Category: Tournaments (page 1 of 7)

Calgary beer league squad wins Costa Rican hockey tourney

By Shawn Logan – Calgary Herald

It was almost an otherworldly experience for a Calgary beer league hockey squad, playing before hundreds of spectators and signing autographs for star-struck kids.

And now they’re also world champions. Sort of.

The eight-member Canadian Citizens hockey team won Costa Rica’s first-ever hockey tournament, an unlikely four-team weekend event that came to be thanks to a 20-year effort by former Calgarian Bruce Callow to build a hockey program in the Central American country.

Joining the Calgary squad in the tourney were teams from Los Angeles, the U.K.’s Falkland Islands, and the hometown El Castillo Knights, of which Callow is a member.

For Calgary’s Kyle Kemp, the entire event was a once in a lifetime experience.

“It was definitely a really cool experience,” said the 37-year-old, calling from Costa Rica on Monday, a day after his team won a see-saw 7-5 championship game against the Los Angeles Ruination.

“We’re were playing in front of hundreds of fans who are just loving it. Kids are coming up to us asking for autographs — that’s a first and a last for us.”

With an ice surface about half the size of a Canadian rink, low boards and no glass partitions, Kemp said the teams had to adapt, playing three-on-three with no slapshots. But it didn’t remotely diminish the experience.

Callow, still aglow about roofing a goal of his own against his hometown team, said local hockey fans were thrilled at how well the tournament came together.

“They were totally blown away. For our local team, it was an important learning experience as we had never actually played another team before,” he said.

“Having three foreign teams really made the tournament memorable and historic and having the Falklands come here was off the scale amazing.”

It’s been a banner year for the Calgary transplant, who over the summer saw the crimson El Castillo Knights jersey worn by his Costa Rican-born son hoisted among some of the legendary names in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

Even though Callow’s Knights came up short in each of their four games, he said he was more than happy to watch the Calgary team take home the medals.

“I played on the Knights tournament team, but I was cheering hard for the Citizens in the final,” he said.

“It was an exciting tournament with excellent parity and Citizens were an exciting team to watch. The people in the crowd were thoroughly impressed with their skill and sportsmanship and the success of this tournament helps pave the way for future tournaments at the Castillo Country Club.”

Kemp said he and his teammates, who range in age from 32 to 50, plan to spend the rest of the week in Costa Rica, returning to Calgary on Friday. And he’ll be first to volunteer for any future tournaments in the growing Central American hockey mecca.

“Walking into a rink in flip flops is a real challenge,” he said. “We’d love to come back.”

US beats Canada 5-1 to win 3rd straight Four Nations Cup

Hannah Brandt (20), seen here at this year's world championships, scored twice in the second period to lead the U.S. to a 5-1 victory over Canada in the Four Nations Cup final.

By Associated Press

Hannah Brandt scored twice in the second period and the United States women beat Canada 5-1 on Sunday to win their third straight Four Nations Cup championship.

Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel each added a goal and an assist. Kendall Coyne had a goal, and Dani Cameranesi added four assists.

Maddie Rooney made 18 saves and improved to 3-0 in the Americans’ four games at this tournament.

The United States won the event for the eighth time overall. Better yet, the Americans now have beaten their biggest rivals for the third time in four games over the past month as they tune up for the Pyeongchang Games in February.

Meghan Agosta scored just past the midway point of the third period pulling Canada within 2-1. Knight and Kessel scored power-play goals to pad the margin as the Americans went 3 of 7 with the advantage.

2017 4 NationsCup champions!

The Russian Olympic team are the Deutschland Cup winners

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

At the Deutschland Cup, the Russian Olympic team defeated Slovakia 4:2 to become the tournament’s winners!

Alexei Makeev scored an early goal, before two Slovakian goals gave the opponents the lead. Nevertheless, Russia proved to be strong for Slovakia, as Alexei Makeev and Mikhail Naumenkov scored further markers to earn a 4:2 victory!

The Russian Olympic team won all matches at the Deutschland Cup.

Dominik Kahun assisted on goals by Frank Mauer, Brent Raedeke and Brooks Macek as host Germany beat the United States 5-1 on Sunday in the Deutschland Cup finale. 

