Steven Ellis

2074 POSTS 10 COMMENTS
Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

The New York Islanders made history on Saturday, drafting defenseman Andong (Misha) Song, the first ever Chinese player to ever get picked, in the sixth round of the NHL Draft.

Very little is known about Song, who was born in Beijing, China. According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Song moved to Oakville, Ontario at the age of 10.

A member of China’s U18 World Junior team, Song has played in two Division IIB tournaments to date, even captaining the team in the most recent edition. He’s spent three seasons with Lawrence Academy of the United States High School league, putting up 21 points in 67 games over that span.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

So, you’ve probably heard about this strange contraption by the IIHF called the Team North American Youngstars, a team built up of the best players 23-years and younger from Canada and the United States. In an international event like the World Cup, it’s a really strange feeling. To think that someone like John Gibson, a former USA World Junior goaltending star, would have to potentially beat his own birth nation is quite weird to think about.

But, it’s the NHL rules, and we’ll see a new “nation” taking over for a real country instead. This creates for one of the more interesting story lines heading into the tournament. Instead of having players like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel playing against each other, the tournament will see some of the rising young talent from North America working together to steal a gold medal. Let’s take a look at the potential back end of the roster for the revived World Cup event, with a lot of focus on who’s next for their respective nations in advance to the NHL’s iffy participation at the 2018 Olympics.

Check out our previews for Europe’s All-Star team:

Europe Part One.

Europe Part Two. 

Goaltenders: 

John Gibson – Malcolm Subban – Zach Fucale

Martti Kainulainen, AP
Martti Kainulainen, AP

Analysis: Nobody is going to question that this team has some talented options between the pipes. However, it’s going to be hard to argue that the experience level between the three chosen will be much lower than pretty much every other goalie in the event. While top end players usually can get to the NHL in a year or two, it’s not everyday that goaltenders really make their mark by the time they are 23.

One goalie with a bunch of pro experience already is John Gibson. The Anaheim Ducks goaltender has the potential to be one of the better NHL goaltenders for years to come, but with Frederik Andersen doing a stellar job between the pipes now, there is no reason to rush Gibson right away. He already has international experience at both the junior and senior level, and he’s proved to be very important in both events. He was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2013 World Junior Championships, an event that saw the Americans grab the gold for the Americans after posting a stellar 5-2-0 record. A few months later, Gibson took over as starter mid-tournament during the 2013 World Championships, this time securing a bronze medal for an American team that wasn’t up to par with some of their European opponents. By the time the tournament rolls around, Gibson will likely have developed into a very serviceable goaltender as he continues his rise as one of the best young hockey netminders in the world.

An option to sit on the bench is Malcolm Subban, Canada’s goalie when Gibson and the Americans went all the way to the top of the Juniors. Subban’s only NHL game to date couldn’t have gone much worse, as the 21-year-old prospect allowed three goals on six shots in his first NHL game for the Boston Bruins in late February.  However, Subban is still fairly young and needs more experience in the AHL before making the jump to Tuukka Rask’s backup. Regardless, he has the skill to become a solid goaltender one day, and he may be able to steal the starting role away from Gibson come 2016. It would surely be an interesting senario if that was to be the case, as it’s expected that Malcolm’s brother, PK, will represent Team Canada at the World Cup. If they were to meet at some point in the event, it would be just the third time that two brothers have ever battled each other in a major international event, with the the last time being the Reichel brothers at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake, Utah.

The third and final goalie on this list is Zach Fucale, a QMJHL star goaltender that recently won World Junior gold with Team Canada. The current Quebec Remparts puckstopper was traded from the Halifax Mooseheads a few months back, where he was able to win both a President’s Cup as QMJHL champions and a Memorial Cup as the Canadian Hockey League champion. Fucale, currently property of the Montreal Canadiens, will likely not be rushed to the NHL thanks to Carey Price manning the pipes at the Bell Centre, but he could be used as trade bait before the World Cup comes around. Could he be an NHL goaltender by 2016? Probably not, but he has a tremendous amount of potential and will likely fight to make Team Canada in international events in the near future.

Defensemen:

Dougie Hamilton- Aaron Ekblad
Jacob Trouba – Seth Jones
Ryan Murray – Morgan Rielly 
Codi Ceci – Connor Murphy

Petr David Josek/Associated Press
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Analysis:  The first defensive pairing contains two of the most exciting young blue liners in the game today. Dougie Hamilton is one heck of a back end man. The 21-year-old had 10 goals and 42 points in 72 games, a solid number for a defenseman that will likely continue to climb the ranks the older he gets. By then, he’ll likely have a very hefty contract to go along with his play, so we may see Hamilton really start to hit his stride as a number one defenseman by the time the tournament rolls around. When lined up with 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad, the U24 team may have their own Shea Weber-Drew Doughty pairing. Ekblad is likely going to take home the Calder Trophy once the season comes to a close this year, largely due to his solid offensive output and ability to flatten anyone who tries to get past him. This may not be one of the more experienced defensive pairs in the tournament, but if anything, it’s likely going to be a great chance to showcase their talent to Hockey Canada for a chance at playing for the team in the long run.

Joseph Tobianski, AnnArbor.com
Joseph Tobianski, AnnArbor.com

After a very strong World Championship effort with the Americans, Seth Jones will be a big addition to the squad in 2016. A lock for the roster, Jones is a wonderful two-way defenseman that can join the rush and score a goal after making a great deflection in his own zone. Jones will be a longtime star in the NHL, and could easily be one of the better defensemen in this tournament. Joining him as a potential second line defensive partner is Jacob Trouba, a stud on the Winnipeg Jets blue line. The Jets are going to be a contender for a long time thanks to their impressive prospect pool, and after posting seven goals and 22 points in 65 regular season contests in a rather conservative role, there’s a lot to like from him. He did have hand surgery in May following Winnipeg playoff demise to the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, but that won’t effect him in a year from now. Look for Trouba to learn from Tyler Myers during the upcoming season, and hopefully, he’ll be ready for a prominent role in 2016.

