Category: IIHF (Page 1 of 3)

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

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

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

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

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

Singapore’s participation in the IIHF World Championship

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

Bosnia Wins Division III Group B on Home Ice

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged victorious to claim the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Group B in Sarajevo.

The hosts showcased their resilience in a nail-biting gold medal match against North Korea. Despite falling behind twice, they fought back and clinched a memorable 4-2 victory. The Skenderija Sports Arena reverberated with the cheers of 1,700 ecstatic spectators, making it a truly special moment.

The triumph signifies a significant achievement in the chronicles of ice hockey in Bosnia & Herzegovina. For the first time, their men’s team has secured the coveted gold medals in the World Championship play. As a result, the Bosnians will progress to compete in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Group A in 2025.

During the earlier stages of the tournament, Bosnia & Herzegovina showcased their strength by blanking Iran with a convincing 3-0 victory. However, they faced a tough challenge in the subsequent match against Hong Kong, losing 3-4 in overtime. Despite this setback, the team quickly bounced back and displayed their dominance by defeating the Philippines 6-3. Their remarkable performance continued as Nikko Gakovic’s hat-trick propelled them to a remarkable 9-2 triumph over Singapore.

In the highly anticipated promotion match against North Korea on Thursday night, Chun Rim Hong, the tournament’s top forward, wasted no time in making an impact. Within just 1 minute and 56 seconds, Hong unleashed a powerful shot from the top of the left dot, leaving Dino Pasovic helpless as the ball found the back of the net.

Prior to their encounter at IIHF World Championship play, the two teams had faced each other only once. It was in April 2015 when North Korea completely dominated Bosnia & Herzegovina, leaving them without a single goal in a remarkable 13-0 triumph.

During the game, Bosnia’s goalkeeper Pasovic was in action in the first two periods. Fast forward nine years, he made a key save against Ji Ung Ryu, who received a pass from Chung Hyok Kim. The Bosnian defense then valiantly defended their net. Following this, the hosts scored a goal as Din Alen Filipovic outplayed Chung Nam Choe and assisted Gakovic to tie the game.

Following their relegation from the 2019 IIHF World Championship Division IIB in Mexico City, North Korea reentered World Championship play. Five years later, 11 players from the original roster were still representing the team

The team captain, Hong, is a significant player on the team. With 20 points (11+9) in five games, he is the top scorer of the tournament. His second goal of the night, scored on the powerplay in the first period, helped North Korea regain the lead.

Prior to this, Canadian head coach Ross MacLean had already led Bosnia´s U20 team to victory in Division IIIB at the current venue. Eight players from that team were chosen for the men´s team, and two of them were involved in setting up Bosnia´s 2-2 goal when Kwang Song Ryu received a roughing penalty. Vasilije Vucinic, a 16-year-old defenseman, passed to Belmin Sinanbegovic, who then assisted Dino Cordalija in scoring the equalizing goal against North Korea.

With the hosts now in control, the home crowd once again erupted in excitement just 40 seconds later as Bosnia surged ahead. Netminder Pasovic displayed his alertness by denying North Korea’s attempts twice, while Adnan Mlivic skillfully maneuvered the puck during a three-on-one rush. Although Denny Miskic’s initial shot was saved by Jo in North Korea’s net, debutant Andreas Andrijasevic capitalized on the rebound and scored.

In the 3rd period, the Bosnian rearguard displayed heroic defending while Pasovic’s inspiring net minding prevented North Korea from scoring. , Midway into the period Miskic’s energetic strike sealed Bosnia’s lead at 4-2, causing the Skenderija Sports Arena to erupt in jubilant celebrations.

In a monumental display, the 38-year-old goalie retired on a positive note following his most unforgettable game in a Bosnia uniform, where he stopping 45 North Korean shots.

Pasovic stood out as the top goaltender in the 2024 gold medal-winning team, achieving a remarkable 2.21 GAA and an outstanding 93.53 save percentage. He was recognized as the best goalie of the tournament for the second consecutive year during a Division IIIB competition hosted in Sarajevo.

