Category: South America (Page 2 of 2)

Latin American Ice Hockey has arrived!

By University of Miami Ice Hockey –SCHC

Juan Carlos Otero believes the future of ice hockey is South.

The general manager of the University of Miami’s ice hockey team since 2014, Otero is one of the founders of the Amerigol Miami International Hockey Association, which hopes to grow the grow the icy sport in Latin America by raising awareness through showcases and tournaments.

“In our own backyard, we have a lot of excellent talent in Latin America,” Otero said. “As the population of Latins grows in the United States, I think it’s important that the NHL looks at being more active in this region in developing talent. Fifteen years down the line, you’re going to want to have more “Hernandez,” Fernandez,” “Gomez” and “Lopez,” on the back of jerseys if you want to grow as a sport… I think it’s time to start planning those seeds in this market.”

A few of those seeds were planted this past weekend at the Panthers IceDen, where teams from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela competed in the inaugural LATAM Cup. Of those teams, three also compete as the national teams for their respective countries.

The first major tournament hosted by Amerigol, Otero is confident it won’t be the last.

“South Florida is the gateway to Latin America,” said Otero, whose family hails from Colombia. “We thought it would be a great fit to bring a tournament here… We have people out here supporting their country with their flags. We want them to fall in love with the game like I did.”

Prior to the tournament, players had a chance to meet several members of the Florida Panthers.

“The Panthers have done a great job,” Otero said. “Some of the players told the Argentinian team that they had watched them play in a roller hockey tournament. They were blown away by that. I’ve felt really welcomed, working with the Panthers IceDen… They’ve made this a lot easier for me.”

The LATAM Cup featured games consisted of two 25-minutes periods with an intermission in between each. All games were free and open to the public, which led to a lively atmosphere of cheering, chants and audible pride coming from the large crowd that filled the stands at the rink.

In the end, Colombia defeated Mexico B 12-3 to be crowned the tournament’s first champions.

“When Juan Carlos brought this idea to me, I’m like ‘Yeah, we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to host it here under the Florida Panthers IceDen, under this organization to really show the community here what there is to offer,'” said Keith Fine, the IceDen’s general manager. “Ice hockey is alive and well.

“If we can just get more kids out here to get excited about the sport and support their national teams, who knows? We’re really hoping we see a strong support from that Latin American community to come out here and watch their teams compete and battle. At the end of the day, hopefully they can sign up, too.”

Like Otero, Fine believes the Latin American community is an untapped market for hockey.

“This is just another avenue to reach that community,” he said.

Looking ahead, Otero said he hopes to grow the tournament from five to as many as 45 teams, as the opportunity to add women’s and youth divisions could potentially lead to rapid growth. In the immediate future, he said Jamaica, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Chile could join next year.

“We’re talking about 45 teams, possibly next year,” Otero said. “I’m not surprised. I really felt strongly about this. Because this is the first tournament, we really don’t have sponsorship. We have two companies, and one is my brothers. It’s been great. It’s been an effort. It’s an investment, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

“The challenge is really getting ice. That’s where I think [we need] help to put a rink in stable countries. Maybe one in Colombia, one in Brazil, and manage it and start developing the talent. There’s definitely interest there.”

As for next year’s LATAM Cup, Fine said the IceDen is looking forward to hosting again.

“Whatever we can do to help support it, we’re going to do it,” he said.

Ice hockey comes to Santiago

By Nicholas Siler – Santiago Times

It’s a typically chilly Saturday morning during an untypically warm week in early August in Santiago and the Cerrogrado ice rink in Mall Vespucio has opened its doors to the Yetis, the city’s only ice hockey team. The players take to the ice and warm up under the glow of dim ballroom lights and disco balls hovering over the rink. Later the rink will be filled with families grasping the last bit of winter fun. Fresh from winning the Copa Invernada in Punta Arenas in July, the team has its sights set on September, October and beyond. In Punta Arenas they fended off teams from Iquique, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia in Argentina and the Falkland Islands and came home with the trophy. Chile appears to be taking its first steps into the fast-paced and ferociously competitive sport of ice hockey, fueled by aspirations of a federation that previously paid attention only to in-line hockey, a variation of the sport played off the ice on roller blades. However, the Chilean Ice Hockey Federation faces limits and hindrances to funding and publicity.

