Category: Olympics (Page 1 of 16)

Taiwanese women will fight for Olympic spot

Source: Liberty Times Net

The Taiwanese national ice hockey team will set off on the 27th for Torre Pellice, Italy, to prepare for the second round of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Qualifying Tournament, its been more than 2 years, since the team has gone abroad to compete.

The Beijing Winter Olympics Women’s Ice Hockey Qualifying Tournament, Taiwan and Italy, Kazakhstan and Spain will play in Group G. The first game will be Italy on October 7, and it will face Kazakhstan on October 9, and Spain on October 10. First place will be promoted to the final qualifying tournament to be held in mid-November to compete for a spot to the Winter Olympics.

The Taiwan team is expected to take a flight to Italy at 5 pm on the 27th and transfer in Amsterdam, Netherlands. A PCR certificate must be submitted before entering the country. After arriving in the country multiple PCR tests will be carried out in accordance with the epidemic prevention regulations of the conference. Private car, point-to-point transfer from the hotel to the training venue.

The last time the Taiwanese ice hockey team participated in the international tournament was the 2019 World Women’s Ice Hockey Championship. Since the global epidemic, the Taiwan team has not played abroad for a long time, and the outbreak of the epidemic in Taiwan in May of this year has greatly affected the team’s preparations.

Head coach Yin Anzhong pointed out that the ice rink was closed in mid-May, and training was suspended for more than two months. During this time, it was not possible to practice on land. The only way to train was to explain physical fitness and tactics online. Training did not resume until August.

Yin Anzhong said that Taiwan’s women’s ice hockey population is small and there were not many people who originally practiced. Before the outbreak of the epidemic, the team would move abroad to train, compete with the Korean national team, and play international invitational tournaments in Thailand, but because of the epidemic we could only stay in Taiwan and practice against the boys in the junior high school group to increase the intensity of training.

Anzhong said that about one-third of the team are younger players, hoping to bring new chemistry to the team, and the team will also take this opportunity to gradually  transition new blood to the team.

 Yin Anzhong admitted that now he can only study his opponents through videos, but because it was already a game from two years ago, the recent situation is more difficult to grasp.

Speaking of the goals and expectations of the Winter Olympics Qualifying Tournament, Yin Anzhong said: “Of course I will try my best to win, but I will not criticize the players if we lose. We will treat this as a learning experience, I also look forward to seeing from the players that they will show up against powerful enemies. A fearful spirit, a positive attitude, and even a more active performance than the opponent, to make up for the technical gaps.”

Hosts China face possible exclusion from Olympic ice hockey

Source: France 24

China face possible exclusion from the ice hockey tournament at next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics in spite of being hosts because of their “insufficient sporting standard”.

“This question really arises for the men’s team, not for the women’s team,” Luc Tardif, the new president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), told AFP on Monday.

“There are going to be games for the China team that will be overseen by an IIHF official and a decision will be made afterwards.

“Watching a team being beaten 15-0 is not good for anyone, not for China or for ice hockey.”

A decision will be taken “by the end of the month” of October, said Tardif who was elected to the presidency on Saturday.

As host nation, China has an automatic qualification for the Beiing Games but they are only ranked 32nd in the world and have not played any matches since 2019.

Drawn in Group A of the men’s tournament, China would find themselves up against Canada, the United States and Germany, teams that would likely thrash the Chinese.

“If it is not possible for China, we need a plan B and it will be (decided) by the ‘ranking’ of Norway”, said Tardif.

Norway are the top nation not qualified in the ranking (11th) among those which competed at the end of August in the second of three Olympic qualifying tournaments.

– ‘On track’ for the NHL –

Tardif also said plans to have NHL players, including stars Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin, at the Olympics are “in good shape”.

“We have an agreement in principle from the NHL,” said Tardif. “We must now finalise with the NHL players’ association and other stakeholders.

“The devil is in the details. There is a shared desire, everyone wants it.”

The NHL gave its agreement in early September to arrange a break in its regular season from February 3 to 22 to allow players to make the trip to China.

That was not the case in 2018 when the Games were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

On that occasion, and contrary to a routine it had held since 1998, the NHL decided the regular season would have been too disrupted and there was little benefit in promoting the game in South Korea.