United States finish last in the competition losing all their Games.  

Finns claim Karjala Tournament

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Eeli Tolvanen scored a power-play goal midway through the third period to break a 3-3 tie with Canada and give the home side victory in the Karjala Tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. The game was played before a sold-out crowd at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

The loss put Canada in fourth place with one win and two losses. Russia and Sweden finished with 2-1 records, the former receiving superior placing based on goals difference.

The Czechs tied with Canada with one win and the Swiss finished in last, going winless in the tournament.

Normally a pleasant event during a league break in European club play, this year’s Karjala Tournament had greater importance because teams used the event as a testing ground for players hoping to represent their countries at next February’s Olympics. To that end, Canada and Switzerland were added to the schedule which is usually reserved for four teams (Finland, Czech Republic, Russia and Sweden).

Finland won its three games thanks to several positive factors. Mikko Koskinen was sharp in goal for Suomi in two games; the defence allowed only two goals a game; and, the players gelled like a team. As well, 18-year-old Miro Heiskanen played like a veteran and looks to be a good bet to go to PyeongChang.

Russia scored the most goals of the six teams (13), in large part thanks to Mikhail Grigorenko, who scored four of his team’s goals and finished atop the scoring table with six points. Three of those goals came on the final day in a 5-2 win over the Czechs.

Sweden lost a 3-1 decision to Finland to start the Helsinki part of the tournament and played its best in completely shutting down Canada in a 2-0 win. Par Lindholm was the hero there, scoring two power-play goals – one in the second, one in the third – to give Tre Kronor all the offense it needed.

The team then posted an emphatic 5-3 win over the Czechs thanks to two more power-play goals, these from Dick Axelsson in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Indeed, five of the team’s eight goals in the tournament came with the extra man.

Canada’s GM Sean Burke has had to cobble together a lineup like no GM in Canada’s long Olympic history. While most of the players are from the KHL, there are also participants from Switzerland, Sweden, the AHL, and NCAA. Coach Willie Desjardins had to be happiest with the final game when the team showed some offensive flair and legs that had been absent previously. But there is clearly work to be done before Canada can claim to be in the medal mix for PyeongChang.

The Czechs haven’t won a medal at the World Championship since 2012, the longest drought in the nearly hundred years of IIHF participation, and this result continues a worrisome trend. With its best group of players in the NHL, they are fighting to generate offence and play strong defence.

The Swiss are clearly in trouble without their NHLers. The incredible success of the nation’s program has now sent 13 players to the world’s top league, but without those stars, coach Patrick Fischer, like every other coach, has had to scramble. Losing all three games and scoring only six times doesn’t bode well for next February.

In all, teams learned a great deal about who they’ll have and what kind of team they’ll have. The news is good and bad, but time is running short. One can be sure the various general managers and coaches will confer in the coming days and do what they can to improve further. In the meantime, there are only two mini-tournaments left before Korea – the Channel One Cup in mid-December in Moscow and the Spengler Cup at the end of the year in Davos, Switzerland.

Falklands ice hockey team in international tournament in Costa Rica

By Merco Press South Atlantic News Agency

Costa Rica will be hosting the first Castillo International Ice Hockey Tournament with the participation of a home team, and three international sides, including one form the Falkland Islands. The competition is scheduled to take place at the Castillo Country Club in San Rafael de Heredia, on 18/19 November.

 “The idea cropped up during a trip five years ago to the Falkland Islands, in 2012, where I met representatives of local teams. Later on I also made ice hockey friends with people from Calgary and Los Angeles, and finally we managed to organize the competition and a schedule”, according to Bruce Callow, organizer of the event and founder of the Costa Rica Castillo Knights team.

The overseas teams are the Stanley All-Stars from the Falklands, Canadian Citizens and Ruination from LA. The competition will be played at the Senior category and includes some former professionals such as goalie Jason Wood from UK.

“At the end of the day, this first ice hockey tournament in Central America is geared to make the sport grow, to attract young people of all ages, and this kind of events will help promote the ice hockey game in Costa Rica”, adds Callow. “I can assure you that once you’ve tried hockey and get the knack of it, you’ll forget about soccer”.

