Category: North America (Page 1 of 7)

Jamaica continues to hold the top spot in the Challenger series

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Jamaica national men’s ice hockey team continues to hold the top position following the conclusion of the second round of the Challenger series held in Long Island, USA, over the past weekend. Out of the four games played, the team emerged victorious in two games, triumphing over Puerto Rico with a score of 11-2 and defeating Lebanon with a score of 8-4. However, they faced setbacks in the remaining two games, losing 5-7 to Puerto Rico and 4-6 to Lebanon.

The Jamaican team’s strong performance in both the New York games and the series as a whole has solidified their position at the top of the standings. With their exceptional goal-scoring record and consistent victories, Jamaica has proven to be a formidable force in the competition, showcasing their skill and determination on the Ice.

Despite the shortage of players, the team’s exceptional performance has been evident. President Don Anderson, as quoted in a news release from the Jamaica Ice Hockey Federation, highlighted that the team in New York started with 14 players, which was four players less than the other teams.

Jamaica had a busy day ahead with two matches scheduled for Friday. However, their plans took an unexpected turn during the first game against Puerto Rico. Carter Thornton, an integral member of the team, unfortunately suffered a broken elbow from a tackle. As a result, our team’s strength was diminished, leaving us with only 13 players for the rest of the series.

Notwithstanding the challenges, the team showcased their brilliance on the field, overpowering Puerto Rico with an impressive 11-2 triumph. This resounding victory stood as the most significant margin of success witnessed throughout the entire tournament. Furthermore, Ethan Finlayson, who had been indisposed during the team’s first game, made a timely recovery and rejoined the squad for the subsequent encounter against Lebanon. This boosted our team’s strength to a total of 14 players, a fact that Anderson highlighted with enthusiasm.

In the second encounter between Jamaica and Lebanon, the former was unable to secure a victory, ultimately losing with a score of 4-6. The game occurred just eight hours after the first game, shedding light on the obstacles posed by having a smaller pool of players available for rotation during gameplay.

Regrettably, Jamaica was unable to secure a victory in the third game against Puerto Rico, ending with a score of 5-7. The primary reason behind this loss can be attributed to the players’ increasing fatigue throughout the game. This weariness resulted in a number of unforced errors and costly goals, ultimately impacting the outcome of the game in Puerto Rico’s favor.

The Jamaican team showcased their exceptional ice hockey skills in the highly competitive final game against a significantly improved Lebanon side on Sunday morning. Throughout the game, Jamaica maintained their lead and emerged victorious with an impressive scoreline of 8-4. The game proved to be the most challenging of the series for the Jamaican outfit, highlighting the team’s resilience and determination.

The series will now move to Toronto, Canada in July.

 

Dream Nations Cup

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Dream Nations Cup was established as a non-profit organization with the purpose of serving as a platform to demonstrate the progress of ice hockey on a worldwide level. In collaboration with prominent sponsors such as CCM and American Dream, the event joined forces with various hockey charitable causes, including Hockey4All, The Hockey Foundation, and the Friendship League, to involve more than 25 programs across six continents in the recruitment of participants for its inaugural edition. The tournament not only provides competitive games for Nations with top-notch officiating, professional in-game production value, and global media exposure, but also grants players and fans access to discounts for a wide range of attractions and experiences at a distinctive venue located near New York City. Looking ahead to next year’s iteration of the event, we aim to incorporate multi-language broadcasting and merchandise as part of our ongoing efforts.

Teams in the very first Dream Nations Cup.

Algeria
is making its debut in the United States for the first time, showcasing their ice hockey skills on an international platform.
Egypt’s men’s and women’s ice hockey teams are set to participate in the Dream Nations Cup, with the women’s team making their inaugural appearance.

Armenia HC, founded in 2022, is dedicated to fostering the growth of ice hockey in Armenia and supporting its development.

The Central American hockey team, established in 2021, represents seven countries in the region and includes players from Canada and the United States with Central American roots.

The Mexico Lions recently competed in the Latam Cup, showcasing their talent and passion for ice hockey.