Denmark’s “strongest team ever” optimistic about qualifying for ice hockey tournament at Beijing

Source: Xinhua

Denmark will field its “one of the strongest national teams ever” to an important Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 qualifying tournament taking place in Norway at the end of August,

Five Danes playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) have joined Denmark’s squad Oliver Bjorkstrand, Joachim Blichfeld, Nikolaj Ehlers, Frans Nielsen & Alexander True. On paper makes it one of the strongest national teams ever,” said Ishockeylandsholdene in a press release.

The tournament in Norway sees Denmark face the national teams of Norway, South Korea and Slovenia with the eventual winner being automatically granted a berth at the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing in February 2022.

“Of course, our ambition and mission is to win the tournament in Norway, but we also go to the task in the awareness that we must be humble and not believe that things happen by themselves. On paper, we have a really strong squad and the art is of course to shape the squad for a strong team,” said national team coach Heinz Ehlers.

Denmark made its debut at the Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1948

However, Denmark has been the least successful medalist of the Scandinavian nations having only ever won one medal when the women’s curling team won silver at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games.

Russian mission to hone China’s hockey talents

Chinese ice hockey players attend a welcome ceremony in Moscow, Russia, on Aug 7, 2021

By Sun Xiaochen – China Daily

In six months’ time, China’s national ice hockey teams will face the ultimate test against the sport’s heavyweights. But before the puck drops at Beijing 2022, an overseas training program in Russia will help toughen them up for the intimidating challenge that awaits.

With China still but a blip on hockey’s landscape, the host’s 32nd-ranked men’s and 19th-ranked women’s squads face a daunting task on home ice at the Winter Olympics-even if no NHL players are allowed to play at the Games.

China’s winter sports governing body, therefore, hopes the five-month training program in Russia can help deliver significant improvements before then.

The men’s squad will be comprised of players from the Kunlun Red Star club, which will compete in about 50 games in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. The women’s team will play about 40 games in the Russian Women’s Hockey League. Both teams will also take on European national squads in December.

After missing out on international action for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intensive training and bonding from their Russian adventure will ensure the teams are both physically and mentally ready for Beijing 2022, according to the National Winter Sports Administrative Center.

“The scale of players involved, the length of their overseas stay and the level of competition that awaits have never been experienced before in the history of winter sports development in China,” Ni Huizhong, director of the center, said during a mobilization meeting before the teams departed last week.

“This is a major project in our preparation for the home Winter Olympics. I hope the players can make every day count in Russia to raise their level gradually and be ready to show the world their confidence, progress and team spirit next year in Beijing.”

China’s men’s hockey team has never qualified for the Olympics, but in May 2018 the International Ice Hockey Federation approved automatic berths for the host for Beijing 2022.

A much more competitive force on the global stage, China’s women’s team reached the semifinals at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. However, it has failed to qualify for the past two Games, at Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018, due to stagnant player development.

Even so, the governing body wants the women’s team to target a medal, or at least another semifinal run, at the home Games.

“I think anything can happen in women’s hockey, where the gaps between teams are not as big as on the men’s side,” said Yu Baiwei, the Team China captain who competed at the women’s squad’s last Olympic Games, in 2010.

“Our focus will be quarter after quarter and game after game. Our goal is to execute every 30 seconds as best we can and try to limit our mistakes, and then we will see where we can go from there,” said the 33-year-old forward.

Tough task

Drawn in Group A alongside world No 1 Canada, superpower the United States and fifth-ranked Germany at the 12-team tournament, the Chinese men’s squad has vowed to show it won’t be a mere punching bag for its three opponents.

“We have to be realistic. For me, the main objective is to gain the world’s respect. That’s a lot,” said Ivan Zanatta, the newly appointed head coach of the men’s team.

Zanatta, a former Italian national team manager and ex-coach of KHL club St. Petersburg SKA, said the Russian league is an ideal platform for his Chinese players to raise their game.

“It’s a huge challenge for China, but it’s a good challenge,” said the 61-year-old.

“I think it’s a great way to progress and step up the level so when we get to the Olympics, it’s not like a shock.

“We will be challenged every night. So the boys mentally and physically are going to be ready for the step to the Olympics … This is the best championship we could possibly play in outside of the NHL.I think we couldn’t ask for anything more as far as where you want to prepare.”

