Thai juniors celebrate gold

The Thai U20 national team celebrates after winning the tournament on home ice in Bangkok.

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

A short-benched Thailand team battled to gold in the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 Asia and Oceania Championship. Despite missing five players in Saturday’s gold-medal game against a Singapore team that upset the seedings, the host nation edged a 4-3 verdict on home ice in Bangkok.

Thai forward Sittinon Promthong, who was named his team’s best player in Saturday’s final, said: “It was an exciting and very competitive game. We all gave our best, and I’m glad we got the gold against a very worthy opponent.”

True to the spirit of a tournament that marked a return to action after the pandemic, he added: “More than just the games was the friendship we built with players from the participating countries.”

Thailand edges hard-fought final

Defender Ramin Chan-Urai grabbed Thailand’s winning goal with 5:38 left in regulation time, firing in a shot from an acute angle after Promthong collected the puck on the boards and circled his way to the danger zone, carving a path through the defence. Chan-Urai’s effort got past Singapore’s goalie, Joshua Lee, who had put up some heroic resistance in this game and deservedly led the rankings for netminders after stopping 91.67 per cent of the shots he faced.

However, Lee struggled to stop Thanachai Sakchaicharoenkul. The forward, who is part of the Canstar Rangers club in the Thai championship, grabbed a hat trick and was credited with an assist on the game-winner. His efforts saw the young Elephants battle back from 0-2 early in the game to seal a second U20 tournament win for his country after the 2019 success in the Challenge Cup of Asia. It made a fine belated birthday gift for a young man who celebrated his 18th birthday last Sunday with the competition still in its group stage.

Singapore, too, had plenty to be proud of. This tournament followed a similar format to the eight-team U18 Women’s World Championship of recent years, with the top seeds in Group A and the outsiders in Group B. Singapore was placed in the lower-ranked pool, topped the pile, then defeated Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates in knock-out play to earn its place in the final. In addition to Lee’s impressive goaltending, forward Joshua Chan led the scoring race with 19 (16+3) points from six games and was named tournament MVP.

“Winning the silver medal was an incredible achievement for our team as we are a growing nation,” Chan said. “I hope we will continue to develop as a team, as we are the future players for our men’s national team.

“There were challenges along the way, with injuries which shortened the bench, but we stuck together and believed we could win every game.”

Chan, 18, was on target in the final as well; his power play goal opened a 2-0 lead for Singapore in the sixth minute. Thailand, red-hot favourite after a free-scoring performance up to this point, was rocked. And the host nation’s problems intensified when alternate captain Patpoom Patong was ejected from the game after eight minutes.

Patong’s departure added to a list of absences that already included defenceman Poon Harnchaipibulgul, who had a rating of +25 after his three games before injury. His dismissal meant that head coach Kim Aarola, a Hameenlinna born Thai-Finnish dual national, had only twelve skaters available for the rest of the game – a situation almost as tough as the semi-final against Hong Kong, China where Thailand edged a 7-6 come-from-behind overtime verdict despite icing just 11 skaters.

However, Sakchaicharoenkul rose to the challenge. Two goals in the 17th minute turned the game around then his hat-trick marker gave the Thais the lead for the first time in the 34th minute. Singapore hit back immediately through Shaw Hsiang Lee but the balance of the game had already tilted in Thailand’s favour: after the first-period shot count was 13-12, the home team outshot Singapore 18-5 in the middle frame and 16-6 in the third, limiting Singapore’s scoring chances despite dressing just three recognised defenders.

One of that trio, Punn Phasukkijwatana, was chosen as the best defender in the tournament after collecting 11 (5+6) points from five games and a gaining +24 ranking.

“The award belongs to everyone on the team,” he said. “We played our hearts out and gave it our all together as one big family. I thank all my team-mates, staff and fans for this wonderful experience. It’s been an honour to play hockey for our nation.”

Bronze goes to Hong Kongers

There was more success from Group B in Saturday’s bronze-medal game, where Hong Kong, China beat the United Arab Emirates 6-5. The team from the South China Seas pushed Thailand all the way in the semi-final and produced another battling performance to take third place. The Emirates led 2-0, then 4-1, but the Hong Kongers would not be denied. Five unanswered goals, including two each for Ernest Keung and Ryan Cheuk, turned the game around. Talal Binsammoud’s second of the game gave the UAE hope in the closing stages, but HK held on to take the medal.

Hong Kong, China also had the tournament’s best goalie, with Boyce Wong getting the prize from the directorate. He played in all five of his team’s games, collecting three wins on the way to that bronze medal.

“Having not played hockey for months at a time due to Hong Kong’s Covid-19 restrictions, we weren’t sure what to expect coming into this tournament,” Wong said. “A lot of our players had just returned from studying overseas and we didn’t have much team chemistry. However, we practised hard in the weeks leading up to the tournament and the team meshed together really well after the first few games.”

The teams come together for a joint photo after the closing ceremony.

The Emirates, meanwhile, included Nolan Murphy, whose father Ron was a hockey pioneer in the Gulf. Murphy Snr, a long-term expat in Dubai, brought his love of the game when he arrived from Canada. He played a pivotal role in popularizing the sport among local players in the early 2000s. He also dreamed that his son Nolan, born in Dubai in 2006, would represent the UAE’s national team. Sadly, Ron passed away three months before Nolan could make his international debut at this tournament, but his son delivered a perfect tribute on the ice with 12 goals in the competition to finish as the second-highest goal scorer in Bangkok. He was also the directorate’s selection as the best forward in the tournament.

“I think overall we did well for the team we had,” Murphy said. “We had so many tough games. Overall, the tournament was tough. However, I know that myself and the team enjoyed and I’m looking forward for the next one.”

Away from the medal games, fifth place went to Malaysia while the Philippines were left in sixth place after a Covid-19 outbreak in the squad forced the team to withdraw partway through the tournament and forfeit its remaining games. The remaining placement game saw Indonesia defeat India 8-2 to take seventh place among the eight competing nations.

New arena, new prospects

Off the ice, the competition in Bangkok represents a reactivation of hockey among Asia’s emerging nations. For most countries, this was a return to international junior play for the first time since 2019 after the pandemic forced the cancellation of tournaments in 2020 and 2021.

It was also the IIHF tournament debut for Bangkok’s new International Ice Hockey Arena, which opened earlier this year. The modern facility was a hit with the fans. Thailand’s games attracted an average crowd of over 500, demonstrating interest in winter sports even in the tropical summer. The arena also earned praise from the players. Hong Kong, China goalie Wong said: “We were impressed by the facilities at the rink, especially the built-in hockey shop. Some of our players who were missing minor pieces of equipment could get it on-site instead of having to travel or wait for it.”

And Aivaz Omorkanov, IIHF Vice-President for Asia and Oceania, was encouraged by the action in a hugely competitive tournament.

“This was an unbelievable tournament and I would like to thank everyone involved to make that tournament happen, especially the Organizing Committee. Definitely we saw a lot of talent and potential,” he said. “We as the IIHF, together with are Member National Associations, now need to unfold this potential and make it visible across the whole region.

“I’m very happy for all the players who made it to their national teams and represented their home countries. At last we can say – Asia and Oceania is back on the ice after years of waiting.”

This week’s tournament promises to be just beginning for hockey in the region. “We will work with every Asia and Oceania member on structured and systematic development progress, so that everyone can make the next important step,” Omorkanov added.

Singapore win silver at Ice Hockey Under-20 Asia and Oceania Championship

A 4-3 defeat by Thailand in the final saw the team narrowly missing out on gold.

By Kimberly Kwek – The Straits Times

Just hours after clinching a silver medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey Under-20 Asia and Oceania Championship on Saturday (July 2), Singapore team captain Cael Chua was already thinking ahead to next year’s competition.

A 4-3 defeat by Thailand in the final saw them narrowly missing out on gold, and the national U-20 men’s team are plotting revenge as they target the title next year.

The 19-year-old said: “The team did well. Previously against Thailand, the scoreline was bad, maybe a difference of four to five goals. But from this, you can actually tell we’re improving and catching up with Thailand, who are one of the best in South-east Asia so next year we’ll try our best to get the gold medal.”

Competing at the Thailand International Ice Hockey Arena in Bangkok on Saturday, Singapore found themselves 2-0 up within the first six minutes thanks to goals from Benedict Qian and Joshua Chan, but the hosts drew level after two strikes by Thanachai Sakchaicharoenkul at the end of the opening period.

Thanachai put the Thais ahead in the 34th minute, but Singapore’s Lee Shaw Hsiang pulled one back to make it 3-3. A goal by Thailand’s Ramin Chan-Urai in the 55th minute then sealed the title for the home side.

Although this was the U-20 team’s first international competition, many of them have played together for some time and they also train with the national men’s team.