Hong Kong secures the Bronze Medal, while Iran relinquishes its spot in the division

Hong Kong clinched their second consecutive bronze at this level, pondering what could have been. Despite a setback in their first game against DPR Korea, they showed resilience by winning in overtime against Bosnia. Chung Pan Justin Cheng stood out as the team’s top scorer with 17 points in five games. An outstanding performances and one of the best scores in international play for Hong Kong.

Singapore emerged victorious in the divisional struggle, defeating Iran 8-5 on the last day and securing a commendable fifth-place finish. Unfortunately, Iran, unable to secure a win, has been relegated to Division IV for the 2025 season.

World hockey body reverses Israeli ban for upcoming tournament

Source: Jewish News Syndicate

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on Wednesday rescinded its decision made last week to ban Israeli athletes from competing in an upcoming tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, due to alleged safety concerns.

“Following recent exchanges and extensive discussions with all involved stakeholders, the IIHF has received from the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Bulgaria and the related Organizing Committee the required confirmation for the safety and security support needed to allow the Israeli National Team to take part in the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III, Group A (WM20IIIA), which will take place in Sofia in the period of 22-29 January 2024,” the IIHF said in a statement posted to its website.

The Olympic Committee of Israel and the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel (IHFI) also received notifications of the reversal.

 The Olympic Committee of Israel and the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel (IHFI) also received notifications of the reversal.

The move came some eight hours before Israel’s appeal of the ban was set to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Criticism mounted following the Jan. 10 announcement by the Zurich-based worldwide governing body for ice hockey to “restrict the Israeli National Team from participating in IIHF Championships until the safety and well-being of all participants (including Israeli participants) can be assured.”

The National Hockey League issued a statement that expressed “significant concerns” with the decision and said that it was seeking an explanation for the rationale behind it.

Mikhael Horowitz, an Israeli hockey player and CEO of the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel, told The Canadian Jewish News that the move was “discriminatory and against the Olympic Charter and it will not be accepted by Israel.”

Paul Shindman, who founded the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel in 1989, told The Canadian Jewish News that he was outraged by the decision.

“To punish Israeli hockey players after their country was brutally attacked by terrorists is unfair and unjust. Israel’s sportsmen and women deserve the support and embrace of their friends in the international hockey world, not to be excluded. It makes them victims twice over,” he said.

Another voice joining the chorus of criticism over the move was two-time Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils Bobby Holík, a Czech-American former NHLer who is the head coach of the Israeli men’s national hockey team.

“This hockey situation presents a great opportunity for the league [the NHL] to make a stand and somehow confront the IIHF,” Holík told the New York Post. “To me, this is an extension of the Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS). It’s like, ‘Hey, we don’t want to be uncomfortable, we’ll just keep the Jews out of it.’”

Holík continued, “This is just people finding ways to show their antisemitism. Nobody stands up. Nobody says anything. So they keep doing it. I could ask the NHL and people in hockey to make a stand for Israel, but nobody wants to go that way. The NHL works closely, I believe, with the IIHF on the Olympic Games and other things. I think they should somehow put a little heat on the IIHF.”

In its statement reversing its decision, the IIHF wished the Israeli national team success in the Bulgarian tournament, saying that it will “keep monitoring the situation and reviewing its upcoming Championships on a case-by-case basis. In close collaboration with our stakeholders and local authorities, we will strive to find the necessary conditions and support to allow the Israeli teams to participate. Further decisions will be taken and notified in February 2024.”

Israel barred from International Ice Hockey Federation events over security concerns

Source: The Times of Israel

The International Ice Hockey Federation has barred Israel from competing in its world championship events, citing security concerns, in a move Israel has vowed to dispute, decrying an “antisemitic” and “dangerous” decision.

The IIHF said in a statement issued Wednesday that its ruling council “has decided to restrict the Israeli National Team from participating in IIHF Championships until the safety and well-being of all participants (including Israeli participants) can be assured.”

The Israeli men’s national team was due to play a Division II-A world championship tournament in Serbia in April against teams including Australia and the United Arab Emirates. The Israel women’s national team was scheduled for a Division III-B world championship event in Estonia in March against opponents including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Indonesia.

