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United States defeat Canada 4-2 in an Ice Hockey fixture
By Liz Montroy SEATTLE (USA): The United States of America (USA) won their third game in five days, 4-2, in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Sunday to lead the 2022-23 Rivalry Series with three wins over Canada. “I think the past year or so has been kind of tough for our group,” said goaltender Nicole Hensley. “I think we started kind of chipping away at things in August and couldn’t quite get the result we wanted in Denmark, so to be able to come here and get those three wins and have our group gain some confidence and headed in the right direction, I feel like that’s huge and doesn’t happen very often with this rivalry.” These games marked the US Women’s National Team debut for six skaters: Riley Brengman, Rebecca Gilmore, Kelsey King, Maureen Murphy, Gabby Rosenthal and Haley Winn. For the Canadians, Elizabeth Giguere made her senior national team debut. “I always believe that 60 minutes on the clock in a hockey game, 80% of it’s grey matter, and so a lot of it’s will, a lot of it is spirit, a lot of it is what you have in that room,” said U.S. head coach John Wroblewski. "I think having that excitement really breeds that amongst the players, it sort of re-energizes and re-invigorates some of the players, they see that excitement from those younger ones with less experience.” The Americans started the series with a 4-3 shootout win in Kelowna on November 15. After goals from Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight, Canada answered with three, two in the second period from Claire Thompson and Marie-Philip Poulin and one in the third from Emily Clark. Alex Carpenter had a standout game, sending the game to extra time with a power play goal and scoring one of the Americans’ two shootout goals. Two days later in Kamloops, the United States edged out Canada 2-1. Kristen Campbell got the start in net for Canada, making 32 saves in her first ever appearance against the United States. No goals were scored through the first 38 minutes, with Marie-Philip Poulin getting Canada on the board late in the second period with a penalty shot goal after Laura Stacey was hooked on a breakaway. The Americans responded just over a minute later with a tying goal from Kendall Coyne Schofield. Carpenter was once again crucial to the Americans’ success, scoring the game winner in the third period. “I think for us, year one coming out of the last squad, we have a new team, we’re introducing new concepts. We had a ton of success last year, but our biggest thing is we don’t want to stay stagnant, we want to continue to raise the bar,” said Sarah Nurse. "Our team’s introduced a ton of new concepts, we have new personnel, and so what we really want to do is continue to raise the bar. For us that’s taking a little bit of risk, trying new things out there, and so [this series is] really an evaluation piece.” Sunday’s game in Seattle started with Hilary Knight being presented with a golden stick from USA Hockey in honour of her setting a new scoring record at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships in September. “It’s a testament to where the game’s going and how we’re trying to do things the right way and honour previous players and try to honour those that are representing our country and playing in this jersey,” said Knight. “I’m looking forward to a chance to call out Kendall [Coyne Schofield] with her assists record for the US.” The United States had the hometown crowd of 14,551 fans – the largest ever at a U.S. women’s national ice hockey team game in the United States – on their feet mere seconds into the game with a goal from Savannah Harmon. “[Harmon] made no mistake,” said Wroblewski. “That shot, if you look at the replay, is tremendous. It’s something that she worked on and works on a lot, and what a shot.” “I’ve never played in front of such a big crowd so I was pretty excited,” said Hensley. “I think you could tell with the way we came out, a pretty good, fast start for us, and it just carried over and we felt like once we took the lead we just kept pressing and never looked back.” Poulin scored her third goal in as many games just over 10 minutes later. This was Poulin’s 96th goal and 198th point for Canada, inching her closer to become the fourth Canadian player to reach 100 goals and the fifth Canadian player to reach 200 points. The Americans also struck early in the second period, with Abby Roque scoring a slick one-timer off a pass from Amanda Kessel. With Harmon and Emily Clark in the penalty box following a scrum in front of Hensley’s crease, Knight took advantage of the extra ice during 4-on-4 play, scoring a breakaway goal on Ann-Renée Desbiens. While Nurse helped close the gap for Canada with a goal off a pass from Renata Fast, Knight notched her second goal of the game on a power play in the third period to give the U.S. a 4-2 lead. Canada killed a late penalty and pulled Desbiens in the final minute, but the U.S. pulled away with the win. “I thought that Canada really brought it, they really didn’t want to see three games in the loss column and you could tell from their leader on down, they were tremendous,” said Wroblewski. “It felt great to be American today, an American hockey player, and I think that there’s going to be a lot of young girls in Seattle that want to be Hilary Knight or Kendall Coyne after that game. It was an honour to be a part of.” “I think in women’s sports we know the issue is visibility and whenever we can show up and support women’s sports to this magnitude and continue to progress off of that, it only shows,” said Knight. “Years ago we didn’t have a Rivalry Series, and this group pushed and pushed and pushed, and now we’re able to tour different US and Canadian cities. It’s so important for that next generation growing up, but it’s also important at this level to be able to get with your squad and be able to play and problem solve on the fly and all the great things that can happen when you’re playing at an elite level.” Canada and the United States will continue the Rivalry Series in December, with games in Henderson, Nevada (December 15) and Los Angeles, California (December 19).
