Category: South America (Page 1 of 2)

Building Ice Hockey at the Equator

Ice Hockey in Ecuador

By Kyle Drinnan – overtime heroics

Ecuador is known as a football country. The sport is so connected to many people’s lives that it could even be called a religion in the region. But Ecuador is a country with a vibrant and growing sports scene. It is a growing sport that one would think would be impossible to do. Orkos Quito Hockey Club is determined to grow the impossible, ice hockey in Ecuador

The club is founded and run by a small number of individuals. Fabian Romero is the current president of the club, and they are the only club currently in Ecuador that is hosting ice hockey games. They have even traveled to other nations that are members of the IIHF, like Chile, to play hockey games and represent Ecuador.

Economic Hardships

Ecuador even has an ice surface, which many IIHF countries would consider a blessing. However, there have been some issues with the ice rink, as Quito used to have two ice rinks in the capital city. Unfortunately, one of the two ice rinks had to shut down because of economic hardship. Now with only one rink, it has been harder to meet up and play ice hockey. Quincentro Sur Ice Rink is a small surface, so only 3-on-3 hockey could be played on it, but what is tougher is that it’s located away from where most of the club members live, which makes what used to be a weekly meeting into a meeting once every-so-often.

The economic situation has also been a strain on growing the sport in the country. Hockey is an expensive sport, putting a huge strain even on the bigger hockey nations like Canada. Club Secretary Javier Balseca says that the price of the equipment alone could set someone back months of pay.

Quito Hockey Club

Orkos Quito Hockey Club

“The basic income for Ecuador is $450,” Balseca said. “You can spend $100 on a hockey stick so a lot of parents don’t have enough to pay for the full hockey gear for their children.”

Trouble Getting Equipment

There isn’t even a hockey store to sell equipment in the country. Javier’s brother, Jose Balseca, says that all of their equipment is from traveling or importing into the country.

Since they don’t have a lot of ice hockey equipment and facilities, the club uses inline hockey to help educate kids and adults about the sport on ice while keeping the club active. “There are more people playing roller hockey in this country,” said Jose Balseca. “What has happened is we have people from Canada, U.S., Germany, and even Russia to come and help out build the sport in the city.”

Inline hockey has more cultural significance in South America and is growing faster in Ecuador. Colombia, the nation north of Ecuador, has become a regional powerhouse in the sport and is also quickly growing ice hockey as well.

Inline hockey rinks have been popping up in Quito, and these rinks have been much closer to the Club’s members. It has allowed the club to grow and keep enough members to have a full team interested in ice hockey.

Right now, the club has three divisions: men, women, and children. Many nations that are currently growing ice hockey are only focused on growing the men’s side of the sport. Orkos Quito Hockey Club is looking to grow in the sport as much as possible with anyone who wants to play. Recently they had a tournament with an organization called the Friendship League. That tournament allowed them to have more equipment and notability in the hockey world.

They also have options to play in the LATAM Cup, a tournament hosted by the Florida Panthers for countries in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. Despite the economic issues and growing the sport from scratch in a nation without any ice hockey history, there are people that are inspired to grow the sport and hope to see their flag among the greats of ice hockey. Despite the challenges ahead, it will be a one-step-at-a-time approach, and maybe one day, Ecuador will be in the IIHF with the other South American nations.

Colombia wins Women’s Development Cup

The Colombian players celebrate after winning the 2022 IIHF Women’s Development Cup.

By  Liz Montroy –

Colombia’s national women’s team had an impressive week in Kuwait City, going undefeated to win their first ever IIHF event, the inaugural IIHF Women’s Development Cup.

The round-robin tournament serves as an opportunity for teams and countries not currently competing in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program to have meaningful competition against other nations. For countries that don’t have an ice rink, such as Colombia and Ireland, the Development Cup also provides valuable on-ice experience.

“This is important for us because we don’t have an ice hockey rink in Colombia, but these girls played amazing and we would like to have the opportunity to be in these kinds of tournaments and have an ice hockey rink in Colombia,” said Lorena Pedraza, Colombia’s captain. “We showed that we have talent, we have passion, and we love this sport.”

Colombia started the week strong with a 7-2 win over Kuwait and a 7-3 win over Ireland. They continued to demonstrate their goal-scoring prowess with a 16-0 shutout against Andorra and a 14-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates. Colombia’s tightest game was their final one, a 4-0 game versus Luxembourg, the standout player of which had to be Luxembourg goaltender Linda Grieben, who faced 80 shots.