Team Indigenous
is introducing men’s and women’s teams for its first ever international sport representation with a focus on promoting the sport and empowering Native American athletes.The Hockey Caribbean women’s team, a part of the Hockey Players of Color Movement, aims to provide opportunities for minority players with ties to the 23 territories of the region and debuted at the Latam Cup.

The Amsterdam Tigers, competing in the DFEL Bundesliga,, are committed to promoting ice hockey among women in Europe and creating a strong community of female players.

The Dream Nations Cup is scheduled to take place from April 24th to April 28th at The Rink at American Dream located in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Canada stages an impressive comeback from a 3-0 deficit to emerge victorious over the USA in the Rivalry Series

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Canada has once again made an impressive comeback from a 3-0 deficit to emerge victorious in the Rivalry Series against the United States for the second consecutive year.

Natalie Spooner and Emma Maltais played a pivotal role in this triumph, contributing two goals and one assist each, as Canada dominated the U.S. with a resounding 6-1 victory. This remarkable win not only secured Canada’s fourth consecutive victory in the series but also showcased their exceptional teamwork and skill. The match took place on Sunday, solidifying Canada’s position as a formidable force in international ice hockey.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Ashton Bell contributed goals for Canada as well. Sarah Nurse displayed her playmaking skills by providing three assists, while Anne-Renee Desbiens showcased her goaltending abilities with 24 saves.

Maltais expressed her thoughts on the team’s resilience and determination, emphasizing their commitment to their game plan even in challenging situations. She believes that their performance today demonstrated their strong character, and they will continue to progress forward. Being involved in the Series this year brings Maltais great excitement, especially since she wasn’t part of the comeback last year.

The U.S. emerged victorious in three consecutive matches against Canada, with scores of 3-1 on November 8th, 5-2 on November 11th, and a thrilling 3-2 overtime win on December 14th.

This impressive performance gave the U.S. a commanding 3-0 series lead. However, Canada started their comeback with a 3-2 shootout victory on December 16th, followed by a 4-2 win on Wednesday, and a convincing 3-0 win on Friday.

Spooner expressed, “The Canada-U.S. games are consistently thrilling and the kind of games that ignite your enthusiasm.” she further added, “Considering that we were trailing in the series, each game became a make-or-break situation for us.

Game 7 felt like our ultimate challenge, our pinnacle moment, similar to a gold-medal game or a Super Bowl. Hence, we were filled with anticipation for the game.”

Spooner was responsible for the solitary goal in the first period. She skillfully redirected a rebound into the net, eluding Hensley after Brianne Jenner’s shot missed its mark at 12:06 during the power play.

Poulin extended Canada’s advantage on the power play just 57 seconds into the second period, unleashing a powerful wrist shot from the point.

At 10:41, Bell extended the lead to 3-0 by capitalizing on a beautiful backhand pass from Maltais in the slot, outsmarting Hensley on the glove side.

Zumwinkle managed to put the Americans on the scoreboard with a short-handed goal at 2:31 left in the second period. However, just 58 seconds later, Spooner skillfully lifted a wrist shot over Levy for her second goal of the game.

At 4:21 into the last period, Maltais joined the action by scoring a short-handed goal, defeating Levy with a well-placed low shot during a breakaway.

Later, at 7:58, Maltais secured her second goal of the game. Spooner skillfully located her in the slot, and Maltais successfully beat Levy with a backhand shot below the pads.

Head coach Troy Ryan expressed his thoughts on the completion of the series, acknowledging the challenges it poses for player selection in the upcoming Worlds. He emphasized the significance of mounting a comeback and highlighted the positive aspect of such achievements. However, he also emphasized the need to recognize that success in the Rivalry Series does not always translate to success in the World Championship. Breaking this trend is a goal that the team aims to achieve.

 

The NHL organizes the Four Nations Tournament

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

NHL will launch a new tournament from February 12-20, 2025, featuring the USA, Canada, Finland and Sweden, strictly only the with the participation of players playing in the NHL.

At the press conference which was attended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Marty Walsh, executive director of the players’ union (NHLPA), as well as one representative of each of the four national teams, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Sebastian Aho and Elias Pettersson.