Champions Hockey League: Schneider ready for challenge
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD: Coming out of the recent international break, Red Bull Salzburg’s players are back together and ready to host defending European champion Rogle Angelholm in the first leg of the Champions Hockey League. The defending champion of the Austrian-based international ICE Hockey League, Salzburg currently sits second in the regular season, six points behind Italian-based HC Bolzano. Salzburg had won six games in a row before losing 1-0 to Bolzano in the team’s most recent game. Salzburg is led in scoring by Austrian national team winger Peter Schneider, who has 15 points in 13 games. While Austrian hockey isn’t quite on the level of some of Europe’s best, Salzburg has gotten used to international success over the past 25 years. In addition to seven titles in the multi-state league in that time, Salzburg also won the IIHF Continental Cup in 2009/10 and advanced to the CHL semi-finals in 2018/19. This season, they advanced to the round of 16 on a dramatic final day of the group stage in which the team needed a point against Swiss club Fribourg-Gotteron with a lineup decimated by injuries and got a late equalizing goal. The shootout loss to follow was academic. Schneider, 31, is one of several Salzburg players who regularly play for the Austrian national team. Others include Thomas Raffl, Dominique Henrich, Benjamin Nissner, Ali Wukovits, Paul Huber, Philipp Wimmer and goaltender David Kickert. “We have the same five-man unit and same power-play unit on the club and national team, so I think that helps us a lot,” said Schneider. “You also get used to a higher level and a faster game and physically stronger opponents.” Recalling his time at the famous Notre Dame University, he said: “I had a great four years there with a lot of great memories. I had a bit of a tough time hockey-wise, trying to get used to that level and style of play, but academically and being with the guys, it was just an awesome experience.” “In college, I had a bit of a tough time adjusting to the higher level,” Schneider admitted. “We had a lot of great players so I took more of a defensive role, and it took me a couple of years after college to find my stride again and get a little confidence. I finally got a chance to play for the national team. I think the first World Championship was alright and since then, I’ve played for the national team every chance that I can and we’ve been improving there, so it’s been a pretty good ride.” This year’s World Championship wasn’t just great for Schneider personally. The Austrian team exceeded expectations, earning a historic first win over Czechia, playing close games against some other powerhouse teams, and ultimately finishing 11th – the nation’s highest finish since 2004. “We had a couple of older guys but in general, we had a pretty young, inexperienced team and we weren’t so sure how it was gonna go,” said Schneider. “We knew if we wanted to surprise some teams and win some games, we had to play as a team, so we tried to focus on forming a bond and playing for each other and I think that was our secret to success. We knew we were underdogs in pretty much every game except for that last one (against Great Britain), which was actually our worst game. But overall, I’m really happy with the way we played.” A key member of the Austrian team was 18-year-old Marco Kasper, who put his skills on display for the world to see just weeks before being drafted eighth overall by the Detroit Red Wings – by far, the highest an Austrian has ever been picked. “He’s a really good player – he wasn’t chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft for nothing,” said Schneider. “He’s a really good skater, he can create plays, he can shoot the puck and he’s a little feisty too. There aren’t a lot of weaknesses in his game. And for his age, he’s got a lot of confidence already.” On the opportunity to see a young Austrian phenom visiting, Schneider said of the Salzburg fans: “I think they will be excited to see an Austrian prospect that has a legitimate shot at going to the NHL. Obviously, he’s not from Salzburg so there’s not that connection, but for Austria in general, it’s a cool thing to see because we haven’t had a lot of high draft picks so far.” But beyond Kasper, Schneider and his teammates know they will have their hands full against the team that last year won the CHL title and lost in the Swedish Hockey League finals. “After you advance from the group stage, there are no easy opponents, so we knew we would probably have to go against a really good team,” Schneider reasoned. “We knew that going in so it doesn’t really bother us. Rogle won it last year so they’re on top of Europe, so we’re going to have to be at our absolute best to have a chance, but we’re prepared to fight and try our best.” (Thanks to Derek O'Brien)  
Ice Hockey Stars: Swiss Raselli, Danish Repstock-Romme retire
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD: Two prominent names in women’s hockey have announced their retirement in the last few days. 30-year-old Swiss forward Evelina Raselli and 21-year-old Danish goaltender Cassandra Repstock-Romme both have decided to leave the game. Danish Repstock-Romme said: “It has been an incredible honor to represent this amazing team and Denmark for soo many years! Looking back on all the amazing achievements and wonderful memories is just incredible! It can never in a million years be replaced. I have been honored every single time I had the opportunity to put this amazing jersey over my head. It is now time for a new chapter but a special thanks to this team and everyone who has been supporting me throughout this crazy journey. The two players leave the game at opposite ends of the spectrum. Raselli has represented Switzerland since 2008, when she made her national team debut at the U18 level, while Repstock-Romme got started in top-level international hockey only a year ago with an impressive performance at the 2021 Women’s Worlds. Switzerland has won only two medals in women’s hockey, and Raselli was part of both teams. At the 2012 Women’s Worlds and again two years later at the Olympics, the Swiss won a bronze. Additionally, Raselli had an extensive career in the Swiss league, primarily with the HC Lugano Ladies, and last season she also played with the Boston Pride in the PHF winning the Isobel Cup. Raselli played in the inaugural WW18 event in 2008 in Calgary as a 15-year-old and was in the lineup again the next year. Two years later, she made her senior debut, and in 2012 she helped the Swiss to a stunning bronze medal thanks to a 6-2 win over Finland in the third-place game in Burlington, Vermont. Raselli scored two goals in that tournament and both were big. She scored once in the team’s 5-2 win over Russia in the quarter-finals, and again in the decisive bronze-medal game. Although the team followed with a disappointing 6th-place finish in 2013, Raselli & Co. saved their best for the Sochi Olympics. Trailing the Swedes 2-0 entering the third period of the game for third place, the Swiss scored four unanswered goals and skated to a 4-3 win, giving them an historic Olympic bronze. Raselli’s last three IIHF events were all bittersweet – the team made it to the bronze game each time, only to lose at the 2021 and ’22 Women’s Worlds and the Beijing Olympics last February. Raselli was at her best in Herning this past August, though. Playing every game on a team overwhelmed by injuries, she averaged 23:31 of ice time a game, tops on the team and a testament to her iron determination and fortitude. In all, Raselli played in three Olympics and nine Women’s Worlds, a total of 67 top-level games. By