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It's Bearland!

Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 4.35.57 PMIn the 39th year of the Nations’ Cup of Ice Hockey, Bearland made history, hoisting its first Nations Cup after an unlikely 2-1 victory over Borschland (2-1 shootout).

10,005 witnesses at the Arena Imperial in Altium Dacni saw a game for the ages, played throughout a snowstorm that occasionally became a blizzard, and one that will resonate throughout the rest of the Borschland Hockey League season.

Image found here.

The best of the best of Borschic forwards were stymied throughout the game by weather and by the iron defense of the bears, who gave up not a single penalty, while Borschland gave up one, an interference by Meechen’s Bartul van Abeele, which resulted in Bearland’s lone goal, a rebound off of Goaltender of the Cup Heiko Moordfors (1.6 GAA) that was shoveled in by Forward of the Cup Michael Angelbear (5 goals, 1 assist).

 

Meanwhile, Bearland’s goaltenders Gregory Gatekeeper, who played two periods, and Berkeley Crocker, who came in for the third and the shootout, between them turned back 37 shots on goal. The Bearland defense, meanwhile, blocked 15 more.

 

“We are gratified,” said Bearland coach Lawrence St. Laurence, who retained his composure, as befits civilized bears. The Bearish fans, as well, spent much of the post-game celebration congratulating the Borschic fans for a well-fought contest.

The score was 0-0 up until 4:17 was left in the third period, when Rjaward’s Gerd Zijterwoode of Rjaward finally broke through with a masterful wrist shot that threaded its way between two Bearish defenders and over Crocker’s blocker.

But then, only a minute later, van Abeele was called for a late hit on forward Man Grizzlyfaith, which resulted in the bear having to leave the contest with a concussion.

“That was uncivilized,” said defensebear Valiant Black of Dohmatische after the game. “You can be sure we’ll remember that.”

The remark was taken by some as a reference to a time when Black and his fellow Bearish internationals on the Dohmatische team would be back on Borschic ice against Meechen.

“A bear doesn’t take revenge,” said Clawson Rhododendron, Black’s teammate on Dohmatische. “But a bear takes some time before he forgives.”

The Vinasolan officiating crew awarded Bearland a penalty that would last the balance of the time in regulation, and Bearland lost no time attacking the Borschic zone. Only heroic stands from Meechen’s Wujbe Kappe and Te Staff’s Jeeluj Sudmaas kept the Bruins out of Moordfor’s net until 1:22 left in the game.

At that point, St. Laurence pulled Crocker from the game. There had been some question as to why he would change goalies when Gatekeeper had a shutout going, but the coach would not answer directly when asked, giving only a grunt and then “I have my reasons. Thank you for asking.”

A furious melee took place in front of the net on the ensuing faceoff, including what seemed to be a crosscheck from Kappe that was not called.

But Angelbear found the puck on his stick with :34 left and made no mistake.

The drama was not over. In the shootout, no one would have bet against Borschland, but Crocker seemed to have magic up his sleeve.

Habel Baarda scored on the first shot, and Angelbear on his, but Kai Ganesmund couldn’t get it past Crocker, who unexpectedly poke-checked the puck off of Ganesmund’s stick while leaving his cage a solid 12 feet.

“That is not what they (Bearish goaltenders) are taught to do,” Ganesmund said afterwards, and he ought to know, having appeared in seven Nations’ Cups in his illustrious 10-year career. "It was unexpected to say the least."

Grayson Mulebear found net on the third shot, which meant that it was all up to Rjawards’ Jens Klijnehoop. He shot it off of Crocker’s pads and then immediately complained that the pads were substantially larger than regulation.

The officials found the pads to be regulation-sized.

“He changed them before they looked,” Klijnehoop claimed.

But in the celebration after the game, Crocker said that the Swans’ sticks were uniformly too curved for regulation. “A lot of good it did them,” he said.

Good sportscreatureship won out in the end, with Borschland executive coach Steen Roothven putting hand to paw with St. Laurence as they stood on the podium with third-place finishers Vinasola (by virtue of their goal difference; there is no third-place game in the Nations’ Cup).

Crocker, when asked if he would be willing to play hockey in Borschland (he is currently in the Anvorian League), said “I never give up an opportunity to follow a bee,” which means that he would consider it.

Moordfors, for his part, congratulated the Bearish netminders on an excellent game. “Ice hockey is becoming more and more competitive on the Continent. We must be grateful for this.”


Borschland in final, blanks Celtlands 3-0

Bird-clipart-black-swan-12Behind a steady defense and goaltending, the Black Swans of Borschland disposed efficiently of the upstart Irish here in Altium Dacni, 3-0, before a crowd of 9,989.

