Aware finally wins in thrilling shoot-out

The sixth week of the Siam Hockey League started with what has to be the most exciting game of the season. Aware, winless in their first five games, was looking for just about anything to give them the push they needed to get their first win of the campaign, and Siam Mandalay was looking to get their second win of the year, against the club they gained their only victory.

Aware had to be looking skyward and wondering what was going on when less than a minute into the contest, Siam Mandalay sniper Patrick Forstner found the back of the net from a sharp angle.

Siam Mandalay’s Darius Konotopetz shields the puck from Aware’s Arnold Vattanapanyakul.

Most fans probably thought Aware would start to doubt themselves after that quick goal, however, the Aware squad seemed to find another gear they had been missing this season, and their first strike required a little “puck luck”, another thing Aware players had said they sorely needed. Aware captain Justin St. Denis gave the puck to Brandon Vick, who fired it on net. The puck ricochet off of both Aware pivot John Schachnovsky and Siam Mandalay captain Jordan Ashton, before making its way past Siam Mandalay goalie Dream Ungkulpattanasuk, to tie the game at one. After this tally, Aware really poured it on. Roger Promthomng kept his rookie-of-the-year caliber campaign going strong with a nifty goal after a feed from Arnold Vattanapanyakul. It looked like Aware would go into the first intermission up 2-1, when St. Denis gave the puck to Schachnovsky at the Siam Mandalay blue line. Schachnovsky saw Vick streaking to the net, and with one second remaining, passed to Vick, who redirected the puck over Dream’s shoulder: 3-1 Aware going into period two.

The second period began how the first ended, with Aware making the score 4-1 with only a couple of minutes gone by, when Roger picked up his second of the game with the assist going to super-sub Phu Suwachirat. Siam Mandalay got one back, making the score 4-2, when Ashton teamed up with pesky forward Ernesto Bauer for a grinding goal. Only a minute or so had passed when Devin Keer dished the puck to veteran sub Mike White. White tossed a nice backhand on net, with Schachnovsky tipping the biscuit passed Dream for his second tally of the night. Mitch Morrison kept Siam Mandalay close with a great shot passed Aware netminder Lance Parker, with assists going to Darius Konotopetz and Mike Wilson. The second period ended with Aware still in control 6-3.

Early in the third period, Arnold gave Aware their four-goal lead once again when he took a pass from David Boere and sniped it by Dream. But then, the game turned on its head. Siam Mandalay stormed back, scoring three goals in three minutes. Goals by Forstner, Wilson and Tan Limpinphet came in rapid succession as Siam Mandalay pure on the offense and Aware didn’t know what hit them. Assists on those three lamp-lighters were from Tan, Jordan, Ernesto, Homme Thaiyanont, and Patrick.

Siam Mandalay’s Patrick Forstner had a four-point night.

For the final 10 minuets, Siam Mandalay tried to get the equalizer and Aware tried feverishly to keep the lead. When Jaren Folden went to the penalty box with only a couple of minutes remaining, Siam Mandalay knew they had a chance, and with under a minute to play, Siam Mandalay got the equalizer, with Non Aekkasemnarong getting the important tally, with assists from Wilson and Patrick.

The three-on-three overtime was a fast-paced affair, but neither team could score. So, it went to a shootout. Round after round came and went with Dream and Lance standing tall each and every time. Finally, first-year standout defenseman Denis Omelka ended the game with the only goal of the shootout, also earning himself the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game award. Dream had 18 saves in the losing effort and winning goalie Parker had 27.

In game two, undefeated Novotel seemed to be ripe for the picking and maybe pick up their first loss of the season when they went up against the suddenly red-hot KCG squad. Behind captain Harrison Oztemel and new sensation Jan Isaksson, KCG looked across the ice and also saw no Ken Kindborn in the lineup and must have liked their chances (Kindborn suffered an injury playing in a tournament earlier that weekend).

Novotel captain Mike Freeson (in blue) had a hard trick on the night.

And about five minutes into the game, KCG seemed to be on that path, when flashy rookie Time Phatigulsate eamed up with his Thai national teammates Mel Thanyalapark and Punn Phasukkjwatana to make the score 1-0. The first period ended with KCG holding that same lead.

If KCG felt this was their night, and the score was heading in that direction, then waking up Novotel captain Mike Freeson was a bad idea. The captain took his team and plopped them firmly on his shoulders and carried them from there.

A minute into period two, Phu Suwachirat (subbing in his second game of the night) gave the puck to Freeson who found a streaking Mangkorn. The fleet-footed Thai made an amazing individual effort and got the crown on their feet to tie the game at one. That play ended up earning Mangkorn the Jerky Monster play-of-the-week award.

Novotel’s Major Ingkharratphithakon and KCG’s Jan Isaksson wait for the puck to head their way,

Then the Mike Freeson show really began. Freeson scored the next three goals for Novotel, two in the second frame and one in the third with Leo out of the KCG net for an added skater. Assists on his hat-trick of goals went to Mangkorn and Ed Mcconnell

The Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game went to rookie goalie Ben Kleineschay, as he outshined last year’s player-of-the-year goaltender by making 35 saves. If not for his play, KCG would have surely put more than one on the scoreboard as KCG offensive powers Jesse Starosta, Oztemel and Isaksson all had multiple scoring chances at the Novotel net, but all came up empty-handed. Leo made 28 saves in the losing effort.

With only one game on the SHL docket in December, next week’s games are one of only two more sets of games in 2020. So, if you haven’t made it to the Imperial Samrong ice rink yet this season, please do to catch the fastest game on ice. Aware takes on Novotel at 9pm while Siam Mandalay faces off against KCG at 10pm.