THE Kuala Lumpur Cobras culminated a year of a hard training and conditioning by winning the first open tournament in their history, defeating the two-time defending champions Hong Kong Tigers 4-1 to take the +35 Open San Miguel Light Cup, the premier title in Bangkok’s City of Angels hockey tourney.
KL captain Rich Hutson, commenting on the victory, said: “We had a solid tourney and a really good mix of guys.
We actually started talking about wanting to win this thing after last year when we won the rec division, which was KL’s very first win of any tournament in all the years that we have competed. This year was the first win in an open division for any KL team. We won the KL tournament for the first time last year, which was our first tourney win, but you can’t really count that as it’s such a small tourney.”
How did KL prepare for the tourney? “First, we all were training for more than eight months – believe it or not. I was sending the guys workouts and videos and believe it or not everyone was doing them in their own time. This was a team of really like-minded guys who were all committed to winning.
“We had an extremely fit team and this allowed us to roll three lines. We have a good team of guys who can only play one tourney a year because they are teachers and can never get time off, so City of Angels is the one.
“Dallas played in the WHL for five seasons. He played four years in Prince Albert and one year in Kelowna. From there, he played for the St Francis Xavier X-Men in the Canadian University League. While there, they went to the CIS National finals three times and won it once. After school, he went to the US and played one year in the Central League with the Topeka Tarantulas, then one season in the ECHL with the Columbia Inferno followed by two seasons with the Oklahoma City Blazers.
“Sheldon, a defenseman, was the glue to our team, and had a similar career. He played in the CHL with Fort Worth and Oklahoma. He also played in the UHL with Adirondack and in the Chinook Hockey League with Bentley. Both these guys are incredible hockey players and were the final pieces to our team. The bad news is Sheldon is moving back to Canada in a few months so there goes my solid ‘D’ and I highly doubt we will ever persuade Dallas to come again.
“We have some real long time Cobras. Janne Haapalainen has been here since 2000 and Matt Pritchard since 2001. Patrick Potvin (51 years old) also has been here since 2001. I have been here for five years but this is my second tour of duty. I played with the Cobras ten years ago for a couple of years and then moved to Europe and have now been back in Asia for five years. I have been captain of the Cobras for four years. The team that we have right now is 21-1 in the last four tournaments we have played. That would be our KL tournament (which we won twice going 5-0) and of course the City of Angels the last two years. Our toughest games always come from Bangkok which is the only team to beat us.
“It might all sound a bit dramatic for a men’s beer league hockey tournament (laughs)…but we really did want to win and beat Hong Kong. We made the commitment and followed through and I am really proud of this group of guys. Hockey in Asia has brought so much to my life and the life of the others. Playing in the City of Angels tourney is like Xmas time for our team. We stay at the same hotel, go to dinners together and do
everything. We really love the experience and we are already waiting for next year!”
The two leading scorers in the tournament both happened to be Cobras: Jeff Hritzuk with nine goals and four assists and Dallas Flaman with six goals and seven assists.
The City of Angels tourney started in 2008 with two teams from Bangkok, Singapore’s Rusty Blades and a squad from Beijing. This year 20 squads from around the world competed in three different divisions: six in the +35 Open; six in the +35 Rec; and eight in the +40 Rec division.
The Flying Farangs entered two teams in the tourney, “A” and “B”, the former led by Geoff McIntyre and the latter by Stephen Sproule. The “A” team lost in a shootout to Kuala Lumpur in the semi-final after battling back to take the game into overtime on a goal by McIntyre, who was the leading Farang point-getter in the tourney with two goals and six assists. The B team made it to the +35 Rec Movenpick Hotel & Resorts Cup losing to Pandoo Nation by a score of 4-2. The line of Sproule, Devin Keer and Marcel Bouwens was particularly effective for the B squad.
The +40 Rec Tier I, the LightHouse A Go Go Cup, saw two teams from Beijing square off, split their teams and tie. While the +40 Rec Tier II title, the JOG Sports Cup, was won by the New Delhi Scared Bulls who defeated the Shanghai Red Guard 2-1.
The scorekeeping and time-clock was handled by Chuck Chaiyakul and Alex Manton and they both did a great job of recording the stats and making sure the games ran smoothly.
Head referee Richard Alanthwaite and his team of referees did great work as the games were incident free for the most part, and the zebras did a good job keeping the rough stuff under control.
The hotel banquet was held on the roof of the new Movenpick Hotel & Resort on Sukhumvit Soi 15, where the band 5 Hole (featuring Flying Farangs Michael Nightingale, Michael White and Janne Kankaanpaa) played to encore after encore.
The organizer of the tourney as always was Scott Whitcomb and with help from his dad, Brad, and his lovely wife, Jeab, the Whitcomb family did a super job once again of staging the City of Angels tournament, which was held at The Rink, 7th floor of the Central Plaza Grand Rama IX shopping mall.