A number of players were also part of the national men’s ice hockey team who clinched a historic bronze medal at the Ice Hockey World Championship Division IV in March.

Chua, a Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, said: “Most of us train together for the men’s team, so we have this chemistry and we’re always supporting each other and boosting each other’s morale.”

Teammate Joshua Chan, who finished the campaign as the tournament’s top scorer with 16 goals and was named its Most Valuable Player, noted how the team had to overcome challenges such as not enjoying the squad depth that other nations had.

While teams like Thailand had 18 players and two goaltenders, Singapore had 15 players and two goaltenders, which meant they could not make as many substitutions.

The Anglo-Chinese School (International) student, 18, said: “There’s a lot of physical contact, which makes us prone to a lot of injuries so in the final game we were missing a few key players.

“We just tackled it as a team – we have to give credit to our parents and team staff who kept us going and encouraged us as well as take care of our injuries.”

Head coach Joewe Lam praised his charges for their fighting spirit, which they displayed throughout the tournament.

Their 2-1 victory over Malaysia in the quarter-finals was achieved in extra-time, while they scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of the semi-final match against United Arab Emirates to win 4-3 and book their spot in the final.

Lam said: “Thailand were the overwhelming favourites, but they gave them a hard fight which is what we wanted to see. The players trusted my plan and we planned according to the opponent’s forte and had to counter that. I’m overall very satisfied with their performance.

“We are definitely not intimidated (when coming up against stronger teams). They never back down and always go in with that never-say-die attitude… they want to prove that ice hockey is a sport that can excel in Singapore.”

Historic moment For the women’s national team of Andorra

Source: Donna Secret

The Andorran team played a friendly game against Club Gel Puigcerdà, in the Ice Palace of Canillo. The  feelings were very positive Despite the final result a convincing victory of Puigcerdà CG against Andorra Women by a 7-1.

Just a year ago, the journalist Carles Alonso explained that Andorra Hockey Gel was desperately looking for girls who wanted to join, it would be possible to have a female squad large enough to be able to play the Iberdrola Ice Hockey League in Spain and form a Women National Team.

Little by little, dreams  became a reality and, as proof, finally the girls of Andorra made it happen and the return of Women’s ice hockey in the Principality.

Enjoy all the photos of this event here:

A new agreement has been reached on the Baltic Cup tournament, the first tournament in Lithuania in November

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Lithuania together with the Estonia, Poland and Latvia Ice hockey federations, reached an agreement on the organization of the Baltic Cup,  during the International breaks in November of the International Hockey Federation (IIHF).

During the IIHF Congress, the four countries decided to continue organizing the Baltic Cup, and representatives of Poland joined the three other federations of the tournament: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. From now on, the tournament will be held annually in one of the four countries that have reached an agreement. Lithuania, Estonia and Poland will be sending their strongest national teams to the tournament, while Latvia will compete with their second team (Latvia B).

Once the agreement was reached, the hosts of the future tournaments were also elected. It has been decided that the first Baltic Cup tournament will be held in Lithuania. The tournament will take place in November of this year.

At the same time, the Federation of Lithuania has reached agreements on international tournaments at the U-20 and U-18 levels. Lithuania, Poland and Estonia and a fourth team will take part in the four nations tournaments in both age groups.  Most likely Hungary and Romania will be the forth team.

The first tournament of the U-20 will also be held in November, and its hosts will also be Lithuania Meanwhile, the U-18 tournament will be hosted by Poland and is scheduled for the IIHF February window.

The cities where all three tournaments will take place will be announced at a later date.

2023 World Ice Hockey Championships Lower Divisions

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The 2023 World Championships lower divisions have became known. The IIHF has decided to add each of the lower division groups to a traditional 6-team Divisions.

Indian national team  will make its World Championships debut next year. General Director of the hockey association of the country Samart Sharma said: “This is a historic step for ice hockey in our country. We hope that at the upcoming championship we will be able to impose a worthy struggle on our rivals and gain a foothold in the world hockey system.”

