The Japan Ice Hockey League, or J-Ice, is the second tier of hockey competition in Japan, below the multinational professional Asia League in which four Japanese clubs compete, and is about on a par with the university leagues. It's made up of six regional divisions: North, Northwest, East, Central, West, and South. The North and West divisions were established in 2005, the others in this decade.
J-ICE North Division is the strongest of the six divisions. There are six teams in five Hokkaido cities:
Kushiro Kousei-sya IHC. They play at Nippon Paper Ice Arena, capacity 3,000, which is also the home rink for Kushiro Tobu Blaze, and the Asia League's Nippon Paper Cranes. They wear red, black and white. Team owner Kushiro Kousei-sya is a waste management company. Kushiro is on Hokkaido's east coast, not far from Obihiro.
Tadano IHC. Founded in 1992, they are the company team for Tadano Corporation, manufacturers of industrial cranes. Their home rink, Obihiro no Mori Ice Arena in Obihiro, in eastern Hokkaido, can accommodate 2,500 spectators. Blue, white and black.
Skate House Sapporo IHC. They play at Sapporo's Tsukisamu Gymnasium, a facility built for the 1972 Olympics, which includes a rink with room for 3,371 spectators. Black, gray, white and blue.
Nippon Steel Sumikin Muroran. Muroran is a city in southern Hokkaido, and the location of the Japan Steel Works. Blue uniform. Their home rink is Muroran City Nakajima Sports Center.
Kushiro Tobu Blaze. Yellow and red. Nippon Paper Ice Arena.
Toyota Motor Hokkaido. Blue, gold and white. Their home rink is Tomakomai Shiratori Oyuko Ice Arena. The Asia League's Oji Eagles are also from Tomakomai, in southern Hokkaido.
It's Round Four of the Scottish Cup. Morton host divisional rivals Falkirk. The record:
1911-12 R2 Falkirk 0 - 0 Morton
Morton 3 - 1 Falkirk
1912-13 R2 Morton 2 - 2 Falkirk
Falkirk 3 - 1 Morton
1924-25 R1 Falkirk 1 - 1 Morton
Morton 0 - 3 Falkirk
1947-48 R2 Morton 3 - 2 Falkirk
1967-68 R1 Morton 4 - 0 Falkirk
1968-69 R1 Falkirk 1 - 2 Morton
Both league games between Morton and Falkirk this season have ended in draws.
Earlier this season Morton played another divisional rival, Dundee United, in the League Cup. Was there ever a year when Morton played only divisional rivals in cup competition? Yes, 1974-75, in the days of two divisions. Morton played Division One rivals Airdrieonians in the Scottish Cup, and Dunfermline, Aberdeen and Hearts in the League Cup.
This round is Falkirk's point of entry into the tournament. Morton joined in the Third Round and beat Beith Juniors 0 - 6 to advance.
Morton are riding a 16-game home unbeaten streak, counting league and cup games.
[Morton win 2 - 0. Goals by Lindsay and Forbes. Match report.]
Some other games:
Ross County [6 - 2] Dundee United
The Tangerines knocked Ross County out of the Scottish Cup last year.
Raith Rovers [1 - 1] Hearts
It's the first Scottish Cup game between these two since 1979.
Bonnyrigg Rose [1 - 8] Hibs
This is Bonnyrigg's seventh game of the tournament. They have outscored their opponents 30 to 5.
Ayr United [0 - 0] Queen's Park
This is the sixth Scottish Cup tie between these two. Ayr have won each time except 1975.
Alloa [2 - 3] Dunfermline
Alloa and Dunfermline are 15 miles apart. This is their first Scottish Cup encounter since 1961.
Dundee [0 - 2] St Mirren
These two have met in the Scottish Cup five times before, Dundee winning every time except 1962.
Partick [4 - 0] Formartine
These two teams have never met before, not even at the mall.
Albion Rovers [0 - 3] Celtic
This is the first competitive match between these two since 1976. Albion Rovers have never won the Scottish Cup, but they were finalists in 1919-20, beating Rangers in a semifinal replay before losing to Kilmarnock in the final. And they made the semifinals the next year, losing to Rangers this time. Celtic have won the Scottish Cup five times in the 21st Century.
Albion Rovers, of League One, are not even among the five lowliest clubs Celtic have met in cup competition the 21st Century. Who are they?
2015-16 East Kilbride (Lowland League) Scottish Cup R5
2001-02 Stirling Albion (Third Division) League Cup R3
2010-11 Berwick Rangers (Third Division) Scottish Cup R4
2011-12 Peterhead (Third Division) Scottish Cup R4
2006-07 Dumbarton (Third Division) Scottish Cup R3
Which clubs have eliminated Celtic from the Scottish Cup in this century?
02-03 Inverness CT
08-09 St Mirren
09-10 Ross County
14-15 Inverness CT
Which clubs have won the Scottish Cup in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries?
Hibs, Hearts, Celtic, Rangers.
The top scorer of last year's Scottish Cup tournament was Peter Weatherson, who netted 5 goals for Annan Athletic. Already this year four players have surpassed that mark: Sean Jamieson of Bonnyrigg Rose has 6 goals; Josh Morris of Hawick Royal Albert and John McLeod of Buckie Thistle each have 7; and Wayne McIntosh of Bonnyrigg has 8. (I'm trusting Wikipedia on this. The SFA site doesn't mention the scorers in the results.)
It's also Round Four of the Scottish Junior Cup.
Beith Juniors [0 - 1] Auchinleck Talbot
Linlithgow Rose [4 - 0] Blantyre Victoria
Renfrew [2 - 0] Greenock Juniors
Girvan [2 - 3] Penicuik
No game today in 1898-99.
The Copa Libertadores starts off the day after tomorrow. It's South America's answer to the UEFA Champions League, so it bears looking into and can serve as a way into South American futbol for people like me who know nothing about it. First stage, leg one:
Universitario de Sucre (BOL) vs Montevideo Wanderers (URU)
Deportivo Municipal (PER) vs Independiente del Valle (ECU)
Deportivo Capiatá (PAR) vs Deportivo Táchira (VEN)
How are FC Aarau like Greenock Morton?
Aarau have spent many years in the second flight. Like Morton they have a county (or in this case canton) rival in FC Wohlen. Aarau came close to financial collapse in 2002, just when Morton were doing the same. They have one Swiss Cup, dated 1985.
Stadion Brügglifeld has a medium-sized grandstand in the midfield and a small one next to it on one side of the field, and terracing on the other three sides, a bit like Cowdenbeath's Central Park.
FC Aarau play in Aarau, in Aargau Canton, on the river Aar, at the beginning of the phone book.
This is a pair of craters so close to each other that they form one lake, and were long thought to have been formed by a pair of gravitationally bound asteroids, but analysis of the surrounding rock puts them about 180 million years apart. Source.