Callow advanced that for next year’s edition there has also been strong interest from teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina, which are planning to participate.

Likewise he also revealed that ice hockey has been played in Costa Rica for twenty years and the Castillo Country Club offers its members the chance of learning to play the game. The ice ring was only recently remodeled and can hold some fifty skiers at the time.

According to the schedule Stanley All Stars play hosts Castillo Knights on the morning of Saturday 18th November, and in the afternoon Canadian Citizens. On Sunday morning Falklands play Ruination from Los Angeles, and in the afternoon, at 14:00 hours and 16:00 hours, the bronze and gold medals will be disputed.

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Karjala Cup Primer: Who to Watch on Every Team

http://iof2.idrottonline.se/globalassets/svenska-ishockeyforbundet/logos/serier-och-turneringar/karjala_iso.jpg?w=200&h=283

By Steven Ellis – Eurohockey.com

The 2017 Karjala Cup is upon us. Here’s a look at all six teams participating at the first leg of the Euro Hockey Tour this season.

If you weren’t from one of the four participating countries, you likely haven’t paid much attention to the Euro Hockey Tour or the Karjala Cup in previous years. Sure, it’s a men’s level tournament and features a lot of players trying to make future national teams, but without many big stars each year, it stayed as a tournament that was only important to Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

But for this year’s Karjala Cup, the tournament has seen the addition of Switzerland and Canada, who aren’t even from Europe. For all six teams, this tournament means more than usual thanks to it being part of the lead-up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The tournament will take place from November 8-12, mostly in Helsinki, Finland, and will serve as the first real pre-Olympic competition since the Sochi Hockey Open back in August.

In order to prepare for the first leg of the Euro Hockey Tour for 2017-2018, let’s take a look at all the teams participating in this week’s international break event.

Canada

It all starts in goal for Canada, and Ben Scrivens is Canada’s go-to guy leading up to the Olympics. Scrivens has had a few tough seasons in the NHL after stealing the show with the Los Angeles Kings back in 2013-2014 when Jonathan Quick was injured. In 2014, Scrivens out-played former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie partner James Reimer and earned Canada’s starting role heading into the quarter-finals. He had some so-so moments at the Nikolai Puchkov Tournament but for the most part, he looked good enough to get the job done.

Saying Andrew Ebbett could be one of Canada’s best players sounds extremely odd when given some of Canada’s key players at previous Olympics. But for Canada, it’s a reality. The former AHL star has proven to make a good partnership with SC Bern teammate Mason Raymond and will be a big duo a few months from now. But at the Karjala Cup, both will get a chance to showcase the skill they showed at the Spengler Cup last December and the Sochi Hockey Open in August.

Former second line forward Rene Bourque is someone who will need a good tournament to help further his chances at a spot. Bourque wasn’t on the radar during the summer, but with a great start this season in Sweden, he’ll be given a chance. Chris Lee, a defenceman who couldn’t secure an NHL deal after a good year in the KHL, will make his national team season debut at the tournament just months after shining at the World Championships.

Linden Vey never had much of an NHL career, but the former Calgary Flame has been battling for the top scoring spot in the KHL with Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikita Gusev all season long. That alone gives him a chance to be a top six contributor at the Karjala. And don’t sleep on Eric O’Dell, Canada’s top line centre for much of the Sochi Hockey Open, and forwards Brandon Kozun and Wojtek Wolski, two forwards with a lot to prove in hopes of some day returning to the NHL.


Czech Republic

The last team to announce their roster and perhaps the weakest team on paper, the Czech Republic will have a mountain to climb if they want to win just their second tournament title ever. Champions back in 2012, the Czech’s, like many teams, were hit big due to the NHL keeping players from competing at the Olympics.

But unlike Canada, Russia or USA, the team doesn’t have that big of a pool to choose from. In fact, despite bringing many long-time national team players to the Karjala Cup, the team doesn’t have a talent pool chock-full of NHL castoffs waiting in the wings.

The team’s goaltending, however, do have a familiar face. Marek Mazanec was a back-up in the NHL for many years before signing with HC Slovan Bratislava in the KHL this past season, where he currently acts as the starting goalie.