The Yetis took to the ice as an organized team in 2015 and became a recognized legal entity in 2016. Most of the Yetis had been in-line hockey players. In places like La Serena and Iquique, much of the players’ exposure to hockey came from foreigners – most often Canadians — working at nearby mines. Initially, hockey was played on roller blades on tiles of plastic flooring, since sustaining an ice rink was as good as impossible. Chile sent a national team to the 2000 and 2002 international in-line hockey championships and almost returned in 2015, but rival Argentina took the slot as the sole South American qualifier. Slowly many in-line hockey players became acquainted with ice hockey through media and trips overseas. However, there were very few opportunities at home. The Yetis third place finish in 2015 at the ice hockey Copa Invernada tournament and its title victory at this year’s contest have made Monica Arias, President of the Chilean Ice and Inline Hockey Association, cautiously optimistic.

An ice hockey team from Iquique regularly competes on ice with the southerly teams of Santiago and Punta Arenas. Those teams practice on ice rinks but the rinks are neither regulation-size nor freely available, as they belong to recreational ice-skating companies that operate them for entertainment at shopping malls. Arias points out that despite this handicap, media attention both abroad and in Chile has increased dramatically and she hopes that the Patagonia Challenge Cup (in which a team from Punta Arenas took part) and a potential Chile-only tournament, will increase the public’s interest. The association’s goal of sustaining two teams in Santiago (as is the case in Punta Arenas) will, she says, increase interest, as will its aspiration to field a national team for the Pan American Ice Hockey Tournament next year in Mexico City.

There is good reason for Chile to be hopeful. However, ex-Barcelona player and current Level 4 ice hockey coach Andrew Jasicki cautioned that without a regulation-size rink, none of Chile’s players would perform well in Mexico City. The Copa Invernada is a three-on-three tournament as only so many players can fit on a recreational rink. Full-game experience is severely lacking. Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina practice on larger rinks than those in Chile. In fact, the Patagonian Argentinian town of Ushuaia has an Olympic sized rink as well as a team that competes with teams from Argentina. Additionally, Ushuaia plays host to the End of the World hockey tournament which involves full teams on a regulation size rink. Still, there are exceptions. Colombia, which lacks full-sized rinks, beat heavyweight Mexico twice in a row for the gold and claimed a bronze at three previous tournaments. It benefits from dual citizens with professional or semi-professional ice hockey experience.

Argentina and Mexico send two squads each to the tournament, bringing the total number of teams competing to six. Former Chilean national in-line hockey team member and hockey promoter Mauricio Vieytes told International Ice Hockey Federation reporter Andy Potts that the Chilean federation might look into doing the same as Colombia, drawing on Chile’s expatriate/dual-citizen community from the United States, Italy, and Finland.

There are many challenges. Arias says coaches base their training on anecdotal experiences. The small recreational rinks make training awkward and sometimes teams share space with the public out just to enjoy the ice. Also, the players pay their own way. Arias explains, “At this time, each athlete finances their own actions, such as activities, participation at international tournaments, travel etc. The Yetis are a new club with no external funding, nor has it been nominated for competitive funding projects in any category or institution. We have only been using our own resources. We are already pressed for time to be part of the selection process because our situation is complicated considering the distance players have to travel right now.” At a more fundamental level, there has been little attention given to the prospects of ice hockey in Chile by the organized sporting authorities in the country. Arias plans to hold a meeting with the general secretary of the Chilean Olympic committee hoping for more help, infrastructure, and funding. “The idea is to develop a presentation of hockey to submit to the community either on the municipal or state level. She considers Mexico 2017 a steppingstone to the Winter Olympics in China in 2022.

