Pan-American festival
by Martin Merk|20 MAR 2014
Colombia’s Nicolas Fierro and Mexican forward Santiago Sierra battle for the puck.
photo: German Garcia / Imagen Deportiva
Male and female teams from the American continents convened in Mexico City recently for the first Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament.

Maybe it’s not a huge surprise that the motherland of hockey remained the winner against the opponents from smaller hockey communities in Latin America. Selections from Hockey Canada won the men’s and women’s tournaments despite not having sent the best players from their country to the event organized by the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation and endorsed by the IIHF.

But the ones they sent proved to be a good challenge at the level of play. And unsurprisingly Mexico – currently the only Latin American country whose hockey community is big enough to participate in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program – reached second place in the preliminary round of the men’s tournament to set up a final with the Canadian selection.

While Canada steamrolled through the round robin with only one tight game – a 6-3 victory against Mexico – the host country was similarly successful against its opponents from South America defeating Brazil (16-0), Colombia (11-2) and Argentina (18-0) before being blanked 7-0 in the final against Canada.

But the tournament was not just about scores – it was an opportunity to give new ice hockey nations a chance to play international hockey at a full size ice rink. Colombia, which is not an IIHF member, appeared with a team mainly consisting of players from the national inline hockey team that seemed to adjust well to the icy field of play and was boosted by Colombian-born U.S. college ice hockey player Daniel Echeverri.

The Colombians started with an 11-1 victory against Argentina in their first ever ice hockey game and defeated Brazil 14-0 while losing 11-2 to Mexico and 9-3 to Canada. In the game for third place they defeated Argentina again, this time 9-3.

For Argentina it was the second international ice hockey experience after a camp with games in Mexico in 2012. Argentina has ice hockey activities in the colder south with an international size outdoor rink in Ushuaia as well as small rinks in Buenos Aires while having mostly been active in international inline hockey championships before.

Their only win came in the neighbouring clash against Brazil, 5-3. The Brazilian team was consisting of players from São Paulo mostly active in inline hockey since the country doesn’t have an international size ice rink but a couple of smaller ones.

In the women’s tournament the Sudbury Lady Wolves and players from several Ontarian teams played as Canada A and Canada B respectively to join Mexico for a double round robin tournament. Sudbury won all four games outscoring their opponents 34-2 while Mexico earned a hard-fought second-place finish. The team from Ontario defeated the Mexican women’s national team 4-3 in the first game but Mexico won the second game 1-0 to finish in second place thanks to the better goal difference.

After a one-week break the Mexican ladies are back on ice this week as the country hosts the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification at the newly built Ice Dome in Mexico City. The hosts had a good start in their first-ever IIHF women’s hockey game defeating Bulgaria 12-2. South Africa won the other game in the four-team event 5-2 against Hong Kong.