The new tournament kicks off on February 10th, 2025. Each team plays three games in a traditional round-robin format. The games will be played on NHL ice rinks according to NHL rules, but an important change is that a victory in regular time will be  worth three points. Two points are awarded for a win in overtime or a shootout, one point for a loss in overtime or a shootout, and no points for a loss in regular time. At the end of round robin play the two teams with the best records advance to the one-game final.

In round robin games, a 3-on-3 sudden death overtime will be played 10 minutes, followed by a three-round shootout. There is no restriction in the final, the game they will play until one of the teams score the winning goal.

As for the squads: each team will have 20 players and 3 goalkeepers. All players included in the national team must have an NHL contracts for the 2024/25 season and be on the team’s roster on December 2nd, 2024. The timing of roster announcements is determined by the NHL and NHLPA, but each participating national association must name its first six players in the summer before selecting the full roster later in the year.

Jamaica to face Puerto Rico in New York ice hockey series

Jamaica’s ice hockey team after their success in the success 2021 LATAM Cup in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Source: Jamaica Observer

Discussions have been under way for some time now in an effort to find dates and rinks to hold the event, the Jamaica Ice Hockey Federation said in a news release.

“The dates have now been set for June 8 to the 11th, with matches scheduled to be played each evening of the 8th, 9th and 10th,” the federation said, adding that the tournament venue will be announced by the end of this week.

According to the federation, the Jamaicans are very excited about being together on the ice again after the resounding success of their participation in the 2021 LATAM tournament. Now, the Hockey Operations Committee is working to ensure the availability of approximately 20 of the best players for the series.

The Jamaica Ice Hockey Federation has close to 80 players of Jamaican descent who are registered with it and who have been engaged over the last few months in anticipation of the announcement of playing opportunities.

Announcement of the Jamaica-Puerto Rico series has been met with positive responses from the core of the team that last played together in Fort Lauderdale in 2021 for the LATAM Cup.

“In that tournament Jamaica, as defending champions, played as an exhibition team as we were considered too strong for the opposing teams. The Jamaica team proved the organising committee correct by convincingly winning all six games, scoring 58 goals with seven against, beating Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, and Venezuela,” the federation stated.

The federation said the matches in New York are expected to generate significant interest amongst the Jamaican Diaspora in the tri-state area and that there is a plan to engage all the civic, business and cultural organisations in an effort to whip up support for the team over that weekend.

Prior to the June matches Jamaica will be represented at the annual congress of the international federation scheduled for Tampere, Finland. This will coincide with the World Championship set for May 13 to 28.

This is the second World Championship that Jamaica ice hockey delegates will attend, the first being in Bratislava, Slovenia in 2019 when local Ice Hockey Federation President Don Anderson was on hand to watch those games and represent Jamaica. This year Jamaica will be represented by EJ Phillips, board member and accredited coach.

In July the second summer camp for local players will be held in Kingston. Last year 50 children between the ages of 10 and 14 were part of a week-long camp held under the auspices of the Government’s Institute of Sports, exposing them to the rudiments of ice hockey.

New study explores the feasibility of an Indigenous-owned hockey franchise

By Andrew Cruickshank – Cottage Life

At a summit in Toronto this past January, in front of a crowd of 400, the non-profit organization the Carnegie Initiative announced that it was partnering with Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) to conduct a study on how to establish the first professional hockey franchise led by First Nations owners.

The Carnegie Initiative, which is named after Herb Carnegie, a black hockey star in the 1940s and 50s who spent much of his life fighting for equality in the sport, aims to make hockey more diverse and inclusive. This was the organization’s second annual summit.

The study referred to as The Spirit Project is being led by TMU professors Richard Norman and Cheri L. Bradish. According to Norman, the study will involve undergraduate students connecting with stakeholders, such as Ted Nolan, a former NHL star, a Carnegie Initiative board member, and a member of the Ojibway tribe. The stakeholders will provide the students with a broader knowledge of the current hockey landscape and First Nations culture. Using this information and their own research, students will develop a viable plan for creating a First Nations-led hockey franchise. The plans will be presented to the Carnegie Initiative in April.

