Category: IIHF (Page 1 of 3)

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.”

Luc Tardif new IIHF President

Luc Tardif reacts after being elected new IIHF President by the 2021 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress.

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

Luc Tardif has been elected as new IIHF President succeeding René Fasel, who held the position for 27 years and didn’t stand for re-election. He won the presidential election in the fourth and last round against Franz Reindl.

Tardif becomes the 14th IIHF President and the second from France after founding President Louis Magnus.

Petr Briza was elected as Senior Vice-President, and the Regional Vice-Presidents elected are Bob Nicholson (Americas), Aivaz Omorkanov (Asia & Oceania) and Henrik Bach Nielsen (Europe & Africa).

Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer and Marta Zawadzka were re-elected as female Council members. In the first round for the remaining positions Heikki Hietanen, Anders Larsson, Pavel Bure, Raeto Raffainer and Andrea Gios were elected with a majority with two positions open for a second round. Franz Reindl was elected in the second round and Viesturs Koziols in the third round.

Tardif, who has citizenship of France and Canada, was elected to the IIHF Council in 2012 where he served as Treasurer. He played junior hockey in Canada and professional hockey in Belgium and France where he started his hockey career off the ice with Rouen’s youth program. He was the head of the ice hockey department at the French Ice Sports Federation from 2000 to 2006. In 2006, he was elected as first President of the newly created French Ice Hockey Federation, a position he was re-elected for in 2010, 2014 and 2018. He was also Chef de Mission of the French Olympic delegation at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics. He has worked as member of the IIHF Competition Committee (2008-2012) and as chairman of the IIHF Finance Committee (since 2016).

In his presentation the day before, Tardif underlined the importance of development and bouncing back after the Covid-19 crisis that hit hockey in many countries with a successful restart of the usual activities. He also presented an idea for a larger IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I by merging the two groups, for a “Flying Coaches” program to bring word-class coaches to countries for seminars and wants to further develop 3-on-3 hockey.

He underlined that a President should listen and try to understand the needs of the member national associations. And that’s what he did with individual sessions with almost all member countries during summer. A “Virtual World Tour” or “Co-Construction Process” as he called it during 90 hours.

Bob Nicholson (CAN) was re-elected as Regional Vice-President Americas after Dave Ogrean (USA) had withdrawn. Aivaz Omorkanov (KGZ) was elected as Regional Vice-President Asia & Oceania in a vote against Thomas Wu (HKG), who previously held the position. Among the candidates for Europe & Africa two candidates were remaining with Henrik Bach Nielsen (DEN) winning the vote against Franz Reindl (GER). Presidential candidate Sergej Gontcharov (BLR) withdrew his application as regular Council member and thus leaves the Council.

Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer (HUN) and Marta Zawadzka (POL) were re-elected as female Council members. The IIHF Council must consist of at least two female and two male members.

hat left seven open positions on the Council for twelve remaining candidates. In the first round six candidates received a majority of votes and were elected: Heikki Hietanen (FIN), Anders Larsson (SWE), Pavel Bure (RUS), Raeto Raffainer (SUI) and Andrea Gios (ITA).

Two positions were still open for the second round with six candidates still in the race as the last-ranked candidate dropped out and one withdrew. Franz Reindl (GER) was elected in the second round but since no other candidate reached a simple majority, a third round was needed for one positions with four candidates running. Viesturs Koziols (LAT) was elected as last Council member.

The election day concluded with the Internal Auditors, Disciplinary Board, Ethics Board and Appeal Board.

Outgoing IIHF President René Fasel was named Life President after serving as President for 27 years and on the Council for 35 years. Outgoing Council members Kalervo Kummola, Tony Rossi, Vladislav Tretiak and Thomas Wu as well as outgoing Internal Auditor and former Council member Christer Englund were named Life Member. Outgoing Vice-President Kummola also served a lengthy period of 23 years on the IIHF Council. Long-time Disciplinary Board chairman Gerhard Mosslang was named Honorary Member.

