Gallant Malaysia settle for second spot

The Malaysian SEA Ice Hockey U-15 team and officials with the guests of honour after their hard-fought battle against Thailand in the finals. — Photos: MUHAMMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

TEAM Thailand enjoyed a convincing victory at the SEA Ice Hockey Under-15 invitational championship after an unbeaten run against Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

Malaysia bagged the silver medal after losing to Thailand 11-5 in the final, finishing ahead of Indonesia who defeated Singapore 8-6 in the bronze medal match while Philippines finished last.

The home team were soundly beaten by the Thais in the final despite a closer battle in the opening round which ended 9-7 in favour of the Thais.

Numerous attempts to find their opponent’s net only came in vain for Andika Rees Pahamin Azhar and S. Vinodraj as the Thais defence stood firm.

Despite the 7-1 score line then 10-1 after the second period, the Malaysian boys never gave up and fought hard until the end.

image: http://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2017/10/05/20/34/metd_ice_randeep_3.ashx?h=422&w=600&la=en

Andika Rees (left) in action in the finals against Thailand.

Andika Ress (left) in action in the finals against Thailand.

With the crowd behind them, they were able to claw themselves back with four goals through Raja Karim Adli Raja Amin (two goals), Vinodraj and Muhammad Fareez Afdlin Mohd Fauzi during the final 15-minute period before eventually losing to the much superior Thais 11-5.

Team manager Wan Abdullah Wan Salleh, who is also Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation (MIHF) youth development head, applauded both sides for their performance.

“Firstly, it was a job well done by the Thai boys who played well as a team. They surprised us with their constant attacks in the first period,” he said after the final held at Sunway Pyramid Ice.

“Yes, we made mistakes during the first period and that rattled our players as the fans were also not very supportive.

“It is easy for outsiders to criticise but they are not the ones inside the rink.

“We cannot blame the players because they are young and still learning the game.

image: http://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2017/10/05/20/34/metd_ice_randeep_4.ashx?h=465&w=600&la=en

Malaysia‘s Vinodraj (centre) clashes with Thailand‘s Sittinon Promthong.

Malaysia’s Vinodraj (centre) clashes with Thailand ‘s Sittinon Promthong.

Wan pointed out that the home team was able to redeem themselves during the third and fourth period.

“The main thing was that they never gave up,” he said.

MIHF fielded players as young as 12 years old in the Under-15 tournament as part of a development strategy to give its younger players exposure to international opponents while encouraging senior players to transfer their knowledge and inspire the juniors.

Moving forward, the older boys will move on to the older age group where they will prepare for the International Ice Hockey Federation Challenge Cup of Asia Under-20 tournament this December.

“The juniors will take their place for next year’s SEA Under-15 championships in Thailand. They will have a tough task but we expect them to step up to what their seniors have done and make the nation proud,” said Wan.

To fill in the gaps, MIHF will identify new potentials in the coming Malaysia Ice Hockey League season.

“The club environment has also become very positive after the SEA Games which is great for ice hockey development and we hope this will help produce more young and skilful players,” he added.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/sport/community-sports/2017/10/06/gallant-malaysia-settle-for-second-spot-determined-youngsters-give-thailand-a-run-for-their-money-in/#TL74GL6AGWcbroAO.99

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