“It’s not necessarily looking at playing at the NHL level,” Norman says. “Although, I think down the road, there’s always the possibility of an expansion franchise. But really, what I think it’s looking at is multiple leagues, men’s and women’s, and also how this might play out on the international side.”

First Nations have a long history with hockey. According to the nonprofit organization Native Hockey, Europeans first observed ice hockey being played by Mi’kmaq Indians in Nova Scotia in the late 1600s, using a frozen apple as a puck.

Fred Sasakamoose from Saskatchewan was the first Native player in the NHL, lacing up for the Chicago Blackhawks in the mid-1950s. He was followed by other great players, including Theo Fleury and Carey Price.

One of the goals of The Spirit Project, which will be carried on by graduate students after the April presentations, is to see whether an Indigenous team could play as its own nation on the international stage. “There are examples around the world, like Maori nations playing rugby as a separate entity from New Zealand,” Norman says. This could include men’s and women’s First Nations teams squaring off against Canada in the Olympics.

The international stage, however, may still be a few years off. In the short term, Norman says he hopes the study will provide grassroots initiatives to help connect First Nations youth to hockey. “The professional franchise would act as a conduit so that there’s representation from the front office to the coaching staff to everywhere, showing how Indigenous folks can be connected with the game and the different aspects of how that comes together,” he says. “Then also looking at on-ice and off-ice activities for indigenous youth to help their skills and development throughout the process.”

To support these initiatives, students will look at travel time to games, how to create leagues that provide different levels of play, and what the development of the sport, in terms of social change, looks like for First Nations youth.

“Looking into the future, there are going to be tensions,” Norman says. “But if we’re looking at true reconciliation and the decolonizing of our sports systems, and what that looks like, I think it does ask those deeper questions of what does nationhood look like, and what is sovereignty going to mean within the Canadian context.”

Canadian businessman plans multipurpose ice rink for Jamaica

An ice hockey rink at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

By Richard Parchment – Jamaica Observer

Tropical Ice Ventures Chief Executive Officer Jason Swales says he still has plans to set up an ice hockey programme in Jamaica, although privately.

To do this though, he plans to first build a multipurpose arena that will house an ice hockey rink.

Swales, a Canadian now based and building rinks in South East Asia, says he wants to partner with a major hotel to build the facility on the north coast. Privatizing this venture, for him, would mean creating a venue that hosts various events, allowing it to generate revenue throughout the year.

“It would be a multipurpose arena,” Swales told the Jamaica Observer. “We could use it for all kinds of different events — trade shows, expos, basketball, music shows. The plan is that that hotel would fund it, and we’ll build it for you and attach it to the hotel, and in return, we will keep your hotel full by running adult and kids’ hockey tournaments, all the multipurpose events that we could run through there.

“The hotel wins because we’re keeping it full and the country wins because now, they have the facility to start training in and learning the game of hockey, ice skating, short track speed skating, and also part of my plan, too, is to build a bobsled run-off as they have in Calgary, Canada — not an actual bobsled track, just a run-off where they can pratice their run-offs and time themselves.”

Swales previously visited Jamaica to partner with the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) nearly a decade ago, but those plans fell apart because of differences with the JOIHF board, which is headed by Don Anderson.

Anderson declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Observer, but he did say in a previous interview that he had wanted a rink built in Jamaica as it is one of the requirements by the International Olympic Committee for participation in the Winter Games. But Anderson told the Observer in January that those plans have been suspended.

Donovan Tait is a former national player, and former member of JOIHF, now serving as a gazetted police executive in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but based in Turkey, where he coaches in the Turkish Ice Federation. He is disappointed in Anderson’s recent comments that there were construction plans which were then put on hold.

Don Anderson’s announcement in the Jamaican newspapers a month ago is really a moot point because there really was no rink conversation happening behind the scenes,” Tait told the Observer.

But he however says he is excited by the prospect of Swales’ project being a private venture as he has lost faith in JOIHF and the Government’s ability to get a rink created, especially after Swales’ recent attempt to work with both parties yielded no result.