Imago/Icon SMI
Imago/Icon SMI

After a somewhat rough start for Rielly in Toronto, the 21-year-old Vancouver native has become one of the biggest bright spots on a team that struggle to find anything positive these days. A tremendous two-way defenseman, Rielly provides offensive from the point and could likely act as a top anchor on the power-play for this team. Murray’s season this year, however, was very tough. A former first round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Murray missed all but 12 games this year due to injury issues, something that probably set back his development a bit. There probably wont be any reason to fret come 2016, however as the youngster does have a ton of skill and should be a decent depth defensemen for the young squad.

If Hockey Canada’s track record continues in their traditional path, the team will use seven defensemen and 13 forwards. That leaves the seventh D spot up for grabs, potentially in a rotating situation. Cody Ceci from Ottawa and Arizona’s Connor Murphy both have experience with their respective countries at international hockey and could very well get their first chances against the best of the best. Murphy’s WJC and World Championship experience, paired with his all-around defensive strengths will likely give him the nod, but Ceci continues to improve and will likely shoot up the Senators depth chart in the near future.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Doug Armstrong has officially been named the General Manager for Team Canada’s World Cup effort in 2016, his seventh go around with the national team.

The current General Manager of the St. Louis Blues, Armstrong has been on management teams that have won the Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and a World Championship title. A native of Sarnia, Ont., Armstrong had a hand in Canada most recent Olympic gold as the assistant General Manager to Steve Yzerman.

Armstong will be assisted by Ken Holland (Detroit), Marc Bergevin (Montreal) and Rob Blake (LA Kings), all are currently employed as general or assistant General Managers in the NHL.

The tournament, which was announced earlier this year by the NHL and the IIHF, will return to Canada in September of 2016 after a 12 year hiatus. During the last edition in 2004, Canada secured gold after defeating Finland 3-2 in the finals. 2016’s event will have eight teams, with the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as two all-star teams, all taking part.

Initial rosters featuring at least 16 players must be named by March 1, 2016, with the final rosters having to be finalized on June 1st.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

June is an exciting time for hockey. The summer is upon us, kids are almost out of school and the NHL Playoffs are nearing their completion. It’s a great time to sit around the TV and check out hockey’s best in an exciting, best of seven series to help determine the Stanley Cup champion.

Most hockey events are already completed around the world, with the NHL running longer than any major professional hockey league. But every year, a small event in Mexico, known as the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games take place to help some of the newer hockey countries in North and South America develop their programs. A year ago, a team of selects from Canada went and easily controlled the whole tournament, eventually beating Mexico 7-0 in the final game.

This year, with Canada not participating, the tournament saw a chance for a new team to grab their first international hockey tournament. It took a thrilling shootout to decide who that champion would be this year, and thanks to a little surprise, Colombia would be able to secure their first ever ice hockey championship a year after their debut. Coach Sam Uisprapassorn and assistant team manager Camilo Fierro were along for the ride this year, watching Colombia evolve throughout the tournament before eventually grabbing the top prize at the development tournament.

SE) Explain your role with the team and how you got involved in the first place

SU) I’m of half Colombian descent on my mothers side, was curious to see what if any hockey was being played in Colombia and came across the team’s Facebook page. I sent a message and heard back from Carolina Fierro a few weeks later. Turns out the previous years Coach was not available and I expressed my interest in helping them out and it all went from there.

SE) How did Colombia’s participation in the tournament come together in the first place?

CF) We have a very good relationship with Joaquin De la Garma since we went to Mexico last year. On february 27th, he sent us an email invitation for the tournament and we couldn’t reject it. After we met with the players, we agreed on participating and it all came together nicely.

SE) Since ice hockey is still rather new there, where does the funding and support come from?

CF) I have to personally thank all the parents and players who have done the impossible to fund their own international trips since 2005. The love each one of us have for the sport has taken us to where we are now. Still, I believe that there’s still a lot to be done in order to find a way for the government to support us and we are getting closer to that now.

SE) How much interest was there to start an ice team?

CF) I remember when we started assembling an ice team last year. As soon as we got the invitation to the tournament, all of our players were really excited to play Ice Hockey. Some of them had played a few times before and dusted their chest protectors, their hockey pants and their ice skates. The others waited like little children in Christmas for their new ice equipment to arrive. It was such a scene. We even bought a skate sharpener and they spent a whole day learning how to sharpen their skates. So yeah, I think there was a huge interest to start an ice team in both our players and us as managers.

SE) Do you have many players interested in participating, and are they mostly from home or from all over the world?

SU) From our 21 man roster, five players are based in the US. The US based players are Colombian or of Colombian decent. The rest of our players are all located in Colombia.

SE) A year ago, Colombia won their first game ever. This year, you won a championship. What was the transition from year-to-year like?

CF) I’ve never seen our players so motivated to improve on their skills and experience after participating on last year’s Pan-American Ice Tournament and after winning the NARCh Finals Men’s Gold Division gold medal. We didn’t even receive the invitation for this year’s ice tournament and they were already training hard on Inline Hockey. When we decided to go for this year’s Pan-American ice tournament, our players put on their ice equipment (except for the skates) and made a couple inline training sessions playing with ice rules. It was a nice experiment as we did not have any ice skating rinks at the moment. If you take into account that we have little ice time compared to last year before each tournament, I’d say that the transition gave better results than expected.

SE) What’s the training like before a tournament?

SU) Most of the teams training comes from playing roller hockey competitively. The core members of this group all play for Rinos Napalm in Colombia and have had success at the NARCH and FIRS level. However, there are no ice rinks in Colombia so the training is limited to the skating the players do three to four days leading into the tournament. I had a chance to run two practices prior to the tournament. I was impressed with the skill level and fundamentals the team showed so I was able to coach and work on system play.