The Israeli Ice Hockey Association announced in response that it will file a claim with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the international hockey group over its “antisemitic decision to exclude Israel is an unusual and very serious step that does not meet any international sporting standard and stands in complete contradiction to Olympic values.”

The Israeli Ice Hockey Association said that “sources within the International Ice Hockey Federation suggest that the underlying cause of the decision appears to be the alleged capitulation of the Federation’s chairman, Luc Tardif, to political pressures, including influences from Russia.”

The IIHF said it “took this decision after careful consideration and based on a risk assessment, discussions with the participating countries and discussions with the hosts.”

The statement did not say if any other country had objected to playing against Israel and made no mention of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, triggered by the Palestinian terror group’s October 7 massacre in which some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists breached the border, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians slaughtered in their homes and at a music festival. Another 240 people were taken hostage in Gaza.

Israel will remain excluded “for the time being,” the IIHF said.

The Israeli Ice Hockey Association said in its statement that the federation’s decision “provides support for terrorism and the massacre of children and older people who were in their beds, in their homes.”

Yael Arad, Chairman of the Olympic Committee of Israel, said in a statement that together with Gili Lustig, the CEO of the Olympic Committee, she has been involved in a number of conversations with the global hockey federation and “unfortunately, we are witnessing a precedent-setting and dangerous decision with a strong undercurrent of antisemitism, disguised under the pretext of athlete safety.”

“In a personal conversation I had with the president of the International Hockey Federation, I witnessed a disappointing lack of transparency and opacity driven by a hidden agenda that has no place in world sports. The International Olympic Committee is aware of the situation and supports that Israel will not be discriminated [against] in any competition whatsoever. We will not allow this to happen,” said Arad, an Olympic judoka champion.

In its reasoning, the IIHF has previously used similar language around safety and security to support its decision last year to suspend Russia and Belarus from competition following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The IIHF world championships are structured into a series of tiers and Israel’s national teams typically play in lower-division events with sparse crowds and little media exposure.

Colombia repeats as Women’s Development Cup Champions

Source: IIHF.com

After making waves in the 2022 IIHF Women’s Development Cup by winning their first IIHF event, Colombia has successfully defended their championship win. The team defeated Argentina in the final 6-2.

Only 27 seconds into the first period, Lorena Pedraza blasted one past Argentinian goaltender Florencia Gutierrez Peydro to give the Colombians the early lead.

After assisting on the first goal, Maria Uribe bolstered Colombia’s lead when she sped out from deep in the Argentinian zone and ripped one past Gutierrez Peydro into the net.

However, Argentina would cut the deficit by one halfway through the first period. While applying pressure in the Colombian zone Alma Amegeiras got the puck past Ana Munevar as she was knocked down on the play.

Colombia responded in a big way before the end of the first period as Natalia Lugo scored twice in a span of 3:40.

After a scoreless second period, Colombia added some assurance with two power-play goals by Christina Kampa and Uribe.  Rounding out the scoring in the final was Argentina’s Abril Bendenelli with a power play goal.

Bronze Medal Game

In an exciting bronze medal game, that went down to the wire, Iran defeated Ireland 3-1.

After a scoreless first period, Dina Farzamnia gave Iran the lead in the second period. Elham Modirdehghan added insurance to Iran’s lead in the third. Ireland would cut the lead and pull within one on a score by forward Kaitlyn Morrison.

With the extra attacker out after pulling goaltender Sarah McFarland, Ireland could not tie the game.  Farzamnia scored into the empty net, her second of the game to secure the bronze for Iran.

Semi-Final and Preliminary Round

Columbia punched their ticket to the gold medal game after earning an 8-1 win over Ireland in the semi-finals.  One of the highlights of this semi-final was the hat-trick effort from forward Susanna Perez. Uribe chipped in with three assists. For Ireland, Ana Capcarrere scored while Mima Markicevic added an assist.

As for Argentina, they squeaked by Iran 2-1 to gain their championship berth.  In this semi-final, Iara Haiek had a short-handed goal while Mila Lutteral got the game-winner in the second period for Argentina.  Meanwhile, Iran’s Azamossadat scored on the power play.