By the end of the tournament, the Colombians had a stunning goal difference of 42, with 48 goals for and just six goals against. Six Colombian players finished within the top-10 scorers, with Alejandra Uribe leading her team and the tournament with 14 goals and 4 assists. Goalie Ana Maria Munevar was a reliable presence in net, starting four of Colombia’s five games.

“The whole tournament and the journey was amazing,” said Colombian coach Sam Uisprapassorn. “This team worked hard to get to this level and I am proud of them. Since we don’t have an ice sheet in Colombia, this event is our only window into IIHF competition. We are grateful to the organization and to the host of this event.”

The silver medal went to host nation Kuwait, followed by Luxembourg – who were also making their IIHF debut – with bronze. Dual Luxembourg-Canadian citizen Bailey Habscheid, a former NCAA Division I player with St. Lawrence University, was second overall in scoring with 11 goals and 5 assists.

The United Arab Emirates and Ireland each had two wins and three losses to take fourth and fifth place respectively. Despite finishing further down the standings, Ireland had a number of tight games, including a 5-4 loss to Luxembourg and a 4-2 win over Kuwait. It was a tough tournament for Andorra, facing over 260 shots (an average of over 50 per game) and finishing at the bottom of the standings with five losses.

Beyond the on-ice competition, friends were reunited, such as Ireland’s Sonya McEneaney and Kuwait’s Laila Alkhbaz, who last met at the 2018 IIHF Women’s High Performance Camp, and girls were inspired, such as those from Bahrain and Oman, who joined one of Colombia’s practices. Players from Europe, South America, and the Middle East were united on the ice and even in busses by a simple love of the sport; what will perhaps be treasured just as much, if not more than, the medals was the strengthening of the women’s ice hockey community across borders.

Historical! Venezuela will have ice hockey academy

By Octavio Sequera –

What began as a sarcastic comment on social networks, became the materialization of a visionary dream that now seeks to expand the knowledge and development of hockey throughout a nation like Venezuela, which, although it does not have a historical tradition in this sports discipline, begins to take important steps at the local level to achieve greater goals.

With this goal in mind, Juan de Dios Singer, President of the Venezuelan Hockey Association, has been working for years in providing equipment such as skates, sticks, nets, pucks, protectors, helmets and other instruments for the practice of hockey, in various sectors of Venezuela. All this dedication has allowed the creation of the Ice Hockey Academy Singer , the first ice hockey school in that country and whose headquarters are located in the state of Bolívar in the east of the nation.

“This started in February when I saw on a social network that they were making fun of the construction of an ice rink and I immediately contacted Gabriel Romero, a teammate of the Venezuelan hockey team, to let him know what he was leaving in his home state. to build a track, so we started with the approaches to make that facility, the headquarters of our academy” Singer explained.

The road was not easy, but the manager never lost hope. “Thank God, the talks that began in February and continued until June 2022, ended with the official agreement a week ago, in which we were allowed to start our academy in the facilities of that track in Bolívar state, initially for a period of three to five years.

Part of the factors that allowed the vision of Singer and his team to materialize was having established a tangible contribution agreement with the administrators of the Altavista Ice Rink, officially the headquarters of this historic school in Venezuela. “These four years of work here in South Florida in the United States have filled us with a lot of knowledge and in this way we were able to guide them in terms of maintenance work, but we also bought some products to put the track in optimal conditions” .

One of the main partners of Juan de Dios Singer in this project is Gabriel Romero, owner of a shipping company to Venezuela and whose position provided notable support from the beginning. “He is my great accomplice,” Singer said with a laugh. “Thanks to the donations we have received here in the United States and using Gabriel as a channel, we were able to create six online hockey academies. Now the next step is for the members of these schools to enjoy the experience of playing ice hockey in Venezuela, at least for a weekend.”

The academy begins to take its first steps and in this way, Singer, owner of the school, appointed Alejandro Ramírez, with extensive experience in ice and online hockey, as the Technical Director, who will be receiving orientations to be able to develop the programs in the immediate future. Similarly, Víctor Castro, who, like Ramírez, are local residents in the State of Bolívar, will serve as General Director in terms of the organization and enrollment of future students.