contrast, Repstock-Romme was just beginning what looked like a brilliant career. Although she lost both games at her inaugural event, the 2021 Women’s Worlds, she stopped 50 of 54 shots and looked to be the goalie of the future for the Danes. In Beijing, she was the winning goalie against Czechia on 7 February, the first ever Danish win at the Olympics. Despite being outshot 32-17, Repstock-Romme was the team’s best player and the reason they won. But equally important, it was Repstock-Romme, who backstopped the team to qualify for Beijing in the first place. During the Final Olympic Qualification in Fussen, Germany, she played every minute for Denmark which advanced with two wins and an overtime loss. In all, Repstock-Romme stopped 48 of 50 shots and earned two shutouts in the three games. Then, just two months ago on home ice, she shared the goaltending duties with Lisa Jensen in Herning, but the team finished 10th and was demoted for the 2023 Women’s Worlds. Nevertheless, Repstock-Romme showed all the skill and promise of a goalie with a bright future, and her loss will be deeply felt by the Danes as they fight to get back to the top pool. She had also played for several years in the Danish women’s league, mostly with Gentofte. (Thanks to Andrew Podnieks)
Ice-Hockey female star Nadia Mattivi leads the way in Boston
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD: The Italian women’s national team defender took a risk when she joined the Boston University women’s hockey team to become the first European skater in Terriers history in 2019/20. Her decision to invest in herself has definitely paid off. This season, as a 22-year-old senior, Mattivi is serving as the captain. Previous BU captains include Canadian greats like Marie-Philip Poulin (2012/13, 2014/15) and Jennifer Wakefield (2011/12). More recently, the U.S.’s Jesse Compher wore the “C” (2020/21). For Mattivi to achieve the captaincy under long-time head coach Brian Durocher is a remarkable testament to the Trento native’s perseverance and leadership skills. After all, Italy is a developing women’s hockey nation, currently 17th in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking. “When I came here, I would have never expected to be captain,” Mattivi told IIHF.com. “Four years ago, I was a freshman, just living the dream of playing in the United States. Being the captain of a program with such a great history, I can’t describe it. Every time I play, I look at my jersey and I’m speechless. That’s a great honour. Knowing that Poulin and Wakefield wore that same ‘C’ on their jerseys is definitely incredible.” Winners of five Hockey East titles between 2010 and 2015, the Terriers hope to return to NCAA contender status this season at the 3,806-capacity Walter Brown Arena. Mattivi will play big minutes in a two-way role. She had three goals and nine assists in 29 games last year. Asked to describe her style, the 175-cm, 67-kg veteran said: “I would say I'm a pretty offensive D. I like to shoot the puck. I like to find people in front of the net. I feel like I’m a smart D. I don’t really skate around a lot. I kind of read the play more and try to utilize my tank of energy the best way possible.” The Terriers have added some bite to their bark this season with new talent. Brooke Disher, who captained Canada to a gold medal at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship in June, was partnered with Mattivi early on. “She’s an incredible player,” Mattivi said of the 18-year-old British Columbian. “We’re very similar. Right from the start, there were several instances where we found each other in the offensive zone. She’s a good kid. You can tell that she’s had international experience. She’s a freshman, but she's already proving herself, and I really hope she’ll have a great season.” At the other end of the spectrum experience-wise is goaltender Andrea Braendli. The 25-year-old Swiss star, who spent four years with the Ohio State Buckeyes, is pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in criminal justice at BU. Already named to two Olympic squads and five Women’s Worlds rosters, Braendli is capable of stealing hockey games. The Zurich native posted a 19-save shutout in her Terriers debut, a 4-0 win over Rensselaer on 7 October and made 26 saves to blank New Hampshire 2-0 on 14 October. Understandably, Mattivi is excited about playing in front of her. “She’s adding professionalism to the team,” Mattivi said. “You look at her and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Okay, this is what it takes to be an Olympian, because she’s been to two Olympics, and she’s only three years older than me.’ Everyone looks up to her. You can feel the calmness that she brings to the team, and she’s always there to cheer people on.” BU is still seeking its first national title since entering NCAA competition under Durocher in 2005/06. But for Boston-area fans, the Beanpot – an annual tournament pitting BU against Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston College – represents huge bragging rights. The 44th edition of the women’s Beanpot is slated for February at Harvard. The year before Mattivi joined the Terriers, they dramatically won the 2019 Beanpot final, edging Harvard 3-2 on tournament MVP Sammy Davis’s goal set up by Compher. In 2020, Northeastern broke BU hearts with a 4-3 double OT victory, riding a four-point outing from France’s Chloe Aurard. Mattivi would love one more crack at earning a Beanpot title before she graduates. (Thanks to Lucas Aykroyd)
Lundqvist still going strong in Champions Hockey League
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Islamabad:-After starting their domestic leagues in the middle of September, 32 of Europe’s best club teams will return to international competition over the next couple of weeks to finish the Champions Hockey League group stage. For Frolunda Gothenburg captain Joel Lundqvist, this is nothing new. Since the competition restarted in 2014/15, Frolunda has played every season except in 2020/21 when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Nobody has played more than Lundqvist’s 81 CHL games and only Frolunda teammate Ryan Lasch has more than his 66 points. “It’s huge to play games like this before the start of the league,” said Lundqvist. “Playing good teams in competitive games instead of just exhibition games makes a big difference, both in terms of the quality of the games and for the team, travelling together.” In terms of CHL success, Frolunda is in a class by itself. In seven previous seasons, it has won the title four times, lost in the final on one other occasion, and only failed to reach the semi-finals once. That’s a remarkable record, considering that while the team has also been successful in the Swedish Hockey League during that time with two national championships, it has not been outright dominant domestically. “We always make it a team goal to go all the way in this, from management to coaches to players,” Lundqvist said about Frolunda’s approach to the CHL. “It’s a big tournament with a lot of good teams, so we really focus on these games and, of course, we’ve had some luck on the way over the years.” Lundqvist arrived at Frolunda in 1998 at the age of 16 along with identical-twin brother Henrik, the famous goaltender. A few years earlier, the story goes, Joel played a role in putting Henrik in net. “That’s an old story,” Joel chuckled. “Back when we started playing, when we were eight or nine years old, we were pretty quiet and the coach asked if there were any goalies. I took his hand and raised it. It’s a funny story but, yeah, that’s how it started. We helped each other and pushed each other to be good.” Both brothers were drafted by NHL teams in 