Exciting times for Asia

Challenge Cup, Asian Winter Games set

02.02.2017
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Thailand last time hosted the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia in Bangkok in 2013. Photo: Do Production House

This month a busy period starts for hockey in Asia with several international ice hockey tournaments coming to the continent.

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido will not only host one of the two Women’s Final Olympic Qualification tournaments next week in Tomakomai, 9-12 February.

A few days later the Asian Winter Games, a multi-sport event taking place every five years, will begin in Sapporo with four ice hockey tournaments being held 18-26 February.

Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand will battle it out in the women’s tournament while on the men’s side the record 20 teams are seeded into three different tiers.

Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea and China will play for the men’s title and will, same as the women, use the Tsukisamu Gymnasium.

The six-team Division I tournament will take place at the Mikaho Gymnasium and includes Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Singapore.

The remaining teams will play the Division II in two groups at the Hoshioki Ice Skating Rink. Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Macau, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Bahrain and Iran are entered for this competition.

The seeding was done according to the World Ranking for the top teams and according to the Challenge Cup of Asia results for the others. For the newer IIHF member countries Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkmenistan it will be the first international tournament. The National Olympic Committees of Bahrain and Iran also entered ice hockey teams for the tournament but are not IIHF members.

Three times IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia

The IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia program will again include three tournaments and is aimed especially at Asian countries that are not entered in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program or do not yet fulfil the requirements to do so.

The Thai capital of Bangkok will both host the men’s and women’s top events of the program.

First the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia will be organized 7-15 March. The teams will be Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand U18 and the Philippines. The latter two teams will participate in the women’s event for the first time ever. It will take place at the international-size ice rink of the CentralPlaza Grand Rama 9 shopping mall.

When the women’s tournament is over, the men’s teams will move in for the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia that will take place at the same venue 17-23 March. The United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Thailand, Singapore, Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia will play for the title.

The other men’s teams will play at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia Division I that will be organized in Kuwait City from 22-30 April. Macau, Qatar, India, Kuwait, Oman, Turkmenistan and the Philippines are entered in the event. It will be the first IIHF event for the men’s national teams from Turkmenistan and the Philippines.

World Championship events in the Far East

Beside these events, several events of the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program will take place in Asia and Oceania including the test events for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games as the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group A and the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A will be organized at the new Olympic venues in Gangneung, the coastal city that will host the ice sport events of the Olympics next year. The two tournaments will be hosted simultaneously 2-8 April.

After recently hosting the U20’s Division III event in Dunedin, New Zealand will also host the 2017 IIHF Ice hockey World Championship Division II Group B in Auckland 4-10 April.

Chinese Taipei will have two events in Taipei City this season. The 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III Group A will take place from 21 to 27 March after the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification that was hosted already in December.

Premiere at Southeast Asian Games

And once the hockey season is over, another premiere follows. The 29th edition of the Southeast Asian Games will include winter sports for the first time. Ice hockey will be part of the event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 19-31 August. The event has taken place biannually since 1959.

Potential countries that could be involved in the ice hockey event include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

MARTIN MERK

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