SE) Logan Delaney, a member of Canada’s championship winning team a year ago, said the tournament meant more than just winning a championship. Would you say the same?

SU) I would have to agree and hope that this championship helps the growth of ice hockey in Colombia and through out South America. More importantly, this is a tremendous victory for our players and organization.

CF) Winning a tournament is always going to hold a place in our hearts. Winning this tournament means that after achieving so many things in roller hockey, we have a higher mountain to climb. And we have the right tools to do it!

SE) Mexico was considered to be the strongest team heading into the tournament due to their World Championship participation. Did you ever think that Colombia would be able to win the final game?

SU) Mexico had a great team, well coached and a few standout players. Yes, I believed that we could win the tournament. Our team, our players did everything they needed to do to win. The team skated hard, won the lose pucks, converted quality scoring opportunities and most importantly played a very discipline forecheck and defensive system.

SE) Besides winning the gold, what moment really stood out to you the most from the Pan-Am tournament?

SU) I was impressed with how well all the teams played considering the lack of hockey resources each country has. Watching the fans was great, it was interesting to see how a team like Argentina seem to celebrate with joy after losing a game. Not very common for us North Americans. The rink was in great shape and the Mexican Federation’s hospitality was phenomenal. My favorite moment was coming off the ice after a morning skate to a hand picked apple and home made breakfast sandwich from a local.

SE) What was the excitement like for the whole team after seeing the final shootout goal go in, knowing that the team had just won it’s first ever hockey championship?

SU) That moment was like nothing else I had experienced, till now all a blur. Players and staff just jumped on the ice to celebrate. Everyone was happy, hugging, smiling and we’d all be kidding ourselves not to say a few tears in the eyes including myself.

SE) Overall, was the whole experience what you were hoping for?

SU) Yes and then some. I went to Mexico City not knowing what to expect. I left with the utmost respect for 21 players I had never coached before and they have all carved a special place in my heart.

SE) Has their been discussions already for next year’s tournament?

CF) We try to live each day at a time. Today, our eyes are set on this summer’s roller hockey tournaments in the USA and on being a member of the IIHF. So far, there’s been no discussion on next year’s Pan-American tournament.

SE) Finally, after the victory, do you think we’ll see Colombia in the Division III World Championships in the near future?

SU) Yes, I hope that we can take this momentum and work toward a IIHF World Championship.

CF) That’s definitely part of our plans and we’ll see how soon that’ll be.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL. You can follow Sam at @CoachSam14 and make sure to check out Colombia’s Facebook page here.

When you think of Brazil and sports, football (or soccer in North America) seems to be the sport that most people think about. That’s very understandable, considering the country currently sits at fifth overall in the FIFA world rankings.

But did you know they actually have a hockey team? In fact, yes, they do have one, and they recently just one their first ever ice hockey gold medal. Originating from their inline program, Brazil’s team was put together for their ever tournament last year, the inaugural Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament in Mexico. The tournament didn’t go so well for them, finishing dead last after failing to record a single win at any point in the tournament.

Earlier this month, the nation put all that behind them by winning bronze at the 2015 Pan-Am tournament. It was a big moment for the country who have few resources to work with in building a successful national team. The man behind the success of the team is Jens Hinderlie, a passionate hockey fan who had a fantastic opportunity to lead Brazil to their first successful hockey tournament.

I talked to Jens about the experience, one that surely had a positive impact on the future of the organization.

SE) Explain your role with the team and how you got involved in the first place

JH) Great Question. All the credit goes to my beautiful fiancé!! A long story short, I met a woman from Brazil, we fell in love and became engaged to be married in Dec of 2014.  I was working in Texas at the time and I made the decision to leave my job around April 12, 2015 to be closer to her.  She knew I loved hockey and she contacted the Confederation of Ice Sports in early March.  She spoke with the president of the ice sports and also the president of inline hockey, Alexandre Capelle, about me and my passion for the game.  She connected us on What’s app and Capelle and I started to talk about all things hockey in Brazil for a few weeks.  Capelle has been working with inline hockey for about 15 years in Brazil and, about a week before I moved, he asked me if I wanted to be the Head Coach of the first Brazilian National team.  He said I would be able to hand pick the team that I wanted from a list of about 40-50 players during a National Inline Tournament on April 18-20.  When I arrived at the National Inline tournament I was able to watch the players and after the three days I had a list of 15 skaters(this was their budget) and two goalies that I wanted to take to Mexico.  2 players had to back out due to work related issues but, we were able to find some very capable replacements for them.         

SE) How did Brazil’s participation in the tournament come together in the first place?

JH) Well, last year once the tournament was announced the confederation more or less threw out the idea to the inline players.  They asked if anyone wanted to participate and that if they wanted to go they could but, they would all have to pay their own way.  So, really it was a group of guys, Capelle included, who wanted to represent their country for this first Panamericano tournament in Mexico. 

SE) Since ice hockey is still rather new there, where does the funding and support come from?

JH) Well, the CBDG, Confederation of Brazilian Sports on Ice, is slowly growing.  Right now they have a 4 men’s bobsled team that will compete in the 2018 Olympics and possibly a women’s team if they qualify.  The CBDG is funded somewhat through government programs but, it really needs sponsors for all of their sports but, right now we are hopefully going to see a larger investment from the CBDG and others in supporting hockey after this successful tournament.     

SE) How much interest was there to start an ice team?

JH) There was a lot of interest.  Like I said earlier, Alexandre Capelle has been dreaming to do this for years and since the invitation was given by Mexico in 2014 they decided to jump on it.  If we had more tournaments to go to we would. 

SE) Do you have many players interested in participating, and are they mostly from home or from all over the world?