With games coming every two or three nights in the KHL, Zanatta will have to build chemistry between China’s homegrown talents and a group of about 20 North American-born players with Chinese heritage.

In 2017, the Chinese Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) launched a talent recruitment drive, aiming to draft foreign-born players of Chinese descent to bolster the Olympic program.

Built in China or not, Zanatta is confident all will be fighting as one solid unit when the Games open on Feb 4.

“There’s no special formula, we definitely have to come together and we will,” said Zanatta, who has three sons all playing hockey professionally.

“I will coach them like they are my kids. So I kick him in the ass and pat them on the back. They get both. Stronger than a team, I want to gel them as a family.

“If we’re going to accomplish anything, it will be because of the strength of the wolf pack. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.”

Canadian helping bring ice hockey culture as China imports Winter Olympics talen

Clint Hazen is known as ‘“the hockey guy” at the rink where he works in Beijing

The Chinese recognize ice hockey is Canada’s game and want to learn more about ice hockey culture,’ says Clint Hazen.

Known as ‘the hockey guy’, the Canadian is lending his expertise in helping China import culture in a bid to grow winter sports.

With less than 250 days, China is nearing the final stages of preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A number of international coaches, executives, builders and planners have been brought in to help the government pull off its second edition, after a successful 2008 Summer Olympics.

Expatriates have long been a staple in key sectors in Beijing and Shanghai, mainly in finance and tech. Now China is importing knowledge and experience in sports, winter ones specifically.

Multiple data points suggest there are close to a million foreigners working in China, many of them brought in specifically for their professional skill sets. After two years of vetting, including interviews, background checks and loads of paperwork, Canadian Clint Hazen became one of them, and said his 18 months in China have been an interesting and expansive experience.

“Some steps took weeks, even months, so it was exciting as everything came together,” said Hazen, who touched down in Beijing in September of 2019, and started working as a performance coach for the Chinese Olympic Committee.

Clint Hazen has grown up surrounded by ice hockey his entire life in Canada, and now hopes to help bring some of that culture to China

Hazen, who has a master’s degree in sports medicine, health and rehabilitation sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, is your typical Canadian. He’s been playing hockey his whole life, as a goalie, and this was exactly what China was looking for when they hired him, said Hazen.

“At first it seemed almost too good to be true and a few friends asked, ‘Are you sure this is for real?’” said Hazen, who played college hockey for Duquesne University in the US.

“China is serious about foreign expats and earning a position alone is a real accomplishment,” he said.

The first day after touching down from Vancouver, a friend invited him to the Renaissance Cup, an ice hockey tournament in Beijing.

Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, and old hockey buddies were lacing up their skates to play in the tournament.

“My first 24 hours in Beijing and I was a few stick lengths away from Ovechkin, watching my friends play in China. It was definitely a surprise.”

Then Hazen was off to a training base north of Beijing to help with the women’s ice hockey development team, and then he joined the men’s national team for a trip to the Czech Republic where they played a number of games in preparation for the upcoming Games.

Hazen said China, who will have a men’s and women’s team compete at the Olympics, are serious about cultivating a home-grown culture, and have pinpointed Canada to help them achieve this goal.

“China has said it wants 300 million participants in winter sports by 2022, and ice hockey is and has always been one of the most popular winter sports when it comes to the Olympics,” he said.

“The Chinese recognize ice hockey is Canada’s game and want to learn more about Canadian ice hockey culture. Ice hockey is ingrained in our national history and tradition, and hockey forms communities across Canada. We live, eat and breathe it as a national pastime.”

Clint Hazen, known as”Mr. Hockey”, teaching an ice hockey class in Beijing

Hazen said there are challenges ahead for China but hundreds of ice rinks have been built over the past decade and Beijing 2022 could be a watershed moment for the sport.

“The goal is to increase competition levels both domestically and abroad. And we are working at creating more opportunities for kids to play by forming school, university and professional leagues around the country. The sport is definitely growing exponentially right now.”

Hazen now works as a goalie coach and fitness technology counselor for Bloomage International, a private company that has the exclusive rights to host the NHL China Games. Cadillac Arena, which it built and owns, will play host to the ice hockey competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will kick off February 4th 2022.

“Since starting at Bloomage I have become known as ‘the hockey guy’,” he said with a chuckle, “and have been asked to offer experience on all aspects of ice hockey operations. From training systems to practice plans, hiring coaches and organizing the minor hockey association.

