There’s a new sports league in Thailand and it’s rapidly gaining fame and popularity. The Siam Hockey League (SHL) started play in mid-November 2016 and its four member teams (Sport Corner/Titanium; Aware, the Sukhumvit Spitfires and Hooters Nana) will play until late April this year.
As word of the league grows there are plans to expand to five or six squads and maybe even add a second tier for less experienced players.
Although the league is primarily composed of expats from countries including Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and Switzerland, the referees all are Thai and serve under the capable tutelage of IIHF certified Sakchai ‘Jeab’ Chinanuvantana.
The league came about after John Schachnovsky, the scribe Scott Murray and Christian Olofsson organized a charity game for the Thai Red Cross in late May last year featuring NHL defenseman Johnny Oduya. They raised Bt.80,000 on the night, but sensing a synergy they decided to try and revive the expat hockey league, formerly known as the Thai World Hockey League (TWHL), which had lain dormant since April of 2015.
The three took the titles of President, Vice-President and Secretary, respectively, eventually adding Alex Manton as Administrator; Alasdair Fawcett as Treasurer, Pratch Siridhara as Head of Marketing and Jeab as Referee-in-Chief.
They decided to make it a non-profit league, setting out to secure four team sponsors putting any extra revenue they earned back into the league, thereby making it cheaper for players to join the league. They also set out to make sure that the talent was divided evenly on all squads; consisting of 13 skaters and 1 goalie per team, aged 16 and above. Another 20 skaters are listed as substitute players, filling in for those traveling, injured or in other ways unable to play on any given game night
The 20-game schedule sees matches primarily played on Sunday nights at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. but there is the occasional Monday and Thursday night game. All games are played at The Rink” on the 7th floor or the Central Grand Rama 9 shopping mall; admission is free. A player of the game award is presented after each game, with the deserving winner getting a 400THB voucher for a meal at Rolling Stone Wood Fired Pizza.
SHL players also participate in the Thai-run Bangkok Ice Hockey League (BIHL), which operates when the SHL doesn’t – from May to September. The players also play weekly pick-up shinny hockey and form the Flying Farang teams that compete in local and regional tournaments held in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila and Hong Kong.
Another commitment from the SHL League Committee is to be active on social media and have an online presence throughout the course of the season. Efforts have been made to provide interesting content and quality infographics that will motivate players as well as attract fans and sponsorship. The SHL has even appointed Dom Dumais, a podcaster and vlogger residing in Bangkok, to be the official podcaster of the league. He has become a big supporter of the league and his podcasts and interviews with players are fun and very entertaining (www.domdumais.com/shl-standing). The SHL Facebook page is packed with high quality photos of the games, its players and the people involved in the ice hockey community in Bangkok.
For more information, go to www.siamhockeyleague.com.