in an initiative set to continue to grow come next season.

With plenty of positive initiatives in place, Parras and his colleagues are now getting ready to roll up their sleeves to continue work towards a more prosperous future of the Estonian game where Finland is set to continue playing a vital part.

“My wish is that we one day will have all our youngest teams playing in own leagues in Estonia, while our three oldest age groups at junior level would form kind of national teams and could play in Finland,” said Parras, who hopes this could also help even further strengthen the national teams but also benefit the domestic Estonian championship.

“If each season around 20 players who played in Finnish junior leagues would move back to Estonia, play either in our domestic league or further afield if they are good enough, then this would give us enough players to select from for our national team and move us upwards because that is the direction we want to head,” said Parras.

Ramsay to coach Slovakia

By Martin Merk –

New General Manager Miroslav Satan announced at a ceremony on Wednesday that the two parties agreed on a two-year deal.

The contract will include the 2018 Olympic Winter Games as the next big event for the team as well as the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark, and the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice in Bratislava and Kosice.

“I’m glad that such an expert who has worked in the NHL as a player and for many years as a coach in various roles will join us and help us lead our hockey into a new epoch with new methods,” Satan said according to the TASR news agency.

Ramsay will be the head coach of the men’s national team but is also expected to mentor younger coaches to create a unified game system within the program.

Ramsay will be the third foreign coach in history of the Slovak men’s national team after fellow countryman Glen Hanlon (2010-2011) and Czech veteran coach Vladimir Vujtek (2011-2015). He replaces Zdeno Ciger, who was coaching the team during the last two seasons.

But Slovak fans shouldn’t expect a typical Canadian coach as former national team player Boris Valabik, who had one common season with Ramsay at the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010/2011 but was sent to the farm team, told Dennik N.

“He preferred more skilled players, which was not ideal for me. He’s an expert. He didn’t like the defensive game. Shooting the puck along the boards is not his style. His favourite expression was ‘safe is dead’,” Valabik said and thinks Ramsay will be a good match for European hockey despite having neither played nor coached on the continent. “He’s not a typical Canadian coach. He will match to the skilled Slovak style. He will be able to excel with skilled Slovak forwards.”

As a player Ramsay spent his whole NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres, who named him a Hall of Fame member of the club in 1986, one year after retiring as a player. He played 1070 regular-season games (252 goals, 420 assists) and 89 playoff games (17 goals, 31 assists) for the Sabres and once appeared in 776 consecutive games without missing one, making his ironman streak the fifth-longest in NHL history. He’s also in the record book as last NHL player to play a full season without penalty minutes, during his 78 games in 1973/1974. In 1985 he won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward of the league.

Ramsay turned into coaching immediately after his retirement as a player and continued with the Sabres for eight years as an assistant coach, as an interim head coach replacing Scotty Bowman, as director of player personnel and assistant GM.

He later had stints as a head coach with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Atlanta Thrashers and has a 66-71-19 all-time coaching record in the NHL but spent most years as an assistant coach with stints at the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and most recently in 2014/2015 with the Edmonton Oilers. Last season he served as a consultant for the Montreal Canadiens.

His biggest success as an assistant coach in the NHL was winning the Stanley Cup with John Tortorella and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.

The 66-year-old is expected to arrive in Slovakia next week. On 23 & 24 August Slovakia will play back-to-back cross-border exhibition games against neighbour Czech Republic in Trinec and Zilina. During the November international break Slovakia will play at the Deutschland Cup in Augsburg, Germany.

At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea, Slovakia will play in Group B with Russia, Team USA and Slovenia.

At the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Denmark the Slovaks are seeded in Group A in Copenhagen where they will have Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, France and Austria as opponents.

Romania adds 7 foreign players to its national ice hockey team

By Irina Marica –

Seven foreign professional hockey players have received the Romanian citizenship on Monday, July 17, according to a statement from the Sports Ministry.

They took the oath during a ceremony organized by the Ministry and the National Authority for Citizenship.

The seven hockey players are Denys Zabludovsky, Yevgeni Yemelyanenko, Pavlo Borysenko,
Anton Butochnov and Vitali Krychenko from Ukraine, Lajos Nyerges  from Hungary, and Patrik Polc  from Slovakia. All of them will be included in the national ice hockey team and will represent Romania in international sports competitions.

Dahlin displays superior skating, poise at Summer Showcase

By Adam Kimelman –

Sweden defenseman Rasmus Dahlin only played twice and fought a fever that sidelined him for three games, but left the World Junior Summer Showcase in a positive mood.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “I haven’t played so many games but the games I played went well and I think it’s been a good week.”

Dahlin finally got back on the ice against Finland at USA Hockey Arena on Saturday and had four shots on goal in a 6-5 overtime win. 

“Beginning [of the game] was a little hard,” he said. “Then I came into it.”