It will be difficult to get there. Chile has few full-time players and has only three mall-based recreational ice rinks for practice. More public interest is needed to sustain hockey and develop talent for future competitions. Also missing is official cooperation between Argentina and Chile to mutually improve the quality of the sport. But Arias notes that increasing funding for infrastructure alone will not be enough and that teams need to perform. Still, the recent dominance of the Yetis and the successful junior youth ice hockey tournament in Punta Arenas give hope for the future. Perhaps hockey in Chile is finishing the first period of a match to win the public’s attention, with two more to go. How that game will end remains to be seen, but the opportunity for success is there.

Pan American Movement

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Their is a Ice Hockey movement afoot in the Pan American region, that includes North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean to form a American Ice Hockey Confederation in two or three years.

This project is being lead by Mr. Hector Iannicelli is the Argentinian Ice Hockey Association’s President and
The Mexicans Ice hockey federation’s President

The first step is to start conversations and to invite to countries the next Pan American Ice Hockey Tournament in 2017, this process has already begun. Canada and The United states are welcome to join the tournament with with amateurs’ teams.
There is also been conversation to to bring back the Pan American Winter Games (4 years). The Mexicans federation’s President has already started conversations with ODEPA and the ideas was very well received.

Here is some History on the Winter Pan American games:

There have been attempts to hold Winter Pan American Games throughout the history of the games, but these have had little success. An initial attempt to hold winter events was made by the organizers of the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, who planned to stage winter events later in the year but dropped the idea due to lack of interest. Reliable winter snow in the Americas is limited to two countries, the United States and Canada.
Andean winter weather is often fickle, and higher elevation areas in South America with annual snow often lack the infrastructure to host major sporting events. Another difficulty is that the Americas cover two hemispheres, which creates scheduling issues related to reverse seasons.

Lake Placid, New York tried to organize Winter Games in 1959 but, again, not enough countries expressed interest. The plans were eventually cancelled.

In 1988, members of PASO voted to hold the first Pan American Winter Games at Las Leñas, Argentina in September 1989. It was further agreed that Winter Games would be held every four years. Lack of snow however, forced the postponement of the games until September 16–22, 1990  when only eight countries sent 97 athletes to Las Leñas. Of that total, 76 were from just three countries of Argentina, Canada, and the United States. Weather was unseasonably warm and again there was little snow, so only three Alpine Skiing events – the Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super G were staged. The United States and Canada won all 18 medals.

PASO awarded the second Pan American Winter Games to Santiago, Chile for 1993. The United States warned that it would not take part unless a full schedule of events was held. The Santiago organizing committee eventually gave up on planning the Games after the United States Olympic Committee declined to participate, and the idea has not been revived since.

Hockey Nation Profile: Brazil’s Latest Adventure in Sports

By Steve Ellis – NHL Numbers

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro recently finished off with one of the most memorable Olympics in recent years, albeit for many negative reasons. Whether it be political turmoil, financial issues or general problems with the venues themselves, it was a tournament doomed from the start.

For Brazillian athletes, it was tough to see what the world was saying about the country. But while everyone was critiquing the world’s most talented athletes, a seemingly unknown Brazilian sports team was coming off a recent tournament appearance of their own. They’ve been together for a few teams, but unless you’re a hardcore fan, there’s a good chance you had no idea they even existed.

Of course, we’re talking about the Brazilian national ice hockey team.

Rolling Start

Like many warmer nations, Brazil got their hockey start on roller blades. In inline hockey, there are nowhere near the amount of teams that participate due to the lack of general popularity in the sport. Regardless, Brazil has put together a very serviceable team over the past few years, competing at the Division I tournament back in 2014.

But from their start, getting a chance to play hockey on ice was their goal. The team paired up with the Brazillian Confederation of Ice Sports, which gave them some legitimacy, but that was about it. They had to work their tails off to make sure they could hit the ice some day.

It seemed impossible, especially with their weather conditions, but they were still going to find a way.

Pan-Am Dreams

They had no sponsors, limited funding and very few experienced players. But Brazil still entered the 2014 Pan-American Ice Hockey Games with high hopes and excited dreams. The brand new tournament was a strange one, getting delayed a while before eventually making their summer debut in 2014. 

