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Punta Arenas winter tournment 2015 - champions

Report by Steven Ellis form the Hockey House

HEROES ON ICE

Just over a month after announcing their intention to play ice hockey, the Falkland Islands have won their very first game after defeating Chilean club Santiago Yetis 8-2 on Thursday.

With a total population of just 2,932 people, Falkland Islands is the smallest hockey nation to play organized ice hockey on record. Back in May, the team announced their intentions to travel to Chile twice a year to compete in 3-on-3 games taking place. For the Islands, their victory on Friday took place in just their very first attempt, a big step forward for the small nation. The win comes just a month after Brazil won their very first hockey game, and three months after Georgia took down Bosnia 4-1 for their inaugural victory.

According to an image of the score sheet, Ryan Bahl led the way with a five goal performance, assisting on two other goals in the contest. Bahl, a native of California, has played hockey in various different countries, including Spain, New Zealand and South Africa. While he’s trained on ice for many years, the rest of the team focused on honing skills in inline and ball hockey in the country, with months and months of preparation going in to their successful debut.

The win comes part of a 3-on-3 tournament in Chile known as the Copa Invernada, a four team tournament involving the Punta Arenas Kotaix and Santiago Yetis from the host nation, as well as the Rio Grande Dragones from Argentina. Falkland Islands’ next game is set for Friday against the Kotaix, with their third and final preliminary round game to take place against Dragones on Saturday. The gold and bronze medal games will take place on Sunday.

Just a day after winning their first ever ice hockey game in their debut, the Falkland Islands stay 2-0 at the Copa Invernada tournament in Chile, defeating Kotaix from the host nation for the 14-3 victory.

Led again by Ryan Bahl, easily the top player in the tournament, the new hockey country with just under 3000 residents made easy work to take the victory. The win came just a day after their first ever victory, an 8-2 clubbing of Santiago Yetis.

Friday, however, came even easier. By the end of the first period (in a game featuring just two periods and 3-on-3 action), the Islands recorded their second straight win after taking the 9-2 lead after a period of action alone. Made up of players who, for the most part, never took part in an ice hockey game before this weekend, the Falkland Islands have already clinched a spot in the finals against the Rio Grande Dragones from Argentina on Sunday. They both coincidentally will play their final preliminary round games as a tuneup on Saturday, with both teams heading in with undefeated records.

On Thursday, they were newly crowned hockey victors, securing their first win in dominating fashion. On Sunday, they became hockey champions.

The Copa Invernada in Chile proved to be the opening event for the Falkland Islands ice hockey team, the smallest hockey nation on record. A brand new team with very resources and players to choose from, the Islands made their debut on the ice this past week, with an 8-2 win over Santiago Yetis on Thursday setting the tone. The team finished that up with 14-3 and 6-3 victories over the next two days, earning them a spot in the finals of the four team tournament.

On Sunday, the Falkland Islands met with the Rio Grande Dragones from Argentina for the second straight day. For the Islands, the team had won by three goals the day before, and with 28 goals in the first three games, it looked rather promising heading into the winner-takes-all event. The team would once again allow three goals to their 3-on-3 rivals at the other end of the rink, but their nine goals was what it would take to grab the 9-3 victory and the tournament championship.

The expectation is that the Falkland Islands will return to Chile for one more chance at playing again on the ice this year, with no ice available in their own country. Falkland Islands is one of the 14 British Overseas Territories, a group of nations with very little hockey experience so far. Another member of the group, Cayman Islands, has played ice hockey previously, competing in the 2005 World Pond Hockey Championships in Canada. Gibraltar also has a rink, unlike the previous two countries, but has had no ice hockey action to date.

Interview - The hockey house

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.

On the Ice at last

The Falkland Islands Ice Hockey team have made history, what is reported to be the smallest contries Ice Hockey team have finally suited up and have been on the Ice training on Punta Arenas, Chile. With a week to go the FI team will be assisting local Ice Hockey teams with training and holding hockey clinics, training continues while the count down to face off continues..

 

Hockey clinic in Punta

ICE HOCKEY

Falkland Islands Hockey has finally matured. From humble beginnings of uni hockey, to indoor hockey then Dek Hockey.  Finally Inline hockey to allow deveopment for the big boy - Falkland Islands Ice Hockey has finally arrived.

 

Although no rink exists in the Falklands, though the support from the FCO, Falkland Islands Government, Morrisons Construction, Fortuna, Standard Chartered Bank, Energise Group and Sure the Falklands will be looking to send a small squad away twice a year to play Ice hockey in Punta Arenas.

 

The ice in Punta is small so  the games will be 3 v 3 much the same format as dek and inline hockey are played in stanley.  This inturn means cheaper costs meaning more visits to our new friends in Punta Arenas.

 

We intend competing in the big winter tournements usually held in June and in the smaller summer competition usually held around end of January time.

First draft of new national shirt. Main sponsor of Morrison Construction confirmed.

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