Pandoo Nation, a team made up of primarily ex-NCAA players, won the 19th Land of Smiles ice hockey tournament recently held at The Rink located on seventh floor of the Central Grand Rama IX shopping plaza in Bangkok. In the final, they defeated the Siberian Bears 6-2.
To get through to the final, Pandoo defeated the Kreuz Subsea Sharks, a team made up of primarily Junior A players from Canada, in the semi-final. Those two teams fought it out for the Hong Kong championship earlier in the year, with Kreuz prevailing though they were bolstered by ex-NHLers Wayne Primeau and Todd Warriner. In Bangkok, Subsea did have ex-NHLer Tyler Sloan, but he wasn’t enough to cope with Pandoo’s speed.
Champions Pandoo Nation strike a victory pose.
The defending champions, Bangkok’s Flying Farangs were eliminated by Pandoo in the quarter-finals. Last year, they were fortunate to have Chicago Black Hawk Johnny Oduya patrolling the blueline for them as he spent time in Bangkok during the NHL strike. This year they weren’t so lucky.
The Flying Farangs actually had three teams in the tourney and their B team lost to Slovenia in the semi-final of the Rec division; the undermanned but skilled Slovenian squad eventually lost to defending-champions HK “Pit Stop” Liepaja Latvia in the Rec final 3-1. Ironically, the Latvian team had defeated the Flying Farang B squad in a shoot-out in a semi-final game the year before.
Pandoo try to break through the Siberia defence.
Thirty-eight teams competed in the tournament this year, which ran from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 and culminated with a closing party at the Amari Boulevard, where the Flying Farang rock band, 5 Hole, played to rousing applause. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Macau, Jakarta, Kuwait, Switzerland, Finland and Canada also sent teams to compete in the tournament.
In the Asian Division the Hong Kong Hitmen, bolstered by Thai star Tewin Chartsuwan, defeated the Abu Dhabi Storms Men’s team. In the Women’s Division, the Dubai Gazelles beat the Abu Dhabi Storms Women’s team.
Ex-NHLer Francistek Kucera, who played for the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1992 Stanley Cup final, played for the Old Boys Pilsen Indians in the Rec divison, while another ex-NHLer, recently retired defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, showed up for the closing party. Spacek was captain of the Buffalo Sabres for a period, while Kucera won gold with the Czech team at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 and was involved in the Jaromir Jagr to Washington deal.
For more information about ice hockey in Thailand, go to www.jogsports.com.