The start of spring means that the IIHF World Championships is just around the corner. Every year it’s hard to comprehend that almost twelve months have passed. It’s an exciting time of year, especially for those involved in the ice hockey world.
On Thursday, the U18 Men’s Irish National Team will participate in the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III Group B in Izmit, Turkey.
The Boys in Green will face off against Israel, South Africa and the host country, Turkey.
With a new IIHF pooling system introduced this year, the Irish U18’s have a solid chance of taking a medal – the team know it. The team is not travelling to Turkey to participate, they are travelling to win.
The team has prepared, with training sessions taking place in Dublin, Kilkenny and Belfast.
There are a lot of new faces to the U18’s Men’s set-up – both on and off the ice.
Aaron Guli takes on the role of Head Coach the U18 Men’s Irish National Team. This is Aaron’s first involvement with the IIHA and both the IIHA and Aaron are very excited about this opportunity.
Originally, from New York, USA Aaron has a long involvement with ice hockey as he grew up playing the sport from the age of four and played on a number of junior and university teams. Aaron has also been heavily involved with coaching throughout his life including as an assistant coach with both the Men and Women’s teams at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.
Aaron has also been a Skating Director at FMC Ice Sports in Taunton, Massachusetts for over four years before coming to Ireland last year.
There is a solid team behind Aaron.
Gerry Duffy joins Aaron on the bench as an assistant coach. Having played the game since a teenager, Gerry has grown his coaching skills in recent years. In October, Gerry, who is involved with the Clovers, took part in the IIHA’s coaching course in conjunction with the Danish Ice Hockey Association. Gerry met with Mr. Ulrik Larsen, Sports Director of the Danish Ice Hockey Association and Mr. Per Holten MØller, who has over 50 years’ experience in ice hockey.
Also joining the coaching staff as an assistant coach is Paul Cummins. A player, coach and founding member of the Kilkenny City Storm, Paul is one of the most prominent figures in Irish Ice Hockey in recent years. With four players on the team from Kilkenny, Paul has been able to prepare the players for their first international competition. A talented sportsman, Paul has also offered valuable advice on fitness and dieting plans and brings plenty of knowledge to the table.
His brother Mick returns as General Manager of the U18’s Men Irish National Team. Mick was appointed General Manager of the U18’s team in 2009 when the team competed in Erzurum, Turkey and took a bronze medal and beating Bulgaria 6-3. But Mick returns this year and is well aware of his duties.
Steven Ewen will prepare a dressing room fit for any national team, having been appointed as equipment manager. An international player himself, Steven knows what it takes to be a good equipment manager and will offer his services in Turkey.
Ivan Grant returns as the team’s physiotherapist. Ivan travelled to Croatia and Mexico with the Irish U18’s and Senior Team in recent years and was a great benefit to the team, ensuring that the players were healthy. He also assisted with the fitness of the team during warm-up and warm-downs.
A new year means a new team, news faces and new talent. Although out of a squad of twenty players, four have already represented Ireland at international level.
The most experienced player on the team and a man that shows leadership qualities is Conor Redmond.
Redmond played with the U18’s in Mexico City in 2011 and later made his Senior Team Ireland debut in Turkey 2012. Having played an international level before, Redmond knows what to expect when he arrives in Izmit. In recent years, Redmond has been playing fulltime hockey in with the Swindon Wildcats in the UK. Redmond’s experience and ice time will be evident on the ice.
Redmond works well with Eoghan Lafferty, who also played in Mexico City. A natural sportsman of all types, Eoghan will be looking to slot pucks into the net. With his fast moving legs, Lafferty is one to watch for in the attacking zone.
Padraig Tuite and Darren Sisk also return to this year’s squad. Tuite was unfortunate to sustain an injury in Mexico, but is fit and healthy again. Sisk scooped Ireland’s best player award in one of the matches on his last outing. Originally hailing from Cork, Darren has been travelling to Belfast and Kilkenny in recent months to prepare for the
‘The Donnelly’s’ will make their debut on the international stage. Brothers Ryan and Shane Donnelly and 1st cousin Jordan Donnelly will face-off against Turkey, South Africa and Israel.
Jordan has been playing with the Belfast Junior Giants since the Dundalk Ice Dome closed. Having applied, the IIHA selected Jordon to attend the 2011 IIHF Hockey Development Players Camp in Vierumaki, Finland. He will be a key player on the team.
Meanwhile there is a strong force of new talent emerging.
From the Kilkenny City Storm, Anthony Coy, Aaron Grehan, Darragh Hickey and Oisin Power will make their appearance. Aaron Daly, Nathan Daly, Conor Fleming, Jordan Reilly and Adam Roche from the Clovers also are members of the team.
Sean Ryan will wear the Irish jersey for the first time, as will former Dundalk Bull players Jack McGailey and Christian McEvoy.
Sean Coleman has been named as captain, while Jordon Donnelly and Padraig Tuite are assistant captains.
“It’s a phenomenal achievement representing your country,” said Mick Cummins to IIHA.org before the team departed for Turkey, “This year the format of the tournament has changed, we will be competing against nations that we are seen to be on level with. We are in with a fantastic chance to bring home some medals.
“I have seen so many guys from all across Ireland, in all walks of life, and who have come through the ranks and have changed so much. They are responsible now, they are helping the younger players.
“The support from everybody has been have been encouraging, there is still a core group that keeps ice hockey alive.
“This year we are blessed that a lot of parents are travelling to Turkey. It gives the players great support on the ice knowing that people are in the stands supporting them,” Mick added.
You can keep up to date with the team’s progress by going to the tournaments website http://www.iihf.com/competition/328/statistics.html
Best of luck to the entire team.
Let the games begin!
The U18 Men’s Irish National Team 2013
Coaching & Management Staff
Mick (Michael) Cummins (General Manager)
Aaron Guli (Head Coach)
Paul Cummins (Assistant Coach)
Gerard Duffy (Assistance Coach)
Steven Ewen (Equipment Manager)
Ivan Grant (Physiotherapist)