The group, of which Jesús Vergara is also a part, as technical assistant, hopes to start formalizing registrations from next August 20. The minimum age to be part of the academy is five years. “We are going to start with all the irons, the idea is to promote all the work in the best possible way”.

True to his fighting style, Singer has already begun to develop ideas in other locations, such as the city of Maracaibo, in Zulia state, located in western Venezuela. “The fact of having given rise to this initiative in the state of Bolívar, has made the government of Zulia begin to contact me and we agreed to start the work of restructuring an ice rink there, thanks to the knowledge we have acquired here in Florida.” 

As part of the promotion of the Ice Hockey Academy Singer , the creation of a social media account called @guayanaicehockey was announced, which will be the digital platform to provide information on registrations, practices, courses and everything that surrounds the work of a school that, according to its owner, will continue to grow. 

“There are already other projects with the possibility of doing something in cities like Valencia or Maracay, both in the central region of Venezuela, but for now, the state of Bolívar is home to this unique opportunity to develop local ice hockey.” Singer concluded, who at the same time continues to give clinics and work on the provision of equipment, as well as in the preparation of the different Venezuelan teams that will see action in the next Latam Cup, based in the city of Sunrise, in the training facilities of the Florida Panthers. 

Rudy Hodgson, DePaul club hockey goalie, helping grow the game with Team Colombia

Hodgson in net for Team Colombia. Courtesy of Rudy Hodgson

By Darcy Waskiewicz – DePaulia Online

Playing for your home country is always a special honor. Senior hockey player Rudy Hodgson knows this all too well.

A dual citizen for Colombia and the United States, Hodgson played hockey for Team USA when he was younger. And in the past few years, he has been able to play for Team Colombia as well. This week he gets the chance to do that again.

On Oct. 10, Hodgson left to play with Team Colombia in the LATAM Cup, which is hosted by the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League and takes place from Oct. 14-17 at Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, Fla.

The tournament includes teams from all over Latin America and the Caribbean that come to battle each other for a spot at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournament, which takes place in Germany next year.

Hodgson first got involved with Team Colombia a few years ago through a family member, but his hockey-playing days began long before that.

Hodgson began playing hockey at the age of four and never looked back. A Los Angeles native, he grew up an LA Kings fan and played for their junior’s team, as well as in high school. All those things led him to where he is now — a goaltender for DePaul’s club team.

“I can’t really imagine a time in my life when I wasn’t ice skating or playing hockey,” Hodgson said. “So, I got involved through there, played high school, played club for the Kings and was fortunate enough to play not only for Colombia, but for Team USA for a couple years, so I’ve been really lucky to have a successful career so far.”

Growing up a Kings fan, Hodgson looked up to Jonathan Quick, the main goaltender for the team since 2008 who helped the team win two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. While playing for the King’s junior team, Hodgson was able to practice with Quick at times and learn from him as a fellow goaltender.

As a goaltender, Hodgson is the last line of defense on the team before the puck crosses the goal line into the net, but that was not the position he planned to play while growing up.

Hodgson became a goaltender around the age of seven or eight when his team’s goaltender didn’t show up. He was thrown into the position by his coach and picked up the position quickly. While he never intended to play the position, it has worked out for him in the end.

“Hockey’s taken me around the world,” Hodgson said. “So, it was a happy accident that I just kind of ran with and tried to make the most of it for sure.”

Now as a senior on the DePaul club hockey team, Hodgson serves as one of the unofficial leaders on the team.

“Whenever he speaks up or has something to say, people listen,” AJ Grzbek, Hodgson’s DePaul teammate and fellow goaltender, said. “He’s always been there for me, he’s there for everybody. Everybody loves him. He’s a great teammate, and for Team Colombia to have him, that’s just perfect, it works great.”

With the hope of continuing to play hockey after he graduates, Hodgson works hard on and off the ice to develop his game as much as he can, but he still tries to have fun and enjoy his senior year.

“He’s always the guy that wants to do extra stuff and learn extra things,” head coach Dan Wood said. “And there’s no surprise that he’s able to make this team, and I’m sure he’ll do great when he gets out there.”

When Hodgson first began playing with Team Colombia a few years ago, the team was not federalized by the government or considered a national team by the IIHF. That changed when Colombia joined the IIHF in 2019 and were able to play against other national teams.

Now, hockey is progressing in Colombia, but there’s still more room for growth. Hodgson is excited to be a part of that and help the game grow even more by playing with Team Colombia next weekend.

“At the end of the day, I’m there to win,” Hodgson said. “But I think the biggest thing that I would want to take away from this tournament is knowing that I helped contribute to the growth of hockey in Colombia and continue to do so with my style of play and hopefully with a little bit of success in there too.”

The Argentine Ice Hockey Team participates in the Latam Cup in Florida

Argentina going to the Latam cup 2021

Source: Seman Arioargentino

The Argentine Ice Hockey Team will participate in the third edition of the Latam Cup to be held from October 14 to 17 at the Florida Panthers Ice Den in the city of Coral Springs, FL.

In the previous editions of the tournament, the Argentine team registered resounding triumphs against Mexico, Venezuela, and above all in both editions of the classic against Brazil. The Argentine National Team will seek in this edition to return to the medal podium, a place that it occupied with the bronze medal achieved in the 2017 Pan American Championship in Mexico City.

After not taking place in 2020 due to the global pandemic situation, the Latam Cup this year will have the participation of six national teams in its highest division.

In Division I Group A it will be Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico while Group B is made up of Colombia, Lebanon, and Venezuela. The winners of their respective groups qualify directly to the semi-finals, while the second and third parties will play the quarterfinals.

Beyond this, the tournament will also have a female and Junior category, as well as a Men’s Division B (in which Brazil and Chile participate), although this time for the first time without the participation of Argentine teams due to a pandemic.

The current squad is made up of several players residing in Argentina, as well as abroad.

Among its players are Owen Haiek who participated in the Inline Hockey World Cup in Bratislava, Slovakia and until 2019 player of the Ontario Hockey Academy in Canada; Matias Weir, former captain of the Palm Beach Hawks and current Florida Atlantic University player; Ethan and Brody Lim from the South Florida Hockey Academy, Tomas Abrate, former Notre Dame varsity player; and several players from the Club Andino Ushuaia. Technical Director is Mr. Dicky Haiek, veteran of numerous IIHF World Inline Hockey World Cups with the Argentine National Team.

The Argentine team is recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) through the Argentine Association of Ice Hockey and Inline (AAHHL), in turn a member of the Argentine Olympic Committee.

This will be the seventh time Argentine men’s team will play in a international tournament.

The entrance to all the games is free and free, as well is the parking. The tournament will take place at the Panthers Ice Den, the Florida Panthers training center, located at 3299 Sportsplex. Dr., Coral Springs FL 33065

The fixtures of all categories, as well as more information about the tournament, are available at Amerigol Latam Cup

End of the World’ discovers Para ice hockey

our players are currently practicing Para ice hockey at Ushuaia’s outdoor ice rink
ⒸNicolas Badaracco

By Stuart LiebermanWorld Para Ice Hockey

Nicolas Badaracco has been a goaltender on Argentina’s national ice hockey team since it made its international debut in 2012.

Now, he is dedicating just as much time to his sport off the ice. He is working to bring Para ice hockey to the “End of the World,” otherwise known as Ushuaia, the southernmost city at the tip of Argentina.

Ushuaia is the first known city in Latin America where Para ice hockey is starting to take off.

“Everyone has to have the opportunity to play ice hockey,” Badaracco said. “Here, there are a lot of people who cannot even try to play because the sport barely exists. So, I started investigating how Para ice hockey works, and then I started to make plans for how to build my own sledge and made drawings for it.”

Badaracco has played ice hockey since he was 11 years old, experiencing the sport at the international level while also coaching the next generation of players in his country. Additionally, he now works as the manager of Ushuaia’s Olympic-sized outdoor ice rink.

In 2019, he flew to Miami, Florida with Argentina’s national team to compete in the LATAM Cup, a tournament held to help grow the sport’s presence throughout Latin American countries.

Prior to one of his games he met Ron Robichaud, the head coach of the Florida Sled Bandits team. Robichaud invited Badaracco to try Para ice hockey for the first time while he was there.

“It was amazing,” Badaracco said. “It’s very hard. Even for me, as someone who plays hockey for a living and who knows his body, it was very hard. To skate straight is hard – at least the first time, but after that you can learn.”

Robichaud gifted Badaracco a sledge after that so he could take it back to Argentina as a model to copy and create several more.

In Miami, Badaracco also met Karina Villegas, a forward on the USA women’s development Para ice hockey team who lost her right leg at age 13 after being struck by a government vehicle while standing outside a school in Venezuela.