In the preliminary round, Colombia was atop the standings with a 3-0-0-0 record.  Argentina was next at 2-0-0-1.  Iran ended up with a 1-0-0-2 record while Ireland was 0-0-0-3.

China And Demark Earn Promotion

Qiqi Lin scores the goal that takes China to the top level of the Women’s Worlds for the first time since 2009.

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Only a year after being demoted to Division 1B World Championships, China won their first four games at the 2023 Division 1A Women’s World Championships to earn promotion to compete amongst the top teams in the world in Utica, New York in 2024.

Denmark needed to wait until the final day of competition at the IIHF Division 1A World Championships to secure their return to the top division.

to earn promotion, Denmark needed to win in regulation, and have the Netherlands lose in regulation to China.

During their game against Norway, Denmark did their part picking up a 4-1 win.

The Netherlands was trying to qualify for the top level of WW for the first time, but finished one goal short of their dream after losing to China, 2-1. They needed only to get the game to overtime to finish in second, but instead they finish in a three-way tie with Denmark and Austria, a result that gives Denmark the second promotion spot (along with China).

Slovakia will be demoted to 2024 Division 1B Women’s World Championships.

IIHF welcomes Puerto Rico

Source: IIHF.com

The International Ice Hockey Federation welcomes the Puerto Rico Ice Hockey Association as its newest member. The 2022 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress today approved the admission of Puerto Rico as an associate member.

With the addition of the Caribbean island, the IIHF grows to 83 member national associations.

The Puerto Rico Ice Hockey Association was formally founded in 2020. Currently 205 players are registered with the organization from the island of 3.1 million inhabitants.

Click here for the country profile of Puerto Rico.

IIHF Semi-Annual Congress also approved the change from associate to full membership for Iran following the country’s first participation in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program.

2023 World Ice Hockey Championships Lower Divisions

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The 2023 World Championships lower divisions have became known. The IIHF has decided to add each of the lower division groups to a traditional 6-team Divisions.

Indian national team  will make its World Championships debut next year. General Director of the hockey association of the country Samart Sharma said: “This is a historic step for ice hockey in our country. We hope that at the upcoming championship we will be able to impose a worthy struggle on our rivals and gain a foothold in the world hockey system.”

Division IIA (to be held in Spain from April 16 to 22)
Croatia (3rd place in division IIA in 2022)
Spain (4th place in division IIA in 2022)
Israel (5th place in division IIA in 2022)
Australia (did not participate in 2022)
Iceland (1st place in division IIB in 2022)
Georgia (2nd place in Division IIB in 2022)

Division IIB (will be held in Turkey from 17 to 23 April)
Belgium (3rd place in Division IV in 2022)
Bulgaria (4th place in Division IIB in 2022)
Mexico (5th place in Division IB in 2022)
New Zealand (did not participate in 2022)
UAE (1st place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Turkey (2nd place in Division IIIA in 2022)

Division IIIA (to be held in South Africa from 17 to 23 April)
Turkmenistan (3rd place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Taiwan (4th place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Luxembourg (5th place in Division IIIA in 2022)
DPRK (did not participate in 2022)
South Africa (1st place in Division IIIB in 2022)
Thailand (2nd place in Division IIIA in 2022) 

Division IIIB (to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 14 to 21 April)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (3rd place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Hong Kong (did not participate in 2022)
Kyrgyzstan (1st place in Division IV in 2022)
Iran (2nd place in Division IV in 2022)
Singapore (3rd place in Division IV in 2022)
Malaysia (4th place in Division IV in 2022)

Division IV (to be held in Kuwait from March 10 to 16)
Kuwait (5th in Division IV in 2022)
Philippines (did not participate in 2022)
India (DEBUT)
(Other Countries are possible)

India will make its World Championship debut in 2023.