Former NHLers Ladislav Smid and Jiri Sekac will get extended roles with the squad. Smid missed all of last season with the Calgary Flames and signed in his native land to hopefully get his career back on track. Sekac’s failed NHL experiment lasted only two seasons between four teams before joining AK Bars Kazan last year, and after a good start this season, he’s done a good job to keep himself going strong.

Dominik Kubalik, the top scoring player in the Czech league over the past two years, will likely receive extensive ice time up front for a team that will be desperate for goals. Jan Kovar isn’t up to his usual KHL scoring numbers with Metallurg but after ripping it up last year with 12 points in seven Euro Hockey Tour games, this could be the way to turn his season around.

Other big names for the Czech’s include Detroit Red Wings prospect Lukas Radil, Michal Repik and Michal Birner. Still, while the team have some players who have represented the squad in various international tournaments, there isn’t a lot of game-changing players that will help them win the Karjala Cup.

Finland

When you ask fans which teams will have a strong Olympics, Finland seems to be almost a for-sure choice in the top four. Their Euro Hockey Tour team may not have a whole lot of star power, but with a solid goaltender, strong defense and a couple of highly-touted prospects, the team is set up for success this year.

The Finns could have one of the top goaltenders in the entire tournament with Mikko Koskinen. Sure, he’s lost his starting role for SKA St. Petersburg to 21 year old Igor Shestyorkin, but losing your job to one of the best goalies in the league isn’t a knock on his ability. They still give him a lot of starts, and his stats, albeit on the KHL’s most dangerous team, have been great. Koskinen is always one of the best goalies when called upon in Euro Hockey Tour action and Finland in general, especially at the 2016 World Championships.

Up front, the team will hope to get some good offense out of 2013 World Championships star Petri Kontiola. At 33, he’s lost some of his speed and isn’t producing like he used to in the KHL but when he does get called upon for Finland, they tend to get a good performance out of the former Chicago Blackhawks prospect.

There will be a lot of eyes on Nashville Predators first-rounder Eeli Tolvanen. The 18-year-old is extremely quick and is a magician with the puck, whether it be his wicked release or his accurate passing ability. He’s close to a point-per-game in the KHL with Jokerit this season, which is an impressive task given how he played in the USHL the past two seasons, He was one of Finland’s few bright spots at last year’s World Juniors and can use his experience when he makes his men’s team debut this week.

Former Edmonton Oilers forward Teemu Hartikainen is also off to a good start in the KHL this year, fifth with Ufa. He has a tendency to disappear in international events for Finland, but with no NHLers to worry about over the next few months, he could prove his offensive worth. Veli-Matti Savinainen was one of Finland’s best players in international play last year and will be counted on to replicate his strong performance again this year.

On the back end, there’s no question veteran Sami Lepistö will be the leader in almost all situations. Dallas Stars first-rounder Miro Heiskanen will also earn lots of ice time thanks to a great start in Liiga play this year with HIFK. Overall, Finland should be a competitive squad on home ice, but with a deeper talent pool this year overall, they’ll have to get scrappy.

Russia

2018 Olympic champions, Russia? Sure, that’s the expectation, but the Karjala Cup is just the next step for Russia on their quest for gold.

It all begins in net with Igor Shestyorkin, who could very well compete for the top goalie award in the KHL this season. Henrik Lundqvist’s future replacement in New York, Shestyorkin’s 15-1-2 record to start off the year has been too much to handle for most other teams. Russia does have other good veteran goalies to choose from, but Shestyorkin is having too good of a season to ignore at this point, even if his team has been lights out at every other position.

The Russians will be without scoring stars Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Vadim Shipachyov, but that shouldn’t hurt them too much. The all-time KHL leading scorer, Sergei Mozyakin is, well, good, even at 35. He lead the league in scoring last year and already is playing at over a point-per-game midway through the season. Then there is Mikhail Grigorenko, who was arguably Russia’s best player at the Sochi Hockey Open in August following a brutal few years in the NHL. How about future Minnesota Wild and upcoming Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov? He had four points in three games in last year’s EHT and has dominated the scoring charts in practically every event he’s played in internationally.

