by Geraldo LaPortage
The Pattaya Destroyers won the second annual Gulf of Siam Ice Hockey Classic, staged on May 18 and 19 at The Rink, on the 5th floor of the Harbor Mall on Pattaya Klang Road. The 4-on-4 competition proved to be a thrilling format for fans and players alike.
Four teams competed in the tournament: the hometown Pattaya Destroyers; Jellonas, a team filled with predominately Finnish expats; a joint Phuket/Hong Kong squad; and the Bangkok Flying Farangs featuring organizers Scott Whitcomb and Adrian Meyers from Jogsports.
Pattaya stormed out of the gate winning their first two games on Friday by big scores of 10-2 over Jellonas and 15-2 over the Phuket-Hong Kong Hitmen. It looked they would cruise to the championship. But late on Saturday afternoon, they met a very determined Bangkok squad, who because of their round-robin overtime loss to Jellonas, had to beat Pattaya to advance to the final and that they did so with a 5-2 triumph over the Destroyers. That set up a rematch for the championship game between the Flying Farangs and the Pattaya squad. The Destroyers, led by captain Michael Nakvachara, regrouped in their dressing room determined to make up for its mistakes in the final round robin game.
Before that rematch, the consolation final was held with the Phuket-Hong Kong Hitmen defeating Jellonas 10-6 to take third place overall. It was the Hitmen’s first victory in the tourney and Michael Azipnikov led the way with five goals with James Cox minding the twine for the Hitmen in the victory. Tuomas Kylama has two goals for Jellonas in a losing cause, who lost their starting goalie Jason Cotsmire to injury early in the tourney and had to borrow Pattaya’s backup goalies to complete the tourney.
The championship game was up next and started much the same way as the final round-robin game with Bangkok taking an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Mike Wilson. But then the tide turned, and Pattaya scored four unanswered goals with John McHugh netting two markers and Sebastien Verdy and Aaron Vuorma adding singles.
The final was 4-1 for Pattaya and the tourney MVP was young Finnish goalie Samuel Pekkala who was outstanding in the final game turning aside 20 of the 21 saves he faced, including four penalty shots. In this tournament, if players drew penalties, instead of their team going shorthanded for two minutes, the opposing team was immediately awarded a penalty shot.
The Bangkok squad featured Scott Whitcomb, Adrian Meyers, and Scott Murray from last year’s Jogsports Jerseys winning squad. They also had Siam Hockey League (SHL) captains Brad Wilson (the Sukhumvit Spitfires) and Mike Wilson (Expedia), so they were a force to be reckoned with. But all credit to the Pattaya Destroyers for coming back and winning their hometown tourney. The Destroyers had Oleg Kabokov in their line-up; he played in the KHL with former NHL star Jaromir Jagr.
The tournament was organized by Asia Ice Events, with co-sponsors Jogsports and SWOT. The Pattaya team practices every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights from 8:45 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. at the Rink, Harbor Mall.