The Siam Hockey League (SHL) was honored to welcome Ryan Straschnitzki for a ceremonial puck-drop ahead of Sunday night’s action at The Rink at Central Rama 9.
Straschnitzki, a former Canadian junior hockey player, was paralyzed from the waist down in a bus crash last year in Saskatchewan that killed 16 of his teammates, coaches and staff, while seriously injuring a dozen others.
The 20-year-old has been in Bangkok for rehabilitation following an experimental spinal surgery. His positive attitude and perseverance have inspired the local hockey community and others in Thailand, and on Tuesday Straschnitzki was back on the ice at The Rink again, skating on a sled.
In Sunday night’s first game between the Novotel Spitfires and PEAK Biolabs, Mike Freeson of the Spitfires put in a commanding performance, notching a hat trick (nine goals on the season) and sealing “Player of the Game” honors, as Novotel took home the win, 4-2.
PEAK got on the board first, with a dazzling first-period goal by Swedish substitute player Elias Bengtsson, who cut in front of two sagging Novotel defensemen and fired a shot past goaltender Yu Cheng Liao.
Novotel clawed back with three second-period goals, beginning with a flubbed backhander by left wing Bill Bredesen that somehow found an opening between PEAK netminder Gabor Toth’s leg pads. Freeson then tallied his first goal of the night on a laser-like backhander over Toth’s shoulder.
Freeson’s second goal was a powerful wrist shot that snuck under Toth’s blocker. Novotel defenseman Mike Walker made two assists on Freeson’s goals, including on a long breakout pass from Novotel’s defensive zone.
PEAK kept the game close with a gritty second-period goal by center Michael White, who knocked back a rebound amid traffic in front of the Novotel net.
In the third period, Freeson gave Novotel some insurance when he stepped around PEAK’s center off the face-off—the fourth time he’s scored like this in the past three games—and fired a shot past Toth.
With the win, Novotel climbed to 6-3 (first place in the SHL), while PEAK dropped to 5-4.
It was the final game of the season for three outstanding Swedish substitute players, including Bengtsson, Pierre Karlsson and Adam Teodorsson. The SHL thanks them for playing in the league and wishes them the best of luck.
For more information on the SHL check out Dom Dumais great podcasts and interviews with SHL players.