“There was no shortage of roadblocks and barriers thrown up for Mr Swales and he eventually moved on,” Tait said. “That was really the beginning of the end for a number of us in JOIHF – myself, Graeme Townshend, Lester Griffin, and CJ Bollers, who were, for a lack of a better term, the real operational people in JOIHF moving the hockey operation forward and identifying Mr Swales as the number one person to build the rink and have those legitimate conversations with the Government and the leadership of the JOIHF group. Unfortunately, those fell on deaf ears and it became clear that JOIHF was just interested in keeping Jamaican ice hockey at one level and in the hands and control of just a few people.

“In my view, with the current leadership of JOIHF, there will be no ice hockey rink built because there’s just no interest in building the rink. It would take away total control and influence of what is Jamaican ice hockey, which in my view is dormant and has been dormant a while now, save for a lackluster and embarrassing performance at the [2021] LATAM Cup.”

Swales says that Jamaica playing ice hockey at the Olympics any time soon is far-fetched as it would take decades to develop a program.

“I have zero interest in entertaining the idea that in my lifetime, Jamaica is going to play ice hockey in the Olympics,” he said. “My interest is in getting the proper facility built in Jamaica and giving the kids and the youth a fresh new sport to play and to develop in. It gets them off the streets, gives them something else to get involved in, and gives them a team atmosphere to develop.

“With the right people such as Graeme Townshend, the first Jamaican-born ice hockey player, you develop the game in the country and that’s what we want to do.

Jamaica’s ice hockey team, which Tait was a senior member of, took the LATAM Cup with a win over Colombia in the final in 2019. It returned to the competition in 2021 but was only allowed to play exhibition matches because the squad was made up of professionals, which organizers of the tournament said was not allowed.

Costa Rica Ice Hockey: Winter Olympic Dreams in the Tropics

By Bruce Callow – Tico Times

It is not widely appreciated or publicized but it is possible to ice skate and play ice hockey in Costa Rica and an ice hockey program has managed to survive at the Castillo Country Club for over two decades. Access to the rink is limited to Castillo Club members and their guests with the exception of hockey tournaments.

I have many happy memories of my days coaching at the Castillo and seeing the new rink being built in 2013 was one of the best. In this interview current Castillo youth hockey program coach Alexei Denysov and Castillo Recreation Director Kathia Bolanos Pacheco talk about the only place in Central America where Winter Olympic dreams are being pursued.

The Castillo Club is unique in having the only ice rink in Central America. Tell us a bit about its history and the programs that are offered there currently.

El Castillo is a mountain club that was created 52 years ago. As part of the recreation and sports areas, the ice rink was built approximately 30 years ago. This rink had very small dimensions, so in 2014 the administration made the decision to remodel the new rink with semi-Olympic dimensions.

This investment was more than 1 million dollars. Currently there is a figure skating school and a hockey school. In addition, members can use the rink recreationally and have the experience of being able to skate on an ice rink that is unique in all of Central America.

How can the general public get involved in ice hockey and figure skating? Can tourists visiting Costa Rica come visit the rink?

Kathia:

The hockey school was formed in 1996 by you (Bruce Callow) and since that year hockey classes have been taught at the club to children and adults. Players start as beginners where they are taught the basic techniques of skating and hockey. At the beginning of each year a sports class fair is held at the club, where the disciplines of hockey and figure skating are made known to attract new athletes to these Winter Olympic sports.

Since 2017 the international hockey tournament has been held, where we have the participation of different teams from Canada, the United States, and the Falkland Islands. The Ice Castle skating school has different levels of SAM, Basic, Free Skate, Pre Free Skate, Advanced and adult skating.

As part of the technical and artistic evaluation, at the end of each year a skating show is held where the skaters stage everything they learned during the year. The club, being private, is not open to the public, so only members or their guests can attend.

If someone is interested in becoming a member of the Castillo Club what do they need to do?

Kathia:

To become a member of the club it is necessary to purchase a share and pay a monthly or annual maintenance fee. At the moment there are no shares available, but if you want information you can contact our colleagues from members services and they will help you with the guide in case you are interested in being part of such a prestigious club.