Nikita Gusev has garnered NHL chatter in recent months and for good reason. Vegas recently acquired his rights from Tampa Bay and if he ever makes it over, he’ll be an immediate top six scoring star. Sergei Plotnikov, Sergei Shirokov and Ivan Telegin will act as veteran role players to supplement youngsters Valeri Nichushkin and Pavel Kraskovsky.

Russia’s biggest issue? Defence, but with the amount of goals they’ll likely score, they should be able to follow up their championship at the Karjala a year ago with another title.

Sweden

Sweden could end up going with either Jhonas Enroth or Magnus Hellberg in net. Both goalies have NHL experience in recent years, but there’s a good chance that Enroth will get an extra start to eep Sweden in the Karjala title contention. Enroth will likely get the nod due to his past experience with the team and overall better record in pro hockey, but Hellberg, being a young gun, will want to take every opportunity he can to make himself the starter when it matters most in February.

The top defence pairing will likely consist of at least one of Patrik Hersley or Steffan Kronwall.  Hersley, a former draft pick of the LA Kings, is a big defenceman capable of creating plays from his own zone effectively.  A member of the super SKA St. Petersburg squad in the KHL, Hersley is on pace for career-high numbers with 23 points in 25 games this season. Hersley has never played for Sweden at the World Championships, but he’s always a major fixture in Euro Hockey Tour play. For Kronwall, the former Toronto Maple Leaf is a proven veteran who shines every time he’s called upon for Sweden and will end up being a major leader heading up to the Olympic games.

All eyes, however, will likely land on Rasmus Dahlin. The consensus favourite to go first overall at the upcoming NHL Draft, there’s a chance Dahlin could play at the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup, Carlson Hockey Games, Sweden Games, World Junior Championships, World Championships and U18 World Championships this season alone. Dahlin played in two exhibition contests last year for the men’s team, but this will really be his first chance to prove himself against men in international competition.

Sweden will have a good mix of speedy forwards that can chip in a few goals every now and then. Oscar Moller, a former LA Kings forward, fits that bill. In 16 games with Skellefteå AIK this season, Moller has been good for 15 points, already beating his total from last year. Moller has a lot of experience in EHT tournaments and is always a top contributor each season, making him worth a watch. Anton Lander, an Edmonton Oilers castoff, had a really good season with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors last year but his initial foray into the KHL hasn’t seen much offense with just two goals in 27 games. Dick Axelsson, Linus Omark and Johan Ryno bring valuable skill to the team and should grab a few points each, while Joakim LIndstrom, Robert Nilsson and Joel Lundqvist all bring veteran experience and some offense to boot.

Switzerland

No matter what event it is, the Swiss never seem to just lay down and take what’s giving to them. They always put up a fight, and their first ever Euro Hockey Tour event is going to be a challenge, no doubt. But with a team full of players that have stuck together for years, it’s no question the team could steal a game or two against some of the stronger hockey powers.

Leading the way between the pipes will be Jonas Hiller, Switzerland’s goalie at the previous two Olympics. The former Anaheim Ducks star played for his nation at the World Championships last year for the first time since 2007, and it’s safe to say it was a rocky run. Hiller could be called upon due to his experience, but if he falters at any point, Gilles Senn will be called upon to make just his first tournament start for the Swiss.

On defence, former NHL depth defender Raphael Diaz will be the go-to guy to get the puck moving. Diaz doesn’t score that often, but he does a solid job of making plays happen and creating scoring opportunities for his teammate. Diaz will be counted on to be a workhorse defencemen, perhaps paired with veteran Eric Blum. Blum had only skated in five games prior to getting named to Switzerland’s roster or the Karjala Cup, but has looked decent when he has played. He’s represented the Swiss in international competition for many years, and with no Roman Josi to worry about, Blum will need to step up.

The Swiss always have a lot of familiarity on their roster, and this year is no different. The roster features seven HC Davos players, including star Andres Ambuhl. Ambuhl has been one of Switzerland’s best players in international in recent years and has had a good season with Davos this season. Reto Suri, Pius Suter, Simon Moser, Denis Hollenstein, Gregory Hofmann, Fabrice Herzog, Cody Almond and Luca Cunti are all veterans of the national team will some good scoring ability, while Vincent Praplanis fresh off of leading Switzerland in team scoring at last year’s World Championships.

