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IIHF president hopes enhanced AHL to boost Asian hockey
www.chinaview.cn 2005-09-02 00:04:14

    BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- The 2005-2006 ice hockey Asian League, which includes a Scandinavian team, will boost the development of this sport in Aisa, International Ice Hockey President said here on Friday.

    Rene Fasel told a press conference here that AHL is accepting the Nordic Vikings from Sweden as a special participant in order to improve the level and popularity of the league.

    The Vikings was started in Beijing by a Swedish financial and event company Nordic Vikings Group.

    The cooperative program is supported by IIHF and Fasel extendedhis congratulations and hopes for the sport's progress in Asia.

    "The Vikings' coming would make the league more interesting andadd to its competitiveness. Also, it would facilitate this sport in Asia," said Fasel.

    "IIHF will support any project that would make our sport more popular."

    The Vikings consists of youngsters from Nordic countries including Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway and a few matured skaters.

    The other eight teams for the upcoming season are from Japan, South Korean and China.

    In an exchange program announced by organizers, Vikings will dispatch three vikings, who are to be registered as import players, a coach and a game official to Harbin and Qiqihar respectively. The two Chinese teams will each send three players to play for Vikings.

    While NHL a big hit in North America and EHL booming in Europe,the hockey game is quickly declining in Asia.

    The previous six teams in Japan's League has been reduced to four and South Korea now only have two after losing three in the past years.

    The AHL, inaugurated in 2003 by Japan and South Korea, is seen a stimulant for public awareness.

    The 2005-2006 season is scheduled to kick off in late June and conclude in March next year. The nine teams will each play 38 matches in a home-and-away format and the best six teams go into playoffs. Enditem

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