March 18 2004
Ireland scores big on St. Patrick’s Day – downs Armenia 8-1 in Div
Ireland defeated Armenia 8-1 (3-1, 5-0, 0-0) on St. Patrick’s Day to
win its first ever official game at an IIHF World Championship as the
“Emerald Bhoys” scored eight unanswered goals after Armenia took a
1-0 lead at the 10 minute mark of the first period.
For more details you can also check into the event website of the
local Icelandic organizers of the 2004 IIHF World Championship
Division III in Reykjavik.
All the official stats, results and rosters can be found on this IIHF
By Alan Maki
The Globe and Mail, Toronto
This was the summary from yesterday’s big hockey game in Iceland:
Mexico 8, Ireland 3.
Ireland’s first two goals were scored by a Belarus defenceman. The
Irish also got a goal from a left winger who just happens to be a
tennis pro who lives and coaches in Dublin. But forget about that for
Yesterday is done. Today is the day that matters. Today is the day
the tennis playing Larry Jurovich and his Irish teammates have been
thinking about for months; the day they can do themselves and all
Ireland proud by scoring their first victory at an IIHF World
Championship and on St. Patrick’s Day, no less.
All they have to do is beat Armenia. Beat Armenia on St. Paddy’s Day
and, guaranteed, Irish hockey will have its galvanizing moment, its
1972 Summit Series, its 1980 Winter Olympics; also a good excuse to
drink green beer.
Mind you, just making it to the 2004 International Ice Hockey
Federation World Championship, Division III in Reykjavik is a major
accomplishment for this Irish team.
Ireland has little history and no burning connection to the game. It
has even less when it comes to youth hockey. As for permanent rinks,
you can count them on two fingers (the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and
the International Ice Bowl in Dundonald).
44-year old claims connections to Brantford and Gretzky
That so few given so little could get to a world championship is a
tribute to the Irish team’s spirit, its raw athleticism and, of
course, a bunch of puck-crazed Canadians.
You didn’t think there’d be a hockey story without some Canadian
content, did you? Jurovich, the tennis ace and goal-scoring left
winger, was born in Vancouver. He is now a naturalized Irish citizen
who serves as the high-performance coach for Tennis Ireland.
Centreman John White is a 44-year-old Dublin-born Canadian who says
he played his minor hockey in Brantford, Ont., with none other than
Wayne Gretzky. Garrett MacNeill, another Dublin-born Canadian, plays
defence for the Manhattanville College Valiants, an NCAA Division III
school in New York.
Then there are the coaches, Greg Fitzgerald and Jim Graves, both of
whom hail from the true north strong and free and now reside in
Dublin. Rounding out the rest of the roster are seven players from
Belfast, nine from Dublin and Dimitry Slavashevsky, the 34-year-old
defenceman whose parents came from Minsk, perhaps to get away from
If the Irish lineup seems more than a wee bit quirky, consider what
the players had to go through in preparation for the world
Outdoor practises at midnight three times a week
At first, they practised in Dublin, where the last permanent arena
was shut down four years ago. They practised outdoors, on a
non-regulation-size rink, after they’d finished work. During
Christmas, the players practised outdoors at midnight, after all the
public skaters had gone home. They did this three times a week until
they figured there had to be a better way, and there was.
What the Dublin-based players did was climb into their vehicles and
drive 2½ hours north to Belfast, two, sometimes three times a week,
for on-ice sessions. They did this when they weren’t doing off-ice
workouts at the national boxing club or in-line skating to stay in
“We may not have a rink, and we may lack game experience, but we’ll
have the best fitness possible,” team captain Mark Bowes promised.
Bowes is the general secretary of the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
He and president/defenceman Cliff Saunders have done their part to
promote the game in Ireland, a game that Saunders has described as “a
cross between hurling and skating with the excitement of both.” (No
word on what Saunders thought of the Todd Bertuzzi incident, which
made a lot of Canadians think about hurling, too.)
Who will be the Irish hero on St. Patrick’s day?
Just how well Ireland will do at the Division III World Championship
is an exercise in wishful thinking. Five years ago, the country sent
a team to the IIHF European U-18 Championship in Bulgaria and failed
to win a game. Five players from that team played yesterday against
Mexico in a game in which the Irish were tied 2-2 after one period,
down a goal after two periods but badly outscored in the third.
But to the likes of Slavashevsky and Jurovich and everyone else on
the emerald team, yesterday’s loss is over and done. Today is all
that matters; the day they can down Armenia and make their mark. That
it could happen on St. Patrick’s Day has presented them with an
opportunity they’ve been dreaming about for months.
The question now is: Is there a Paul O’Henderson in their midst?
This story is re-printed for IIHF.com with kind permission from the
Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada.