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Winter Universiade Brings Amateur Competition back to International Hockey

Figured I'd throw a shoutout to an event I honestly don't know a heck of a lot about, the 2011 Winter Universiade Games in Erzurum, Turkey. The idea behind the competition is to put the best student athletes in the world against each other, and hockey is a key part of the games. You'd think an event like this would be better known on this side of the pond, but both the Canadian and American teams don't send their best teams, so that could explain it. Canada leaves their team to be selected by a single conference within the CIS, while the NCAA does not participate at all.

The tournament lends itself to some different winners, due to the nature of the importance placed on hockey at universities in each country. Russia and Canada still win more often than the other countries, but in the 1990s both Kazakhstan and Ukraine came out on top, so it's not simply restricted to the top countries. In 2009, they added a women's competition for the first time as well. There are twelve participating nations in the men's competition, and six in the women's.

I don't have a lot to say about the teams involved. You can see the USA's here, which is made up exclusively of players in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's Division 1. Canada's men's team is made up exclusively from the Ontario University Athletics conference, and you can see the entire list of Canadian athletes here. You'll notice that the women's team is made up of players from throughout the CIS, not just a regional group.

Former Anaheim Ducks second round pick Jordan Smith (OK, technically a Mighty Ducks of Anaheim pick from 2004) is captaining the men's team, and carrying the flag for Canada. He had his professional career derailed in his first season in the American Hockey League back in 2005-06 due to an eye injury, and decided to go the CIS route and become a student athlete studying Political Science at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The Games start today, the 27th, and run until the gold medal games for women on February 5th, and for men on the 6th. The twelve men's teams are divided into three groups, while the women partake in a complete round robin of the six teams. Here are the groups:


Group A: Russia Ru_medium , Japan Jp_medium , Czech Republic Cz_medium , Turkey Tr_medium

Group B: Canada Ca_medium , South Korea Kr_medium , Belarus By_medium , Slovenia Si_medium

Group C: Slovakia Sk_medium , Kazakhstan Kz_medium , United States of America Us_medium , Spain Es_medium


Canada Ca_medium , Finland Fi_medium , United States of America Us_medium , Slovakia Sk_medium , Great Britain Gb_medium , Turkey Tr_medium

Here's a link to the main website, and the Wikipedia page which has the schedule.