It seemed weird that Brazil was attempting to play ice hockey, but they surely showed up ready to battle.

Their first time playing internationally definitely left a lot to desire. It didn’t help that most of the team had very little time on ice beforehand. In fact, most players made their debut at the tournament itself. But every team has to start somewhere. They played their very first game on the ice against Mexico on March 2nd, 2014, a game that they knew was going to be tough, especially since Mexico was using much of their World Championship roster.

They lost 16-0.

Their next game was three days later, a game that was surely going to be more competitive against Argentina. They were close, with Daniel Baptista scoring twice late in the third and Jose Henrique Vasconcelos adding a third goal in a late game dash, but they couldn’t overcome their opponents in an eventual 5-3 loss.

And then they had the great honour of playing against Canada, made up of former minor pro and junior hockey players. Canada participated at the Pan-Am to help smaller countries develop by having their expertise in tournament planning and development make their way down south to Mexico. For Brazil, it was a great chance to see what the top ranked IIIHF nation was all about.

They lost 16-0. Again.

Brazil would lose to Colombia 14-0 in their final game of the tournament, a result that ultimately put them in dead last. But that was to be expected for a team that had never graduated from inline hockey beforehand. They set their sights on 2015, where they would hope for a better result under the guidance of coach Jens Hinderlie.

2015 saw what can only be considered to be their best effort yet. In the days leading up to the tournament, Hinderlie made sure to get the players as much ice time as possible. When playing against tournament powerhouse Mexico, and even the rising stars from Colombia, they would need a good effort to contend for a medal.

With no Canada, their odds were better than ever. On the opening day of the tournament, June 3rd, 2015, Brazil managed to beat a team of Mexican U17 hockey players by a score of 5-2, their first ever ice hockey victory. They followed that up with an impressive 7-0 victory against Argentina’s B squad, their first ever international shutout.

Things truly were looking really bright for Brazil. Their 3-0 loss to Colombia in the third game didn’t actually seem like that bad of a loss, especially since Colombia eventually went on to get the surprising gold medal. They’d win one more game before the tournament was over, a 6-1 victory over Argentina’s best team.

All of a sudden, Brazil had a bronze medal. They had just made ice hockey history with a bunch of people you’d never expect.

To Better Days

Brazil found themselves in the 2016 edition of the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games, this time winning just two games. Unlike in 2015, the tournament had a formal medal round format, with Brazil falling 2-0 to Mexico’s B team in the bronze medal game. It was still an effort worth congratulating, despite falling to Mexico’s second best squad. For Brazil, it showed tremendous growth from their first tournament, where embarrassment took over due to their lack of prior ice hockey skill.

The future looks bright for the team. They still continue to train with inline hockey, but they’re hoping for more on ice in the future. Hinderlie is looking into getting synthetic ice for training, and while it won’t make you eligible to play World Championship events, it is the step in the right direction for a team looking for every advantage they can get. They still play to play in the 2017 edition of the tournament, and with future funding from other sources and any success they have on the ice, the team will look to expand for the future.

We’re pulling for you, Brazil.

Hockey Nation Profile: Falkland Islands, the Smallest of Them All

Falkland Islands National Team

By Steven Ellis –
NHL Numbers

They haven’t played an official IIHF event yet. One of their top players is from California. They won their first ever game 8-2 despite never playing on ice beforehand.

Meet the Falkland Islands, the smallest hockey nation in the world.

For those not familiar with the Falkland Islands, they are one of the 14 British Overseas Territories. Another member of that group, the Cayman Islands, has played ice hockey previously, competing in the 2005 World Pond Hockey Championships in Canada.

So what business do the Falkland Islands have playing ice hockey? Well, they may seem like the ultimate underdog, but their success has been evident after just two years.

A Quick Beginning 

Like many hockey teams where ice isn’t easily available, the Falkland Islands got their start in DEK hockey, or ball hockey to others. DEK hockey began on the island in 2006 by a player named Grant Budd, a former British Hockey League player who went on to create the Peterbourgh Islanders, currently playing in New Zealand’s second division. The team had the funding to take part in the International Street and Ball Hockey World Championships in Newfoundland, but the team couldn’t get the 17 players needed to compete in the tournament, which truly was a shame.