Bach Nielsen announces top five priorities as part of IIHF Presidency bid

By Patrick Burke – Inside The Games

Henrik Bach Nielsen has advanced his election bid for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Presidency, releasing his top five priorities for his first year should he be successful.

The current President of the Danish Ice Hockey Union since 2007 and IIHF Council member since 2012 released his ‘1st Line’, and is hoping for the sport to expand globally and grow in more countries.

The first of his top priorities is to focus on regional development in Asia and the Balkans through committees, with a view to adopting a similar approach elsewhere in the future.

Bach Nielsen also aims to increase revenue streams with an added digital emphasis to increase prize money for the IIHF’s biggest events, and enable the six leading nations in Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States to serve as ‘super mentors’, supported by the IIHF, to assist the development of other member national associations (MNA).

He also hopes to increase investment in women’s ice hockey and female representation in leadership roles, and invest in new technologies and partnerships to reduce the sport’s energy consumption.

The Presidential candidate said of his 1st Line: “I see the opportunity to make international ice hockey truly global and I have an ambitious plan to get us there.

“With innovative ideas, fresh energy, and new leadership, we will take the IIHF beyond what we ever believed possible.”

The Dane has been endorsed by Hans Natorp, the President of the Danish National Olympic Committee, Nikolaj Ehlers, a player of the Winnipeg Jets, and the women’s national team captain Josefine Jakobsen.

Denmark hosted the men’s Ice Hockey World Championship for the first time in 2018, and will do so again jointly with Sweden in 2025.

Bach Nielsen is standing against Belarus’ Sergej Gontcharov, the Czech Republic’s Petr Briza, France’s Luc Tardif and German Ice Hockey Federation President Franz Reindl.

All five candidates are currently members of the IIHF Council.

Incumbent President René Fasel, who was first elected in 1994 and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is not standing for re-election this September – a year later than originally planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elections are set to take place at the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress on September 25 in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

Other positions on the 14-member IIHF Council are up for election as well, including the senior vice-president and three regional vice-president roles.

Bach Nielsen is also standing for senior vice-president and regional vice-president for Europe and Africa.

The Congress will also elect two auditors, the Disciplinary Board, Appeal Board and Ethics Board.

IIHF working to postpone women’s world hockey championship to May

The women’s world hockey championship is scheduled for April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, N.S., replacing the 2020 tournament that was cancelled due to the pandemic

The Canadian women’s hockey team opened a camp in Halifax on Monday wondering if and when there will be a world championship there.

Nova Scotia’s government has yet to approve the world championship April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, and the International Hockey Federation wants to postpone it until May.

“We are working now on a postponement,” IIHF president Rene Fasel told The Associated Press on Monday.

“We saw it last year with the virus as soon as the weather was warmer, maybe the restrictions will be different.”

Halifax and Truro were co-hosts of the 10-country 2020 women’s championship cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IIHF awarded Nova Scotia the tournament again.

The 35 Canadian players arriving Monday in Halifax are preparing as though they’ll compete for a world title in May.

“I think we had an inclination it would get pushed at some point,” Hockey Canada’s director of national teams Gina Kingsbury told The Canadian Press from Halifax.

“We’re moving ahead like worlds are happening in that time frame.”

14-day isolation is problematic

Kingsbury views a postponement as an indicator both Hockey Canada and IIHF are committed to making the tournament happen, instead of cancelling a second time.

“I really do feel the postponement is to make sure it happens … and to make sure we’re in a good position to be able to host and to do so in a safe manner,” she said.

“There’s definitely a process in place and I think Hockey Canada is going through the right process step by step to ensure we will have a world championship in May.”

Canada requiring travellers arriving from outside the country to isolate for 14 days is problematic in hosting international sport.

