WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Eph junior ice hockey goalie Michael Pinios (Laval, Quebec) is going to play for the Greek National World Ball Hockey team in the World Championships being held in Prague in June.
Pinios, though Canadian by birth, is eligible to play for Greece as the international rules allow you to play for the country one of your grandfathers was born in.
"The rules for these Championships are different," noted Pinios. "A player must prove that one of his grandparents was born in the country he is representing. It is so interesting to see how the passports have changed since the 1950's!"
|Michael Pinios '19|
"My entire family is of Greek descent and I learned how to speak the language when I was a young boy," Pinios stated. "My parents enrolled me into Greek school at the age of four and I spoke mostly Greek growing up. I would also go to my grandparents' house every day after school when I was in elementary school and my grandmother would help me with my Greek homework."
The International Federation of Street and Ball Hockey, based in both Canada and Czechoslovakia, govern the World Ball Hockey Championships.
Ball hockey is much like ice hockey, but it is not played on ice, but rather a hard surface where the players wear sneakers or running shoes. Ball hockey is played with five skaters, one goalie, and it does have a floating offside rule, penalties, and a penalty box. Instead of a puck the game is played with a hard rubber ball that is three inches in diameter.
"The one big difference between ice hockey and ball hockey is the offside rule," said Pinios. "In ball hockey, when a player crosses the opposing blue line with the ball, the "Floating Blue Line" rule kicks in. The attacking team will then have half of the entire playing surface within which to control the ball, from behind the opponent's goal to the centerline. In short, the blue line, becomes the red line until the ball crosses the red line once again."
Though he is a standout ice hockey goalie at Williams Michael Pinios will be playing on defense for the Greek team. "Growing up, I rotated between playing as a forward and as a goalie," stated Pinios. "I had a passion for both positions and I learned to appreciate the time I spent playing each one. At the age of 14, I made the decision to become a full-time goaltender and I have loved every minute of it since. There are times, however, when I miss playing out. Over the summer, I play ball hockey as a defenseman. I couldn't quite venture too far away from my net, so defense is perfect for me."
"My cousin played on Team Greece two years ago when the tournament was held in Switzerland," said Pinios. "There were open tryouts for this year's team and he encouraged me to tryout. I had played in various ball hockey leagues in the past and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to represent my heritage and culture internationally. I am grateful I was able to make the team."
This will be the first time that Pinios has played for a national team. It is interesting to note where Pinios' Team Greece teammates hail from. "All of my teammates on Team Greece are from Canada," he noted. "They either have Greek passports or their family is Greek. Half of them are from Montreal and the other half are from Toronto. There is actually another current NESCAC hockey player from Colby College on the team, Phil Klitirinos.
As fate would have it Pinios' first game will be June 1 in Prague where Team Greece will take on Team Canada at 2:30 p.m. EST.
"We play Team Canada on the opening day of the Championships," Pinios said. "All the games will be live streamed online at the tournament's website. I am very excited to play in front of thousands of people against my home country. I think it is going to be an experience of a lifetime. I do not know of any players on Team Canada, but they have historically been a very skilled and quick team."
The Greece versus Canada contest will be played in Prague at 2:30 p.m. EST.