Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Jamaican ice hockey push intensifies

Published:Saturday | December 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

A delegation from the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) were expected in the island this week for a series of meetings with government and sporting associations.

JOIHF, which was established in 2009 and became affiliated to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) shortly thereafter, has been systematically building the sport amongst Jamaican players in Canada and the United States, focusing on the under-21 group. So far the team has played successfully in a number of tournaments in Toronto and Nova Scotia.

Most recently the Jamaica Under-21 team comprehensively beat a select Nova Scotia Under-21 team 5-1 in an excellent display of knowledge, skill and tactics. Several of the Jamaican players compete in the Toronto leagues on a regular basis.

The main purpose of the visit of the delegation is to provide an update on the plans for the development of the sport amongst Jamaicans here and to initiate discussions regarding the building and maintenance of an ice rink here.

Having an ice rink is essential to the team playing in qualifying tournaments for the Olympic Games.

The delegation of seven includes the national coach for the team, Graeme Townshend (son of veteran journalist Errol Townshend). Townshend is the first Jamaican to play professionally in the National Hockey League (NHL) and spent over 10 years playing for a number of teams including the Boston Bruins. Townshend runs an ice hockey school in Canada and is committed to developing local players who can make the grade playing ice hockey in the NHL. In this regard he is prepared to host up to six local athletes each year who he can work on, teaching them skating skills and the rudiments of the game.

The delegation also includes the CEO of Tropical Ice Ventures, an ice rink manufacturing company that has designed and built ice rinks in hot climates such as Dubai, Mexico and Brazil.

The delegation has meetings scheduled with the Minister of Sport, Olivia Grange, the JOA, universities and colleges, the local hockey fraternity and tourism and hotel interests here.