Borschland came into this Nations’ Cup without its normal sense of invulnerability, but the result of the three games they’ve played thus far has been vintage Borschland: two wins and a tie, and a goal differential of +9.

The win sets up a rematch of the Swans’ Group A opponent, the Upright Bears of Bearland.

Heiko Moordfors of Bevinlunz was not tested overmuch in this one, making exactly 20 saves for his sixth international shutout of his career.

Gerd Luppink of Tarlunz continued his scoring ways, getting Borschland off to a lead after only 1:57 of the first period.

The other goals were scored by Lojren’s Kai Ganesmund, who also had an assist, and Laurens Noordhall of Holtzlund.

Borschland’s executive coach Steen Roothven gave all respect to the Bears after the game. “We are taking nothing for granted here. We took our foot off the steam pedal a bit in the group match, but we know this is a much bigger and more significant game. The lads will be ready for this one.”

In its twelve-year history, Bearland has been runner-up twice, in 330 and 332. They hosted the tournament in 332 and made a spirited run, losing finally to Borschland 6-2. In 330, they lost to Celtlands in what became the Irish’s only championship.

“The ultimate test of ice hockey is before us,” said Bearish coach Lawrence St. Laurence. “It is the greatest honor on the Continent and we will be equal to it.”

To win, the Bruin bipeds will need every bit of offense from stars like Rjaward’s Michael Angelbear, who may be the tournament’s star forward so far this year.

The x-factor, as always, will be the goaltending, with the young Gregory Gatekeeper presumed to be the starter, but his counterpart, Berkeley Crocker, who gained confidence in the shootout yesterday, may be called upon instead.

Habel Baarda, Tarlunz’s star forward and the dean of Borschic hockey, said, “As long as we play our game and the puck bounces the right way, I have confidence we’ll be there in the end.”


“Tough” Bearland vanquishes Vinasola 3-2 (SO 5-4), heads to final

Bearlandflag“The bears, they are very tough,” said Coach Valerius Valens of Vinasola in English to the crowd of Bearish reporters around him. “Very tough, for sure.”

In Latin, Valens’s native language, his comments were a bit blunter. “We need them to be muzzled so they won’t bite.”

Bearland’s coach Lawrence St. Laurencebear took great exception to Valens’s comments. “No upright bear bites. That is pure fantasy. The purest of fanciful imagination.”

Whatever the case, the tough bears gave Vinasola all they wanted and more in the semi-finals of the 336 Nations’ Cup of Ice Hockey, winning in a dramatic shootout after holding the host Wolves to a 2-2 tie in regulation.

It was a most unlikely result, since Vinasola has won almost every Nations’ Cup it has hosted (five of six), but the bears were determined and tenacious and stopped Vinasola’s high-powered offense by cutting off breakaways and counterattacking rather than setting up shop in Vinasola’s offensive zone.

The charge of biting came halfway through the second period, when defensebear Martin House tussled with forward Albus Albatra over a loose puck. Albatra came away with a gash on his neck and purportedly showed his coach the teeth marks where House nipped him.

House said, “His own man’s high stick got him. That’s what happens when you bend over and your teammate comes in with a sharpened stickblade. They ought to be more careful with their own teammates, if you ask me.”

A photograph from a Celtlands pool reporter seemed to back up House’s version of the event.

The two teams played see-saw in regulation. Bearland got opportunistic goals from Michael Angelbear and Grayson Mulebear in the first and second periods, while the Wolves scored theirs (Marcus Aranciata and Terentius Terentillus) in the first twenty minutes and were stymied thereafter.

In the shootout, each team scored all three of their shots. Young netminder Gregory Gatekeeper of the Upright Bears showed his inexperience, falling for the feints of the Vinasolan forwards, but the Bearish shooters were equal to the task against the veteran Dragoon Camarata, whose best days as a goalie are clearly behind him.

In the sudden-death portion of the shootout, Bearland opted to change out Gatekeeper for their older and perhaps calmer backup, Berkeley Crocker. The blonde-furred netminder, one of a very few so-called “honey” bears (most bears in Bearland are brown, black, or grizzly), muffed a chance for his team to win in the fourth round after Bearish domestic star Vernal Rosewood had scored, but then in the fifth round the bitten Vinasolan, Albatra, lost the puck off his stick as he approached the goal and it scaled harmlessly to the left of the cage.

"I don't like bears," Albatra said afterwards.