Morocco makes it

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

Morocco beat Ireland 11-4 in the final to win the inaugural Development Cup. It was the first time Morocco won an international tournament in the event that also included Portugal, which finished third, and host Andorra. 

The four-team tournament is an initiative from some of the smaller IIHF member countries not part of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program to give them an opportunity to play amongst each other similar like the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia for the Asian members. 

Morocco was the strongest team both in the preliminary round and in the final. The team that mostly consists of Moroccans who learned and played their hockey in Europe and the Canadian province of Quebec finished the event with a 4-0 record. 

Ireland has been the toughest opponent in the preliminary round – even though scores may tell otherwise – and it was similar in the final between the two most skilled and physically strongest teams. During Morocco’s first power play Thomas Carpenter gave Ireland the lead on a breakaway but a few moments later Mehdi Ghazi converted the man advantage to tie the game. 

The Moroccans continued to be strong and were ice-cold with their chances. Hakim Bouchaoui gained Morocco its first lead and a natural hat trick from Damien Bourguignon made it 5-1 for Morocco after one period. 

“Of course it was great to have such a good start but even if I scored three goals it was not just me, it was great work from the whole team. We had a good team here. Everybody contributed to winning the tournament,” said Bourguignon. 

The son of a French father and a Moroccan mother was one of the most skilled player from the European-based contingent. Last season he played in the French second tier for the Clermont Sangliers and this season one league below for the Dijon Ducs. France, which held Morocco as a protectorate until 1956, has a big diaspora of people from Morocco and other North African countries. 

“I played first time last summer in the Africa Cup. I really appreciated playing in that tournament and that’s why I came again for this event without hesitating a second,” the 25-year-old forward said. 

“It was unbelievable to play in Morocco last year. If somebody had told me ten years ago that I’d play ice hockey in Morocco I’d have said “you’re crazy!” and when I got the invitation I first thought my friends were kidding me until I realized it was real and I went to Rabat. There’s a group of very motivated people from the President to the players.” 

The second period against Ireland continued in the same direction the first frame had ended. Youssef Chadli, Charles-Hichem Balha and Yassin Ahrazem scored for Morocco, Ian Courtney had a marker for Ireland before a few players unloaded their emotions in a hard-contested game with their fists, just to later mix together for a more peaceful team photo after the game. 

The end of the second period continued with four-on-four and one goal each for a 9-3 score after the second period. After exchanging three more goals in the third period Morocco won the game 11-4, got the trophy and celebrated with it and hearing their national anthem, the Cherifian Anthem, in the background. 

Another player with high-level experience is captain Youssef Kabbaj from Westmound, Quebec, who played three years at the highest level of junior hockey in Canada’s QMJHL, four years of CIS college hockey and since 2016 minor league hockey in Quebec, this season for St-Cyrille Condors (LHSAAAQ). 

Hakim Bouchaoui, who was born in the Swedish hockey town of Karlstad, is another player who plays amateur hockey in a top hockey country, currently for Swedish fourth-tier team Kils AIK. 

“It was fun. It was hard in the beginning. We knew Ireland was going to play hard and be good,” Bouchaoui said. “But some of the guys play a lot and know the game well.” 

Bouchaoui came in through his brother, who played for Morocco in the 2008 Arab Cup in Abu Dhabi. “We tried all kind of sports, football, hockey, but I loved hockey. I played first time last year in the Africa Cup. It was special since we played we played 3-on-3. It was a good experience.” 

Ice hockey in Morocco is a rather young sport and the first generation of players who started as kids in Morocco is slowly moving into senior hockey. The roster included two young players developed in Morocco. One of them is Mohamed El Idrissi from Rabat. 

“I started in 2005. They invited me to play for the Rabat Capitals when they started the team and I have liked playing hockey ever since then. I’m very proud to be a member of the national team and represent Morocco,” said El Idrissi, who usually plays one game a week plus practice in the Moroccan capital. 