2000 – Joel in the third round by the Dallas Stars and Henrik in the seventh round by the New York Rangers – and then made their journeys overseas a few years later. Henrik, of course, became a fixture on Broadway. Until 2005, the twins had always played on the same team but after that, they were occasionally reunited on the Swedish national team. Of course, they have always stayed close off the ice, even when far apart. “He spends the summers in Gothenburg so we spent some time together there, but now he’s back in New York,” Joel said of his brother. “He has his life there with kids and family, and just starting his new job as an ambassador for Madison Square Garden. He’s really excited about that.” After three seasons split between the Stars and their AHL affiliate, Joel returned to Frolunda in 2009 and has been the team’s captain ever since. He is now the club’s all-time leader in games played (870) and penalty minutes (802) and is second to Niklas Andersson in all-time goals, assists and points. In this year’s group stage, one of its opponents is Mountfield Hradec Kralove, its opponent in the 2019/20 final, which Frolunda won 3-1. When the teams met again on 10 September at the same CPP Arena, it was the Czech team that got a bit of revenge by winning 5-3. Still, the game was a reminder that you can never count Frolunda out. The team has a history of making late comebacks in the CHL and this time, trailing 4-1 with five minutes to play, goals by Max Friberg and Petteri Lindbohm made it a one-goal game before a late empty-netter finished it. “We know the game is 60 minutes,” said Lundqvist. “Especially in this tournament, we have a history of coming back in games, which is the key to being successful. Today we were up against a good team that made it hard for us to create a lot of scoring chances, but we did push to make it pretty close.” The loss was Frolunda’s first in the CHL so far, after one win at home against Hradec Kralove and two against German team Eisbaren Berlin. Frolunda sits tied for first in Group G with nine points and has two games remaining against French champion Grenoble, so the team looks to be in good shape in terms of advancing to the round of 16. “We’ve gotta respect the teams we’ve played, both Berlin and Mountfield,” said Lundqvist. “They’re two really good teams, so taking three out of four is pretty good. We could have done some stuff better today but overall, it’s an okay start.” Lundqvist is now in his 20th SHL season – all with Frolunda – and in his 23rd season of professional hockey. Whereas Henrik was forced to cut his career a bit shorter than he wanted a couple of years back, Joel is still playing at age 42 with no immediate plans to stop. “I take it year by year now,” he said. “I don’t want to look too far ahead. I know the end is around the corner but I don’t know exactly when it’s gonna be. Right now I’m just focused on this season but I don’t know if it’s the last one or whether I’ll keep going.” (Thanks to Derek O'Brien)
IIHF Continental Cup: Historic triumph for KHL Sisak
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Islamabad:-The 25th IIHF Continental Cup season started with a newcomer winning the Group A round-robin tournament over the weekend in the Winter Sports Palace in Sofia. Already on Saturday KHL Sisak secured first place in the standings after defeating Estonian champion Tartu Valk 494 7-2 and Skautafelag Akureyrar from Iceland 6-2. In the last day of competition the Croatian champion completed the perfect record in the Bulgarian capital with a 9-6 win over host NSA Sofia. Jarcov scored the first goal against Tartu Valk 494 midway the first period when his team was shorthanded. Seven minutes later one of the new additions, Gabe Schovanek, tallied for 2-0. The Lightning (Valk in Estonian) had a great advantage in shots on goal (24-7) in the second period, but the Knights (the nickname of KHL Sisak) were those who found the net. Aleksejs Popovs was given a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head area and Schovanek scored again on the subsequent power play. After goals by Patrik Dobric and Tomislav Licina the score was 5-0 until the 53rd minute, when Vassili Titarenko scored for the 13-time Estonian champion. In eventful last three minutes there were three more goals and three game misconduct penalties – one for spearing and two for fighting. The next day it was Sean Ramsay’s show in the Winter Palace. He scored two goals in the first period, assisted on the next two in the second for a 4-0 lead against Skautafelag Akureyrar and completed the hat trick and a five-point game with his tally at the beginning of the third. During the last minutes of the game the teams exchanged goals and there was even a missed penalty shot as a cherry on top of the cake. After Sisak’s second win and NSA’s loss to Taru Valk 494 it was mathematically impossible for anyone to take down the Knights from their throne. In the first two games David Anderson was Sisak’s goalkeeper and he made 63 saves on 67 shots. 18-year-old Franko Oreskovic replaced him for the game against NSA. In every period there were five goals with Sisak winning the first and the second frame 4-1 and 3-2 respectively and NSA edging in the third with 3-2 for the final score of 9-6. Ramsey had another hattrick and Jarcov (2+2), Patrik Dobric (1+3) and Ivan Puzic (0+4) for Sisak and Erik Blinov (3+1) finished with four points. KHL Sisak, founded in 1934, is the oldest ice hockey club in Croatia and last season it became the first team outside of Zagreb to win the national championship. The fairy-tale story continued with the first place in the team’s first European club competition event. The two new faces for this season, 21-year-old Canadians Sean Ramsay and Gabe Schovanek, were attracted to Sisak by their friendship with Dominic Canic and Patrik Dobric. The four were playing in Victoria, British Columbia, for the Pacific Coast Academy. Canic, who was born in New Zealand, played also in Sweden and Germany before making his debut for Sisak last season. Ramsay was the 2018/19 top scorer (46 goals, 96 points) of the Canadian Sports School Hockey League, played also in the BCHL and last season for Johnstown Tomahawks in NAHL. Schovanek was his teammate not only in Victoria, but also at the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. Two more players came to Sisak from league rival Mladost Zagreb: Jan Ikanovic Silhan and Luka Derek, who got injured in the first game in Sofia. Last April, Croatia won the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group B, which was staged in the Winter Sports Palace as well. Two weeks ago Croatia won the U20 World Championship of the same level in Belgrade. Luka Derek was part of this team. The historic triumph of KHL Sisak places the team in the IIHF Continental Cup Group C for the second round, which will be staged in Angers from 14 to 16 October 2022. The Knights will have three opponents there, host Angers Ducs (France), Ferencvarosi TC (Hungary) and SC Miercurea Ciuc (Romania). The last game of Group A on Sunday was a direct battle for second place, but Tartu was too strong for the Vikings from Akureyri and won 8-0. Host NSA Sofia finished last, but showed great spirit in the game against the Vikings on the first day, coming back from 3-5 to 5-5 in just 13 seconds to win a point for a regulation-time tie. The 23-time Icelandic champions won 6-5 in a shootout. NSA is a first-time Bulgarian champion and had by far the most U18 players on the ice during this weekend – six, two of them even born in 2006. The message from the organization was clear: path for the youth for the debut rather than looking for reinforcements elsewhere. (Thanks to Ivan Tchechankov).