JH) We had one guy who lives in the United States and that was our goalie Allen Ruane.  We brought along another young inline goalie to give him some experience as well.  Everyone else lives in Brazil.  I heard Robyn Regehr is a Brazilian native, so maybe we can convince him to come down next summer too, now that he is retired.

SE) A year ago, Brazil failed to win a single game. This year, you won the Bronze medal. What changed from year to year?

Well, like I said, I was able to hand pick the team this year.  I chose guys whose inline skills would translate over to Ice Hockey.  They said this was the first year any of these guys had ever been coached.  My voice is still recovering. Many many of the older players have played inline together and won championships together, so it was really their leadership that played a key role.  Their leadership helped us become a team very quickly.     

SE) What’s the training like before a tournament?

JH) Well, I told Capelle to book as many ice times as he could because we were going to need it!  Inline hockey is completely different from Ice Hockey.  They play 4 on 4, there is no off-side, no icing, no checking, and the puck is smaller and of course stopping.  I was very worried about all of these things but, the biggest concern for me was their willingness to check and be checked, as well as 5 v 5 team defense. 

So we booked as much ice as possible and after 10 minutes into the first practice I realized that we had go back to the basics of skating.  Crossovers, transition skating, stops and starts, picking up their feet.  All of these things they were not accustomed to.  Looking back on it now I really should have bag skated them for one whole practice so they would have been in skating shape and really understood how to stop.  We had many times during the tournament where guys would fly by the puck and make big turns, instead of stopping and going the other direction. 

Towards the end of the tournament it was very apparent that we were out of shape.  They did however, get better at checking as the tourney progressed.  This was an advantage because we were a bigger team.  We booked practice times at different mall rinks as well as the Ice dome before the games started.  We literally worked on everything in those 6 practices and probably could have used even more ice time.  The hardest thing to get through to them was understanding the different zones.  Once we figured that out, our game improved dramatically.  In our last game we played really hard, we fore-checked aggressively but, we also played with discipline which helped us sustain pressure.  Next year, I have already said that we need to have a week of practice prior to the tournament to just work on skills.  Then when we arrive for the tournament we will only focus on Systems, PP, PK etc… 

SE) Logan Delaney, a member of Canada’s championship winning team a year ago, said the tournament meant more than just winning a medal. Would you say the same?

JH) Yes I would say so.  For Brazil it is about the beginning of something much bigger than this one tournament.  They proved to each other that they can play ice hockey at a very high level and they proved to this country that they have some Ice Hockey talent!  This was about planting seeds for the future of Brazilian Ice Hockey.  

SE) For the players involved, many of whom had little to no experience on ice, what were their thoughts about the whole event?

JH) They loved it!  Many of them said, “Why do I even play inline hockey?” I said, because you don’t have an ice rink.  Everyone was extremely happy for the opportunity.  Next year there will be even more competition for the roster spots…which is always good for successful teams.

SE) Besides winning the bronze, what moment really stood out to you the most from the Pan-Am tournament?

JH) First of all I was just asked to pick the team and to coach, the language barrier prevents me from knowing everything.  However, I kept asking myself? “Where is the IIHF?” Why are they not here helping run this tournament?”  I mean I know this is the second year of this tournament and it is in Mexico City.  So for that I guess I should be grateful which I am but, I think you can always improve.  I have seen adult beer tournaments organized better than this.  From the ice, to the fog in the arena, to the relaxed IIHF rules, to the poor format of the games, it wasn’t ideal for a top level tournament.  I know they are trying to start something in Mexico which is awesome but, if I am the IIHF and I want to see hockey grow in central and South America, I would give them more support than just money.  They need guidance and leadership.  On another note, USA Hockey and Canada Hockey should really help out these officials and show them how this tournament should be officiated.  Maybe just hire 2-4 refs to help assist alongside the other refs.  I know this is cliché but, the officiating was very, very poor.  I am not saying that for the games I was coaching either.  The other games I watched, the refs would basically go back in time and call penalties that they didn’t call initially.  This happened in the final game too. So, hopefully in time they can get better but, still if this is an IIHF tournament, then let’s make it a top notch tournament and do it right.   

On a positive note, which the IIHF should be all over too, is the passion for the game that all of these countries have!  It was truly remarkable.  These countries just need an opportunity and some leadership from some people who have helped hockey grow in non-traditional markets.  Maybe Gary Bettman wants to expand to South America? Kidding aside, it is all about Leadership to grow this game.  I am glad it is started, now let’s get some support to grow it.  Finally the Colombian team was awesome!  Privately funded, I believe, both the male and female teams played with class and passion.   

SE) Overall, was the whole experience what you were hoping for?

JH) Yes I would say so.  The Team was awesome from start to finish.  I don’t speak Portuguese so, the language barrier was always difficult.  It was especially difficult when I was trying to get them to play ice hockey rather than inline hockey.  So, little key terms like chip it in and chip it out were difficult for the players.  I really enjoyed it though.  I haven’t coached since 2010 so, to have this opportunity to coach this game that I love, it was very special. 

SE) Has there been discussions already for next year’s tournament? If so, how will you prepare for the event differently?

JH) We are going to have inline training with ice hockey rules this year and next year.  We also will hopefully be able to train in Florida or somewhere else in America prior to attending the tournament.  These guys need more time on the ice and more games to play.   

SE) Do you think the good result will help result in some more support in the near future?

JH) Yes, I really believe it will.  Brazilians love sports and basically we just need money to build a rink.  The Confederation wants to do it, and once we get that major sponsor to see the value in building an ice rink it will happen.  This is going to be my main initiative.   Once that first domino falls, everything else will too. 

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL. Make sure to also follow Jens, @WildRube22.

If you’re familiar with The Hockey House, you know that we like to cover hockey in nations where the mainstream media likely doesn’t even know the sport exists in.