Division IIA (to be held in Spain from April 16 to 22)
Croatia (3rd place in division IIA in 2022)
Spain (4th place in division IIA in 2022)
Israel (5th place in division IIA in 2022)
Australia (did not participate in 2022)
Iceland (1st place in division IIB in 2022)
Georgia (2nd place in Division IIB in 2022)

Division IIB (will be held in Turkey from 17 to 23 April)
Belgium (3rd place in Division IV in 2022)
Bulgaria (4th place in Division IIB in 2022)
Mexico (5th place in Division IB in 2022)
New Zealand (did not participate in 2022)
UAE (1st place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Turkey (2nd place in Division IIIA in 2022)

Division IIIA (to be held in South Africa from 17 to 23 April)
Turkmenistan (3rd place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Taiwan (4th place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Luxembourg (5th place in Division IIIA in 2022)
DPRK (did not participate in 2022)
South Africa (1st place in Division IIIB in 2022)
Thailand (2nd place in Division IIIA in 2022) 

Division IIIB (to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 14 to 21 April)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (3rd place in Division IIIA in 2022)
Hong Kong (did not participate in 2022)
Kyrgyzstan (1st place in Division IV in 2022)
Iran (2nd place in Division IV in 2022)
Singapore (3rd place in Division IV in 2022)
Malaysia (4th place in Division IV in 2022)

Division IV (to be held in Kuwait from March 10 to 16)
Kuwait (5th in Division IV in 2022)
Philippines (did not participate in 2022)
India (DEBUT)
(Other Countries are possible)

India will make its World Championship debut in 2023.

Finland does it!

Finland’s Joel Armia scores the 3-1 goal in the gold medal game against Canada.

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Sakari Manninen scored at 6:42 of the three-on-three unlimited overtime with a one-timer on a power play to give Finland a thrilling 4-3 win over Canada to win World Championship gold.

It’s the first medal on home ice in nine tries for Finland, and they join Sweden in 2006 as the only teams to win Olympic gold and World Championship gold in the same year. The double means that Valtteri Filppula becomes the first Finn to join the Triple Gold Club, the 30th member overall.

Finland scored three goals in the third period to erase a 1-0 Canada lead, but Canada responded with two late goals to send the game to overtime. 

This marks a continuation of the most successful period in international hockey history for Finland, which has now won gold or silver in the last four major events – gold at the 2019 Worlds, silver in 2021, gold at the Olympics three months ago, and now gold at the 2022 Worlds. Goalkeeper Jussi Olkinuora, tournament MVP here, and skaters Marko Anttila and Atte Ohtamaa have been on all four teams.

Canada has now won either gold or silver in six of the last seven World Championships (excepting 2018).

Max Comtois is the only returnee from last year’s gold-medal team, but Thomas Chabot and Pierre-Luc Dubois were part of Canada’s 2019 entry, which lost to the Finns in the gold-medal game. 

This was only the second World Championship game ever in Tampere between the two teams. The first was way back in 1965, a 4-0 Canada win when the tournament was strictly a round-robin event.

After Finland took a 3-1 lead with only six minutes to go, matters looked dire for Canada, but as they so often do, they fought back with two goals in the final two minutes.

It was clear from the outset what Canada’s plan was – dump the puck in and make the Finnish defenders chase it and work to get possession. Time and again, though, Canada roared in to get the puck, and although the period was scoreless the tempo and tone were dictated heavily by Canada’s pressure and willingness to use the body.

The home crowd chanted and clapped for their heroes time and again, but there wasn’t a lot to cheer for in the first 20 minutes. The few Finnish shots all had a familiar look to them – long range, right into the logo of Chris Dreidger, who swallowed every puck without giving up a rebound.

The best chance of the period came off pressure from Canada. Saku Maenalanen was slow with the puck inside his line, and he was checked by Matt Barzal, who got the puck to Josh Anderson, trailing the play. Anderson let go a quality shot from the slot, but Olkinuora got his right pad out to make the save.

Canada opened the scoring early in the second on the game’s first power play. With Niklas Friman in the box for hooking, Canada moved the puck around nicely to set up Dylan Cozens with a one-timer. He made no mistake, slapping a cross-ice pass from Barzal high to the open side before Olkinuora could get over. 

The Finns earned a power play of their own later, and although they produced several good chances Dreidger was sensational in goal, kicking out one dangerous shot and smothering several other chances. Suomi had their best chance late in the period when Jere Sallinen hit the post.

After 40 minutes, tight defence, and one goal, no one could have envisioned a third period with five goals. Canada incurred not one, not two, but three overlapping penalties to start, and Finland cashed in big time. Mikael Granlund scored two goals in a span of 1:44, the first with a two-man advantage, and then one man, sending the crowd into a frenzy of delight. His first was a quick shot from the left side, and the second from the other side.

Making matters worse for Canada, Dreidger, who had played so well the last few games, injured himself trying to make the save on Granlund’s first shot. Matt Tomkins, who hadn’t played all tournament, was forced to come in. He surrendered the second power-play goal, a high shot over his glove.