“We honor the Vinasolans for being hospitable hosts,” said St. Laurencebear. “It is all a civilized bear can do.”

"Very tough," Valens repeated in Borschic to the Borschic reporters.


Nations' Cup 336: Group play wraps; semi-finals set

Semi-final pairings for Nations’ Cup of Ice Hockey, 336 (Altium Dacni, Vinasola)

A1 Borschland v. B2 Celtlands

B1 Vinasola v. A2 Bearland

Claim your winnings!

Borschland, Bearland play to 3-3 tie

In the end, Bearland attained a win with a draw.

The Upright Bears could only have won Group A with a win, but a 3-3 tie turned out to be a fine result.

It was only the third time in international play the civilized bruins have drawn a Borschland team. Overall, they are 1-13-3.

“To score three goals against (Heiko) Moordfors, that’s honey in the honeypot,” said Dohmatische’s Clawson Rhododendren, who was Bearland’s first star of the game with a goal, an assist, and two “true” hits that caused change of possession.

Michael Angelbear continued his scoring ways with two nifty shots that beat Moordfors, while Rhododendron’s goal was a bit fluky; his shot from the blue line was screened by big grizzly forward Peter Paw and was in the net before the Borschland goaltender saw it.

The Black Swans were led by Gerd Luppink, who had two assists on goals by Gerd Zijterwoode and Tomas Scheelgrav.

Kai Ganesmund put the third biscuit in the basket on assists from Bartul van Abeele and Tor Glenk.

Bearland’s defense may have been considered the culprit in this game, allowing three goals in two periods before stiffening and holding the score even for the last twenty minutes.

Borschland chose to rest their top lines in the third period, giving more ice team to bench forwards Sigiswald Zberg and Marck Munchmann.

Munchmann barely missed the winning goal with 4:04 left, ringing the cage with a redirected rebound off of Bearland’s Gregory Gatekeeper, who made 29 saves in a spirited, sprawling, rough and ready defense of the cage.

Moordfors stopped 22 of 25 Bearland efforts.

“We’re not satisfied with a tie,” said Borschland executive coach Steen Roothven after the game. “But with so much hockey to be played in so little time and a 1st place group finish assured with a draw, we felt we could rest some legs.”

“We’re optimistic going against the Romans,” Bearland coach Lawrence St. Laurencebear said. “We have the defense to minimize their goal-scoring, and we’ve got an offense that scored 3 goals on the greatest goalie in the game today.”

 


Celtlands leads early, has to settle for 2nd in Group B

Tired legs may have played a part in Vinasola’s late burst of goals that erased Celtlands’ 3-2 lead and made Vinasola a 6-3 victor in the game and #1 in Group B of the Nations’ Cup of Ice Hockey, 336.

Adrenaline from the Irish’s upset of Zimroth the night before helped the Celtlands come out on fire and opportunistic against the lightly-defending Wolves.

The Irish scored first and kept either tied or ahead until just after the third period began.

Then the high-powered New Roman offense, led by Quinctius Quintorius and Marcus Aranciata, got into high gear and scored three unanswered goals, with an empty-netter to put an exclamation point on the win.

Vinasola got 2 markers from Quintorius, who also assisted once; the other goal scorers were Aranciata, Terentius Terentillus, Florus Capricornus, and defenseman Valens Sanctus Spiritus, who put in the empty-netter from 30 meters away.

Celtlands’ scorers were Aedan Macclonough, Raian Eachluth, and Raian Macorkle.

Irish coach Cuchulainn Macevers said, “We left an opportunity on the table, certainly, but we knew that whatever our finish, we were going to face a tough challenge in the last four. Bearland’s never a picnic and they’re going to give this Vinasola team all it can handle.”


Nations' Cup group play: Zimroth upset, Bearland wins

Hockey-100732_1920Celtlands upsets Zimroth

Zimroth’s lack of finishers on offense came back to haunt them in their Nations’ Cup group B game versus Celtlands, a crushing 3-2 loss that should haunt their dreams for weeks to come.

The Irish celebrated at center ice while their fans shouted and sang. The loss eliminates Zimroth from the competition at 0-2-0 with a goal differential of only -3.

The Guithens had a bushel of chances in the Irish zone, only to whiff on several and shoot wide or over the top on others. Celtlands netminder Ogma Concobhair had only 19 saves; 3 shots rang the metal on the cage.

Meanwhile, backup goalie Sharen Telneth, who was playing for an injured Welneth Ungarth, found himself having to put out fire after fire as the Zimroth defense let him down.