Villegas, who fled to the USA in 2001, immediately agreed to help him introduce Para ice hockey to Latin American countries.

“When I met her in Florida, she fell in love with the idea and brought me some sticks — my first Para ice hockey sticks — so I could copy those sticks here in my country,” he said.

Badaracco has since recruited four athletes with a disability to the sport locally. He is working with the local government in hopes of receiving funds from the Ministry of Education to help grow Para ice hockey, but budgets are now frozen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, from 30 November to 4 December, he will lead a Para ice hockey information session as part of the Facundo Rivas Tournament, an annual multi-sport festival for people with a disability.

This year, the event will be held virtually for participants in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Villegas will also be helping out with the festival.

“There are a lot of people who can probably play they sport, yet they don’t even know what it is,” Badaracco said.

“There is going to be a model to showcase how Para ice hockey is played and how they can develop this sport in their cities. I already have four athletes who are training here, and I’m trying to adapt my sledge for people to use on all surfaces with wheels, too,” he added.

LATAM Cup and Hockey in Latin America is Fueled by Passion

By Mike Lewis – Florida Panthers

Passion for the game has no limits or borders.

For South Florida native Juan Carlos Otero, the burgeoning hockey scene in Latin America is what inspired him to found Amerigol Miami International Hockey Association.

A self-professed “hockey fanatic” of Colombian heritage, Otero operates Amerigol with the mission of growing hockey’s presence throughout Latin America by organizing tournaments and showcases.

Although his love of hockey began during the Panthers magical 1995-96 Year of the Rat season, the seeds of Amerigol were firmly planted when he first discovered Colombia’s infatuation with hockey, more notably inline hockey during a trip to Bogota in 2017.

Otero, the General Manager of the ACHA Div. III University of Miami hockey club, formed a relationship with the Colombian National Team as he helped organize a training camp in South Florida to help them transition their inline game to the ice before heading to Mexico for the 2017 Pan American Games. Once witnessing firsthand the passion for hockey in Latin America at those Games and the chance to spread the word, Otero began constructing his plan for the LATAM Cup, an international tournament spotlighting the talent and hockey community tucked away in Latin America.

Hosted at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, Fla., the first LATAM Cup was held in 2018, with five teams and roughly 90 players competing in one division. Just one year later, the 2019 LATAM Cup’s participation soared to 21 teams, four divisions and nearly 400 players. Divisions included D1, D2, U16 and a Women’s Division while also adding teams from the Caribbean, like Jamaica, who won the 2019 D1 tournament in thrilling fashion.

“Where (the LATAM Cup) is at now, I’m completely blown away, but I’m not surprised,” said Otero. “I’m not a cocky person, but I kind of knew this had the potential to grow because of what I saw (in Colombia). Their (inline) rink is like a family hub. They have over 640 players registered for inline hockey. From the U-8s all the way to adults.”

Recently named to the NHL’s Youth Hockey Inclusion Committee, Otero aims to share his passion for the game in the League’s efforts to grow the game and provide both inspiration and inclusivity for Latinx, Hispanic and minority youths to have the opportunities to learn and play hockey.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am. The NHL has worked really hard in creating initiatives to grow the game of hockey and to change the stigma that it’s just a white person’s sport. I have a lot of ideas and this will be a great place to voice them and get feedback on them.”

While the NHL continues to broaden its diversity and inclusion approach, Otero looks to the sports community as a whole, its connection to Latin America and his hockey pilgrimage to Colombia that fuels the dedication to his mission.

“Why can’t the next NHL superstar in 15 years come from Latin America?” said Otero. “In every other sport there have been superstars that have come out of Latin America. I think that it’s important for the NHL’s growth 15 years down the line to have players with names like ‘Lopez’ and ‘Fernandez’ on the backs of jerseys to grow your fanbase.”

“It’s the same over there (in Colombia). It’s a hockey community just like it is here. They love this game as much if not more than we do. You talk to these kids and they know what happened last night in the NHL.”

In September of 2019, Colombia became an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), becoming the fifth Latin American Country to join the IIHF after Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

The next LATAM Cup is set to be Amerigol’s largest endeavor yet, with a new U12 division and a tremendous increase of 35-40 teams from countries in Latin America and the Carribbean. Most interestingly, that number doesn’t even include teams from Africa and Asia who had enthusiastically extended their interest in participating.