Hockey Canada obtained federal government permission to alter that restriction for December’s spectator-free world men’s junior championship in Edmonton, where players and personnel were walled off from the public in a secured zone and underwent regular testing for the virus.

Nova Scotia presents another layer of restriction requiring people arriving from outside the province to isolate for 14 days, which isn’t the case in Alberta.

Nova Scotia health authorities approved the women’s camp with several conditions.

“The players and staff will be maintaining a quarantine between the hotel and rink and will have no contact with anyone outside of their ‘camp bubble”‘, Nova Scotia Health said Monday in a statement.

25-person limit on ice at camp

All players self-isolated for seven days and were tested before arrival in Halifax, Kingsbury said.

She says she could throw a baseball from the team’s hotel and hit Scotiabank Centre across the street, but the players travel by bus to the arena so they don’t mix with the public.

Nova Scotia limited the number of people who can be on the ice at one time to 25 last Friday, so the women’s camp format had to be quickly adjusted, Kingsbury said.

Six goaltenders, 10 defenders and 19 forwards were invited camp, including captain Marie-Philip Poulin, forwards Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse, and Nova Scotia natives Blayre Turnbull and Jill Saulnier.

“Being here is a good thing in a lot of ways,” Kingsbury said. “It’s always good to get a sense and a feel of where you’re going to compete. We’re going to be skating on the same ice as worlds.

“Any time you can mimic your biggest competition is a huge advantage I would say in your preparation.”

Since Canada finished third in the 2019 world championship in Espoo, Finland, the team has played five international games against the United States.

Edmonton to host 2021 world junior hockey championship with no fans

Team Canada players reach for the trophy after defeating Russia 4-3 in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships, Sunday, January 5, 2020 in Ostrava, Czech Republic

By The Canadian Press

Edmonton will host another major hockey event with no fans after the International Ice Hockey Federation confirmed Rogers Place will be the site of the 2021 world junior championship on Thursday.

The IIHF Council approved the Hockey Canada plan, which sees one of two planned cities for the 2021 event maintain hosting duties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event originally was scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., from Dec. 26, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.

Organizers now say the event will return to those two cities — with the hope of having fans — in 2022.

No tournament dates have been confirmed for the revamped 2021 event.

Rogers Place currently is hosting the final two rounds of the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Edmonton and Toronto served as co-hosts for the entire NHL post-season.

“This is a tough decision to have to take, but ultimately we did not have a choice,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement.

“The health and safety of players, officials, and fans is our top priority. We were impressed with the presentation from the local organizing committee outlining how a potential bubble scenario would operate within Edmonton, and we are confident that we can follow the NHL’s great example in creating a safe environment for teams to compete.”

Hockey Canada approved of the decision to keep the event in Alberta for two years.

“These are extraordinary times, and we understand the world juniors will look different this year while being played in one venue with additional safety precautions,” Hockey Canada president Tom Renney said in a statement.

Gothenburg, Sweden, which was slated to host the event in 2022, will now do so in 2024.

Novosibirsk, Russia, will host the 2023 event.

The IIHF says keeping the event in Canada, where the tournament traditionally has much higher attendance, in 2022 can help cover financial losses expected to occur in 2021.

“This solution will allow for the IIHF together with Hockey Canada to reduce the overall costs associated with putting on the 2021 tournament in a bubble environment,” Fasel said.

“We asked a lot of our Swedish partners to make this adjustment in a short amount of time, but we needed their co-operation to save this tournament and make it possible for the world juniors to be delivered this year.”

Organizers of the 2021 event say a competition bubble will isolate teams and tournament officials within the same Edmonton Ice District being used for the NHL.

The IIHF says there will be no promotion or relegation following the 2021 tournament.

The IIHF Council has voted today to initiate a series of tournament cancellations for all lower division tournaments in the men’s U20 category. The 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship will also be cancelled together with all other tournaments in the women’s U18 category. 

Canada won the 2020 event in the Czech Republic.