IIHF Ice Hockey: Icelander dreams big in Czechia
SPORTS BULLETIN Islamabad:-Most roads for a promising Icelandic player lead to its Nordic neighbours. Bucking this long-set trend is teenage goalkeeper Johann Ragnarsson, now carving out a career in Czechia. “By becoming the first Icelandic player in the Czech Republic, I wanted to do something no Icelander had ever done before. The welcome I have received since arriving has been amazing with everyone supporting and helping me,” said Ragnarsson, who turned 19 yesterday and has high ambitions in his new home. “The goal is to play hockey professionally, either in the top division or second division, so I hope to stay in the Czech Republic as long as I can.” Ragnarsson achieved hero status following his displays on home ice last April. Iceland then won gold at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B and Ragnarsson was selected as the tournament´s best goalkeeper. In their final game against Belgium, the teenager wrote himself into Icelandic hockey folklore saving 44 shots in an epic 3-2 win against Belgium. “It was a crazy game and I am still living from the highs of that. I played the best game of my career and the team had a really good game. We played at home and with the support we got from the stands, it was an amazing experience,” said Ragnarsson on his memories of playing an integral part in winning Iceland’s first gold medal at the men’s senior level since 2006. Five months on, Ragnarsson is currently aiming to continue his rich vein of form for Iceland’s U20 national team as newcomers at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II Group B in Belgrade, Serbia. His progress of late is all down to a combination of hard work and making a bold leap into previously unknown territory for an Icelandic player. “When the time was right for Johann to go abroad during the summer of 2021, we first looked at Sweden as an alternative. This has been the path for many Icelandic players. But a lot of them return home after four to eight months after hardly having played a game,” said his father Ragnar Johannsson, who supports the Icelandic U20 national team as equipment manager. Instead, Czechia became the most enticing prospect, thanks to Miloslav Racansky, a Czech-born naturalized Icelandic national player and coach. “I started coaching Johann at the age of 12-13 and he is a really friendly, responsible and humble kid. But I told him it was not going to be easy, not too many people speaking English and so on, but he wanted to do it. So I contacted my uncle who is working for the club I started playing with in Czech Republic,” said Racansky, currently the assistant coach of the Icelandic U20 national team. With Covid-regulations once again making travel possible, Ragnarsson embarked on his Czech adventure in July 2021. Staying with Racansky’s parents, Ragnarsson soon found his feet in Vlasim, home of 11,000 people, where the common language at first was the town’s passion for hockey. “I was 17 when I moved and at first it was a bit scary. I didn’t speak Czech, but everyone was so friendly. Hockey-wise, the first thing I noticed was the discipline around the team. You show up an hour before practice and when the coach is talking you sit there quietly. In Iceland these things are different. Of course, the speed and the quality of hockey are also different. Rytiri Vlasim, the team I started with, had a senior team playing in the fourth division, but the level was much higher than I had ever played in,” Ragnarsson said. He gained valuable experience during the 2021/22 season as backup goalie for the senior team of Rytiri Vlasim and in rotation for a starting spot for the club’s junior team. Eager to continue to push himself upwards in his new environment, a successful try-out in March this year saw him being offered the position as starting goalie for SC Kolin’s U20 team for the 2022/23 season. Since then, the team’s relentless pre-season training regime and working daily with a goalie coach is different from Iceland and certainly paying off. “Pre-season with SC Kolin included one week with four practices a day. But otherwise, we had two practices a day all summer. I can see why the coach decides to do this because when we played our pre-season games we looked really good,” said Ragnarsson as he outlines his highly set ambitions for this season. “At first, my plan was first to go abroad. The second step was eventually moving to a better team and I made it happen. My goal now is to do the best I can for the junior team of SC Kolin, develop my game and hopefully make it to the senior team playing in the Czech second division, or at least practise with them. At the end of the season, Iceland’s national team will play at the World Championship Division II Group A in Madrid. Playing together with your childhood friends and representing my country is the highest goal and my time in the Czech Republic has helped me develop to get there,” said Ragnarsson. Iceland’s men’s national team hit its peak in 2014 when finishing second behind Estonia at the World Championship Division II Group A. 17 players on that Icelandic roster had during one point of their careers skated in either Sweden, Finland, Denmark or Norway. As far as recent results are concerned, Icelandic hockey once again appears to be on the way up. Both the men’s and the women’s national teams won gold last season. With Iceland’s hockey program now looking for continued progress, could Ragnarsson’s positive experiences help attract more Icelandic youngsters to opt for Czechia? “In Johann, I can really see the improvement from his time in the Czech Republic. They have worked with him for one year and he is now stepping up the divisions, so I hope to bring over more Icelandic players to the Czech Republic. There are already two kids here on the U20 national team being interested,” said Racansky. (Thanks to Henrik Manninen)
Summit Series at 50: Sweden