Traditionally held in early September, the tournament has since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when it comes to organizing the next LATAM Cup during these unprecedented times, Otero refuses to make final decisions without speaking to the teams and countries that helped make the tournament possible in the first place.

“I wouldn’t have this tournament if it wasn’t for them. It’s important everyone has a say in this event.”

A hockey dad at heart, whose son Chris captured Gold with Team Colombia in the 2019 U16 LATAM Cup Tournament, Otero is thrilled for the future of the tournament as well as the potential growth of the game he loves so dearly.

“These kids have the same (passion). Growing the game within the community. This whole tournament is a win-win-win for everybody. As this tournament continues to grow, more people become aware that people play hockey (in Latin America).”

“Seeing these kids come off the ice win or lose, they have the biggest smile on their face. To me that’s what it’s all about.”

Argentine players overcoming hurdles to get on ice

By William Douglas –

Argentine hockey players have to go to the end of the world if they want to play a five-on-five game in their country.

With small ice rinks in large cities like Buenos Aires, an Olympic-sized outdoor rink Ushuaia, a town at the southernmost tip of South America with a sign in Spanish that says “fin del mundo” — end of the world — is the only option for a full game.

“We don’t have a lot of economic help to promote the sport,” said Jorge Dicky Haiek, coach of Argentina’s men’s national team, “so we need to create, promote the sport and be better and better with our resources. It’s very difficult.”

Argentina’s men’s and women’s teams overcome several hurdles to play the game they love in a soccer and basketball-obsessed South American country of nearly 45 million people.

Like their Latin American rivals that competed in the 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup tournament held at the Florida Panthers IceDen in September, most of Argentina’s players are in-line hockey players who transition to ice when it becomes available.

Hockey is an expensive sport in the United States and Canada, but more so in countries like Argentina because of the currency exchange rates, shipping charges (if buying online) and taxes.

“We don’t have sticks there (in Argentina),” Haiek said. “We have to go to Miami; someone goes, picks up the sticks, carries them on the flight. It’s very difficult; the import, the export.”

Rather than spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace broken sticks, skates and other items, some players turn to Argentine women’s coach Roberto “Racki” Villagra, who has become the go-to guy in the country for making damaged hockey equipment good as new.

Affectionately nicknamed after the burly tough guy in the 1986 hockey movie “Youngblood,” Villagra delicately uses carbon fiber and epoxy to fix shattered or splintering sticks.

At the Amerigol Cup, Villagra proudly displayed a repaired stick he’s been using since 2009, noting that it has the same flex as when it was first purchased.

He also showed off “Frankenskate,” a beat-up pair of Bauer boots used by an Argentine player for ice and in-line hockey. The blades are interchangeable, held to the boots by easily removable screws and bolts instead of rivets.

“There’s no pro shop there, there’s only one person that imports that stuff, and it’s really, really expensive,” said Leana Villagra, Racki’s daughter, whose 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in three games helped lead Argentina to the Amerigol Cup women’s championship. “It’s better to fix it over and over again, and that’s what he does.”

Fixing what would be considered unrepairable in North America and traveling great distances (Ushuaia is nearly 1,475 miles from Buenos Aires by air) to play on a regulation-sized rink shows the love some Argentines have for hockey.

Argentina has been an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1998. The country has 1,060 players; 630 men, 290 women and 140 juniors.

“We have a heart, passion and creativity, like (soccer star) Messi and (former NBA player) Manu Ginobili,” Haiek said. “We work so hard to involve all the kids to play because it’s the best sport of the world — ice hockey and in-line hockey is the best of the world.”

Brazil men’s national hockey team working hard to catch rivals

By William Douglas

Five-year-old program making strides in Latin American, Caribbean circuit

Jens Hinderlie felt like Herb Brooks.

Just like the legendary coach who led the U.S. men’s hockey team to an improbable gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Hinderlie was tapped in 2015 for the seemingly improbable task of helping build a competitive national ice hockey team for Brazil.

“I showed up, watched all these guys play inline hockey and picked the team, essentially like Herb Brooks did,” said Hinderlie, who is from Minnesota, like Brooks, and coached ice hockey in Alaska before he moved to Brazil, his wife’s country. “Not being one too familiar with inline…I assumed it would easily translate to ice. Literally, the first day of practice when we showed up (on ice) in 2015, I had to change my entire plan for what I wanted to do and immediately bought six more hours of ice time.”