An exhibit from the Castillo hockey program including a uniform and other memorabilia is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame museum in Toronto. What does the Castillo Club think about this international projection?

Kathia:

It is an honor and of great pride to be part of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Hockey in Costa Rica has been growing a lot in recent years and we hope to be able to participate in different international tournaments with the representation of the Castillo Knights. We currently have several players who are on the team that represents Central America.

Last year they went to the Amerigol Latam Cup tournament where they placed fourth. For this year we are working with the creation of the Ice Hockey Federation in Costa Rica and continue working on the skills of the players hoping that at some point we can have representation in the Winter Olympic Games.

Please tell us about the youth ice hockey program at the Castillo. What are your plans for the upcoming season?

Alexei:

The hockey program at the Castillo Country Club is mainly designed for children, because children are the future. It is worth mentioning that the children in Costa Rica are quite capable and talented at hockey. Of course, we will not be able to form professional players here, but we will make every effort to provide children with a professional base, a chance to build a professional career in the future, and to gain  sports scholarships in foreign universities.

This season we plan to handle 3-4 children’s training sessions a week, and we are considering the creation and registration of the Ice Hockey Federation in Costa Rica, thus hoping for the help and support of major hockey clubs.

The NHL Players Association ( NHLPA) used to sponsor the hockey program at the Castillo. How do you outfit your players with protective gear these days?

Alexei:

We are very grateful to the NHL organization for providing us with the uniforms. The equipment donated to us is still used by both children and adults. Unfortunately, the situation with the equipment is not the best. There are not enough sets of uniforms, and the ones that we have are already worn out and not in proper condition.

If the situation with adults is not so deplorable, since players buy uniforms, preferring to have their own equipment, then the situation is different with children. Most parents are not ready to invest this amount of money in uniforms, skates, and sticks.

After all, it’s no secret that hockey is not a cheap kind of sport, and even more so for parents, since the children’s uniform has to be updated every couple of years as they grow. At the moment we are compiling a list and buying the necessary children’s equipment for the near future. In the current development of hockey, we still hope to create a federation and enlist the support of sponsors and other hockey clubs.

Alexei:

Every year the Castillo Country Club hosts several teams for friendly international tournaments, exclusively at the amateur level in early November. To date, two teams from the USA (New Jersey and Los Angeles), New Jersey Sure and The Team of LA, as well as two teams from Costa Rica – Castillo Knights and San Jose Vikings, took part in the tournament. In 2019, Castillo Club’s team won first place. In recent years the tournament had to be canceled due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2022, several friendly matches were held with the San Jose Vikings team from La Sabana, as well as a game with a team from Guatemala on the Castillo Club’s ice rink. As for the annual international tournament, it was resumed in November 2022. Last year, three teams competed, New Jersey Sure,

The Team of LA and Castillo Knights. New Jersey’s and Costa Rican teams entered the final and as a result, the first place was won by the New Jersey Sure team. Last year’s tournament was great, it was fun and entertaining, and also it’s an excellent reason for foreign players to visit Costa Rica, a country that impresses with its beauty and has so much to offer.

In addition to national tournaments, it is planned to hold two international tournaments in 2023. The first one in early July, with the participation of amateur teams at the basic level from Central and South America.

The second tournament is scheduled for early November, with the participation of teams from the USA and Canada at a slightly more advanced level. We would be happy to host teams interested in taking part in our tournament and would be grateful for any other hockey clubs

The Castillo hosts an International ice hockey tournament each November. How was the last tournament and what are the plans for this year‘s tournament?

Alexei:

Every year the Castillo Country Club hosts several teams for friendly international tournaments, exclusively at the amateur level in early November. To date, two teams from the USA (New Jersey and Los Angeles), New Jersey Sure and The Team of LA, as well as two teams from Costa Rica – Castillo Knights and San Jose Vikings, took part in the tournament. In 2019, Castillo Club’s team won first place. In recent years the tournament had to be canceled due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2022, several friendly matches were held with the San Jose Vikings team from La Sabana, as well as a game with a team from Guatemala on the Castillo Club’s ice rink. As for the annual international tournament, it was resumed in November 2022. Last year, three teams competed, New Jersey Sure,

The Team of LA and Castillo Knights. New Jersey’s and Costa Rican teams entered the final and as a result, the first place was won by the New Jersey Sure team. Last year’s tournament was great, it was fun and entertaining, and also it’s an excellent reason for foreign players to visit Costa Rica, a country that impresses with its beauty and has so much to offer.