Russia and Belarus barred from 2023 IIHF World Championship

By Patrick Burk – Inside the games

National teams of Russia and Belarus were suspended by the IIHF “until further notice” on February 28 in response to the invasion of Ukraine, and following recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Last month, Saint Petersburg was stripped of hosting rights for the men’s 2023 IIHF World Championship, with the Congress approving Tampere in Finland and Riga in Latvia as its replacement.

IIHF President Luc Tardif has insisted: “Every decision we made was for the safety of the competition, for the safety of the players, staff, fans and officials, including Russia and Belarus.”

At the IIHF Annual Congress at the Tampere Hall Convention Centre, a decision by the Council to “freeze the participation” of Russia and Belarus at World Championship events was ratified.

With both countries out of World Championship across all age groups for 2023, the IIHF has decided to fill tournaments to the regular number of teams.

However, the decision to “freeze participation” would enable both countries to return to the top division of the men’s IIHF World Championship, and Russia to the top tier of the Women’s World Championship, if their bans are lifted.

This provision has failed to appease the RIHF and FHB, who have both released statements criticising the IIHF’s decisions.

The RIHF said it “does not agree with the decision to freeze the participation of the senior Russian national team at the 2023 World Championship”, and claimed “there are no legal grounds for this decision to be made”.

It added that it would provide further statements after a decision by the IIHF Disciplinary Committee on its appeal against Russia’s ban from international competitions, and against the country being stripped of hosting rights for next year’s men’s World Championship and World Junior Championship.

The appeal is expected to be considered by the Disciplinary Committee on June 15.

The FHB was more vociferous in its criticism, blaming the influence of “Western politicians” for the extension of the bans.

“The Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus is convinced that this decision of the International Ice Hockey Federation has become another in the list of decisions taken under the influence and pressure of individual National Federations, which have become virtually hostages of Western politicians,” it claimed.

“We can simply state the fact that once again, under the guise of concern about our own safety, the IIHF violated all the principles of Olympism.

“If desired, one could find options, as is done in other sports, but hockey functionaries, representing, first of all, the countries of the Western bloc, do not even want to do this and only hear themselves.”

The FHB also said it “has already prepared an appeal against the IIHF decision”, but claimed that the sanctions offered “an opportunity for development and growth in other directions”, including strengthening ties with the RIHF, which it described as “the leader of the world hockey”.

Belarus was due to host last year’s men’s World Championship, but it was moved to Latvia due to safety and security issues, after the controversial re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as the country’s President sparked protests and a subsequent Government crackdown.

Canada’s triumph in Latvia drew it level with the combined 27 men’s IIHF World Championship won by the Soviet Union and Russia, whose last victory came in 2014.

Canada has also won a record 11 IIHF Women’s World Championship, with Russia’s best finish being third place.

At the Beijing 2022, the Russian Olympic Committee – the “neutral” banner under which Russia’s team competed due to doping sanctions – claimed men’s silver in ice hockey after losing to Finland in the final, but was eliminated by Switzerland in the women’s quarter-finals.

Just four days after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on February 24, Russia, assisted by Belarus, invaded Ukraine, sparking widespread condemnation and leading to the countries being largely frozen out of international sport.

French official Tardif, elected as IIHF President in September last year, has declared that the IIHF hopes Russia and Belarus can return to its competitions “as soon as possible”.

His predecessor René Fasel, a Swiss IOC honorary member, is under investigation by the IIHF Ethics Board over reportedly taking up a lucrative consultancy role with the Russian-funded Kontinental Hockey League, as well as public statements about the invasion of Ukraine.

Colombia wins at debut

By Christian Pierre – IIHF.com

For a second time the ice rink in Fussen, Germany served as venue for the Development Cup. Celebrating its third edition, the tournament has been established to provide an international tournament for IIHF members that are not able to compete in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. It has become increasingly important for these countries, and their players, to be able to play competitive games to further their development.

With six participating countries – Algeria, Andorra, Colombia, Ireland, Liechtenstein and Portugal – this third edition of the Development Cup was the biggest and most successful since its inauguration in 2017. The first edition in Canillo, Andorra saw four participants –Ireland, Morocco, Portugal, and host Andorra. In 2018, North Macedonia joined returning countries Andorra, Ireland and Portugal for the second edition in Fussen, Germany.

