Jamaica ice hockey expects win over Puerto Rico
ALTHOUGH JAMAICA’S national ice hockey team will be missing captains Jaden Lindo and Teegan Moore for their upcoming three-game series against Puerto Rico in New York City from June 8-10, Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) president Don Anderson expects the ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ to maintain their impeccable international record.
Jamaica only play a few games per year, but since 2019 when they defeated the likes of Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia to capture the regional Latam Cup, they have not lost a game.
So despite missing their captains, and going up against a strong and motivated Puerto Rico team, Anderson expects victory nonetheless.
“We have a very strong team. We have a hundred per cent record for all the games we have played since 2019 when we won the Latam Cup, playing countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and even Lebanon. So we haven’t lost a game so far, and our expectation is that we will continue along that path,” he said.
“I don’t know what kind of team Puerto Rico will be coming with this time, but we expect that with the team we have, we will win the series, how convincingly, we don’t know, but based on our track record, we don’t expect to relinquish that record as we have not lost a game so far, and we intend to keep it going,” he said.
Although the experience and quality of Moore and Lindo will be missed, the team has National Hockey League (NHL) star Anson Thornton of the Arizona Coyotes in the fold, along with other experienced players such as forwards Nate Mitton, Kyle Neuber, Kolby Johnson, Quinn Chevers, and twin brothers Tre and Liam Folkes.
A number of young players, including 19-year-old defender Taos Jordan, Marcus Sang, and 17-year-old defenseman Avery Grant, will make their debuts, and Anderson said expectations are high all round.
“The nucleus of the team include the majority of those who played in the 2021 Latam Cup although we have some newcomers. We went on a recruitment drive, and we have a few youngsters who are playing competitively in their schools and colleges that have been drafted into the team, and they are looking forward to being there and to playing these three games,” said Anderson.
Jamaica are yet to gain their official membership from the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) as they do not possess an ice rink. However, Anderson insists that that is the ultimate goal and that they will continue playing as many games as they can to keep building their programme in the interim.
“First of all, we are trying to build the ice hockey programme of Jamaica. The ultimate objective is to play competitively at the international level. So we are taking the baby steps.
“We are not a full member of the international federation, and the only reason for that is that we don’t have an ice rink in Jamaica, which is a steep hurdle. But we are not ignoring it. We need to find a way to get to that stage.
“But in the meantime, we use the opportunity to play all the games we can to build the Jamaica ice hockey team and to keep the players together,” he said.
The team will assemble in New York today, the day of their first game. They then follow that up with games on Friday and Saturday.