Dahlin, expected to be one of the top picks of the 2018 NHL Draft, didn’t need to do much to show he deserves a spot on Sweden’s roster for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. But in two games at the Summer Showcase he displayed his superior skating, poise and decision making.

He had an assist in a 4-3 win against USA Blue on Saturday. He also made a game-saving dive into the goal to block a shot.

“For us, he’s a two-way defenseman,” Sweden coach Tomas Monten said. “He’s always going to be recognized for his puck movement and his skating. He made some nice plays on the blue line as well. We feel that in Rasmus we have a player that can play both ends of the ice. He’s going to play on our penalty kill. He’s great at the man-on-man play down low. I think he could be a complete defenseman.”

Dahlin (6-foot-2, 181 pounds) also stood up to targeted physical play from bigger opposing forwards.

“I like to play physical,” he said. “I like when the game is on fire.”

Dahlin, who turned 17 on April 13, made his Swedish Hockey League debut last season with Frolunda and had three points (one goal, two assists) in 26 regular-season games, and five points (three goals, two assists) in 14 playoff games.

He also had two points (one goal, one assist) for Sweden as its youngest player at the 2017 WJC, and it’s expected that he’ll have a bigger role at the 2018 tournament.

“He showed us last year it’s not an age factor,” Monten said. “We’re going to go with the best players, doesn’t matter if they’re young or old. We’re just looking for the players that can make our team better. For sure he’s one of them.”

NHL scouts were impressed and will keep a close eye on him this season.

“I watched him play in the World Juniors and watched him play a couple [SHL] games in the playoffs,” a scout from an Eastern Conference team said. “He played a lot of minutes with the men … and I was really impressed with his poise and his composure. He skated well and moved the puck and had skill. The composure that he showed as a 16-year-old against men in the top league was phenomenal.”

Now Dahlin’s goal is to have a larger role with Frolunda and help Sweden at the 2018 WJC improve from its fourth-place finish in 2017. And do it while the draft year spotlight is focused on him.

But he said he’s not worried about the extra attention. His focus is spending time in the gym to get stronger, and working on all areas of his game on the ice, especially his shot.

“All I can do is play my game and be myself,” he said. “All I can do is train and be better every day. Then we’ll see.”

Ted Nolan joins Team Poland as national team head coach

By Cat Silverman –

After earlier rumors, it has been confirmed that Ted Nolan will continue his career as an international coach this coming season, joining Team Poland as their new bench boss.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Nolan blazed a trail when the First Nations former reserve resident was drafted 78th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1978.

He went on to play in the NHL for three seasons, but has been far more successful at the coaching level. In addition to a Jack Adams Trophy as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres in 1997, when he helped the team to first in the then-Northeast Division, he’s spent three years coaching at the international level with the Latvian team.

Now, he’ll join Poland’s staff, looking to help a developing hockey nation elevate their game to the next level.

At the moment, Team Poland is ranked 20th internationally by the IIHF for men’s hockey, and currently play in the Division IA second-tier level for the IIHF Men’s World Championships. Although they’ve been ranked as high as sixth overall at a point in the team’s history, the last time Poland made it to the Olympics was in 1992; with Nolan at the helm, the hope is likely that they’ll at the very least look to develop into a nation that’s capable of putting up a fight in qualifications in the coming years.

At the moment, this is Nolan’s only gig, but success could help him find a way back to prominence coaching in North America at some level in the future.

Meet Turkey’s first female hockey team

Founded by Umut and Hatice Çelik eight years ago, the Istanbul Buz Korsanları (Ice Pirates)
Sports Club changes female hockey players’ lives along with the faith in the sport in Turkey

By Damla Kayayerli – Daily Sabah

Working as a cashier at a skating rink, Hatice Çelik wanted to give ice skating a try one day. Her trainer Umut Çelik, with whom she fell in love with, helped her in her endeavor. As they skated on the ice hand in hand and eye to eye, they fell in love and eventually ended up getting married.

After a short while, the couple decided to found an ice hockey club. National ice hockey athlete Umut and his wife Hatice founded the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club eight years ago. During the first year of the club, they had just 17 members playing in the toddlers’ league, but as time passed the number of sports people in their club quickly increased.

In time, the Istanbul Ice Pirates became a very successful club.

Hatice started to practice more and more to be able to help her husband as much as she could. Refining her skills on skates, she became an ice hockey player at the Istanbul Skating Club. She obtained a coaching certificate after attending coaching workshops, and she served as an ice skating player and a coach at the same time.

Starting to work as an assisting coach for the national team two seasons ago, Hatice had to take a break from work after she became pregnant.

Only female hockey team in Istanbul

Continuing to serve as a coach for the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club, Hatice defines ice hockey as her passion. “I explored a different side of myself after starting hockey. Both skating and watching the skaters are sources of pleasure for me. The ice is a passion, which cannot be given up once you start. Women are more passionate than men when it comes to ice skating,” she said.