“We have played well here, won games. We have the qualities to play good hockey. My dream is to develop hockey in Morocco and find the means to play hockey and get a full-size ice rink. We need a rink and then we can move further. We don’t have a lot of means but we dream about a rink to play international ice hockey. We have two small ones but it doesn’t work to invite bigger teams who are used to play on international-size rinks.” 

Mrini’s dream started in the ’80s in Quebec

The Royal Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation is a life-long dream of Khalid Mrini, who grew up in Morocco before moving to the Canadian province of Quebec. Behind the bench he had his fellow Morocco-Quebecer, Development Director Adil El Farj, and his brother Mimoun Mrini, who lives in Morocco and served as head coach of the team. 

“We work a lot. Now we have more than 400 players in Morocco. We started last year our first national championship. It’s growing. It’s a lot of work but the future is bright,” said Khalid Mrini. 

His dream of ice hockey in the North African country started a long time ago. He moved to Quebec as a 17-year-old to study in Canada and immediately fell in love with ice hockey when he saw a Montreal Canadiens vs. Detroit Red Wings game on TV. “In Morocco sometimes you see in the sport news the Stanley Cup or the World Championship but just a 30-second highlight. When I first time saw a full game I started following the Montreal Canadiens and travelled to games a lot in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I love this game because it’s so exciting,” he said. 

In 1983 he was at the International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in Quebec. “I saw all these flags, Canada, United States, Switzerland and so on. I told my girlfriend that one day I’d put my flag there. She started laughing. She said “it’s only I dream”. I knew it was a dream but you can’t live without dreams. 

“When they opened the first ice rink in Morocco in 2004 my brother called me and told me there’s an ice rink in Rabat. I went to Morocco and we started the first hockey school. In 2006 I went to Quebec City to participate with 14 players from Morocco. I called my ex-girlfriend. I told her “I made it!”. It took me more than 20 years but I did it. I had my flag there. It was a feeling I can’t explain, to have the flag there with the Canadians, Americans, Russians.” 

After starting ice hockey at the small rink in Rabat – in the meantime a second small-size rink is used for hockey in Casablanca – Morocco started to look out for international contacts. First Moroccan kids played against kids from hockey countries who were kids of diplomats in Morocco. Later they hosted a Canadian team, French teams, Spanish teams, went to Switzerland for a ten-day camp. In 2008 they participated in the first and only Arab Cup in Abu Dhabi. 

“In 2010 we became IIHF member, something I’m proud of because that’s where all the big and smaller hockey countries are members. I started to speak with many presidents from other countries and look for help,” Mrini said. 

“Last year we had the first Africa Cup against teams from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. The government started believing in us and saw that it’s getting serious. Two years ago we went from being a national association to being a Royal federation. It means a lot. It means the government started to believe in us and that hockey is growing in Morocco.” 

Now he has his Moroccan flag in other tournaments too including the 2017 Development Cup where Morocco for the first time played national teams from Europe. 

“I’m living my dream and being here today is still a dream because you have the Moroccan flag here, you hear the national anthem with the other countries. But it’s only the beginning. I want to show the hockey world that we’re serious. Hockey in Morocco is not exotic. We’re not just for the photo gallery,” Mrini said. 

“Hockey is not just the big countries like Canada, USA or Russia. We have here the coverage on the IIHF website. And last year Luc Tardif came to Morocco. When I told the government that he is the IIHF Treasurer and President of the French Ice Hockey Federation, they realized that the IIHF is really supporting us. It was like a wake-up call and they started helping us more and more,” he added. 

“Inshallah we will have an ice rink”

While Morocco has passionate diaspora players who represent the country of their roots, hockey has also grown in the country itself since its start. What once began with six players when the ice rink in the Mega Mall in Rabat opened is now a sport with eight club teams. When the national championship begins later this month, they will be joined by a ninth team. 

Mrini’s dream is not over yet. He knows that to develop hockey within the country and be able to play internationally with homegrown players it needs more rinks. While the federation is working on having a third small rink in Agadir, the challenge is to get the first full-size one to be able to play five-on-five and join more established ice hockey countries in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. 

“Now I’m looking to build an official ice rink in Morocco. In Rabat, or Casablanca. It’s not so important where it is but to have a big ice arena. I want to start in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III,” Mrini said. 