The Corona pandemic intervened for any further action, thus the hiatus. But with six participating nations the tournament made a brilliant comeback much to the joy of the driving forces behind the event such as Irishman Aaron Guli and Adil El Farj, a Canadian with Moroccan roots.

Common Ground

What all participating countries have in common is that their ice hockey programs are quite small. Either because their countries are small, like microstates Andorra and Liechtenstein, or because ice hockey under IIHF rules is difficult for reasons related to ice rink infrastructure, such as the lack of full-size ice rinks. Of the six participants in Füssen, only Ireland had previous experience of participating in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. Interesting detail, Andorra boasts a nice regular IIHF ice rink (1,500 seats) in Canillo, where Spain organized the then IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship D-Pool in 1997.

Diaspora

While Andorra has its own ice rink, Liechtenstein, the other microstate participating in Füssen, hasn’t. Its players practise their ice hockey in neighboring countries Austria and Switzerland. Nor does Algeria. The players on its roster live in the diaspora and have Algerian roots and mainly developed their hockey skills abroad, like France or Great Britain. Unfortunately, Dundalk Ice Dome, the only regulation size Irish ice rink, closed a few years ago, in 2010. However, there is hope that a new ice rink will open in the future to give the program another boost. In the meantime, the Irish travel to neighbour Northern Ireland to hit the ice in Belfast. Portugal has had some temporary ice venues and developed its ice hockey program via inline hockey as did Colombia. However, the latter is making a lot of progress having participated several times in the Amerigol Cup in Florida winning the 2018 edition and recently participated in the Dallas Spring Classic, an event powered by NHL club Dallas Stars. In Fussen they showed their mastery of the game coming out on top with four wins and one tie winning the tournament.

Inspirer

Inspirer and organizer Guli, who is also president of the Irish Ice Hockey Association, is extremely satisfied with this third edition. “I conceived this tournament for national teams that for whatever reason cannot participate in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program can still play the sport representing their respective countries on the international level and thus profile themselves as an ice hockey nation. The traditional ways of developing ice hockey don’t really work in these countries. The focus is on showing that these countries are involved in the sport of ice hockey and can use this event to promote the grassroots development of the sport in their country through their national senior men’s teams,” explains Guli.

“This edition was a challenge, obviously with Covid. There was a two-year lay-off. The 3rd edition was originally scheduled for October 2021, but with the Delta variant peaking in that period the decision was made to postpone it until now. But I think it is a sign of resilience by everyone because of Covid and the long gap that there is even more interest as we have grown from four to six teams, and we have also more interest from other men’s teams, and we are even in discussions with the IIHF in holding a women’s edition as well.” 

At the upcoming IIHF Annual Congress Guli and his colleagues will have talks about the future. “We will be looking to take the 4th edition as the next step up. Every time we organize the Development Cup, we want to make it better every new edition. We were so pleased IIHF President Luc Tardif and General Secretary ad interim Gion Veraguth were present, as well as IIHF Council member and retiring German Ice Hockey Association President Franz Reindl. A sign the IIHF is committed to further support the Development Cup which will be massive for us. Mr. Tardif is a strong believer in development and him being present also sent a strong message to the participating teams.”

His colleague Adil El Farj agrees. “Seeing IIHF President Luc Tardif dropping the puck at the ceremonial face-off was huge, not only fur us organizers, but also for the participating nations. The IIHF President met with the Associate Members Working Group (which represents non-championship participants) to talk about the future and working on eligibility. It’s in our common interest that this tournament is more than just a competition, but also continues to focus on development. A Development Cup for women’s teams could be the next step to further improve the sport for associate members worldwide.”

Colombians writing History

For the Colombians this Development Cup couldn’t have been any better, claiming the victory as its first South American participant and writing ice hockey history. “It has been indeed a valuable experience this week,” confirms Daniel Fierro, president of the Colombian Ice Hockey Federation and player on the team. “Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect, as we had no clue about the strength of our opponents since we previously only played in tournaments on the American continent. Obviously, we are very happy in achieving the first place in this IIHF-sanctioned event. It is very important for us to show what Colombian ice hockey is capable of so one day we can participate in the IIHF World Championships.” 