In life, you crawl before you walk. For the Brazil hockey team, most players learned to fall before they could skate. But it didn’t take them long to catch on, Hinderlie said.

“We really had to revert back to the basics: doing basic skating, learning how to fall and get up, but the guys really learned fast and picked it up quickly,” he said. “In literally in the span of four days, I taught them everything from the face-off to the break outs to really when to change lines. It came together very fast and the players were receptive.”

Brazil has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1984, despite the absence of a regulation-sized hockey ice rink in the country. There are 330 hockey players in a nation of almost 207.4 million people

Hinderlie and his team did manage to pull off their own miracle, finishing third in Brazil’s second appearance at the Pan American Ice Hockey Tournament in 2015 in Mexico City. The third-place finish reflected improvement over Brazil’s Pan American debut in 2014 under a diffferent coach when it finished fifth with 0-4 record that included a 16-0 loss to host country Mexico.

Brazil in action vs Argentina at the Latam Cup

But at the 2019 Amerigol LATAM hockey tournament at the Florida Panthers IceDen near Miami earlier this month, Brazil’s men’s Division I and women’s teams were winless and the men’s Division II team managed only one victory.

But players left Florida pleased that they had an opportunity to get on the ice and pumped about the work ahead of them to catch up to their Latin American and Caribbean hockey rivals.

“We got a lot of exposure and all the teams have grown so much — Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico,” Brazilian player Henrique Degani said of the Amerigol Cup. “From last year to this year, that’s when I saw the game improve the most for Latin America.”

Latam Cup Round-Up

By Ryan Bahl – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The LATAM Cup is a development tournament for players from the Americas with a focus on Latin American and the Caribbean. This year’s tournament included four divisions including Men’s Div 1, Men’s Div 2, U16, and Women’s. The Women’s Division hosted Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil with Argentina beating Colombia 4-2 in the final. The U16 division hosted Argentina, Colombia, Stanley (Falklands) and USA with Colombia beating Argentina 3-1 in the finals to take gold. The Men’s Div 2 hosted Puerto Rico, Rest of the World (the Falklands), Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The ROTW team beat Puerto Rico 6-2 and won the Div. 2 title. The top Men’s Division hosted Jamaica, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Brazil with Jamaica beating Colombia 4-2 in the top division in double overtime.

Argentina and Colombia had great showings as they were the only two countries represented at every level. Colombia finished in the top 3 in each of it’s respected divisions. Each division had a different country win their respected title as well (Jamaica, ROTW, Argentina, Colombia).

For me personally – I played with the ROTW team made up of primarily British nationals and Commonwealth citizens who have either lived or worked in the Falkland Islands (the smallest nation to ever play ice hockey). The level of play was naturally a bit mixed in the 2nd division because teams were made up of inline players, dek hockey players, and ice hockey players, some of whom have never skated on a full sized ice rink before (including our very own players Sam Cockwell and Claudio Ross with ROTW). For a lot of countries represented in this tournament – they primarily play inline hockey because they do not have access to ice or only get to play ice maybe once or twice a year.

The top men’s division was a bit better (in terms of skill level) compared to the second division with most players living and playing in North America. For example – some of the Jamaican team included players playing or living in Canada. These players do of course have direct ties and family members residing or from Jamaica. Access to ice and high-level competitive hockey is obviously more available throughout North America. Players in division one also included current professional players playing throughout North America. The main difference in skill level between these divisions was really just the access to ice and how often players from these teams are able to skate and play.

The U16 and Women’s divisions ended up being really competitive as well with Colombia and Argentina playing each other in both finals and with one team winning each division (Colombia U16 and Argentina for Women’s). A lot of players from both teams and both divisions arrived early in Florida to attend a Goalie and Sniper camp in order to get more ice time leading up to the tournament.

It’s been a few days since the tournament and I have already seen tremendous support pour in on social media including posts and shares from the NHL, IIHF, Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast, National Teams of Ice Hockey, and many others.

Overall, the tournament exceeded my expectations and was ran very professionally with some major sponsors onboard (Warrior Hockey and the Florida Panthers). Juan Carlos and the Amerigol Team did an amazing job bringing together 21 teams and 360 players to such an important development cup for Latin American teams and players. I would love to continue my involvement with this cup and can’t wait to see what next year brings!

« Older posts
Translate »