“In the beginning it was very hard but now the government saw our international tournaments and the national championship in Morocco. I have all the plans to build an arena from the IIHF. I have everything ready. Now just the money is missing but I’m working hard for it and Inshallah [if God wills] we will have an ice rink,” he said. “Morocco deserves it.” 

Morocco dominates at the Development Cup

Image may contain: one or more people and people playing sports

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Moroccan national hockey team was on the ice against the national team of Andorra in the first game of two today at 2017 Development Cup.  

The Moroccan team won 9-3 to qualify for the finals tomorrow. 

The Moroccan national team held its second game of the day against the Portuguese team.
The game was dominated by Morocco who scored 7 consecutive goals before Portugal scored there first goal of the game. The Moroccan team followed by scoring 4 more goals and the match ended
11-2 for Morocco and ended a perfect round robin portion of the tournament by going 3-0.

Morocco will play in the Gold medal game tomorrow against Ireland who also won both games today against Andorra and Portugal. 

The Bronze Medal game will pit Portugal against Andorra, Portugal won the first encounter against the hosts 3-2 in a dramatic shootout.

 

Portugal Wins First Ever Ice Hockey Game

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and basketball court

By Steve Ellis – Eurohockey.com

The 2017 Development Cup saw Portugal win their first ever ice hockey game against another international team, beating Andorra in their debut 3-2 on Friday in Andorra.

It was a big game for Portugal, who were trailing 2-1 after two periods of play. Ludovic Blasi Gazeres scored the first ever goal for Andorra in international play, with Christian Moreno Escriva getting credit for the assist.

Andorra would score a second goal on the power play. This time, Louison Courcol would score his first in international play, doubling up their lead at 2-0.

But the game was all Portugal from there on out. In the second  Christopher Leite scored the first goal for Portugal in international play when he scored off of a Kevin Hortinha pass on the power play, cutting Andorra’s lead in half.

Sylvain Rodrigues, a player playing in France, would tie the game up at two apiece in the third, giving Portugal more life. late in the game, Portugal would score another one when Matthew de Melo scored the winning goal on the first penalty shot to take the lead late, giving the visiting squad their first ever victory in an international tournament.

Andorra National Team will debut at the 1st edition of 2017 Development Cup

https://www.elperiodic.ad/imgMini/750/750/13987

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Andorra national ice hockey team will be playing for the first time at the end of the month.
It will be hosting the first edition of the 2017 Development Cup, which will be held at the Palau de Gel d’Andorra  in Canillo from September 29 to October 1st.

It is being organized by the Andorran Ice Sports Federation  and the participating countries are Portugal, Ireland and Morocco along with hosts Andorra.
The project emerged at the international congress of the international Ice Hockey Federation that was held in Moscow in May of last year. “40% of the countries do not play in IIHF Tournaments so in order to develop our sport we can play amongst ourselves,” says Aleix Mañosas, vice president of Andorran Ice Sports Federation.

Of the conversations that took place in the Russian capital came the idea of ​​the Development Cup, which “as a future project can go far if everyone implies”.
The international Ice Hockey Federation is not officially involve in it, but it supports some members of its structure to disseminate it through its means.

Argentina wanted to part in this first edition but could not make up a team.
  For the next editions there are interests from countries like Greece, Brazil and Armenia. “A competition like this helps to promote  ice hockey in each country where it is not practiced as much, and in addition to making it known it is a way to make new partnerships ,” says Mañosas.
The intention is that the Development Cup event is to be a rotating tournament every year in selected  country.

The 2017 Development Cup at the end of the month will be “a first stepping stone of this project that must have a progression, that every year the tournament grows.
We can always say that the beginning of everything was in Andorra. “
This will be the first time the Andorran national team will compete. The coach will be Oriol Boronat, player of the Spanish national  team and the C.G Puigcerdà.
With his resume and “his experience we believe it will help bring our players to excel at an international competition”. Each team will be composed of a maximum number of 18 players.
On September 29th and 30th  the Development Cup will begin with the teams facing off each other.
The first two teams will play the final on October 1, and the remaining two will play for third and fourth place. Instead of playing three periods of 20 minutes, each period will be 15 minutes.

Older posts