Yet it was still 2-2 late in the third period when the Irish spent an entire shift in the Guithen zone, firing off 4 shots that Telneth saved with miraculous acrobatics. Finally an exhausted Zimroth defensive corps iced the puck, hoping to get a quick breather even if they were unable to change lines.

The Celtlands’ Aedan Macclonough took the ensuing faceoff and fed it back to defenseman Eamon Gairlenair, who was cheating forward. His blast from between the circles took Telneth by surprise (he was screened by Macclonough) and the puck found the net at 2:19.

Zimroth’s last-ditch effort to tie the score was stoutly resisted by the Irish defense, and the celebration for the #6 seeded underdogs was underway.

“We have left our lana in Zimroth,” said coach Ratha Ogbar of the Guithens. “There is a reckoning on our sins.”

It was unclear what sins was referring to, though some suspected that he was unhappy to have to carry three goaltenders and only 17 skaters when the Zimrothian ice hockey federation decreed that youngster Gareth Velnath must make the trip with the team.

"They were gassed at the very end," goal-scorer Gairlenair said. "They could have used that extra man."

But it may be simpler than that. The sins of Zimroth may be their traditional inattention to developing goal-scoring forwards. There are currently no Zimrothian forwards in the top league of Borschland, and only 3 are playing now in the Vinasolan major league, none of whom have scored more than 5 goals on the season.


BearlandflagBearland works hard for 1-0 win over Anvoria

It didn’t come easy despite Bearland’s numerical advantage of international players, but the Upright Bears fashioned a skillful 1-0 win over Anvoria that guarantees them a spot in the Nations’ Cup semifinals.

Image: Bearland national flag.

Anvoria leaves the competition 0-2-0 with a -8 goal differential, having scored a grand total of 1 goal in their two games here in Vinasola.

Bearland’s star forwards, Michael Angelbear and Tulliver “The Wrecker” Rectorbear, combined for helpers on veteran Peter Paw’s deceptive snapshot that beat Anvorian goalie Jean-Friedrich Koebler-Klein between his pads.

Bearland netminder Gregory Gatekeeper had a shutout on only 18 shots needing to be saved. The Anvorians fired 18 others that were blocked by the stalwart Upright Bears’ defensive group, led by Valiant Black of Dohmatische.

Now it must be determined what the order of the semi-finalists will be. Bearland has its fate in its own hands with a challenging game against Borschland. They will be #1 if they win and #2 if they tie or lose, so there is no reason not to go all out and delay a meeting with host Vinasola.


Nations' Cup Group play: Borschland, Vinasola roll; Ungarth injured

Borschland blasts Anvoria, 7-1

“The easy part is over. The rest becomes a much bigger job.”

That was executive coach Steen Roothven’s comment after the Black Swans’ 7-1 rout of outmatched Anvoria in their first Group A game in the Nation’s Cup of Ice Hockey 336.

Goaltender Heiko Moordfors made 20 saves and Borschland’s defense dominated while opportunistic forwards on all three lines took advantage of Anvorian miscues.

Goals came from Habel Baarda and Gerd Luppink (Tarlunz), Tor Glenk (Bjaward), Dujtrick de Jong (Holtzlund), Gerd Zijterwoode (Rjaward), along with two from the bench forwards Marck Munchmann (Sichebach) and Sigiswald Zberg (Matexipar).

Anvoria managed a second-period marker from Jan-Christoff Winterthur, a sparkling scoop shot that ticked off of Moordfors's glove.

Borschland now face Bearland to help determine who will be seeded #1 in the semi-finals.

 

Vinasola outlasts Zimroth

Ice-hockey-808943_1280Zimroth’s vaunted goaltending took a black eye even as Zimrothian goaltender Welneth Ungarth had to leave the game against Vinasola because of a freak puck to his face.

Vinasola attacks the Zimrothian goal. Image by 272447 from Pixabay

Vinasola took charge of Group B with its 5-3 victory over the Guithens before 10,023 noisy partisans at Arena Imperialis in Altium Dacni, the home of Altium Jupiter HC.

Ungarth had already given up three goals by 5:01 left in the second period, due more to porous defending on his teammates’ part than his own mistakes, when a bouncing puck struck by Vinasolan forward Gaius Coriolus somehow found its way under Ungarth’s mask.

Zimrothian goalie masks are elaborately decorated and secured with elastic rather than being full-head helmets, and so are somewhat flexible when contacted with the puck.

Ungarth was taken to hospital to check on possible damage to his left eye. X-rays indicated Ungarth only had a hairline fracture of the cheekbone and extensive bruising. It is unclear whether he will return to action in this tournament. The injury should also be alarming to Ungarth’s regular club, the Meechen Lions, who had ridden him to a 10-1-4 first half with a GAA of 1.40.