Sports Bulletin ISLAMABAD:-Team Canada flew to Toronto after game four in Vancouver, and the players were given three days off to see their families and pack for a lengthy European sojourn. It was a tough break. Instead of celebrating a joyous cross-country tour of dominant hockey, the team had won only one of four games and was in a precarious situation. Fans and media had turned on them, and the mood was anything but happy. They were a desperate and downcast group searching for answers, happy to get away, but dreading it all the same. On 12 September everyone left for Stockholm, the team flying in two planes at the insistence of NHL owners. The only player not with the team was Frank Mahovlich, whose allergic reaction in Vancouver to ragweed had caused excessive swelling around his eyes (not to mention a knee injury). He flew directly to Moscow on 20 September. The players arrived in Sweden on the 13th, held an intra-squad game the next day, and then played back-to back games against a collection of Swedish all-stars on Saturday and Sunday. They practised again on Monday and Tuesday and flew off to Moscow on Wednesday the 20th. Having been in Stockholm for three days to practise on the much wider European ice, Canada took to the ice knowing it had a monumental task ahead in Moscow. Trailing in the series, it had to adjust to a rink size totally unfamiliar to every player, who had been raised on NHL-sized ice and never set foot on the bigger European sheet (except goalie Ken Dryden). Their focus wasn’t on their Swedish opponents, but soon enough scenes of dirty play and violence got their attention and brought them together. Coach Harry Sinden inserted several players in the lineup who hadn’t played at all against the Soviets in the first four games in Canada, notably Jocelyn Guevrement, Brian Glennie, and Marcel Dionne. Canada won the game, 4-1, but it was by no means a work of creative or artistic triumph. Nonetheless, it was a great game for getting the players to think of each other as a team – us against the world – instead of a collection of superstars. It was only in retrospect that the Swedish team could be appreciated for what it would bring soon enough to hockey’s history in Canada. In purpose, it was merely a collection of top players Canada could use to play against, but the roster was, in fact, more important than anyone could have known at the time. Ulf Sterner, the first European ever to play in the NHL, with the New York Rangers nearly a decade earlier, was one of the Swedish players. One of the defencemen was Borje Salming, whom the Toronto Maple Leafs signed a year later and who went on to establish the ability of Europeans in the NHL. Inge Hammarstrom joined him but didn’t fare as well. Lars-Erik Sjoberg signed later with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA and became the first European team captain in NHL history in 1979. And then, of course, the pair of Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson also played a starring role, first in the WHA with the Jets, playing with Bobby Hull on the first truly international forward line, and later in the NHL with the Rangers as the highest paid players in the league. In truth, this wasn’t a random collection of Swedes – this was the future of hockey in the NHL. Game two saw the teams play to a 4-4 tie, but there was more to the game than that. Sinden started Ed Johnston for the first time, and the goalie responded with a terrific performance. Indeed, he was Canada’s best player in a game that devolved into mayhem on several occasions, none worse than at the end of the second period when Wayne Cashman received an horrific spear to his mouth from Ulf Sterner, cutting his tongue for 18 stitches and forcing him to miss the rest of the Summit Series altogether. Not to be outdone, Vic Hadfield broke the nose of Lars Erik Sjoberg with a nasty high-stick that was, in the eyes of the Canadians, due comeuppance for Cashman’s injury. Although the game ended in a tie, players questioned the purpose of playing two games in a country that had nothing to do with the Summit Series at a time when focus was critical. Said Sinden right after the second game: “Obviously our players were not motivated for these games in Sweden. How could they be? They’re thinking about the Russians, not the Swedes.” Nevertheless, everyone later agreed that the days in Sweden were essential to later success in Moscow. The players became a team. They learned how to play on the big ice and got into better shape. And, they had developed a win-at-all-costs mentality they would need heading into four games in an alien arena in which they needed to win three. (Thanks to Andrew Podnieks)
US Hall of Famers announced of Ice Hockey
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Islamabad:-USA Hockey announced the inductees for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in this its 50th year. Honourees include Steve Cash (sled hockey), Jim Johannson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, and Ryan Miller. The ceremony will take place at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota on 30 November and will also include honouring the newest recipient of the NHL’s Lester Patrick Trophy. Cash, a sled hockey goalie, won Paralympic gold three times and was a five-time world champion during his 16-year career. He is the first sled hockey player to join the ranks of the best hockey players in U.S. hockey history. “I was inspired by the team that won the gold medal in Salt Lake,” Cash said of his early motivation. “Sled hockey allowed me to achieve my dreams. To have this honour exceeds my wildest dreams. I can’t imagine what my life would be without hockey.” Johannson was known as “JJ” to everyone until his passing in 2018. He was posthumously awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2018 and the IIHF’s Paul Loicq Award in 2019 for his contribution to U.S. hockey as well and was a much loved and respected member of the international hockey family. He played at two World Juniors (1983, 1984), two Olympics (1988, 1992), and the 1992 World Championship, before becoming a successful administrator with USA Hockey, building teams for all levels of IIHF competition and winning gold many times over at virtually every level. He will be represented at the ceremony by his wife, Abby. “I’m so proud of JJ and know he’d be so honoured by his induction into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. I will always remember his kindness and generosity towards others. He was such a wonderful person and had an impact on so many people.” The Lamoureux twins timed their retirement perfectly. Jocelyne and Monique were critical in leading the Americans to a spectacular 3-2 win over Canada