Monthly Archives: April 2009
I am off to Switzerland to take in some World Championship ice hockey. Should be a good time, if I don’t get lost. I have to fly into Italy and take a train to Zurich. I then have to take two trains back to Italy to catch my flight home. If you don’t hear from me in a week, I am lost in the Alps. Call someone for help.
Major find here my friends. There are a ton of photos on the New Zealand Ice Hockey Site concerning this year’s championships. So here we go…
New Zealand – Only wore their all blacks.
Mongolia – No Show
One thing of notes is all the collars in all levels of this years championships. They have this grey insert, not unlike in the NHL. We shall see if this makes its way up to the top tier.
I have done something that I have wanted to do for awhile now. On the side bar there are now links to the hockey related sites and blogs that I frequent. I recommend Puck The Media, nhLOL, Uni Watch and From The Rink as far as blogs go.
Enjoy the Austrailan National Team sweaters that I had the pleasure of seeing this past week. Keep an eye out for a Sweater Look to be coming up in the near future.
Would you look at that? That, my friends, is something I have been trying to lay my hands on for the better part of 3 years. It is a t-shirt/jersey/sweater from the Lithuanian ice hockey team. I could not find a true jersey, but this is more then satisfactory. For about 100Lt. or about $37.75, I procured what, until recently was my Holy Grail. It is a little flimsy, but I think even the sweaters were of the same quality. How could this purchase be even sweeter? Well just look at the back. Yes, it is a Dainius Zubrus sweater too, the most famous Lithuanian player, who happens to play for my favorite Devils. There is even a Championship ‘patch’ along with the federation emblem. The best part is the crest, which is the Lithuanian crest the ‘Vytis‘. I also got some other little souvenirs. This must rank up there in my top-10 purchases of all time. Right next to my Tampa Bay Lightning 90’s third jersey.
See pictures from the games as well here.
If you would have told me in last April that I would be going to Lithuania to watch ice hockey, I would have told you that you need some help of the mental variety. But low and behold, April 2009 and I was in Siemens Arena in the industrial section of Vilnius, Lithuanian to partake in 3 matches. Below you will find a recap of my trip. There will not be much emphasis on the sweater aspect of this trip, but that may come in later posts. Now just sit back and read about the first part in a young American’s hockey odyssey in Europe.
I arrived at Vilnius Airport in the after noon the day before I was to go to the games. My first impression was that the surrounding areas were flat and grey, like any good communist city. It reminded me a lot of Berlin. After taking 40 minuets to find my hostel, I ventured into Old Town, which is a heritage site of some sort. It reminded me of a huge doll house with the pinks and yellows every where, but it was cool none-the-less. I just walked around and took some pictures to show to the family.
The next day I somehow found the right bus to take to the Arena, the good ol’ #26, which I am pretty sure back fired every time we started to moved from a stopped position. Arriving at the rink, the woman behind the ticket booth said they lost my ticket reservation, or something like that, but not to worry they still had seats left. So I went in to watch Slovenia take on Japan. I was fortunate to sit next to a man from Belfast and his young son, who had decided to expirence a hockey game for the first time. As probably the only native English speakers there, I talked hockey and answered his questions about the game. It was refreshing to see he and his son become excited everytime two players crashed into the boards or a 2 on 1 rush up ice. It was great to see that these things, which I over look most of the times because I see them on a daily basis, excite people of all ages.
With that being said, the one thing I noticed was the level of play at this level is different than say an NHL game or a World Championship game. I couldn’t put my finger on it until later in the day. It all comes down to passing. In the NHL every pass is crisp and hard. Even the ones that are errant or intercepted are rocketed across the rink. At this level, the passing is slower and more haphazard. The only team that passed extremely well was Kazakhstan, but more on that later. The game is played a bit slower at this level, but still enjoyable.
Slovenia won 2-1 in a close game on a nice short handed goal.
The next game was a blood bath, with my English speaking companions gone, I had to watch this one and make mental notes to myself. First off, Kazakhstan is not a Division I team, they are some where between a Division I and a World Championship team. Australia is also not a Division I team, they are a good Division II team. This formula lead to a beating of 13-2 by the Kazakhies. It must be said that the Kazakh goalie did look a little shaky on the two goals, maybe he was the back up. Got to give it to Australia though, they kept playing and stayed positive the whole game.
Finally, the game of the night, the hosts, Lithuania, vs. Croatia. If I had to describe it, the game had a soccer like atmosphere. Every time Lithuania made a rush up ice, the place would get loud. Likewise, every time Croatia made a rush, people would boo and whistle. It was fun to be apart of. To top it off Lithuania handled the Croats easily winning 7-2. I had to leave early to catch my bus, which was the wrong bus, but that is a story for another time. I will post more later one, including one of my new favorite possessions I acquired this week.
It is about 14 hours until I board a plane in Dublin, Ireland and take off on the first leg of my ice hockey adventure. First to Lithuania, to see the Division IA Championships. This is a great coincidence, because my family heritage is from Lithuania so I was planning on going any way. Why not catch some hockey in the mean time. I will be there on the penultimate day of the tournament. The one aspect of the trip I am a little concerned about is the language barrier, because I have studied some Lithuanian and it is nothing like any other language I have seen. Should be a good time none the less. Check out the IIHF site here.