Sharen Telneth was inserted into goal and did a creditable job, stopping 22 of 24 shots, but the Zimrothian offense could not keep up with the predatory Vinasolan Wolves, whose trademark fast skating created numerous odd-man rushes.

Vinasolan fan favorite Marcus Aranciata, 21-year old phenom who plays for Rjaward in Borschland, had two goals, including the last one, a brilliant counterattack when Zimroth was pressing to knot the score at 4. Aranciata received the puck from defender Rex “The Arm” Bracchiata, blew into the Zimrothian zone on a 2-on-1 with linemate Quinctius Quintorius and played a perfect tic-tac-toe, ending with Aranciata’s easy tap-in over a sprawling Telneth.

Dragoon Camarata of Vinasola made 27 saves on 30 shots.

“If there were a god of ice, we would thank him,” said Vinasola Coach Valerius Valens afterwards. “As it is, we feel blessed by Providence to get 5 goals against Zimroth’s finest.”

Vinasola has a tilt with Celtlands upcoming and looks the favorite to win Group A at this point.


Nations' Cup News: Celtlands eliminates TK

Bar-209148_1920As expected, the Celtlands eliminated the Twin Kingdoms from the Nations’ Cup of Ice Hockey, taking the play-in game with a minimum of fuss, by a final score of 4-1.

Let the Celtlands celebration begin! Image by Christian_Birkholz from Pixabay

The game was played in the coastal city of Delphinium on the home ice of Dolphins HC before a crowd of 7,377, among whom 500 Twin Kingdoms fans whose cowbells remained silent for most of the game.

The Irish brought a contingent of some 1,200 who sang and chanted traditional victory songs. The Bearland fans, seated adjacent, mingled with the fans of both teams after each goal to congratulating them, as is their practice as civilized creatures.

Breyn Murchadha was the first star in this game. Right wing for Cathair Larain, the southern mining city that is the main rival for Cuchalainn Heroes, the #1 team in the league. Murchadha had a goal and two assists as the first line of the Irish carved up the Princes’ defense.

Goaltender Ogma Concobhair turned back 22 of 23 of the Dannkatschian shots he faced, earning second-star honors.

Ellafuus’s Aedan Macclonough had an assist as left wing for the Irish first line.

Seamus Rig of Atterische had an excellent game, with three “true” hits that caused sustained change of possession.

All bettors who had Celtlands in this game wi 10 shillings. Please cash your bets on Twitter.

Celtlands now enters Group B play with a game versus Vinasola next.


Previews and Wagering Options for the Nations' Cup 336

Bank-note-1276954_1920It's time to lay your bets on the bracket of the Nations' Cup of Ice Hockey for 336 NR. 

The great mid-season competition is about to begin and the 7 nations have arrived in Altium Dacni, Vinasola, the largest city in New Rome built atop the bluff overlooking the Southern Ocean and the port city of Delphinium.

Here are your options:

  • Pick the semi-finalists and win 50 schillings!
  • Pick the order of the semi-finalists (1st and 2nd place in the groups) and win 100 schillings!
  • Pick the finalists and win 150 schillings!
  • Pick the winner and win 200 schillings!
  • Pick the winner and the correct final score and win 500 schillings!

You can put in a wager for each of these possibilities and potentially win 1000 schillings. Remember that at least a @HockeyNC t-shirt is in it for the winner of the schilling battle, and who knows, we might get even more creative.

Previews of the National Selections and their rankings

1. Borschland: This may be one of the off-years for Borschland where the Cup goes to someone else. This is an honest evaluation based on the age of the team and the quality of the defensemen. Heiko Moordfors is the x-factor. If he stands on his head, no one will touch the Black Swans and they will sweep their way to victory the way they have the last four years. Look for breakout scoring from the Rjaward centers Klijnehoop and Zijterwoode to spur Borschland’s run for the Cup.

2. Vinasola: Vinasola’s new-old generation of speedy skaters constitutes the biggest challenge to Borschland’s traditional Cup hegemony--and they are at home this year. The Wolves of New Rome are sprinters; they break out of their zone quickly and try to create odd-man rushes as often as possible. This often leads to mistakes and giveaways near their goal and their venerable star, Dragoon Camarata, is now 41 and no longer a first-string netminder in the Borschic league. His backup, young phenom Caelius Cloelius, 22 and the darling of Dolphins Delphinium HC, the rival of Altium Jupiter, the best team in Vinasola, could break through in this tournament as a future star who is starring right now. The first line of forwards, including Borschic league players Vitellius Vitellienus, Quinctius Quintorius, and Marcus Aranciata, will test every team they play.

