The 2018-19 Siam Hockey League (SHL) season opened on Thursday October 11th to much fanfare, some guest VIPS and a huge AWARE cheering section.
The first game of the night was a replay of the SHL championship last March which Hertz won by upsetting heavily-favoured AWARE 5-3 in a winner-take-all one-game final.
The guest MC on the evening was DJ P.K. (Piyawat Kempetch) who introduced the three VIPs attending the opening night ceremony: Isaret Charithivat, from the CPN Group; Steve Lavender, of Sport Corner: and John Stevens, president of CanCham. The three participated in an accuracy shoot-out contest from center ice before the game began, which John Stevens won by hitting the orange traffic cone placed at the goal-line.
When the game started, AWARE came out flying, cheered on their exuberant fans. Wave after wave of red-shirted skaters peppered Hertz keeper Dream Ungkulpattanasuk with shot after shot. But his team, emboldened by his performance, managed to take an early 2-0 lead on goals by substitute Patrick Forstner and Andy Brine, last year’s SHL scoring champion.
AWARE’s Christian Olofsson’s penalty for a centre-ice hit seemed to spark his team, or at least wake them up, as they were trailing 2-0 at the time of his infraction. They went on to score five unanswered goals to win 5-2 while outshooting Hertz 36-19. Forstner with a goal and an assist put himself in the player-of-the-game running. But that honor went to Aaro Vuorma, who drove in from Pattaya with Matt Sigel to substitute for AWARE, and scored twice, his second goal on a spectacular razzle-dazzle move that left Dream scratching his head. Harrison Oztemel, Phu Suwachirat and Devin Michael also scored for AWARE.
The second game saw the Novotel Spitfires defeat TRUE 5-3 as they were backed up with some strong goaltending from substitute Gabor Toth, who stopped 11 of the 14 shots he faced, while replacing the injured Yves Gaboriault. His counterpart in the TRUE twine, Lance Parker, also had a strong game turning away 19 of the 24 pucks fired his way by Novotel.
Corry Day, in his Novotel debut, said he was channeling six months of frustration from last season’s SHL final where while playing for AWARE he faced Lance Parker and Hertz in the championship final. Lance delivered the game of his life leading Hertz to their upset championship win.
The SHL consists of 18 regular season games; two best-of-three semi-final series and a winner-takes-all championship final.
Next SHL action takes place this Thursday October 18th with AWARE playing the Novotel Spitfires at 8:30pm and Hertz playing TRUE at 9:30pm. Admission is free and the games take place at the Rink, 7th floor, Central Grand Rama IX.
For more information on the SHL check out Dom Dumais great podcasts and interviews with SHL players.