Last week, Ice Hockey Australia announced the Mighty Roos Senior squad for the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Division II World Championships, to be held in April next year.
Australia is in Group A of this division, having been relegated after finishing 6th last year in the Division I Group B Championship last year.
New South Wales is heavily represented in the 22 man squad, with 6 Sydney Ice Dogs (including Nathan Walker, currently playing for HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga), 2 Newcastle North Stars and 1 player from the Sydney Bears being selected.
There are a mix of veterans and new faces selected, and Head Coach Vladimir Rubes is quoted on the IHA website as saying that “…all [players] having played in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL)…The standard of the AIHL combined with previous world championship experience and youth will be the team’s strength to carry us back to Division I and remain there in the long term.”
The team was selected through a series of tryouts, camps and training sessions, to ensure the best players available were selected.
Some notable faces in the Australian lineup for Sydney Ice Dogs fans are defencemen Tomas Manco and Brian Funes, and forwards Todd Stephenson, Scott Stephenson and Billy Cliff.
Cliff had a breakout season in the 2012 AIHL season, playing 23 games and accruing 17G and 29 points, as well as 72 PIMS – all personal best numbers of his career.
Ice Dogs president, Shane Rose said “This is a great result. The fact that 9 players from the Sydney Ice Dogs have been selected for national duties [3 Ice Dogs junior players – Cam Rose, Tyler Kubara and Alec Stephenson – have been selected for the Junior squad, playing in Serbia in January] shows the strength and depth of the club’s development programs”.
Ice Dogs coach Ron Kuprowsky was more succinct – “Brilliant”.
In Division II Group A, Australia will meet Belgium, Croatia, Iceland, Serbia and Spain. Games start April 7 in Zagreb, Croatia.
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