“I’m hoping I can help pass them some of the knowledge I got while growing up in Canada and playing hockey since I was a little kid.”

Hazen said he is loving life in China and thinks ice hockey is well on its way in the country.

“Ice hockey has a long history in China actually, especially in the northeast provinces where they have long, cold winters. This is obviously quite similar to most of Canada when it comes to climate, so they definitely have a good foundation in place and all the right ingredients to become a hockey-loving nation.”

Swedish host city gets women’s Olympic qualifier

By Dunn Goodwin – Dealmakerz

In February, the Winter Olympics take place, where Swedish women’s crowns hope to go now. Before that, the team must win a qualifying match to play on Swedish soil. It is now clear that these matches will take place in Lulea.

Sweden have not played in any international championships since the 2019 women’s crown, as the P-WC have been suspended for two consecutive years on the women’s side. The team now has a new opportunity to enter the good room by taking part in the Olympics, which will replace the World Cup next year.

To reach a place in the tournament, the team must first perform well in the qualifying matches to be decided in Louvre in the fall. The national teams of France and Slovakia will try to reach the Olympic spot here along with another team. The teams will all meet each other between November 11-14, and the country with the most points in its meetings will travel to Beijing next year.

– With the canceled World Cup for Tomkronorna in the 2020/2021 season, Olympic qualification has been a clear target for the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and executive staff during the meetings we have held. Olof Astblom, tournament manager of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, says in a statement on their website that it is encouraging to be able to co-host the event and the Olympic qualifiers at home, in conjunction with Lule Hockey, who has shown a commitment to women’s and women’s hockey.

But before Sweden can begin its qualifying journey, low-ranking teams must do everything they can to reach a place in the Olympics.

This is how the women’s qualifiers for the 2022 Olympics play out

Qualifying Match 1 – 26-29 August 2021
Participating teams: Iceland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Lithuania

Qualifying Matches 2 – 7-10 October 2021
Group F: Korea, Great Britain, Slovenia and Qualifier 1
Group G: Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Chinese Taipei
Group H: Netherlands, Poland, Mexico and Turkey

Qualifying Matches 3 – 11-14 November 2021
Group C: Winners of Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway and Qualifying Tournament 2
Group D: Winners of Germany, Denmark, Austria and Qualifying Tournament 2
Group E: Sweden, France, Slovakia and Qualifiers 2 winners

Teams already ready for the 2022 Olympics
Group A: USA, Canada, Finland, ROC and Switzerland
Group B: Three team winners from Japan, China and qualifiers3

Craig Woodcroft to train Belarus ice hockey team for Olympic qualification

Source: Belta

The Belarusian national ice hockey team will be trained for the Olympic qualification by a new coaching staff led by Craig Woodcroft, BelTA learned from the website of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation on 7 June.

Earlier, Mikhail Zakharov left the position of the head coach of the national team.

On 26-29 August, Belarusians will compete for the only Olympic berth against Slovakia, Austria and Poland. Bratislava will host the Group D qualification tournament.

Craig Woodcroft has recently extended his contract with HC Dinamo Minsk. Next season will be Woodcroft’s fourth behind Bisons’ bench.

Craig Woodcroft previously worked with the Belarusian national team at three editions of the IIHF World Championship (2015, 2016, 2017) and Olympic qualification for the 2018 Games, where he assisted Dave Lewis. In the 2017/18 season, he was part of Team Canada that won the 2017 Spengler Cup and a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics.

Shooting for a solid post-Games legacy

Players compete during an ice hockey test program at National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, April 2, 2021

By Sun Xiaochen – China Daily

Even with the national team’s Olympic prospects looking bleak, China’s ice hockey administrators remain committed to boosting the niche sport’s popularity beyond 2022.

Less than nine months out from the Beijing Winter Olympics, the priority for China’s men’s hockey team is merely to avoid blowout defeats against the sport’s powerhouses at the 12-team Games.

But in the wake of the team’s poor preparations, even that appears to be a long shot, with the squad severely hindered by stagnant player development and a lack of quality competition.

In a shocking decision revealed on Tuesday, China’s national team players will skip the upcoming national championship, which could have acted as an important tuneup for the Olympics, and instead remain at their base in Shenyang, Liaoning province, to continue a training camp which has already lasted 10 months.