at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. Monique scored the tying goal with only 6:21 remaining in the third period, and then Jocelyne scored the winner in the shootout, giving the U.S. their first Olympic gold since 1998. Both players were different, but both contributed to many gold-medal successes. Jocelyne was the scorer and Monique played both defence and forward, and for some 15 years they were key elements of Team USA’s roster. “This is a special class to be a part of,” Jocelyne noted. “When you look back at your career, you think about all the people who helped get you to where you were and maintain a career that I had. You can’t do it alone. When I think about being inspired, it was the ’98 team. Monique and I watched them win a gold medal. We were in first grade, but that really sparked our Olympic dreams and our Team USA aspirations. We were fortunate to wear the red, white, and blue for many years. The shootout goal in 2018 is probably the defining moment for my career, but what I’m most proud of with the teams I was a part of was not just the medals but the change we made for women’s hockey. It has grown so much, the speed, the skill, and so to be a part of such an instrumental group on and off the ice is what I’m most proud of.” “When you look back on your career, you remember your teammates and who has been a part of your journey,” Monique added. “We texted the other day with Megan Keller and Kacey Bellamy having just watched the Women’s Worlds, and now that we’ve been removed from the sport for two or three years, you can reflect back on how special the leadership group was that we were a part of for a number of years. The more removed you are from it, the more you realize how special it was, and what we were able to accomplish. It’s a reflection of all the people around us for so many years. And finally getting that Olympic gold in 2018 is something we’ll always cherish.” Miller is the winningest American-born goalie in NHL history, and he took the U.S. to overtime of the gold-medal game at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver at which he was named tournament MVP for his sensational play. “My inspiration came back watching the Lillehammer Olympics,” Miller recalled. “I realized then that I wanted to be a professional goalie, but also that it was important for me to represent my country internationally.” Indeed, Miller played at the 2002 and 2003 World Championship, and he won silver in Vancouver before playing at the Sochi Olympics four years later. In 19 NHL seasons, the Michigander played 797 games and won the Vezina Trophy in 2010.
IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and top teams
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD:-Hungary, which made the Women's Worlds quarter-finals for the first time ever in Denmark, will try to carry that momentum into the 2023 tournament, and other teams have good things to build on too. From first place to last place, all 10 national teams competing in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark had some games they’d prefer to forget. Yet more importantly, they can all carry some positive memories and achievements into the 2023 tournament this spring in Canada. Canada At the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, the Canadians regained their Olympic crown with a perfect record and 57-10 goal difference. Conversely, in Denmark, the Marie-Philip Poulin-captained squad had a harder time generating offence (33-9 goal difference). Canada lost 5-2 to the archrival Americans in the group stage before edging them 2-1 in the final to repeat as champs. Assistant captain Brianne Jenner continued her tradition of rising to the occasion against the U.S., scoring both goals in the gold medal game to total 101 career national team points. The 31-year-old power forward now has more points (7+8=15) in the last 12 Canada-U.S. Olympic and Women’s Worlds games than any other player. Here’s another amazing stat. Since debuting at the 2021 Women’s Worlds, Sarah Fillier – the only Canadian named to this year’s all-star team with a Canada-leading 11 points – has registered 18 of her 28 points on either Canada’s first or second goal of the game in her 21 official IIHF games. At age 22, she is a true offensive catalyst for coach Troy Ryan. Other personal triumphs included 37-year-old defender Meaghan Mikkelson’s recovery from injury and return to IIHF competition for the first time since the 2018 Olympics and 24-year-old forward Sarah Potomak’s first Women’s Worlds gold medal after settling for silver in her lone previous tournament appearance in 2017. Czechia The Czechs have arrived. Under first-time head coach Carla MacLeod, they won their first medal in IIHF history – bronze – with a 4-2 victory over Switzerland on Sunday. But that wasn’t all. In their fourth all-time Women’s Worlds try versus Finland, the Czechs finally ended their losing streak with top-scoring defender Daniela Pejsova’s 2-1 quarter-final winner in overtime. Putting two players on the tournament all-star team – Pejsova (5+4=9) and starting goalie Klara Peslarova (1.83 GAA, 91.3 save percentage) – also broke new ground. The Czechs have a youth movement to be proud of. Natalie Mlynkova, 21, notched two of her team-leading six goals in the bronze medal game. Fellow attacker Adela Sapovalivova – just 16 and less than three months away from her U18 Women’s Worlds all-star team berth – was a gritty and meaningful contributor as a senior team rookie (3+1=4). Denmark Admittedly, it was heartbreaking for the Danes to get relegated on home ice with a 3-2 loss to Germany in their round-robin finale. Yet for the small Nordic nation that made its Olympic debut this year in Beijing, there were good takeaways from hosting the Women’s Worlds for the first time ever. Denmark secured its first Women’s Worlds win in history, blanking Hungary 1-0 on Julia Ostergaard’s third-period goal and Lisa Jensen’s 45-save shutout. That was sweet revenge after falling 5-1 to Hungary the year before in Calgary. Remarkably, Jensen and fellow netminder Cassandra Repstock-Romme also combined for the tournament’s second-best save percentage (92.4 percent) after the U.S. goalies (92.47 percent). Finland For Finnish fans, it’s tough to put a positive spin on this tournament. Finland’s sixth-place finish was its all-time Women’s Worlds worst, ending an IIHF medal streak during which it had earned one silver (2019 WW) and three bronzes (2018 OG, 2017 WW, 2021 WW). Struggling to convert offensively, the Finns had 19 goals on 264 shots. Suomi lost 1-0 to the Japanese in the fifth-place game despite outshooting them 61-17. Suspensions for dangerous hits by Petra Nieminen and Ronja Savolainen bookended the tumultuous journey in Denmark. Captain Jenni Hiirikoski wasn’t pleased about giving the puck away on Czechia’s sudden-death quarter-final winner, but the most decorated blueliner in IIHF women’s history added another feather in her cap by playing in her record 14th Women’s Worlds and 82nd game at age 35. Leading scorer Elisa Holopainen, 20, had her much-anticipated breakout (4+2=6), giving Finland a legitimate second-line threat. Germany The downside for the Germans was their continued decline in the standings. After peaking with fourth place in 2017, they’ve come seventh (2019), eighth (2021), and now ninth in Frederikshavn. Nonetheless, coach Thomas Schadler’s team went home feeling proud of the extraordinary resilience they showed to come back and beat Denmark 3-2. Veteran Tanja Eisenschmid, who led Germany in scoring (4+2=6), scored the go-ahead goal through traffic with just one second left in regulation. Surprisingly, the Germans also had the second-best power play percentage at these Women’s Worlds (38.4 percent, 5-for-13). Their first goal versus the Danes was courtesy of forward Franziska Feldmeier with the woman advantage. Hungary Hungary has come further in one year than moving up from ninth place (2021) to eighth place (2022) might indicate. The Germans were definitely Hungary’s favourite opposing team here. Not only did coach Pat Cortina’s squad open the tournament by topping Germany 4-2, but the German win over Denmark enabled Hungary to squeak out its first quarter-final berth ever. Taking a point from Sweden in a 3-2 shootout loss and taking Finland to overtime before falling 3-2 in a placement game were other points of pride for the Magyars. Fun fact: 20 percent of the team’s 10 goals were scored by a 16-year-old. Regina Metzler, already in her second Women’s Worlds, lit the red lamp against both the Americans and the Finns. That’s a great sign for the Budapest-trained forward’s future. Japan If coach Yuji Iizuka’s main message to Team Japan early in the tournament was, “It gets better, I promise,” that would make total sense. In its maiden voyage in Group A, Japan dropped its first four games by an aggregate of 31-4. It then suffered a tough 2-1 quarter-final shootout loss to Switzerland. However, Japan’s remaining games proved that the smallest players aren’t necessarily short on heart or talent. Forward Remy Koyama – who stands just 147 cm and 52 kg – had the winning goal in both the 5-4 comeback victory over Sweden and the 1-0 shootout win versus Finland. In the latter matchup, goalie Miyuu Masuhara – clocking in at 152 cm and 50 kg – delivered a 61-save shutout. Meanwhile, the team’s top attackers finished with personal single-tournament highs in points, including Haruka Toko (2+4=6) and Akane Shiga (3+2=5). Sweden Do you believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder? If so, Sweden’s return to the top division for the first time since 2019 was a win in itself, regardless of the circumstances. Also, in the Damkronorna’s first quarter-final since 2017, Canada won 3-0. But Canada’s margin of victory was the same as over Group A medal contenders Finland and Switzerland, who both lost 4-1 to the defending champs. And goalie Emma Soderberg shone with 54 saves. Granted, the Swedes are likely still a few years away from fighting for a medal again. But when you consider that they kicked off this tournament with a three-game win streak, you can see the potential. At 23, team scoring leader Hanna Olsson (5+3=8) still has room to grow. Ditto for the remarkable two-way defender Mira Jungaker (1+4=5), who is just 17. Switzerland It’s hard to evaluate this Swiss team fairly. For the second straight Women’s Worlds, they played most games without 2018 Olympic scoring leader Alina Muller, this time due to COVID-19 issues. Captain Lara Stalder, Laura Zimmermann, and Noemi Rhyner were other Swiss skaters who couldn’t play the full seven games for health reasons. Even though coach Colin Muller’s squad didn’t fulfill its bronze-medal hopes against the Czechs, it deserves credit for surviving a potential quarter-final challenge from the Japanese. Defender Lara Christen, who was targeted by the Canadians in an 8-1 semi-final loss, played a whopping 31:39 in the quarter-final, and the 19-year-old will only get better. Finally, although it isn’t reflected in the medal count, this is the most successful era in Swiss women’s hockey in terms of consistency. Never before has Switzerland earned top-five placements in three consecutive Women’s Worlds (fifth in 2019, fourth in 2021 and 2022). The streak is even longer if you include the 2018 Olympics (fifth) and 2022 Olympics (fourth). United States From Day One, the Americans were the best team at this tournament, only falling short in the gold medal game. Under new coach John Wroblewski, they looked revitalized, staging multiple assaults on the record books. Team-wise, their 53 total goals were second only to Canada’s 1990 Women’s Worlds total (61). Hilary Knight became the all-time leading Women’s Worlds scorer in the 12-1 quarter-final romp over Hungary. She will likely remain unchallenged for years (53+36=89). Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield became the all-time leading assist-getter (41 assists) in a U.S. uniform. And how about the remarkable youth movement headlined by MVP Taylor Heise? As a Women’s Worlds rookie, the 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner led this tournament with 18 points, the second-highest total in history after the U.S.’s Cindy Curley (23) in 1990. Heise and fellow tournament all-star Amanda Kessel showed magical chemistry, both tying the single-game assists record (5) on different occasions. Up and down the roster, from defenders Caroline Harvey (5+3=8) and Jincy Dunne (2+4=6) to forwards Hannah Bilka (5+7=12) and Abby Roque (5+3=8), we saw world-class performances from young players who could take it to new, golden heights come April. (Thanks to Lucas Aykroyd)