The 2022-23 season for Para Ice Hockey is set to kick off with the Nordic Challenge on Friday (23 September) with top teams including Finland, Sweden and Norway vying for glory over the next three days.
The three-team tournament in Skien, Norway will be the first of three events in the Nordic Para Ice Hockey Challenge series this season, with the other two events taking place in Enkoping, Sweden in October and Vierumaki, Finland in November.
The hosts Norway are the highest ranked team of the three, having finished in fifth place at last year’s World Championships A-Pool. However, the Beijing 2022 marked the first time the Norwegians failed to qualify for the Winter Paralympics since the sport was added to the Games programme in 1994. They are expected to start their campaign in Skien hungrier than ever.
Mainstays Emil Vatne, Martin Hamre and Loyd Remi Solberg will represent Norway in Skien, while several other long-standing members of the national team will be competing in the Czech Republic at the International Hockey Cup.
Finland have been working to build a strong core over the last five years for their programme, moving from C-Pool to B-Pool for the first-time last year. Captain Harri Kangastie is back for another season after becoming the first Finnish player to score in the B-Pool level, along with Markku Vesikansa who has had success at the international level as well.
Sweden, previously a powerhouse in the sport in the 1990s and early 2000s, will have a familiar roster that includes power forward Per Kasperi, captain Peter Ojala and veteran goaltender Ulf Nilsson.
The nation finished third at last year’s World Championships B-Pool playing on home ice in Ostersund.
Friday, 23 September
10:00 – Norway vs. Finland
18:00 – Norway vs. Sweden
Saturday, 24 September
10:00 – Sweden vs. Norway
18:00 – Sweden vs. Finland
Sunday, 25 September
8:00 – Finland vs. Norway
12:30 – Finland vs. Sweden
The Nordic Challenge in Skien will be streamed live here.
Loyd Remi Solberg