The championship, which will take place from May 25-June 1 in Beijing’s Yanqing district, would usually see all of China’s top players in action for their respective provincial teams or clubs.

With no international warm-ups scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national team’s development, currently overseen by the General Administration of Sport of China, remains something of a mystery, with barely any details of its progress or plans released to the public.

In 2017, the Chinese Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) launched a talent recruitment process, aiming to draft foreign-born-mostly North America-based-players with Chinese heritage to bolster the Olympic program.

However, that appears not to have panned out as anticipated, with none of the targeted overseas players making it onto the national team’s training roster.

Having been granted special wild-card entries to the Olympics by the International Ice Hockey Federation, China has targeted an unlikely medal in the 10-team women’s competition, and is simply aiming not be embarrassed in the men’s tournament.

However, drawn with heavyweights the United States, Canada and Germany in Group A, the Chinese team, coached by former NHL player Curt Fraser, looks poised for heavy defeats at the Games.

Now the GASC, China’s central sports governing body, and the CIHA are looking beyond the Games by focusing on building a solid foundation for the future.

“The championship this year will see no national camp players involved,” Si Liang, deputy secretary-general of the CIHA, confirmed at a media conference on Tuesday to launch this year’s tournament.

“It’s up to the GASC to get the national team ready for the Olympics, while we are committed to growing the sport at the grassroots level and strengthening the base of talent development.”

With hockey gaining popularity among Chinese children, particularly from middle-class families, this year’s national championship sees a wider geographical spread of teams joining the sport’s traditionally strong northeastern provinces.

Squads from Macao, Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing Sport University feature in this year’s nine-team tournament, bearing witness to rising participation rates across the country’s southern and western regions.

“It says a lot about hockey’s progress at grassroots level and it means that the game’s popularity has extended beyond the country’s climatic limits to reach a wider area,” said Si.

“Although we are not scouting players directly for the national team at this tournament this year, we will keep an eye on any outstanding performers for future national programs.”

With hockey officials seemingly resigned to the fact that little can now be done to significantly improve the national team for the home Olympics, which open on Feb 4 next year in Beijing, the CIHA has set its sights on building a stronger foundation by organizing a series of domestic league competitions, from junior to adult level, on both the men’s and women’s sides.

A domestic men’s club league will return in July from its pandemic-enforced shutdown, involving at least eight teams in a tournament format at three stops in Beijing and the Heilongjiang province cities of Qiqihar and Harbin, through October.

A similar women’s league will take place in Chengdu, Sichuan province and Harbin, and is expected to feature seven teams.

The CIHA will also work with the China Sport School Federation to run a six-leg junior hockey series from June 19-Oct 19 as a youth talent evaluation program.

Countdown to Beijing 2022 Canada, Sweden favorites at Beijing 2022 men’s ick hockey – Czerkawski

Source: Xinhua

Canada and Sweden will be favorites to win the men’s ice hockey title at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could work in favor of less experienced teams, Polish legend, and former National Hockey League (NHL) player Mariusz Czerkawski said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

“Obviously, Canada, Sweden, and the team with Russian players will be very strong in any case. If the competition is played without NHL stars, the teams like Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, or Switzerland will have their chance to get to the final,” the Pole said.

Czerkawski is believed to be the greatest ice hockey player in Poland as the 48-year-old spent 12 seasons in the NHL. He made his debut in 1994 and played subsequently for several clubs, among others Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Edmonton Oilers. After a 30-goal plus season at the Islanders, the pole was named in the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.

Czerkawski played at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, the last Olympic tournament for Poland. The Polish team can still dream about Beijing after they surprisingly won the Olympic qualification’s preliminary phase. The Poles beat the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

“Polish team played very well. In the crucial game against Kazakhstan, they were effective on defense. The goalie, John Murray, delivered a great performance, while his teammates took over 50 shots to prove that they had an advantage. The team made a surprise as no one could have predicted that scenario. I regret we couldn’t continue the momentum as every competition was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak,” he claimed.

In August, the side coached by Robert Kalaber will face Belarus, Slovakia, and Austria in Bratislava for the only ticket to Beijing.