Despite that disappointment, hockey has continued to grow in the small area for years. It wasn’t just adults taking part every week, as young kids started to show interest. The men’s division has four teams, all named after NHL clubs, with four teams also taking part in the youth division.

Eventually, the potential to participate on the ice became a reality. According to Martyn Barlow, the chairman of hockey on the Islands, people began to really believe in the idea of hitting the ice after learning about the 2015 Copa Inverda in Chile, the first tournament the team ever planned on entering.

Getting prepared to play on the ice took some time. Getting equipment wasn’t easy, especially in an area where specialty hockey stores aren’t a thing. Oh, and are no ice rinks in the area, so that was a problem too. Or, was it? To get ready for the 3-on-3 Copa Inverda event, the team started using inline skates and a puck to get their feet moving. With no ice to play on, they had to stick on gym floors to get used to moving around on some sort of blades.

The Greatest Debut

In June of 2015, the team announced their intentions to play ice hockey. On July 2nd, at the 2015 Copa Inverda, that became a reality. It may be one of the most successful starts for a national hockey team, grabbing an 8-2 win over Santiago Yetis, the hometown team, in the opening match. With a population of just about 3,000 people, the smallest hockey nation on the planet was able to make history with the victory, one of many in the tournament.

The entire tournament proved to be a massive success for them. The team finished that up with 14-3 and 6-3 victories over the next two days, earning them a spot in the finals of the four-team tournament. With three wins in three games, the team needed just one more victory to sweep their debut tournament, something that is incredible for a team at any tournament.

Their final opponent? The Rio Grande Dragones from Argentina. The Islands had a good result against them the day before, beating them 6-3 in the final round-robin game of the tournament. With 28 goals in the first three games, the Falkland Islands had an advantage heading into the fourth and final game.

The advantage held true. For the third straight game, the Islands allowed three goals against, but their nine in the other net proved to be the difference as they were good enough to win the Copa Inverda title.

In a short period of time, and without extensive training, the Falkland Islands national hockey team were champions, and well deserving of it.

To the Future and Beyond

The 2016 Copa Inverda saw further Falkland Islands participation, with the men’s team playing in the main tournament while four youth teams battled it out in the children’s division. For the national team, the tournament started off strong, beating the Andean Club of Ushuaia easily 11-2 to open the tournament. But on July 7th, 2016, for the first time in their short time in the sport, the Falkland Islands failed to take the victory, losing 6-5 in a crazy game against the eventual champions, the Santiago Yetis from Chile. The Islands lost out on a chance to play in the finals as a result, but they still managed to beat the Drakon’s, also from Chile, 7-4 to win the bronze medal overall in the six-team tournament

So what’s next for the Islands? The team would love to continue building their inline program so they can send teams away for national championships. Building from the grassroots level is going to be important for both ice and inline hockey, and the skills you learn in inline can transfer over onto the ice once the country has built an ice rink. Of course, that’s expensive and not always easy when a team is brand new, but it’s necessary to participate in official IIHF events in the future.

Sometimes, it’s not always about the resources or financial backing that makes a team good. In some cases, it’s about the heart the players put into it. This is a team that knows what they want and have overcome obstacles to make an impact in a short period of time. You need the commitment that the likes of Grant Budd, Martyn Barlow and all the parents that help make the program successful to have a strong base to build around in the future.

And, boy, they are definitely committed.

Emerging from Devil’s Lagoon

Leandro Zahr is one of the players from Argentine club team Nires Ushuaia, which reached the final at the Copa Invernada

By Andy Potts –

It started on the ‘Laguna del Diablo’, the Devil’s Lagoon. A small lake on the western edge of town, near the main road, where back in 1979 people in Ushuaia began playing pond hockey. On natural ice, limited to a few weeks of the year, an intrepid band of hockey hopefuls kick-started the process that has turned the capital of Tierra del Fuego into the capital of Argentine ice hockey.

Commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia has two rival teams – Club Andino de Ushuaia (CAU) and Nires – playing on the only international-size rink in South America. That rink, which is currently an open-air facility, was completed in 2010 and transformed the prospects for the game here in the deep south.

There’s no doubting the commitment of the players. The hooter had barely sounded on Santiago Yetis’ 2-1 victory over Nires Ushuaia in the Copa Invernada final in Punta Arenas, Chile, when Nires’ Leandro Zahr skated over. Disappointed at a narrow defeat? Perhaps, but his first words were: “I just love this damn game!”

Zahr helped to establish Nires to broaden the hockey opportunities back home, and after starting out by working with kids playing inline hockey, he’s encouraged by the progress onto the ice. “We put together a project to play inline and ice so we can play all year round,” he said. “It started out small but now we have kids involved as well.”

Argentine teams are regular visitors to Punta Arenas, which boasts the only year-round ice rink in Patagonia at Cool Center in the Zona Franca mall.

And both Nires and CAU agree that events like the Copa Invernada are vital to keep pushing up standards in the region.

Javier Siede of CAU added: “We’re on an island way down in the south of Argentina so it’s really expensive to go and play in competitions anywhere else. We’re fairly close to Punta Arenas and we can get over maybe three or four times a year. That’s really important for us, meeting different opponents and enjoying our passion for hockey throughout the year.”

Plans to build a roof over Ushuaia’s ice could make the game a year-round event back home, but for now the city of 71,000 people stages three tournaments: a local league, a Patagonian championship featuring a return visit from the hockey fraternity in Punta Arenas, and the exotically named Copa del Fin del Mundo – the End-of-the-World Cup – now in its 13th edition. That tournament has welcomed visitors from Chile, northern Argentina and even Brazil, while Zahr has hinted that it could some day extend a ground-breaking invitation to the emerging hockey team on the Falkland Islands.

Despite the political tensions between Buenos Aires, London and Port Stanley, teams from Argentina and the Falklands have played against each other in Punta Arenas and Zahr believes the experience can bring people together.

“At an event like this there’s no political agenda, it’s all about sport,” he said. “That helps us to come together and, more importantly, it moves us away from ‘old politics’. There’s a brotherhood here – we’re all about hockey and nothing else. I’d be delighted to take our team to play on the Falklands, and we’d love to invite the Falklands team to come and play against us in Argentina because it can only help our sport grow. This isn’t the kind of bitter rivalry you see between football teams; we don’t want that, we are like brothers here.”

But while Ushuaia’s remoteness adds glamour to events like the Fin del Mundo, it also brings problems.

Zahr, of the Nires club, said: “We have a rink, but we’re so far away from the rest of the world that it costs a fortune to get equipment down here. Even something as obvious as a Zamboni, for example; it’s expensive in the first place, and then you add on the shipping to bring it here from Canada and the costs go sky high. That limits what we can do, and that’s where we’d really like some support.

“There are also political issues with two governing bodies. These issues mean that the guys in Ushuaia, who only really play inline to stay in shape when there’s no ice, are not eligible for the Pan-American games. At the same time, some guys who play in Buenos Aires aren’t able to come and play in our tournament in the south. We need to sort that out and unite under one flag.”

But there is optimism about the future, especially after the city got its rink six years ago. “Now we’re working on a roof and that would be a huge help because it would open the way for further development,” said Siede. “We could play all year round, and maybe we could even stage IIHF events down here.

“We’ve always had the ice down here but since we got the rink we’ve gone from being able to play pond hockey for maybe 30 days a year to ice hockey for three or four months. That’s put all eyes on Ushuaia as the capital of Argentine hockey and we have about 150 players here now.”

Aiming higher: Daniel Echeverri wins ice hockey gold for Colombia

By Andrew Sodergren – Naples Daily News

Daniel Echeverri wasn’t sure he’d have a future in hockey six years ago.

But a stint with the Junior Everblades changed his outlook substantially.