The Finns went up 3-1 at 14:04 off a faceoff win. Joel Armia got to the puck first and wristed a quick shot through traffic that eluded Tomkins. And that seemed to be that. Two-goals lead, six minutes to play.

Canada had other ideas, though. They pressured Finland and got back in it when Zach Whitecloud drew Canada to within one with 2:12 remaining when he snapped a shot in. Tomkins came to the bench after the next faceoff, and Canada took possession immediately. After cycling and passing the puck superbly, Comtois tied the game at 18:36, silencing the crowd and sending the game to a fourth period, where Manninen made himself a part of IIHF World Championship history.

Media All-Star Team

Goalkeeper: FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi
Defender: FINLAND #4 LEHTONEN Mikko
Defender: USA #4 SETH Jones
Forward: CZECHIA #10 CERVENKA Roman
Forward: CANADA #80 DUBOIS Pierre-Luc
Forward: FINLAND #65 MANNINEN Sakari

Directorate Awards

Best Goalkeeper: FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi
Best Defender: FINLAND #4 LEHTONEN Mikko
Best Forward: CZECHIA #10 CERVENKA Roman

MVP

FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi

Czechs rally to thump U.S. for bronze

The Czech men’s national team celebrates after a come-from-behind win against the United States in the bronze medal game.

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

The long wait is over. The Czechs exploded for six third-period goals in an 8-4 comeback win over the U.S. in the bronze medal game on Sunday afternoon. It’s Czechia’s first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship medal since 2012’s bronze.

“It’s good for us, a bronze medal after 10 years,” said an ecstatic David Sklenicka. “It’s amazing for us, it’s unbelievable!”

Boston Bruins superstar David Pastrnak led the third-period rally with a hat trick and David Kampf scored twice. Captain Roman Cervenka got his fifth goal to extend his lead atop the tournament scoring race with 17 points. Jiri Cernoch and Jiri Smejkal also tallied for the Czechs, who trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period.

The relief and happiness for Czech players, coaches, management, and fans is huge. The Central European nation’s 2012 bronze medal also came on Finnish ice in Helsinki. David Krejci, then 26, scored a first-period goal set up by Ales Hemsky that stood up as the winner as Czechia edged Finland 3-2.

“It’s going to be a big thing for [Czechia] and for the young kids who want to play hockey,” said Kari Jalonen, Czechia’s Finnish head coach. “These players are their idols and now they see them win this medal at a World Championship. Hopefully this will give a big push for the juniors too.”

With just seven games played, Pastrnak now shares the 2022 goals lead (seven) with Pierre-Luc Dubois ahead of the Finland-Canada gold medal game.

For the disappointed Americans, Karlson Kuhlman had a pair of first-period goals, and Adam Gaudette added his team-leading sixth goal.

The Americans earned four bronze medals at the last eight tournaments (2013, 2015, 2018, 2021), and have six in total since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992. However, they have never played in the gold medal game, and last won the World Championship tournament in 1933.

It was a gritty effort, as the Americans again played with just four regular defencemen: captain Seth Jones, Nate Schmidt, Andrew Peeke, and Luke Hughes. The U.S. blue line has been decimated by injuries, COVID-19 issues, and departures due to family issues.

“I’m tired,” said Schmidt. “These last four days we were down to four defencemen, and it was tiring. We had a couple forwards come and help us out, which isn’t an easy thing to do, especially on the world stage with some of the best players in the world and playing a position you’re not used to. I don’t envy that position.”

“It was a learning experience,” added Sam Lafferty, who filled in on defence. “It felt pretty comfortable overall but the team needed me to play defence, so I was able to play D.”

Shots on goal favoured the Czechs 33-24.

Jalonen and U.S. coach David Quinn each started the NHL netminders that got them this far. However, Jalonen pulled Karel Vejmelka of the Arizona Coyotes after he let in three first-period goals on eight shots.

Substituting backup Marek Langhamer to start the second period paid off. Langhamer, who plays in Tampere for Ilves, looked comfortable and confident and was named the Czech Player of the Game, allowing just one goal on 16 shots.

Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman, who backstopped the U.S. to within one goal of the final in the 4-3 semi-final loss to host Finland, recorded 25 saves.

This was the most goals ever scored by the Czechs versus the U.S. at the Worlds in the era of Czechia. Czechoslovakia beat the U.S. 11-2 in both 1981 and 1985.