3. Zimroth: The Guithens (Angel-Gryphons) are a team in a bit of chaos at the moment. When young goaltender Gareth Velnath was named as a third regular goalie on the team, the move came as a shock to most on the continent. Meechen goalie Welneth Ungarth was seen as the only man needed for the job, and the second string is almost always awarded to the best domestic goalie of the Zimrothian League (in this case, veteran Sharen Telneth). Then Ungarth and defender (who is also in this side) went to Holtzlund on loan from the Lions and helped Open Division upstart St.-Nicholaas-Meechenstaff win Leg 1 of the Round of 16. Can the team transcend the drama it has created for itself? The lana (Zimrothian Keepers of Fate) may well say no.

4. Bearland: Is it Bearland’s year? The Upright Bears have never won the Cup in the twelve years they’ve been allowed to contest it, but this year their defense is filled with Borschic stalwarts, including arguably the best defender in the league, Bevinlunz’s Christopher Sacrament (although Wujbe Kappe of Meechen will beg to differ). They finally have developed a good corps of skaters as well, including Rjaward’s Michael Angelbear, Dohmatische’s Grayson Mulebear, and Bjaward’s Tulliver (The Wrecker) Rectorbear. Valiant Black makes a great partner to Sacrament on defense, and they even have cracked the Borschland league with a goaltender this year, Noi-Sporting-West’s Gregory Gatekeeper. Depth, of course, is an issue, as beyond the high quality of the Borschic league players, the bears cannot compete with the likes of Borschland and Vinasola. But another runner-up finish is not out of the question with this team. 

5. Anvoria: Pascal Nuessli, the 30-year old poster child for Anvorian ice hockey, is about the only bright spot for the Hounds: the talent cupboard has rarely been barer, and the #5 ranking of the team is still influenced by their recent peak performance of 333, a third-place finish with a team full of seasoned veterans. Three years later, a number of those players are injured or have retired, and the slack must be taken up by the young, including under-23 star center Jurgen Flick and goaltender Matthieu Chamblé, who is being scouted in Vinasola and Borschland both at the moment. Cup-463548_1920

6. Celtlands: The Celtlands may be poised to make a run in this year’s Cup. With Anvoria, Zimroth and Borschland (comparatively) down, someone has to fill the void. After the Irish’s disastrous loss to Anvoria (8-4) in the group phase last year, they dropped to #6, but they are not by any stretch a talentless team. Their most visible Borschic players are Raian Macorkle, a third-line forward for Atterische who has 2 goals and 2 assists this year, but in the second division there is Aedan Macclonough of Ellafuus, which has made a big run in the Flowering Branch Cup Their domestic league is competitive, having just sold Seamus Rig, a defenseman, to Atterische. It’ll be a tough road with a play-in game added into the mix, but they have an outside shot at nabbing the second spot in Group B.

7. The Twin Kingdoms (Dann and Katsch): It would be a huge upset this year for the Twin Kingdoms’ Princes to make it as far as the Group stage. They are always a long shot, but this year have not given any indication they could beat Celtlands. In their series of friendlies this year (known as the Continental Interior Challenge, along with Zimroth), they lost to Celtlands 9-2 on the Irish home ice and 2-0 at their own rink. Most years the Dannkatschians would struggle to beat a middling second division Borschic team. Their best player is 26-year old lightning skater Levi Bar Levi, who plays for Gelidus HC in Vinasola.


Breaking News: National Selection for Nations' Cup Announced

Cup-463548_1920The Borschland Federation of Ice Hockey Clubs announced the selection for the 336 Nations' Cup today. It will bring 20 skaters to Altium Dakny, Vinasola, with three on call in case of injury.

Image of Cup of the Nations by Sarah Tevendale from Pixabay

This team is veteran-heavy, as is customary for National Selections, but some believe the average age of the team (30) might be an issue on rinks where skating is the number one skill needed to win. 

The first line features the current deans of Borschland hockey, Habel Baarda and Kai Ganesmund, both well over thirty years of age, along with Bjaward right wing Tor Glenk, one of the rare under-25's in the selection. Glenk is among the brightest young Borschic star in the league.

Rjaward was honored with the selection of both their first two centers, Jens Klijnehoop and Gerd Zijterwoode. Beenz Grechtlin of Wrischer, so promising a youngster, has been scratched because of a lower-body injury. His place was taken by his teammate, the dynamic Tomas Scheelgrav.