Now he’s winning gold medals for his home country, Colombia. Echeverri scored 10 goals and tallied eight assists in Colombia’s recent victory at the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games. In six games, Colombia went 5-1, with the only loss coming to Mexico early in the tournament. The Colombians rebounded to defeat Mexico 3-2 in the championship game, repeating as champions. Last year’s victory in the Pan-Am Ice Hockey Games was the country’s first-ever tournament victory in hockey. Echeverri also played a key role in that win.

“Ice hockey isn’t very big in Colombia,” Echeverri said. “They’re more into roller hockey. It’s really nice starting something for your country and doing something that’s never been done before.”

Echeverri, 26, moved to Florida with his family when he was seven. He played roller hockey at a young age and began playing ice hockey competitively when he was 10. He’s been in love with the sport ever since.

“It’s different than any other sport around,” he said. “You have to be very talented. You’ve got to have the ability to skate, keep your head up to pass or shoot. You’ve got to be able to think quickly and see the plays develop. Skating down the ice with the wind hitting you, it’s the greatest feeling.”

Echeverri, who went to Cypress Bay High School on the East Coast, played junior hockey but found his game had hit a plateau. He began to think he didn’t have much of a future in the sport. But he heard a few of his buddies were going to head west on Alligator Alley and compete for the Junior Everblades. He decided he wanted to give it a shot, as well.

While with the Junior Blades, he worked closely with coaches Tad O’Had and Jake Lemay. The coaches helped Echeverri hone his game, and he parlayed that tutelage into a four-year college career with the Florida Gulf Coast University club hockey team, where Echeverri won a pair of national titles.

“The Junior Everblades really helped me fall in love with the sport all over again,” he said. “Junior hockey is the about the funnest hockey you can possibly play. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. I loved my teammates and my coaches.”

Echeverri said he learned a lot about training, both on the ice and off, while with the Junior Blades. He’s now hoping to use what he’s learned at the professional level. He hasn’t signed with a team yet, but is banking on his high-level performance at international tournaments earning him an invite from someone.

“Coming from a third-world country, hockey is the least thing my parents expected me to play,” Echeverri said. “I wasn’t sure which way to go, but once I started playing with the Junior Blades, I started believing I had a future in this game.

Daniel Echeverri playing with team Colombia

Copa Invernada 2016

Copa Invernada

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Copa Invernada will be held from Wednesday July 6 th to Sunday July 10th, at the ice rink Cool Center, located in the Zona Franca.

The tournament is one of the activities planned within the Chilian Winter, and this year will involve 12 teams, six adults clubs, Drakons of Iquique, the Andean Club of Ushuaia (CAU), Falkland Penguins, Los Ñires of Ushuaia, the Yetis of Santiago and a combined team of players from local clubs Kotaix & Nordics that will represent Punta Arenas.

The other six clubs are in the children ‘s category, this is first time that children can play at the Copa Invernada. Four teams from the Falkland Islands, Bombers, Wolverines, Khights and Dragons, plus two local teams, Club Manuel Bulnes Manuel Bulnes School and School Ice Hockey Kotaix.
Last year tournament was won by the Falklans Islands.

                              Final Copa Invernadas 2015

Copa Invernada 2016 Schedule

Brazil’s Hockey Team Struggles With Basics—Like Skating


By Will Connors The Wall Street Journal

Most hockey fans are fixated on the ongoing Stanley Cup finals between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. But at another competition a bit farther south, the members of Team Brazil—a group of misfits and weekend warriors mostly plucked from the country’s in-line roller-skating leagues—are focused on some of the simpler aspects of ice skating.

Like, for instance, ice skating.

“They all really struggle.” said Jens Hinderlie, Brazil’s American coach. “Turning left, turning right. And stopping is obviously the biggest thing.”

The third-annual Pan-American Hockey Tournament, which kicked off Monday in Mexico City, allowed the Brazilians to display their hockey stylings in games against teams from Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. It also allowed many of them, for the first time, to play on a regulation ice rink. “They’re like kids in a candy store,” Mr. Hinderlie reported. “They’re like, ‘Oh my god, ice, ice, ice!’”

