ZURICH – The last international ice hockey tournament of the season will start on Sunday in Seoul with the 2012 IIHF U20 Challenge Cup of Asia.
The event will include the U20 national teams from Japan, Korea, China and Chinese Taipei, and the MHL Red Stars, a selection of players from the Russian junior league MHL.
“The geographic proximity, the teams and fruitful discussions led to this co-operation,” IIHF Vice President Shoichi Tomita said. “We in Asia are very happy to count also on big hockey nations.”
The IIHF’s Asian Sport Development Manager Harald Springfeld said that video material was exchanged to determine the strength of the various teams and get the most out of the co-operation for everybody.
“Having the Russian team here for the first time will be the first big test of our partnership,” he said.
“The Far East region is very important for us,” said Dmitri Yefimov, the MHL’s Managing Director. “To fly from Khabarovsk or Vladivostok to Siberia takes much time, therefore it’s important to establish relations with Asian partners.”
The leadership of the various member national associations in Asia met for an Asian Strategic Planning Group meeting in Helsinki prior to the IIHF Annual Congress to discuss long-term development plans.
The 16 Asian members also heard speeches from IIHF President René Fasel, Hockey Canada President/CEO Bob Nicholson and Timo Bäckman, the Sports Director of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, who introduced the program in Vierumäki.
“The meeting in Helsinki, the lectures and the exchange of opinions were very valuable,” Tomita said. “After the 2012 IIHF U20 Challenge Cup of Asia we will focus on our long-term development project ‘Asia 2022’. Everybody is asked to contribute their part.”
The 2012 IIHF U20 Challenge Cup of Asia will be the last ice hockey tournament. The Challenge Cup of Asia also included tournaments in the men’s, U18 and women’s category that were held in China, India and the United Arab Emirates this year.
Click here for the schedule.