The Colombian Ice Hockey Federation develops its ice hockey program through inline hockey as there are currently no ice rinks in the South American country. And apparently this surrogate sport can help. “We play inline hockey, but we started playing this dryland variant with ice hockey rules, like offside and icing etc., to accustom our players once they hit the ice. Since we don’t have ice rinks in Colombia, we travel a few days prior of a tournament so we can practise a couple of times on the ice before the event starts. We were in Fussen, three days prior to the Development Cup to practise on the ice. It eases our players to make the transition from inline to ice. That was part of the success we had this week.”

The team in Fussen consisted of 22 players. “Twenty of them were Colombian born,” proudly states Daniel. “Two have Colombian roots, being born in Sweden and the USA. Something we are very proud of is the fact that all players play in Colombia today and a few had some experience playing ice hockey abroad in the States and Europe. So, we try to comply with the IIHF rules as we hope to bring this team to an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the future. We are making steps towards that. This victory is a huge step for us. Showcasing our ice hockey skills outside the Americas was very important, especially towards our ministry of sports. A delegate of the ministry was present and saw what we can achieve. Hence, winning on the international scene is huge for us, so claiming the Development Cup was an enormous step forward to achieving a first ice rink in our country.”

Building a new team

It was the first time that Liechtenstein participated in the Development Cup. Previously its national team played only two international games versus Luxemburg. “We started building a new team a year ago for this Development Cup,” explains Liechtenstein coach Herbi Schadler. “We set several goals for our federation, such as a full-size ice rink in our country, the participation of our country in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships while aiming towards the top-50 in the World Ranking. Therefore, it was important to be present at this edition of the Development Cup. Our first goal was to develop the team and to find our identity. We were process-orientated, not result orientated. We planned different steps as this participation was also important for our younger players, getting the experience on the international level.”

Liechtenstein ended in second place. Coach Schadler is satisfied. “We reached all our goals set for this tournament. We ran through our process as we aimed to and the result is very good with only one loss against a strong Colombia, so we are very pleased. We planned well. We want to continue with this young team for the next years to come, building a thorough foundation for the national team program. We set up a good environment for the players and now we want to take it to the next level.”

Liechtenstein has only one very small ice rink in Malbun. The national team practises in neighboring countries Austria and Switzerland. “Our participation in the Development Cup will help us achieve a regular-size ice rink in the country. We had a lot of media coverage playing in Fussen, some national press was even present. So we are very happy about the outcome. This was very helpful. We could show the media and politicians that we work professionally to further develop ice hockey in our country. I think we did a good job. We are a step closer to a new ice rink.”

Importance for further development

For first timer Algeria, being present was very important. “The participation in this Development Cup was massive. We really needed this boost,” confirms Karim Kerbouche, from Team Algeria. “Just before we became IIHF member in 2019, we were on a peak with the Algerian government paying attention to us and willing to fund and building our sport in Algeria. It had taken us some years to get this recognition and support. It resulted in government funding for a kids’ program, an ice hockey school on the sole ice rink in Algeria, a rink suited for 3-on-3 games situated in a shopping mall in the city of Setif. Unfortunately, Covid happened some three months later, and everything went in lockdown like in the rest of the world. As a result, our local hockey program went in hibernation for two years. Hence, we needed this Development Cup to get back on track and rekindle the attention of the Algerian government to restart the aid they were providing for us and helping us with the ice hockey school in Setif and for participation in tournaments abroad like this Development Cup.

“I’m very happy with the outcome. I didn’t expect we would win the tournament. We had 10 plus guys born in Algeria. And we bring as many players as possible back to our project for the kids. So, from that side of things, our two victories were amazing. The tournament gave us the opportunity to play against European nations, which was a first for us and win against one, which was big for us. And then of course the historical game against Colombia. An African nation playing ice hockey against a South American, that’s material for the history books of ice hockey. It’s an honour to be part of that history. And it’s definitely interesting, it’s proof ice hockey has become a global sport.”

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