Brazil’s hockey team was formed in 2014. It is part of the Brazilian Confederation of Ice Sports, which also supports national curling and bobsledding, among various pursuits. But other than the affiliation itself, any official privileges are slim.

The group doesn’t have any sponsors, let alone a home rink. In fact, there aren’t any regulation hockey rinks in all of Brazil. There was once a small ice patch at a Pizza Hut in the ’90s, but it closed down. Some team members practice skating moves at a tiny rink in a mall in Rio, but they have to share it with children and aren’t allowed to shoot pucks.

The ice-deprived players, as a result, have been falling in Mexico City—a lot. Luiz Paulo Serrano de Araújo, a 21-year-old engineering student from Rio, had never skated at an official rink. He had to borrow skates from a friend.

“Braking and changing direction, I’ve had a little trouble,” Mr. Araujo said. “The body doesn’t respond to what you want it to do.”

Pedro Prado, 39, the oldest player on the team and a theater actor in Rio, also claims to be one of the best ice skaters in Brazil. He has been teaching some of the new players techniques for stopping on ice.

“There’s a trick I use when I’m teaching kids: breathe, exhale, then brake,” Mr. Prado said.

What the players lack in skating ability they make up for in enthusiasm, Mr. Hinderlie says. “I’ve been around hockey my whole life, and the passion these guys have for the game is second to none.”

Bruno Gomes, 36, plays left wing and is another of the team’s veterans. In the six years since he first tried ice hockey, he has skated on ice a total of six times.

“It was wonderful,” said Marcelo Rodrigues, 32, a real-estate consultant from Rio, after taking the ice on Mexico City’s regulation rink. “There’s nothing like it.”

Mr. Hinderlie, 35, played a bit of hockey when he was younger—going as far as the Appleton, Wis.-based Fox Cities Ice Dogs of the Great Lakes Hockey League. He also coached junior teams in Juneau, Alaska.

But he didn’t plan on continuing with hockey after meeting his Brazilian wife, Gabriela, on eHarmony and moving to her home country. Once they arrived, though, and knowing her husband loved hockey, Gabriela reached out to the Brazilian Confederation to see if they had any job openings.

As it happened, they needed a coach for the just-formed hockey team.

This will be his second year as coach. He concedes that the tournament is as much about attracting a potential sponsor and raising the funds to build a rink as actually winning games.

He, along with team member Daniel Baptista, a 29 year-old investment banker who spent a bit of time in Canada and learned to skate there, is confident the game could catch on if they had a rink in Brazil.

“It’s freaking hot [in Brazil] from November to March, April,” Mr. Baptista said. “If you have a big rink where it’s cold, you can play in the morning then go to the beach later in the afternoon. That’s the dream lifestyle for every hockey player in the world.”

Even though Mexico City has several official hockey rinks, the tournament site can present other logistical challenges. Last year at the Mexico City Ice Dome, a compressor failed and the rink was shrouded in fog during games.

At the first Pan-American tournament in 2014, the Brazil team, then nicknamed The Intrepid Colossus, lost every game. By a lot. They were defeated by Mexico 16-0, to Canada by the same score, and to Colombia 14-0.

At last year’s event, the team surprised everyone, including themselves, by coming in third place. With a little more ice time, Mr. Hinderlie believes the team could do well again. Since the guys arrived in Mexico City last week, Mr. Hinderlie has been running grueling skating practice sessions. He plans to make the team practice “until they puke.”

At this year’s tournament, Brazil beat Argentina’s “B” team in its first game 8-1, but lost to Mexico 4-0 on Tuesday.

In the meantime, as they continue to work on the basics, Mr. Prado, the team’s elder statesman, believes the hard work is already paying off.

“I have high hopes for these guys,” he said. “Whenever you get a team coming together, it’s really hard to beat them.”
Members of the Brazilian National Ice Hockey Team watch as the coach outlines a play during practice. The team is playing in the third annual Pan-American Hockey Tournament in Mexico City. Photo: for The Wall Street Journal

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