Holtzlund's prolific offense (55 goals, second only to Rjaward's 56) is represented by two players on the second line, Lourens Noordhall and Dujtrick de Jong.

The defense is craggy: only one defenseman under 30 is in the first 6 (Teddy Eeltinckhuus), and no one of the 7 who are selected are under 28. This might be a result of Borschic clubs beginning to rely on bears more often as anchor defenders; of course, those players will be playing for the Bearish nation rather than Borschland.

On the goaltending front, there was a surprise in that Jaan "The Brick" Brichterglad was left off the team, slotting in as emergency goalie if the first two (Heiko Moordfors  of Bevinlunz and Korka of Te Staff) are injured.

The selection of Korka might be deemed a nod to the Loflin part of the Borschic nation; Loflinland have wanted for a long time to compete in the Cup as an independent nation, but politics have always gotten in the way, as Loflinland continues on as a protectorate of Borschland. Korka gives the Loflins a reason to root for Borschland in this competition.

Also, the three Te Staff players in the team (matching Holtzlund) reflect fan voting, as Te Staff always have the most representation in the dues-paying voters, even though they are an underachieving 5-7-3 this year.

Here is the full selection:

Borschland Hockey League National Selection

Nation’s Cup 336 - Altium Dacni, Vinasola

 

Forwards

First line

C Habel Baarda (Tarlunz)

LW Kai Ganesmund (Lojren)

RW Tor Glenk (Bjaward)

 

Second line

C Jens Klijnehoop (Rjaward)

LW Lourens Noordhall (Holtzlund)

RW Dujtrick de Jong (Holtzlund)

 

Third line

C Gerd Zijterwoode (Rjaward)

LW Tomas Scheelgrav (Wrischer)

RW Gerd Luppink (Tarlunz)

 

Defensemen

First pair:

Wujbe Kappe (Meechen)

Klaes Dievenhoven (Holtzlund)

 

Second pair:

Jeeluj Sudmaas (Te Staff)

Gerrit “Castle” te Rook (Te Staff)

 

Third pair:

Bartuul van Abeele (Meechen)

Theeodor “Teddy” Eeltinckhuus (Bevinlunz)

 

Bench skaters

F Marck Munchmann (Sichebach)

F Sigiswald Zberg (Matexipar)

D Philip Rooker (Meenesanne)

 

Goaltender

Heiko Moordfors (Bevinlunz)

Korka (Te Staff)


Nations' Cup Previews: Format and Participants

Map_continent_coloredThe NCIH is now in its 39th year of existence and features 7 teams from all over the Continent. Borschland is always the favorite to win the Cup of the Nations, as they are the most hockey-mad country of the hockey-playing septet, but anything can happen in this limited format.

 

 

Image: Borschland's so-called Lost Continent, located south-southwest of Perth, Australia.

The Cup will be contested in two initial groups, Group A and Group B, based on rankings agreed to by an international board of supervisors. The table below indicates who is in the groups and what their international ranking is (in parentheses).

Each team plays the two others in its group once, and the top two advance. Then there is a semi-final and a final and the winner of the Nations’ Cup holds it proudly aloft.

All in all, regular seeded teams play a maximum of 4 games in 8 days, whereas play-in participants can play as many as 5 games in 9 days. The turnaround time for games is quick and the competition fierce.

Nations' Cup of Ice Hockey Groups for 336 NR:

 

Group A

Group B

Borschland (1)

Vinasola (2)

 

Bearland (4)

Zimroth (3)

Anvoria (5) 

Play in: Celtlands (6)

and Dann & Katsch (7)

 

Now, a quick digest of the national teams that will be participating in this year's NCIH:

Borschland: A Dutch colony founded in 1642, Borschland brought the ice sport “kolf” to this cold-weather land and found barbarian foxes who also skated. For two hundred and fifty years the sport of kolf was informally played, until ice hockey was introduced about a hundred and twenty-five years ago and the first league began about 100 years ago. The current BHL in its format and with many of its original teams is now in its seventy-fifth year of existence. Borschland has taken home the cup 21 times in 39 years.

2. Vinasola: Vinasola is often termed “The Rome That Never Fell,” as they are Latin speakers who carry on the traditions of the “Senate and People of Rome.” Their origins are ultimately unknown, but it is likely that they indeed were colonists from Rome sometime in the early Christian era. Vinasolans are Catholics, though they maintain a proud heritage of their pagan past and the classical mythology of Greece and Rome. They are excellent skaters and contribute numerous forwards to Borschland’s league, but their defense and goaltending is always a little bit less accomplished than their neighbors to the west. Vinasola has won the Cup 8 times.