Hatice, who has devoted herself to the sport, places great importance on female presence in the sport. One of the pioneers of the Istanbul Ice Pirates Women’s Ice Hockey Team, she has been competing for five seasons.

The only club in Istanbul with a women’s ice hockey team, the Istanbul Ice Pirates is also last year’s champion.

“We are the only club in Turkey competing in seven different branches. We have 14 Turkish championships in various branches. Some of our 173 athletes are national athletes as well,” she explained.

As far as she noted, women’s interest in ice hockey started to increase only recently. The sport attracts a lot of attention, especially from working and studying women.

“Children are encouraged generally by their families. Women, on the other hand, see ice hockey as a different sport. There are also women who started ice hockey as a hobby and then became professional athletes. Families encourage their daughters to provide them with a hobby or make them active. Every so often, those girls turn into professional athletes in time,” she said.

The time it takes to learn the sport changes from person-to-person. However, trainees learn skating in about 10 sessions.

Hicran Kıvanç: ‘I forget everything on the ice rink’

Hicran Kıvanç, 39, a mother of three, has been working at a news channel as a reporter for over five years. Kıvanç first encountered ice hockey thanks to her children. Her older son is a very active; so they wanted to enroll their children into a sports club.

They decided on ice hockey because it was much different than football or basketball, which are the most popular team sports in Turkey.
“My son started to take part in games as soon as he enrolled in the club. Then my younger son, daughter and my nephew also started hockey after my older son. Thus, we turned into a family of icemen,” she said.

At first Kıvanç just watched her children while they skated, but soon she too started the sport as a hobby. Now, she is a professional ice hockey athlete. “I do the sport while enjoying time with my children. To be honest, ice hockey is not an easy sport. I learned it by fits and starts. You don’t care about anything when you are skating, you turn into totally a different person,” she said.

Emral Mutlu: ‘Skating makes you feel free’

A graduate of Maltepe University Civil Engineering Faculty, Emral Mutlu, 24, is a working woman. She first discovered ice skating four years ago with her older sister. Since Mutlu really loved the sport after trying it a few times, she decided she would give ice hockey a go. “I was captured by a great feeling of freedom after learning to skate on the ice. It was also a kind of escape from stress. You refresh while skating. Then it became more joyful after joining a team,” she said. Mutlu says that she has also experienced extraordinary dialogue throughout her adventure of skating.

She explained that people would see her with a hockey stick on the metro bus, and asked her what she does with it. She said some people thought that she had a hockey stick to defend herself. “Everyone has their own passion for skating. One you start, you cannot give it up,” she said, adding that some of her friends want to start ice hockey like her.

Didem and Özlem Bağcı: ‘Ice hockey is a different world’

Twin sisters Didem and Özlem Bağcı, 17, are students at Beşiktaş Anatolian High School. Both sisters started to skate at an ice rink at a shopping mall with their friends for fun. Didem went on to figure skating, while Özlem started ice hockey upon the recommendation of her coach.

After working in an artistic rink for five years, Didem too decided to give ice hockey a try, feeling inspired by her twin.

“I realized that hockey is more joyful. Figure skating is a more personal sport, while ice hockey is teamwork. You can help each other, which I like about it. Now, I’m on the national ice hockey team,” she said.

Both sisters are now professional athletes for the Istanbul Ice Pirates Sports Club. They both think that playing on the same team is advantageous. Skating on the rink is an undefinable feeling for both of them.

During their first years in the sport, their friends were inspired by them. Some of them tried ice hockey as well, while others could not perceive what kind of sport ice hockey was. The twins aim to promote ice hockey in Turkey.

“When I started the sport, ice hockey wasn’t known by most of the society. Now, people have an idea about it upon hearing the name ice hockey,” Didem said.

Being twins, however, can be confusing on the rink. Explaining that ice hockey is a different world for her, Özlem said that they forget about everything on the rink and it gets rid of all the problems of life.

Ice rink mooted for Limassol


Limassol could be the home of a state-of the-art ice arena of Olympic standards if the designs made by a local architecture team finds investors, it emerged on Thursday.

According to the designers, ECA Architects and Associates, the ice-rink complex would be an innovative, energy-efficient structure that would house restaurants, cafes, offices, a gym, and a choreography studio. The designers told the Cyprus Mail that the ice rink is to be constructed in such a way so as to operate in the summer as well, without this translating to high electricity consumption.

The ice rink was designed following express of interest from Russian investors, and the architects are awaiting their decision whether to proceed with construction. The architecture team has suggested two locations in Limassol where the 2,800-square metre rink could be built.

The project is estimated at €3.5m.

The rink will be of Olympic standards, and it could host local and international sports events, the architects said, as it will also have changing rooms, referee offices, and other auxiliary spaces. It is designed to host between 250 and 500 spectators, while there also provisions for an ice arena cover system to facilitate a variety of non-ice events.

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