Discussions on 2021 World Championship to headline IIHF Council meeting

Inside the Games

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is set to discuss concerns surrounding Belarus and Latvia co-hosting the 2021 Men’s World Championship during its latest Council meeting tomorrow.

Next year’s World Championship is likely to be the main item on the agenda at the Council meeting, which will be held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Belarus co-hosting the IIHF’s flagship tournament outside of the Winter Olympic Games has been thrown into doubt amid widespread protests in the country following the disputed re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as President last month.

Latvia has called on the IIHF to find another co-host for the event and has threatened to withdraw if the worldwide governing body fails to do so.

Newly-appointed Belarusian Ice Hockey Association President Dmitri Baskov has claimed the nation can still jointly stage the competition and claimed there is no reason for the IIHF to strip the country of its hosting rights.

Belarus has also suggested it could host the 2021 World Championship alone if Latvia follows through with its threat to pull out.

Belarus co-hosting the 2021 IIHF World Championship has been thrown into doubt amid protests in the country

The topic is on the agenda for the IIHF Council meeting after the Latvian Government wrote an official letter to the organisation calling for Belarus to be removed as a co-host.

A final decision on the tournament is not expected to be made tomorrow, with IIHF President René Fasel recently claiming it was “too early” to make conclusions on the tournament.

Belarus is due to stage matches in 2021 at Minsk Arena, alongside co-hosts Latvia, which plans to use Arena Riga.

Both the semi-finals and the medal matches are set to be held in Minsk.

IIHF Council member and Russian Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretiak said the worldwide body was committed to staging its events over the coming season after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of all World Championships in 2020.

Tretiak told Russia’s official state news agency TASS the IIHF was looking at the National Hockey League (NHL), which has resumed its season, as an example of how its competitions can be held.

“Firstly, we are constantly monitoring the situation that exists in the world now,” he said. 

“Secondly, we have an example in the form of how the National Hockey League is currently holding the Stanley Cup, it is expensive and the NHL has invested a lot of money there. 

“But the International Federation is definitely planning to hold the youth, women’s and men’s world championships, with or without spectators – time will tell.”

IIHF decision looming on world juniors

By The Canadian Press

A decision has yet to be made on whether the 2021 world junior men’s hockey championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., will be played with or without fans.

The International Ice Hockey Federation’s council will meet later this month to review the status of all tournaments in 2020-21, according to an IIHF spokesman.

Council will hear recommendations and updates from the IIHF’s COVID-19 expert group and host cities.

The 2020 men’s world hockey championship in Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland scheduled for May, the women’s championship in Halifax in March and the men’s world under-18 championship in Michigan in April were all cancelled because of the pandemic.

The 10-country world junior tournament scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton and Westerner Park in Red Deer features the top under-20 players in the world.

“At present time, there has been no change to the traditional hosting model for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer,” Hockey Canada said Tuesday in a statement.

“Hockey Canada continues to engage in daily communication with the IIHF, the host communities of Edmonton and Red Deer, and the appropriate health authorities to examine all options for hosting the world junior championship in December and January.

“The health and safety of all participants and the community at large remains a priority for Hockey Canada, and our organization will continue to work towards hosting a safe, successful event on behalf of the IIHF.”

Edmonton and Toronto are currently hub cities for NHL playoffs. That league intends to complete the 2019-20 season interrupted for four months by the pandemic.

Players, coaches and team staff are walled off from the general public in hotels and arenas. Edmonton will host the Stanley Cup final.

No one in the “secure zones” have tested positive for the virus so far, according to the NHL.

“Given the current COVID-19 situation within Canada, together with the bubble measures that have been implemented very successfully by the NHL so far in Edmonton and Toronto, there could be discussions surrounding the feasibility of holding the world juniors in a similar environment,” the IIHF’s Adam Steiss told The Canadian Press in an email Tuesday.

“The health and safety of players, coaches, officials, arena staff, and fans remains a top priority.”

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