The Senior Irish National Team will face-off against Luxembourg at 3.00pm Irish time today, Sunday, in the teams first of five games that they will play at the 2012 IIHF World Championship Division III in Erzurum, Turkey.
The boys in green shook of any loose cobwebs that may have been in existence and the legs are truly loose after Coach Kenny Redmond and his assistants planned an intense training session yesterday afternoon.
General Manager of the team, Jim Pepper today said ‘The team are bonding very well it has to be said. The altitude here at Erzurum, Turkey, does not seem to be a major problem as I had expected it to be on the players, they seem to have adjusted to it very well. Some of the players have played here before so they know what its like. Coach Redmond is pushing the team hard and the players are responding very well. Positive thinking’.
When the Irish side meet Luxembourg, you can always expect a battle. Look at 2007, for those who can remember the 2007 World Championships in Dundalk, it was a battle of champions to take silver medal and earn promotion to the 2008 Division II Championships. Nothing could separate these two sides, a shoot-out had to be called. I can still vividly remember Mark Morrison slotting the puck into the back of the net as the crowd lifted the roof of the Ice Dome.
But both sides have changed since then. In 2009, Ireland took on Luxembourg in New Zealand, where on this occasion Luxembourg was the winning team.
At Luxembourg 2010, the fighting Irish found its wining ways again as the green machine took down every team it faced, including a 6-4 win against hosts Luxembourg and earned promotion to the 2011 Division II World Championships.
But will the experience of Division II ice hockey from Croatia help the Irish side in today’s opening match? We hope. A few players from last year’s roster are not in Turkey today and the availability of ice hockey in Ireland has been limited to facilities in Northern Ireland, Seasonal Ice Rinks throughout Ireland and the ice skating facility at Castleknock, Dublin.
Who knows what can happen on any given day. Positive thinking is the first step. If you stop dreaming, you stop living.
Everyone at the IIHA and fans at home wishes the team the best of luck ahead of today’s match.