THE Barclays Premier League season may be in full swing, but football was far from the minds of the hundreds of players vying for supremacy at the Malaysia International Ice Hockey Tournament 2012.

Over the course of four days, the Sunway Pyramid ice rink was transformed into a battleground as 24 teams hailing from five countries pitted their skills against each other in the under-11, under-14, Women, Asian and International divisions.

Hong Kong reaffirmed its regional dominance of the sport, sweeping four of the five major titles up for grabs. The Women’s division remained an elusive goal, won instead by the Singapore Unicorns who twice brushed aside the Malaysia Slayers for a 17-3 aggregate victory.

This year saw the return of the three-on-three format, which debuted in Asia during the first Malaysia International Ice Hockey Tournament in 2009. For the uninitiated, ice hockey is typically played with four skaters and one goalkeeper on each side; but the three-on-three format ensures fast-paced matches with more offense and creativity.

Local hopefuls Dexion Wildcats kept the Jalur Gemilang flying high in a tightly-contested Asian division final with the Hong Kong Hitmen, which went down to the wire and was decided by an end-game penalty.

The Wildcats looked to repeat their win at the inaugural tournament in 2009 when forward Gary Tan opened the scoring 15 seconds into the match. Seng Chee Khoo doubled the lead in the sixth minute before Craig Roessel pulled one back for the Hitmen moments later.

There was a sense of déjà vu as Tan punished a lapse in concentration from the Hitmen and fired home 15 seconds from the break. The Wildcats’ joy was short-lived however, as a resurgent Hitmen side staged an unstoppable comeback in the second period.

Frankie Choi and Roessel levelled the score within three minutes of the restart, with Roessel later firing home from 20 yards out to make it 4-3 in the Hitmen’s favour.

Brandon Tan denied them an early celebration, sneaking past the Hitmen backline and converting the shot into the goalkeeper’s blind spot.

Wildcats goalkeeper Adrian Chow then had the unenviable task of ensuring the Malaysian challenge continued into extra time. The pressure proved too much, as Roessel showed why he is the division’s top goal scorer with a powerful strike down the left corner of the net.

A D'Jungle Magic player taking a shot.

Elsewhere, it was an all Hong Kong affair in the under-11 final as the HK Penguins took on the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey (HKAIH), who went into the match with 38 goals to its name and two clean sheets.

But as the saying goes, you are only as good as your last game. Penguins star forward Bob was on fire the entire game, running circles around the opposition and blasting five goals of his own to take his tournament tally to 15.

HKAIH flirted with hopes of a miracle with three goals in the final three minutes of the game, but it was too little too late for former National Hockey League (NHL) player Barry Beck’s young side.

A HK Tiger and Singapore Manimal vying for the puck at the Malaysia International Ice Hockey Tournament in Sunway Pyramid.

HK Penguins were made to slog for a hard-fought 3-2 win against a stubborn Bangkok Canstar Rangers in the under-14 final. Bob, who shone for the under-11 team, was brought on board and quickly repaid the favour with a goal in a one-sided first period. The Rangers goalpost was easy pickings for the Penguins, who could have multiplied their lead if not for the sterling performance of division best goalkeeper Samuel Kyu Seo.

The Rangers turned the tide in the second period to force the game into extra time. But even fatigue can overcome the best of people, and Kyu Seo is no exception to the rule as he failed to stop a shot five minutes from a potential penalty shootout.

The International division final was a testosterone-fuelled match, with both sides exchanging 13 goals – and a few blows – between them. Tensions were running high as the Singapore Manimals were determined to put an end to Hong Kong’s rout while the HK Tigers wanted to retain a title they won in 2010.

Despite the Manimals deadly attacking players, they were made to pay for their infractions as the referee awarded the Tigers two penalties.

Hong Kong Hitmen captain Keith Fong receiving the Asian Division trophy.

In the end, an extra time scorcher from the Tigers clinched the match 7-6, adding another trophy to the Hong Kong corner.

Tell us what you think!

Go top