With a total population of just 2,932 people, Falkland Islands is the smallest hockey nation to play organized ice hockey on record. Even while their participation on the ice is limited, it’s still great to see interest in a future hockey nation, looking for support to help take them to the next step in the hockey ladder. But that will take time, and Falkland Islands Chairman Martyn Barlow knows that. But as you’ll found out below, the interest is definitely there, and hopefully, the world will hear more from the small hockey nation soon enough.

  1. Falkland Islands plays Dek hockey (ball hockey) already. How did the sport gain traction in the first place there?MB) It was started in 2006 by a guy named Grant Budd who played for a few pro Ice Hockey teams back in the day in the UK. 

 

  1. Has the Dek league been a success so far?MB) We have enjoyed great success, a few years ago we switched to the ball and were aspiring to enter the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation World Championships (ISBHF), it was due to be held in St Johns, Newfoundland that year.  Sadly we had to withdraw as we had a problem getting a squad of 17+ players together, which is a great shame as we had managed to secure a great deal of funding.  Despite this set back we are a very popular team sport here and at times have more members than any other organised team sport.

 

  1. Since ice hockey is still rather new there, where does the funding come from?MB) All sports here have the same problem, whenever we compete overseas it generally takes tens of thousands to get bigger teams to places like Europe.  That said Hockey wise we have always been supported by a few local companies, and with the advent of us sending our first Ice Hockey team away we have been very kindly supported by a few more companies as well as the British Government Foreign Commonwealth Office.

 

  1. How much interest was there to start an ice team?MB) Initially some were skeptical people as we had problems trying to get a large hockey team together before, and we already played ball hockey at that point.  When people realized that it was 3 v 3 and only over the water in Chile, and that they played on a similar sized rink that we play Dek hockey on it was embraced to that point that we reverted to the good old puck again for all our Dek hockey games.  We train on inline skates which has developed into a standalone sport, we have whole families getting their skates on now.  The surprising part is how much the die hard footballers at the peewee level are pestering their parents for skates.  We are now training peewee inline skaters to compete overseas in Chile on ice too! 

 

  1. Do you have many players interested in participating, and are they mostly from home or from all over the world?MB) We are a small place but like many large cities and communities tend to be cosmopolitan with many nationalities. We are no exception.  We have many British nationals here (as well as Falkland Islanders), there are large communities from Saint Helena and Chile here too.  There are also contractors from overseas who hail from all over the place, not so long ago some of us thought we were pretty good at hockey until a Canadian contractor (from Edmonton) exploded onto our hockey scene!  Playing with and against him was great and lots of us were able to up our game.

 

  1. How long did it take to put a program together? Has it gone smoothly so far?MB) It took a little while for it to start as hockey isn’t as popular in British culture as it is in North America, also it can be a snag getting replacement sticks down here as it is a specialised sport all our gear is bought on line, and shipped either by sea or air.  That said it is great fun and word of mouth spread the news.  People here are used to planning ahead and ordering gear by sea so it was no great shakes in the end.

 

  1. Any tournaments lined up in the near future?MB) We play three competitions a year in our Dek Hockey season, the Energise Shield sponsored by Energise (A local technical maintenance company), Russell Smith Memorial Trophy sponsored by (Sure an international telecoms company) and our playoffs which, as our capital is Stanley was called the Stanley Cup, however, after having a chat with a legal representative from the NHL it is now called the Falklands Cup!  We are hoping to host an international Dek Hockey tournament next year, there has been quite a bit of interest from inline and ice hockey teams who seemed upbeat about shedding skates and making the trip here, including a team from Costa Rica.

 

  1. What needs to be done to help promote the game of hockey over there?MB) To be honest I think we have squeezed every drop out of the Falklands PR machine.  The best thing we can do now is make history and send a team over from here to play in Chile.  Naturally we aren’t going there to compete, we are going to win! It is quite possible that we will come up against a team from Argentina which will be the first time teams from the two countries would have met, certainly since they invaded here in 1982. This will be a memorable occasion and hopefully for the right reasons.  If we beat them it will surely ignite the afterburners to the Falklands Hockey engine. Of course that is a double edged sword, by all accounts they are not too shabby!

 

  1. Do you have any support yet from a bigger hockey nation, or is that still something that will come along down the line?MB) Money is always the bug bear and sponsorship’s.  There are quite a few teams that compete overseas and we all compete for the same sponsorship’s.  If we do OK in Punta in a few weeks I think this will put us in a good position, we hope to do well, we have 2 ex pro skaters in or small squad so we will see.  Whenever we have touched base with teams overseas we have always had a very positive response.  We really would like to get up to the Northern Hemisphere to play Ice hockey on both sides of the pond but that is a far away goal at this stage.

     

  2. Where do you see the program in five years?MB) We currently aim to slowly build what we have.  Inline skating has been a breath taking success as a stand-alone sport as there isn’t much to do in the winter here (it doesn’t get cold enough for ponds to freeze to allow pond hockey), quite a few of the people there seem to end up holding a hockey stick at some point.  I would like to see inline flourish and compete and possibly overtake dek hockey in popularity, this would allow us to send teams away every year, we have been invited to play in Punta Arenas in their winter and summer tournaments.  Of course the peewee team seems to be gathering some serious momentum too, developing any sport at grass roots level is critical to the longevity of that sport, until now we have always had a problem getting our youth to grab a hockey stick.  It seems skating was the catalyst we have been waiting for.

     

  3. Anything else that you would like to get across?MB) The Falkland Islands Hockey Association has enjoyed some good successes in the past, with this extra element to hockey now the future is really looking bright as hockey, albeit Dek, Inline or Ice or simply skating offers more to a wider cross section of our community than any other sport, which is why I am looking forward to the future.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL. For more information on hockey in the Falkland Islands, visit their website here.

After an incredible game to finish off the tournament, Team Colombia was able to overcome Mexico with a 6-5 victory to win the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games, their first ever tournament championship.

