Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama
The second week of the Sport Corner Siam Hockey League was highlighted by the large number of substitute players utilized by the league. Due to multiple factors, the scheduling gods were unaware of the potential absences when the schedule was made months ago, and the SHL had an unexpected early season slate of games that allowed the league to showcase some of the amazing talent on the substitute roster for the 2019-2020 season.
Game one saw Peak battle Hertz, and from the drop of the puck, the ice tilted in Peak’s favor. A large amount of missing offensive weapons showed as Hertz was unable to muster any sustained attack, and Peak, while also missing a large number of players, still had the services of Mike White and Thai sniper Patrick Forstner, both of who registered hat tricks on the evening. With Harrison Oztemel’s hat trick in week one, it is believed this is the first time one team has registered three hat tricks, from three different players in the first two games to start a season, in SHL history.
The scoring started on the second shift of the game when Forstner made a great play on the Hertz defense after passes from Jesse Starosta and Ed McConnell to give Peak the early 1-0 lead. With about eight minutes left in the first period, Ryan Yaden gave the puck to White, who shot the puck over Hertz goalie Lance Parker to make the score after the first period, 1-0. The second period saw six goals being scored. White got his second of the game with assists from Mel Dhiranusomkid and Thai national team super sub Ken Kindborn. Thai veteran Moo Tengsakul, subbing for Hertz, pulled the defending champs to within two goals after a pass from Arnold Vattanapanyakal. But any thoughts Hertz had about the first goal being the start of a rally were quickly washed away when Forstner picked up his second goal with a great pass from Yean Thanakroekkiat.
Starosta then made the score 5-1 with a little over five minutes to go in the second period, with assists from Yean and Punn Phasukkijuttama,. A minute later, Kindborn took the puck in the Peak zone and went coast to coast for great individual effort, and the score was 6-1. Only a minute and a half after that goal, a pretty tic tac toe passing play with John Schachnovsky dishing the puck to Mel and Mel sliding it in front of the goal to White helped White complete the hat trick, and make the score 7-1. The third period was really just a formality as Yean scored with a little under five minutes left, and Forstner completed his hat trick and solidified his selection as the Rolling Stone Pizza Player of the Game. A late goal by Moo, his second of the night, gave the few Hertz fans left in the building something to cheer about. But it was too little too late as Peak went 2-0 on the young season with a 9-2 victory. Parker made 33 saves in the losing effort, and Peak goalie Gabor Toth, made 21 saves to secure his first win of the season, after missing the first game, also a Peak victory.
Game two also saw a game that ended with a lopsided score, but the complexion of this game was much different. The score was no true indication of the run of play, and if not for Novotel goalie Yu Cheng (Leo) Liao, this game would have ended much differently. There are a few storylines to this young season that are emerging, but non bigger than the play of the highly touted goalie from Taiwan.
The first period of this game was a close affair. Back and forth we went with the speed of both teams evident early. The game scoring kicked off with sub Mangkorn Sukwiboon netting a goal with a good pass from Winnie Luckanatimskon. Masato Kitayama, arguably the fastest skater in Thailand, showed why he will be another in the long list of Thai super subs this season with a great goal to make the score 2-0 Novotel with five minutes reaming in the first. Veteran Devin Michael brought Aware back to within one goal with assists from Non Aekkasemnarong and captain Justin St. Denis.
The second period was dominated by Novotel’s speedy young Thai players and Leo’s goaltending. Winnie and Peam got goals in the second and assists were by Homme Thaiyanont and Winnie. Aware’s offense was nothing to sneeze at, with both lines getting scoring chances and having periods of sustained pressure, only to see Leo snuff out every true scoring chance. The third period had goals from Winnie, Ith, and Marcel Bouwens, with an assist from Ith, La, Masato, and Alasdair Fawcett. For his efforts on the evening, Masato was named the Rolling Stone Pizza POG.
Week three of the SHL season will see our first marquee matchup, with undefeated squads Peak and Novotel squaring off in the early game. Which team will stay perfect? Our second game will see Aware and Hertz battle to avoid being the only winless team in the league. It’s early in the campaign, but a lot riding on week three’s contests. If you haven’t seen an SHL game this season, please make your way to the rink Sunday, October 27. As always, admission to the fastest sport in Thailand is free.
For more information on the SHL check out Dom Dumais great podcasts and interviews with SHL players.