“It got out of hand a little bit,” said Jones. “Going 3-2 into the third period, we were in a good spot. We’re not where we wanted to be. We gave up six goals in the third period. Obviously it happened against a high-score offence.”

The Americans opened the scoring at 9:33, profiting from a fortunate bounce. Off a faceoff in the Czech end, Andrew Peeke’s shot from the blue line deflected off the skate of defender Michael Kempny, enabling Kuhlman to put the puck into the open side.

At 12:14, Gaudette gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead on the power play. T.J. Tynan fed Matthew Boldy down low and he centred it to the Ottawa Senators forward, who fired it home. It was a mirror image of the late third-period goal Gaudette scored against Finland.

Swayman stopped Matej Blumel on a partial break with under seven minutes left in the first period. But the Czechs persevered and cut the gap to 2-1. Jakub Flek came out of the corner with the puck and fed Cernoch, who took the puck off his skate and fired it through Swayman’s five-hole despite being surrounded by three U.S. checkers.

Showing great anticipation, Kuhlman scored shorthanded with just 13 seconds left in the opening frame. The U.S. broke out of its zone, and after Kuhlman pivoted to send a backhanded pass to Sam Lafferty, he hustled to the net to convert a subsequent feed from Nate Schmidt.

Kuhlman, a fourth-year NHLer who was acquired by the Seattle Kraken off waivers from the Boston Bruins, isn’t known as a big scorer. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth captain had just two assists in his nine previous games in Finland. In 100 career NHL games, Kuhlman has nine goals and 14 assists. Unfortunately, his hot first period was as good as it got for America.

At 12:12 of the second period, the Czechs made it a one-goal game. Sklenicka’s release from the left point hit Peeke in front, and as the U.S. rearguard struggled to find the puck at his feet, Smejkal banged the rebound past a surprised Swayman.

“Thank God our goal came there,” said Smejkal. “That really helped us going into the third that we were down by just one goal.”

The third period was wild. Just 51 seconds in, the Czechs drew even at 3-3. Peeke tried to clear the puck out on the right wall, but it barely got over the blue line, where Tomas Hertl and the linesman stood. Herlt got the puck to Pastrnak and he swooped into the faceoff circle to score on a quick release, using Peeke as his decoy.

“We switched the lines a little bit,” Hertl said. “Me and Pasta, we played together a couple of times in summer hockey, so we found some chemistry and scored some goals. I know he’s one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL, so I just tried to find him and he can did the rest. It worked out and I’m just happy we won.”

At 2:29, Cervenka gave Czechia its first lead of the game. Off a draw in the U.S. end, Krejci won it back to the Czech captain and he zipped it past Swayman’s glove before the netminder could budge.

“After the second period we said in the locker room that we have 20 minutes and we have to put it all in,” Cervenka said. “We scored in the beginning of the third and one goal came after another. We controlled the game and were better and faster and we made it.”

Truly, smelling blood, the Czechs kept coming. They got the U.S. goalie moving side to side, and Michal Jordan found Pastrnak right in front for the 5-3 marker.

With 5:18 left in the third period, Swayman stretched out to stop Smejkal’s backhand deke on a shorthanded breakaway, but couldn’t prevent Kampf from gobbling up the rebound for Czechia’s sixth goal.

Kampf put the icing on the cake with an empty-netter at 18:08 as the Czechs rejoiced. Bordeleau spoiled Langhamer’s unblemished performance 33 seconds later, but it hardly mattered.

“We were close to closing the tournament out in the right way and 20 minutes is what did us in,” Schmidt said.

At 19:23, Pastrnak, set up by Hertl, completed his hat trick with a wicked power play one-timer, and ball caps were tossed on the ice. At the final buzzer, Jalonen’s team flocked together behind the net to hop up and down with glee.

Jalonen received a big round of applause from the Finnish fans as he received his bronze medal from IIHF President Luc Tardif. Jalonen coached Finland to the silver medal at the 2016 Worlds in Moscow.

The Czechs have not won the gold medal since shocking a stacked Russian roster 2-1 in Cologne in 2010. So they’ll now put gold on their must-do list when they take part in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (Tampere and Riga).

“I hope this can help us a lot for next season, and we can come back and earn the gold medal next year,” said Sklenicka.