In addition to national tournaments, it is planned to hold two international tournaments in 2023. The first one in early July, with the participation of amateur teams at the basic level from Central and South America.

The second tournament is scheduled for early November, with the participation of teams from the USA and Canada at a slightly more advanced level. We would be happy to host teams interested in taking part in our tournament and would be grateful for any contacts.

 

Bragnalo was talented, tenacious

Rick Bragnalo

Dayton Gems forward Rick Bragnalo moves in to score the game-winner with 40 seconds left in the second overtime as part of a 3-2 victory over the Des Moines Capitols in International Hockey League playoff action on April 2, 1975.

Back in the days of the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League, the Fort William Canadiens were a team that continually produced a plethora of on-ice talent.

One such player on the local squad was a diminutive, yet tenacious and highly-skilled forward, Rick Bragnalo.

Bragnalo produced at well over a point-per-game with Fort William with 105 points in 59 outings in his time there. He was even picked up by the Westfort Hurricanes after they won the TBJHL title in 1970 and went on the Memorial Cup trail.

Bragnalo registered 12 points in as many outings for the Herks, who eventually fell in the western Canadian final to the Weyburn Red Wings in six games.

Recognized for his skill and his intensity, Bragnalo went on to earn a NCAA Division I scholarship to the University of Denver, playing alongside fellow local products and future NHLers, Mike Busniuk and Vic Venasky.

Bragnalo helped lead DU to three Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff crowns and equally as many top-three finishes in the NCAA tournament.

In 1974, Bragnalo started his pro career by signing with the International Hockey League’s Dayton Gems.

That initial campaign in the IHL saw him light it up offensively, finishing with a league-best 113 points on 41 goals and 72 assists.

Bragnalo’s efforts also earned him IHL Rookie of the Year laurels.

Of note, another alumnus of the Fort William Canadiens, who was a stellar performer in the IHL in the 1960s and early 70s was Kenora product Bryan McLay.

That crafty forward spent four seasons with the local Habs from 1953-57 prior to shining with the Muskegon IHL franchise where he was a star, and was the fifth-highest point producer in league history with 1,100 points to his credit.

The following season in which Daytona went on to win the Turner Cup, Bragnalo was well on his way to another solid run, despite an upper-body injury that sidelined him for a month.

However, his play had already caught the eye of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, whose new bench boss, Tom McVie, was his coach with the Gems.

Bragnalo went on to make his NHL debut with the Caps on Feb. 22, 1976 against the New York Islanders, then collected his first point, with an assist two nights later versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

Bragnalo would then notch his first NHL goal on March 16 of that year in a 5-2 home ice victory over the New York Rangers.

Going on to play four seasons with the Capitals, Bragnalo supplied 50 points on 15 tallies and 35 assists.

Bragnalo made a few stops later on with the Hershey Bears of the AHL and an 83-point run, in 67 games played, with the Port Huron Flags (IHL) in 1979-80. Bragnalo next played internationally, where he spent the following 12 seasons.

Competing in Italy with such clubs as Brunico/Bruneck and Milan, his heritage also gave him the chance to play for the Italian national team, where he finished third highest among that country’s point producers with 50 in 145 outings.

Included in those contributions was a one-goal, two-assist effort in a 3-3 tie against Canada at the 1982 world hockey championship in Finland.

Bragnalo went on to post 1,292 points throughout his time on the ice in 1,074 games played.

He later went into coaching and guided the Thunder Bay Kings to back-to-back Air Canada Cup national under-18 championship medal finishes, mining silver in 1996 and bringing home gold in 1997.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 in recognition for his distinguished career achievements, Rick Bragnalo certainly earned his place on the honour roll of the Lakehead’s best.

