In a Siam Hockey League (SHL) season dominated by the defending champion Novotel Spitfires Siam Mandalay is suddenly making things very interesting.
Novotel was 7-0 going into their match with Siam Mandalay on December 13th and odds had the Spitfires led by captain Mike Freeson, Thai national team captain Ken Kindborn, and Swiss star Tomas Stastny (the league’s three top scorers) winning again, especially with the way goalkeeper Ben Kleineschay has been playing. Alas, Siam Mandalay put the kibosh on that dream of a perfect season with a resounding 6-2 thrashing.
Thai national keeper Dream Ungkulpattanasuk returned to the form which saw him capture an SHL title with Hertz a couple years back and Siam Mandalay’s crash line (Darius Konotopetz, Mitch Morrison and Turner Johnson) just would not be denied as they created havoc and scoring opportunities for their squad all night. Siam Mandalay had won their previous game in overtime over KCG and lost a thriller in a wild shootout to Aware two weeks prior to that: it seems every game they are in has a dramatic finish.
Patrick Forstner started things off for Siam Mandalay giving them a 1-0 at the end of the first period with a nice end-to-end rush and goal-scoring blast. Tomas Stastny tied it up early in the second when he won the draw back to Mangkorn Sukwiboon and them deflected Mangkorn’s blast over Dream’s shoulder. Novotel went ahead for the first and only time in the game when Ed McConnell scored his first goal of the season on a nice setup from Ken Kindborn and Statsny.
It was all downhill from there for Novotel as Siam Mandalay scored twice more in the second period (Homme Thaiyanont & Mike Wilson) and three more (Darius Konotopetz, Turner Johnson and Yean Thankroekkiat) in the final stanza to make it a 6-2 rout.
Forstner earned himself the Jerky Monster play-of-the-week for his first-period goal; and Turner Johnson continued his impressive first season in the SHL with a goal and as assist to merit the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game award.
The earlier game was also a surprise as heavily favoured KCG snuck by Aware 3-2 even though Aware was missing five of its top players (Roman Larin, Denis Omelka, Tewin Chartsuwan, Masato Kitiyama and Peam Jaratwittipreeda) and was subbing in Rob Taylor, Steve Sproule and Phu Suwacharit in their place.
Young Thai star Time Phatigulsate staked KCG to a 1-0 lead at the end of the second period. Aware evened it up early in the third period on a nice top-shelf by Michigan-native Brandon Vick. Winnie Luckanatinakom put KCG up to stay half way through the third period and Jesse Starosta added an empty-net goal to clinch it. SHL president John Schachnovsky added a goal with five seconds on the clock to make it a 3-2 final.
The Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game went to KCG forward Time Phatigulsate who had a goal and assist on the night. Leo Liao made 25 saves in the KCG net earning the win, while Lance Parker made 22 saves in the Aware cage.
The league now breaks for the holiday season and returns to action at the Imperial Samrong arena on January10th with Novotel playing KCG at 9pm and Siam Mandalay facing off Aware at 10pm.