Russia and Belarus barred from 2023 IIHF World Championship

By Patrick Burk – Inside the games

National teams of Russia and Belarus were suspended by the IIHF “until further notice” on February 28 in response to the invasion of Ukraine, and following recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Last month, Saint Petersburg was stripped of hosting rights for the men’s 2023 IIHF World Championship, with the Congress approving Tampere in Finland and Riga in Latvia as its replacement.

IIHF President Luc Tardif has insisted: “Every decision we made was for the safety of the competition, for the safety of the players, staff, fans and officials, including Russia and Belarus.”

At the IIHF Annual Congress at the Tampere Hall Convention Centre, a decision by the Council to “freeze the participation” of Russia and Belarus at World Championship events was ratified.

With both countries out of World Championship across all age groups for 2023, the IIHF has decided to fill tournaments to the regular number of teams.

However, the decision to “freeze participation” would enable both countries to return to the top division of the men’s IIHF World Championship, and Russia to the top tier of the Women’s World Championship, if their bans are lifted.

This provision has failed to appease the RIHF and FHB, who have both released statements criticising the IIHF’s decisions.

The RIHF said it “does not agree with the decision to freeze the participation of the senior Russian national team at the 2023 World Championship”, and claimed “there are no legal grounds for this decision to be made”.

It added that it would provide further statements after a decision by the IIHF Disciplinary Committee on its appeal against Russia’s ban from international competitions, and against the country being stripped of hosting rights for next year’s men’s World Championship and World Junior Championship.

The appeal is expected to be considered by the Disciplinary Committee on June 15.

The FHB was more vociferous in its criticism, blaming the influence of “Western politicians” for the extension of the bans.

“The Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus is convinced that this decision of the International Ice Hockey Federation has become another in the list of decisions taken under the influence and pressure of individual National Federations, which have become virtually hostages of Western politicians,” it claimed.

“We can simply state the fact that once again, under the guise of concern about our own safety, the IIHF violated all the principles of Olympism.

“If desired, one could find options, as is done in other sports, but hockey functionaries, representing, first of all, the countries of the Western bloc, do not even want to do this and only hear themselves.”

The FHB also said it “has already prepared an appeal against the IIHF decision”, but claimed that the sanctions offered “an opportunity for development and growth in other directions”, including strengthening ties with the RIHF, which it described as “the leader of the world hockey”.

Belarus was due to host last year’s men’s World Championship, but it was moved to Latvia due to safety and security issues, after the controversial re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as the country’s President sparked protests and a subsequent Government crackdown.

Canada’s triumph in Latvia drew it level with the combined 27 men’s IIHF World Championship won by the Soviet Union and Russia, whose last victory came in 2014.

Canada has also won a record 11 IIHF Women’s World Championship, with Russia’s best finish being third place.

At the Beijing 2022, the Russian Olympic Committee – the “neutral” banner under which Russia’s team competed due to doping sanctions – claimed men’s silver in ice hockey after losing to Finland in the final, but was eliminated by Switzerland in the women’s quarter-finals.

Just four days after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on February 24, Russia, assisted by Belarus, invaded Ukraine, sparking widespread condemnation and leading to the countries being largely frozen out of international sport.

French official Tardif, elected as IIHF President in September last year, has declared that the IIHF hopes Russia and Belarus can return to its competitions “as soon as possible”.

His predecessor René Fasel, a Swiss IOC honorary member, is under investigation by the IIHF Ethics Board over reportedly taking up a lucrative consultancy role with the Russian-funded Kontinental Hockey League, as well as public statements about the invasion of Ukraine.

UAE Ice Hockey Team Claim Title Of 3Rd GCC Games Kuwait ’22

Source: Kuwait News Agency 

The national ice hockey squad of the United Arab Emirates were proclaimed champions of the 3rd GCC Games Kuwait 2022 on Friday evening.
The Saudi team won the silver medal and the host Kuwaiti team won the bronze medal.
The game, hosted by Kuwait Winter Games Club, saw the UAE team unbeaten in the three matches, thus securing nine points.
The Green squad, of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, secured six points from two wins and one loss.
The Blue, of the State of Kuwait, won bronze from one win and two losses, while Bahrain’s team lost their three matches. 

Icelandic women win thriller

The Icelandic players celebrate with their gold medals and trophy after winning the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in a nailbiter of a game against Australia.

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Iceland kept a cool head to win gold by the tiniest of margins at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women´s World Championship Division II Group B in Zagreb, Croatia.