Led by Daniel Echeverri, considered to be the top player in the whole tournament, Colombia managed to stick around all game long against Mexico, who were considered to be the favourites heading in. In the shootout, three Colombians would find the back of the net, with Echeverri’s goal on their first chance easily being the most impressive after making a great deke in tight. Colombia would allow just two goals in the shootout, and when it was all said and done, the team managed to hold on for the 6-5 victory, earning their first tournament championship in just their second try.

While fellow newbies Argentina and Brazil were still trying to find their footing last year, Colombia had a very solid tournament, en route to their first ever medal (a bronze) in ice hockey. Colombia came home with the third place title after a commanding 9-1 victory over Argentina in the bronze medal game to end the tournament, a huge achievement for a small team.

For a team like Colombia, a 5-0 record in their second ever tournament is better than anyone would have expected. The first ever team to ever win a game at the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games, Colombia’s background mainly comes from inline hockey, similar to Argentina and Brazil. Still not a member of the IIHF just yet, Colombia’s victory will likely lead to further support from outside the team, with hopes of a World Championship appearance in the near future.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Following their 6-1 victory over Argentina A today at the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games in Mexico, Brazil was able to win their first ever ice hockey medal just a year after coming dead last in their first ever tournament.

Brazil, a small hockey nation with just eight games under the belt, finished off the 2015 Pan-Am Ice Hockey tournament with three wins and two losses, dropping decisions to just Mexico and Colombia along the way. Two of Brazil’s victories came against the two separate teams from Argentina, outscoring them 13-1 over two games of action. Their first victory of the tournament came against Mexico’s U17 squad, defeating the group of kids 5-2 to secure their first ever hockey victory this past Wednesday.

A year ago, the team began their ice hockey journey with very little support or experience. Made up of some players from inline hockey, the team only managed to score three goals last year, all coming in a 5-3 loss to Argentina late in the tournament. This year, some of the players hadn’t even played on ice until just days before the tournament, but after some training, and some exhibition action against Colombia, the team came into the Pan-Am games with a lot to prove.

As anyone would hope, the good result will hopefully show the CBDG, the Confederação Brasileira de Desportos no Gelo, that the team deserves further funding to help build their program further. At the Pan-Am level, aimed at helping small hockey countries develop in a low-level event, Brazil proved that they’re program has come a long way, and if the tournament does indeed return for 2016, expect them to be even stronger in hopes of going for another medal.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Swiss_Image_amv13931

The 2015 Spengler Cup field was finalized on Monday, with Jokerit Helsinki returning for the second year in a row.

Jokerit, who joined the KHL last year after playing in Liiga in Finland, has participated in eight Spengler Cup tournaments in the past, failing to ever win a medal. In the quarter-finals last year, Canada made sure to to end Jokerit’s tournament early following a 5-2 victory.

Coming off of a conference semi-final loss in the KHL this past year, will feature a roster in 2015 with some familiar names to North Americans. Whether it be goaltenders Riku Helenius and Henrik Karlsson, defensemen Philip Larsen and Ossi Väänänen or forwards Peter Regin and Nik Hagman, there will be many names for fans to cheer for in a tournament that fails to attract much of a North American fan base.

Jokerit will join Team Canada, Adler Mannheim, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, HC Lugano and the hosts HC Davos at the 89th running of the tournament, set to take place from December 26th-31st in Davos, Switzerland.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The first men’s Pan-American Ice Hockey game of the day saw Argentina’s A squad defeat Argentina’s B team 2-1 on Friday, giving the country their first win of the tournament.

The matchup between the two teams from the same country was the first of two games today that featured teams from the same nation. With Mexico’s two teams to face off later in the day, Argentina’s two rosters battled it out, with the stronger A team eventually taking the 2-1 victory. A year ago, Argentina’s only team only found a way to beat one team, defeating Brazil 5-3 in the closest game either team played in last year.

Later in the day, Colombia and Brazil played each other in a fight to see which team would stay undefeated up until then. For both teams, their run to game three proved to be very successful, taking two straight wins en route to Friday’s match. Today, however, didn’t end up in Brazil’s favour as last years bronze medalists from Colombia managed to cruise to a 3-0 victory.

Colombia’s chances at another medal looks rather solid with just two games still to go. Colombia will likely end up going 4-0 following their game against Argentina A on Saturday, leaving Sunday’s match against Mexico as a potential gold medal contest. For Brazil, the country still has the same two opponents left to face, so don’t count them out just yet.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Step aside Mexico, Colombia is looking ready to contend for a medal again this year.

On Wednesday, the first day of the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games, Colombia made easy prey of Argentina’s A team, taking home the 8-0 victory to start off the tournament positively. Today, the result was half as good but still as impressive, defeating Mexico’s U17 select squad 6-0 to stay undefeated after just two games.

For Colombia, a solid tournament could help spark potential interest in a Division III World Championship appearance in the near future. A year ago, Colombia managed to overthrow Argentina’s effort, taking a 11-1 victory in the first game of the tournament to secure their first ever hockey victory. In the bronze medal game, the two teams met again, with Colombia once again making easy work of their opponents for the 9-1 victory.

For Mexico’s U17 team, the tournament hasn’t started off too well. Yesterday, Brazil won their first ever hockey game at the expense of Mexico, who’ll have to face the older, stronger Mexican men’s team in game three on Friday. A loss will make it tough for the team to even compete for a bronze medal, but with the country using this tournament as a way of developing some of their younger talents, success wasn’t to be expected ahead of time.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Just over 24 hours after beating Argentina’s B squad 19-0, Mexico made sure to keep the home fans happy by defeating Argentina’s A team 9-1 on Thursday night.

