Story by Scott Murray, photos by Naz Brown
Pattaya’s first ice skating rink had only been opened for two weeks, before it hosted the city’s first ice hockey tournament, the inaugural Gulf of Siam 2017 Ice Hockey Classic, on May 19-20. Staged at The Rink, on the 5th floor of the new Harbor Mall on Pattaya Klang Road, the 3-on-3 competition proved to be a thrilling format for fans and players alike.
Four teams competed in the tournament: the organizer, Jogsports Sweaters; along with Jellonas, a Finnish team; the SHL Selects; and the hometown Pattaya Pirates. The Pirates had some stars in their line-up including Oleg Kabokov, who played in the KHL and with NHL star Jaromir Jagr. They also iced Reine Rauhala, who played on the Swedish junior national team with NHL great Peter Forsberg and played against the great Finnish line of Ville Peltonen, Jere Lehtinen and Saku Koivu.
Pattaya went 1-2 in the round-robin stage, so they faced Jellonas in the consolation final beating them 10-6 (they beat the same team 11-5 in the round-robin round). Alexi Makhonin was the Pirates’ player of the game in their consolation triumph. Their leading scorer was Kabokov with 13 goals and 7 assists.
Jogsports went undefeated to capture the round-robin tourney, but things looked bleak two-thirds of the way through the championship game as they were down 5-0 to the SHL Selects near the end of the second period. Then they launched what can only be described as “one of the most remarkable comebacks in recreational hockey history”, as they fought back to tie the SHL Selects 6-6 in regular time, before going on to win 7-6 in extra time.
Jogsports’ Gregory Thoma was the star of the tournament. When he turned on the jets, no one could touch him, He finished the tourney with 10 goals and 10 assists, including a spectacular 3 goals and 3 assists, including the tournament winner, in the final game to lead the Jogsports comeback. The Swissair pilot played in between flights, and soon after the tourney, he was back in the cockpit piloting a 777-300ER back to Zurich. When he played for Schwenningen in the Bundesliga, he was coached by former NHL 50-goal scorer Mike Bullard.
The Jogsports team consisted of Scott Whitcomb, Adrian Meyers, Simon Rindlisbacher, Mike Forbes, Alastair Fawcett, keeper Yves Gaboriualt and captain Scott Murray.
You can pleasure skate and rents skates every day at the Rink while the Pattaya Pirates hold practices every Tuesday night.