Chapman Hockey Coach Sam Uisprapassorn Leads Colombian National Team to Success, Shoots for NHL

Sam Uisprapassorn ’05 (center), assistant head coach of Chapman’s club hockey team, was a guest coach at the Anaheim Ducks’ development camp this summer.

By Staci Dumoski – Chapman University Newsroom

As a young hockey player, Sam Uisprapassorn was always told that he’d make a great coach. For a player who dreamed of being in the National Hockey League, that’s the kind of backhanded compliment that wasn’t always great to hear.

But now that Uisprapassorn is the head coach of the Colombian national hockey team and associate head coach for Chapman Hockey as well as in an NHL mentorship program, the idea of becoming a great coach seems like something that was always meant to be. 

Uisprapassorn, whose father is Thai and mother is Colombian, started playing hockey when he was 9 years old –  just about the time that Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky came to play for the Los Angeles Kings and popularized the sport in Southern California.

As a student majoring in public relations and advertising, he joined the hockey team at Chapman, where hockey is a club sport and the team plays at the nearby Anaheim Ice.

“We were really underground,” says Uisprapassorn about his undergraduate team. “But we had this cool little group of guys, and we would set up these exhibition games against other universities.”

His coaching career kicked off shortly after graduation, when he was approached by a friend who needed help coaching a peewee hockey team. Once he started coaching youth hockey, it didn’t take long for Uisprapassorn to end up back at Chapman, this time as an associate coach for a renewed and increasingly competitive hockey team.

Uisprapassorn has a day job in the solar industry, plus a growing business manufacturing golf balls, so coaching hockey has always been a side gig, one that wouldn’t have gone any further than Chapman Hockey if he hadn’t gotten curious about the world of international hockey. A little investigation led him to the Colombian national team, which had debuted in 2014.

Inspired by the connection with his family heritage, Uisprapassorn fired off an email, offering his help.

“It’s one of those emails that you send and you’re like, OK, I’ll never hear back from these people,” says Uisprapassorn.

But he did hear back. “They were getting ready to go to a tournament, and they called me maybe five weeks before and they’re, like, ‘Hi. We’re having a tournament and we need you to meet us in Mexico City,’” he says.

And so he went to Mexico City and, with Uisprapassorn as the new head coach, the Colombian team won the tournament.

“I knew I was going to have a mixed bag of players,” he says, just as he’d had working with the Chapman team. “I’m a keep-it-simple-stupid kind of person, and that’s how I approach coaching. Hockey is a simple game. You just put it in that net and keep it out of the one behind you. I took that approach with them, and lo and behold, we won. At that point, Mexico was ranked 33rd in the world, and we beat them in the championship game for our first Pan American Championship.”

After winning six international championships with the Colombian team, Uisprapassorn started to get noticed and recognized by people in the NHL. He was nominated to participate in the NHLCA BIPOC Coaches Program, an initiative that supports Black, indigenous and coaches of color in hockey, and this summer he was invited to participate as a guest coach at the Anaheim Ducks development camp.

“A year ago, if you had interviewed me, I would have told you I coach a team that’s so close to me and my heritage, and I coach at my alma mater. What else could you want? I always used to say, short of the [Los Angeles] Kings calling, I have my ideal job as a coach,” says Uisprapassorn.

Now, though, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get a shot at coaching in the NHL.

“Hockey made me the person that I am today,” he says. “I’m not a natural athlete. I had to work really hard to be a good skater. It’s not like I put on skates and I was whizzing down the ice like some kids can do.”

But persistence is one of his main character traits, he says, whether it’s getting into Chapman, getting ahead in his career or, now, pursuing success as a hockey coach. 

“In May I went to the coaches association. I said, ‘Look, I want to find a way, a path to possibly working in hockey as a coach on some sort of level,’” he says. “I basically used the line, ‘I’ll pour coffee in LA or Anaheim.’ I just want to get some experience under my belt at a higher level. I just want to help out, contribute, learn.”

As the 2022-23 NHL season kicks off this month, Uisprapassorn will be getting the experience he craves, under the mentorship of Dallas Eakins, head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. No matter how well the team does this season, you can bet he’ll be shooting for the net. 

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