Mexico’s strength heading into the tournament was undisputed. A year ago, the hosts of the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games managed to secure the silver medal after a 7-0 loss to Canada in the finals. This year, however, the team came in as the clear favourites thanks to Canada’s departure from the tournament. Featuring many of the star players from their World Championship effort, including Adrian Cervantes, Carlos Gomez and Alfonso de Alba, Mexico is expected to find themselves competing for the top prize again by the end of the week.

Both teams are back in action again on Friday. For Argentina, who brought two teams to the tournament this year after a fourth place finish in 2014, the team will face the undefeated Colombians at 11:30am EST. A year ago, Colombia made sure to have the final laugh, defeating Argentina 11-1 to win their first ever hockey game in just their first try. For Mexico, the favourites will play the Mexican U17 team, who have struggled to find their traction in the early going of the tournament.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Just under 24 hours after winning their first ever ice hockey game, Brazil continued their winning ways by defeating Argentina B 7-0 on Thursday.

Brazil’s debut effort at the 2014 Pan-American Ice Hockey Games went unsuccessful, failing to grab even a single win after four games. This year, however, the team has been fortunate enough to find the scoreboard early on, scoring twelve goals after just two games, including a 5-2 win on Wednesday against Mexico’s U17 team.

For Argentina’s B squad, the tournament hasn’t been so kind for them in 2015. Just 12 hours prior to the game on Thursday, Argentina dropped a massive 19-0 game to Mexico, only to have to play first thing in the morning today. With the poor schedule, as well as the clear on-ice mis-match in skill, Argentina’s chances were not strong from the get go.

Both teams are back in action at the Pan-Am games tomorrow, with Argentina B facing their arch rivals, Argentina A, for a chance to finally record a victory on the scoreboard. For Brazil, they’ll have to meet Colombia tomorrow in a rematch of the ladder’s 14-0 victory from a year ago.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR

After a few seasons away from the spotlight, Ron Wilson will return to the bench to coach the United States World Junior team at the event this winter in Finland.

The announcement was made by USA General Manager Jim Johannson in a media call on Thursday morning.

Wilson is no stranger to coaching the Americans at international events. After leading the team to their first World Championship medal in 34 years back in 1996, Wilson was the main man for the gold medal champions at the World Cup of Hockey later that same year. Most recently, Wilson was a coach at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, with his squad eventually dropping an overtime decision in the gold medal game against Canada.

Wilson admitted that the tournament will take some time for him to get up to date with everything.

“I have no idea who some of these players are,” Wilson said in regards to the upcoming American candidates. “I’m going to travel around and see players (with their various teams).”

Over in the NHL, Wilson’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his last NHL squad, was highly criticized due to a lack of positive results and, in some cases, poor treatment of younger players. In 2012, he was fired by the Maple Leafs after just over three seasons on top of the bench, failing to reach the post-season during his time with the team.

Wilson has yet to win the Stanley Cup as a coach in the NHL, but his 648 wins ranks eighth all-time in NHL coaching victories. When the World Juniors head to Helsinki, Finland this December, Wilson will likely have some major offensive threats to work with, with the likes of Auston Matthews, Max Jones, Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin, Connor Garland and Matthew Tkachuk all expected to play pivotal roles when the tournament heads back to Europe. The Americans have struggled in the two years since last winning the championship, finishing fifth in back to back years.

Johannson said he plans on naming the assistant coaches later this month, around the same time that the World Junior summer camp roster is announced.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

After failing to record a victory a year ago, the Brazilian national hockey team was able to secure their first ever ice hockey victory after defeating a Mexican Select U17 junior team 5-2 on Wednesday.

Brazil, not known for their hockey heritage, is one of the newest teams in the ice hockey scene. To start the tournament back in 2014, the team lost 16-0 to Mexico. a tough start for a team really trying to find their footing early.

Development takes a lot of time, and for Brazil, the start began just recently. In fact, according to coach Snej Jensen, the current team has almost no experience under their belt.

“(Five) days ago many of these guys stepped on the ice for the first time. They had to learn everything in 6 practices,” Jensen said in a tweet following their opening game victory.

Back in 2013, Brazil released their roster for their first ever attempt at the tournament, containing a large amount of inline hockey players. With no official size hockey rinks just yet, very limited resources and a lack of experience, the program has moved slowly in recent years, but not without effort. Players do have the chance to participate in small, 3-on-3 style games at some local rinks, but for the most part, the chance to play on big ice is a big deal for a big country with big aspirations for their hockey program.

On the inline side, the team has seen some previous success. Brazil has won six Division I Inline World Championship medals between 2003 and 2009. Due to a variety of issues, the team wasn’t always able to send their best players, and this year, they aren’t even listed in any of the inline events. Hopefully, the whole program will be able to find stable support, giving them a chance to grow both divisions even further.

Brazil will return to the ice on Thursday, when the country takes on Argentina’s B team to kick off day two. Game time is set for 9:30 AM local time in Mexico City.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The first game of the 2015 Pan-American Ice Hockey Games took place in Mexico City today, with Colombia eventually taking the 8-0 win over the Argentina A team.

For Colombia, the win was a great start for their small hockey program. A year ago, the team went 3-2-0 in five games at the first ever PAIHG’s, earning a bronze medal along the way following a 9-1 over Argentina. The two teams also met earlier in the tournament last year, with Colombia securing their first ever hockey game 11-1.

Today, however, Colombia would record their first ever hockey shutout with an 8-0 victory. While stats and info from the tournament is very scarce, it’s unknown yet as to who the big offensive stars were in the opening game.

Brazil and the Mexican U17 team will play each other in the second men’s game of the day at 3:30pm EST.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL, for streaming information, news and on the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games.

The full field for the 2015 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland is nearly set, with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg becoming the newest team to be named to the prestigious event.

Unlike the previous four teams to be named to the event (Davos, Canada, Adler Mannheim and HC Lugano), the 89th Spengler Cup will be the very first for the Russian club, who have played in the KHL since 2009. The team has made it to the league playoffs just three times in KHL history, dropping a 4-1 series to the eventual runner-ups from AK Bars Kazan.

