Dallas Stars defensemen Johnny Oduya recently stopped off in Thailand on his way back to his native Sweden and agreed to play in a charity game for the Thai Red Cross. His Stars were beaten by the St. Louis Blues in a seven-game conference semi-final in the NHL playoffs, which was a mixed blessing for Oduya, who got a chance to start his vacation early, but missed his third crack at North America’s most coveted professional sports trophy, the Stanley Cup.
Oduya originally played for the Bangkok based Flying Farangs during the NHL strike of 2012-13. He left the Farangs to re-join the Chicago Black Hawks, where he won two Stanley Cups (in 2013 & 2015) and he also won a silver medal with Sweden at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. He’s a hero to the hockey community in Thailand because he’s gracious with his time and never turns down a photo or autograph request. Before the game, he held an informal clinic with about 60 young skaters.
In the past, Red Cross charity games in Thailand have seen full rosters (24 skaters on each team plus 3 goalies) in order to raise as much money as possible as the players contribute to the cause as well. But this game was streamlined: just 3 lines, 15 skaters each with two goalies a piece. The result, a very fast end-to-end game with the best players in Thailand (farang and Thai alike) going at it.
The two teams, featuring all nationalities, were split into the Bangkok All Stars, captained by John Schachnovsky, and the Krungthep Selects, captained by Christian Olofsson. Another switch, as in past games it has been Team Canada vs. the World. The Swedish Ambassador to Thailand Staffan Herrstrom was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck while Derek van Pelt did a great job as MC. After player introductions and the playing of the Thai national anthem, the game was on.
The teams finished tied at 4-4 after regulation time; Stephen Sproule, Johnny Oduya and John Schachnovsky with two lit the red lamp for Bangkok, while Patrik Lundbach, Zak Garofolo, Andy Brine and Henrik Olofsson tallied for Krungthep. Lance Parker and Neng Ohana tended the twines for Bangkok, while Jason Costmire and Gabor Toth were in the net for Krungthep.
To decide the outcome, the two squads went to a 5-man shootout. Luk-kreung Hideki Nagayama who will play Division II hockey in Denmark this fall, scored the game-winner, which was ironic because he had played defense during the game, not his regular forward position. Michael White also scored for the Krungthep Selects in the shoot-out letting go a booming slap shot.
True Vision covered the game as the son of one of their stakeholders, Richie Jiaravanon, also played in the contest.
Lamyong “Kob” Wongsabutr, Red Cross coordinator for this event was on hand with her team manning the collection booth, reporting that the game raised Bt. 76,480.