3. Zimroth: Zimroth is an aboriginal nation on the Continent. It is speculated that they are a people from another universe who colonized the Continent thousands of years ago when the Continent was in a phase shift. They are an idiosyncratic, proud nation with their own forms of government based on nobility and a complex, polytheistic religion undergirded by a strong fatalism. Zimrothians have a tradition of an ice sport in their mountains that has gone on for hundreds of years, so they are no strangers to skating, but they have never come up to the potential they seem to have, as their odd stance toward winning and losing makes them just as likely to self-sabotage as to jealously and proudly defend their nation’s honor through spirited and cutthroat play. If Zimroth happen to win the Cup, they consider the defense of it more important and more glorious than the original win. They have been victors in the competition 10 times, 5 times in a row from the years 307-312, but not at all for the last twenty.

4. Bearland: The Bears inhabit the oldest aboriginal nation on the Continent. They have lived on the Continent since pre-history and it is unknown what their ultimate origins were, but probably they started out in another universe and the Phase Shift brought them to our earth. Bearland is a highly-developed country, a former British colony, with the most technology, although they are still probably in the 1970’s and have neither computers, smart phones, nor internet. Bearland has not always been allowed into international ice hockey play because of the fear of teeth and claws among its opponents, but it has worked hard to show sportsmanship in every competition it enters. Bearland’s national sport is sockey, a summer sport that combines soccer and field hockey, and its second is Red Dot, a cross between Australian Rules football and rugby, but ice hockey has become a national obsession with the emergence of such stars as Fred “Cross-Eye” Gladly, who was a sensation thirty years ago in the Vinasolan League before bears were allowed in Borschland. Bearland has contested the cup 12 times and has never won it, but has been runner-up twice.

5. Anvoria: Anvoria was originally a colony of Switzerland, their only overseas colony in the history of the nation. Since they are landlocked, Switzerland was not big in the colony-creating ecosystem of the 19th century. Ice hockey is third in popularity in this prosperous nation behind soccer and basketball, and the relatively warm climate does not encourage play on ice during the winter. Nevertheless, the country has been stepping up its efforts to develop the sport and now has seven players playing internationally in the big three leagues (Borschland, Vinasola, and Zimroth). Anvoria’s star is Pascal Nuessli, the 30-year old scoring machine of Borschland’s Bjaward Bulls. Anvoria's one victory in the Cup came in 319 and is still considered the crowning glory of its international career.

6. Celtlands: The Celtlands are a semi-aboriginal nation and the largest country on the Continent in area with a land about the size of Wyoming. The origin of the Celtlands is shrouded in mystery, but it is clear that it was first inhabited by a group of Celtic peoples who were fleeing the invasion of Angles and Saxons in the 8th century of our era. “Some Celts just hopped in boats and went to Ireland,” says Queen Emrick, the ruler of the country, “and some missed Ireland and just kept on sailing.” The Celtlands, located on a high, wind-swept plateau, has an excellent climate for ice hockey, but at 1.8 million inhabitants it is a sparsely-populated place and so the amount of talent available is small by comparison to other nations. The Irish sport hurling, and field hockey, summer sports, are much more popular than hockey, but the Celts always know their way about a stick and have surprised in the past. The Celtlands has won the Cup twice, most recently in 330.

7. The Twin Kingdoms (Dann and Katsch): This is a mountainous country that is also semi-aboriginal. Its inhabitants count themselves as the lost 13th tribe of the Jews and their nation is officially Jewish. Winter sports, especially downhill skiing, are the number one passion of Dannkatschians, so ice hockey is a natural interest of theirs, but they are even fewer in number than the Irish (628,000) and so tend not to have the deepest talent pool for the sport. The Twin Kingdoms have never won the Cup and have only advanced out of the Group phase of the competition once.

 

FYI: the aboriginal foxes, who have been rivals of the bears for millennia, are not sanctioned to play ice hockey in the international federation and play intramurally in their own territories. The foxes are in general about half to two-thirds the size of humans and so they have a weight and height disadvantage when playing other countries, but they are preternaturally fast on skates and maintain they could absolutely hold their own in the Cup. At the moment, however, they have a long-running international dispute with the bears, who accuse them of terrorism within Bearish borders, and any competition that the bears are involved in cannot therefore include foxes.

Loflinland has also applied to play in the Nations' Cup, but as a protectorate of Borschland it is generally barred from international competitions and has only played in demonstration games throughout the history of the Cup.