Team captain Silvia Bjorgvinsdottir led by example by scoring the shootout winner to give Iceland a 2-1 victory over Australia. Her coolly dispatched backhand high past Australia’s netminder Olivia Last seals top spot for the Scandinavians. The Icelandic team captain was the sole skater to convert in a nailbiter of a shootout contest lasting six rounds.

“We have been working so hard for the past three or four years for this moment. I am so proud of all the girls on the team, and I think that we deserved it this year,” said the 22-year-old following an afternoon of high drama inside Zagreb’s Velesajam Ice Rink.

A vital cog in the Icelanders’ memorable promotion success was also netminder Birta Helgudottir, who kept all of Australia’s half-a-dozen penalty shots out of her net. Helgudottir and Silvia Bjorgvinsdottir were selected as the tournament’s best goalkeeper and forward respectively by the Directorate.

“It was a very important win for us in a game where the difference between the teams was small in details but huge by going up a division. Everyone contributed as we rolled four lines for most of the game so for me the win came from a team effort,” said Iceland head coach Jon Gislason.

“Our focus was to grow fast as the tournament went on and save the best for last and that worked out for us this time. I felt we improved our puck game throughout the tournament and we had to work hard for any possession against a strong forechecking Australian team that I feel belongs in the group above. But I think we do as well and ahead of next year with good preparation I believe we can play good games and compete for a win against any team in Division IIA,” he said.

The win sees Iceland promote to skate at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A. It also marks the highest overall position Iceland’s women’s national team has been at since entering World Championship play in 2005.

“Huge compliments to our girls who have worked very hard for this for many years and also to all our former players who have made this all possible. Our new generation of players are bringing new skills to our program while our veteran players guide them well and share their experience to take this team to new levels,” said Gislason, who as a player himself was an influential member of the Icelandic men’s national team, who back then punched well above their weight.

In Zagreb, Iceland had gotten the tournament underway by scoring double-digits in a 10-1 win against South Africa. A tougher nut to crack came against eventual bronze-medallists Turkey in game two as Sunna Bjorgvinsdottir scored the winner early in the third period in a 3-2 victory. An 11-1 blowout against Croatia then set them up in a winner-takes-it-all game for gold against Australia on the final day.

In a see-saw battle in Velesajam Ice rink, Australia started the brightest, but as the period wore on Iceland worked themselves into the game, winning the shots 10-6 during a goalless first frame.

Iceland’s men’s national team won gold as recently as last month at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B. Now eager to emulate their success, the women’s team came one step closer during the second period against Australia.

Despite being outshot the Scandinavians broke the deadlock with 2:23 left of the second period. From her position along the boards Silvia Bjorgvinsdottir picked out Teresa Snorradottir whose shot from the point was saved by Last before Sunna Bjorgvinsdottir reacted quickest on the rebound to score Iceland’s opener.

Australia’s men’s team had withdrawn from World Championship play contested last month at this very same venue. With the women’s team now being able to return to the world stage as first team from Down Under in two years, the “Mighty Jills” were eager to make up for lost time.

They were level at 7:31 of the third peirod. Iceland’s Sunna Bjorgvinsdottir failed to control the puck in her defensive zone, it was snapped up by the lighting quick Kristelle van der Wolf. From her position in the slot between the two face-off circles, she unleashed a wrister between the pads of Helgudottir to tie things up.

With the game appearing now appearing to tilt over into Australia’s favour, 60 minutes of regular time were unable to separate the two evenly matched teams. With overtime and three-on-three taking over, it appeared to suit the pacy Australians better. They outshot Iceland 7-2 but failed to find a way to get the puck behind Helgudottir in the Icelandic net.

“I felt our speed and skating ability was a little bit better than theirs. However, they were able to skate with us during that time and outmuscle us during the 3-on-3. Even though we had a lot of the play at their end, we had a few high scoring chances but we were just unable to put the puck into the back of the net,” said Australia’s head coach Stuart Philps.

Throughout the tournament, Last of Finland’s RoKi Rovaniemi played 125 minutes and conceded just one goal for Australia. She shared goaltending duties with 33-year-old Tina Girdler of the Sydney Sirens, who did not concede a single goal in 120 minutes of play. Rylie Ellis also stood out for Australia being voted the best defender by the Directorate. Going forward they found the net with ease scoring 38 goals while conceding only twice in four games.

“A shootout is not a good way to win or lose a tournament. But that’s the way it is, which we have to accept. The performance of the Australian team has been outstanding. For a team brought together with short notice and to only concede one goal in regulation time in the entire tournament is a credit to our players and goaltenders,” said Philps.

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