“It’s a really tough group, and we aren’t favorites to secure the ticket for the Olympics. However, the team has already achieved a positive result,” Czerkawski added.

The Pole emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic influences the discipline.

“We feel a lack of excitement without the fans on the stands as the supporters create a good atmosphere. It’s hard to find full motivation when you play behind closed doors. Like other disciplines, ice hockey became even more unpredictable due to the pandemic. The strong teams know how to play under pressure. It’s maybe a little easier for the less experienced sides to make a surprise when the matches are played in front of empty stands,” Czerkawski concluded.

Canada the team to beat as Olympic seedings announced

Sidney Crosby (center) of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses with teammates Mike Matheson (right) and Evgeni Malkin to honor Crosby for his 1,000th NHL appearance prior to their home game against the New York Islanders on Saturday. Crosby is expected to star for Team Canada at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

By Murray Greig – China Daily

The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced its seedings for the 22 teams slated to play at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and as expected Canada is ranked No 1 in the men’s tournament and No 2 in the women’s.

The men’s tournament will use the same format as the four previous Winter Olympics, with 12 teams split into three groups of four.

Team Canada will compete in Group A with the United States (seeded No 6), Germany (7) and host China (12). Group B will include Russia (2), Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (8) and qualifier 3 (11), while Group C consists of Finland (3), Sweden (4), qualifier 1 (9) and qualifier 2(10).

The qualifiers will be determined in the final pre-Olympic tournament, scheduled for Aug 26-29 in Latvia, Norway and Slovakia.

The women’s tournament at Beijing 2022 will be contested by a record 10 teams, in two tiered groups of five. The top five according to the 2020 IIHF world rankings-the US, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland-will play in Group A, while Japan (6) will head Group B, along with three qualifiers from the final pre-Olympic tournament in November (seeds 7-9) and China (10). The top three finishers in Group B will compete in the playoff round.

With the exception of host China and perhaps one qualifier, all the men’s teams will include players from the National Hockey League.

That gives Canada a huge advantage, with the likes of superstar forwards Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche) among their ranks, along with perennial All-Star goaltender Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and defensemen Cale Makar (Colorado), Shea Weber (Montreal) and Morgan Reilly (Toronto Maple Leafs).

The NHL did not allow its players to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and the fact that Crosby, who will be 34 when the puck drops in Beijing, is probably the only member of the 2010 and 2014 gold-medal teams assured of a return trip in 2022, bears out general manager Doug Armstrong’s pledge that “youth will be served, for sure”.

“Team Canada will see something of the changing of the guard in 2022,” Armstrong said after being appointed GM last month. “We want to be fast, we want to use our skill and we want to use our depth to our advantage.

“The NHL is a quick league right now and I think that we have the players that can play the 200-foot (61-meter) game. We want to be a fast and difficult team to play against.”

Canada dominated the 2014 Sochi Games with a suffocating defensive performance on the larger international-size ice surface, but high-octane offense will be paramount on Beijing’s NHL-sized rink, led by players like McDavid, MacKinnon and Auston Matthews of the US, each of whom helped light up the 2016 World Cup as members of the 23-and-under Team North America.

“I think that the World Cup showed the excitement and the flair that Young Guns team put on the ice,” said Armstrong. “This group that we’re going to assemble is probably going to have a lot of faces that have never worn the Canadian jersey at this level of competition. It’s going to be fun.”

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of Harbin native Yu Baiwei as a playing assistant coach bodes well for China’s hopes of advancing out of Group B and possibly making the podium in the 2022 women’s tournament.

Yu, 32, is the highest-scoring defender in the history of the Chinese national team. She competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she was one of just three defenders on Team China to earn a point. She’s a veteran of a dozen IIHF tournaments and was named China’s top player at the 2014, 2017 and 2019 Division 1 Group B world championships.

Yu has also made her mark at the pro level, playing for Kunlun Red Star and the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the Edmonton Chimos of the Western Women’s Hockey League.

“In 2007, I was a young rookie,” Yu said in an interview with iihf.com. “Now I’m the oldest person on the team and am also working as an assistant coach.

“I’m appreciating more every single day I am training with this team. I want my athletes to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Furthermore, I want to provide more individual thinking for my athletes as well. I am willing to let them explore their talent and potential within ice hockey. Most importantly, to enjoy the game and enjoy life.”

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