A very young team with an average age of just over 24 years of age, Avtomobilist’s roster doesn’t feature many players that North American fans would be familiar with. Their goalie, Jakub Kovar, did get drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2006, but his only real experience in Canada and the United States came with his one season stint with the Windsor Spitfires and Oshawa Generals back in 2007-2008.

The tournament is set to take place in Davos, Switzerland from December 26th-December 31st, 2015. Swiss team Geneve-Servette has won the past two Spengler Cup championships, but decided to sit out the event this year in favour of Lugano.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

It’s June. The NHL season is getting to the best part of the year, most professional leagues have already crowned their champions and one of the best NHL Entry Drafts in recent years is drawing ever so closer.

But guess what I’m excited for? Of course, the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games.

Formed a few years ago in an attempt to give some smaller hockey nations a chance to play in a competitive setting, the Mexican Hockey Federation hosted the first ever Pan-Am tournament last March, with Canada winning the inaugural event. This year, however, Canada decided to skip out on the event, meaning no matter who wins this year, we’ll see a first time champion at this event. For every team but the men’s team from Mexico, it’ll be a chance for teams to grab their first ever ice hockey championship, something that truly makes the event special.

To find out more about why this is an important tournament, check out this story about Logan Delaney and how important it was for his Canadian team to be involved in last year’s tournament. Once you’re done with that, get to know the teams involved this year, and make sure to check out this tournament instead of watching the NHL Playoffs.

1970690_10151974317776977_1470146840_nArgentina (A/B)A year after their first ever ice hockey victory, a 5-3 win over Brazil, Argentina will ice two teams in an attempt to help give more players a chance to develop at the international stage. Having previously played in two games back in 2012 to help start up their program, losing 5-1 and 10-1 to Mexico in consecutive days. The team would take some time off before their next match, which saw them lose 11-1 to Colombia in the first event of the 2014 Pan-American Games. It was an unfortunate start to the tournament for Argentina, who weren’t able to bring its strongest roster due to cost issues.

The team’s short history doesn’t include a ton of success just yet, but having two teams in the tournament this year gives them a chance to give more players a shot at developing further. A country known more for their inline experience, Argentina, which currently has 670 registered players at the men level, has just one Olympic-sized rink to choose from, with the arena in Ushuaia, known for being the southernmost city in the world, being their only official choice. The country does host the annual Copa Fin del Mundo tournament (translated in English to the End of the World Cup), so getting experience is possible in Argentina. Last year, the team was only able to bring 12 players, resulting in some poor contests in what should have been a solid outing for the new hockey nation. Playing in the Pan-American games, with two teams nonetheless, is a great chance to help continue the development and strive for their second ever win, with hopes of a medal just in sight.

11350595_903303863044112_6434915301460887873_n

Brazil: When the first tournament was announced over a year ago, Brazil’s participation was the first team other than Mexico to really be known. For the country, the event was a huge deal, as it gave them a chance to play ice hockey in an organized tournament for the first time.

However, as expected, it didn’t go all too well. The team managed to score just three goals in the three games they played, and every single one of them came in a 5-3 loss to Argentina. Defensemen Daniel Baptista and Joao Henrique Vasconcelos were the only two players to finish in the top 50 in scoring, because, in fact, they were the only two players on the team to actually record any points by the end of the tournament.

This year, the team led by American coach Jens Hinderlie will look to finally secure their first ever ice hockey victory. A top ten team in the FIRS Inline World Championships on many occasions, Brazil will have their work cut out for them this year, especially without Baptista on the squad. Can one of the smallest hockey programs in the world finally break through for their first win in their short history?

1975021_10151976118801977_166729108_nColombia While fellow newbies Argentina and Brazil were still trying to find their footing last year, Colombia had a very solid tournament, en route to their first ever medal (a bronze) in ice hockey. Featuring arguably the best player in the tournament in 2014 with Daniel Echeverri, who finished with 19 points, Colombia came home with the third place title after a commanding 9-1 victory over Argentina in the bronze medal game to end the tournament.

For a team like Colombia, a 3-2-0 in their first ever hockey tournament proved to be better than expected. The first ever team to win a game at the Pan-American Ice Hockey Games, Colombia’s background mainly comes from inline hockey, similar to Argentina and Brazil. Still not a member of the IIHF just yet, Colombia was fortunate to get some big goals from Echeverri, Sergio Vargas and Michael Mijjar, and the expectation is that they’ll look to battle for their second straight medal. If Juan David Vinueza can hold the guard again in net, they could easily battle for a silver this time around.

dsc_0697_1024_thumbMexico (Men’s/U17): Just like Argentina, Mexico, the only team in the tournament that also competes at some level of the World Championships, will bring two teams to the games. Hosting the event for the second straight year, Mexico will look to build upon their silver medal effort from last year, thanks to Canada sitting it out in 2015.

The only Latin American team that competes in a World Championship event, Mexico has participated in the major IIHF tournament every year since 2000. This past April, Mexico finished in third place in Division IIB, losing out to New Zealand in a tie breaker at the end of the tournament. The team is currently rated 32nd overall in the world, the highest they’ve ever been, and while a victory in Mexico City this year would be good for their program, it wont actually improve their ranking.

A year ago, Carlos Gomez finished first in tournament scoring, posting 21 points en route to Mexico’s second place finish. This year, the team will expect much of the same from it’s top stars, with some players from the World Championship team heading over to the tournament. In addition to the top team, Mexico will also be sending a U17 select team for the first time, hoping to build upon a program that currently sees their U20 team sitting in the bottom division of the World Juniors. Still, both teams have a lot more experience and skill then their competition, but in the end, expect a really good result for the men’s team as they look to be the second ever champions of the Pan-Am Ice Hockey Games.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.