■ The 2021 portion of the Siam Hockey League (SHL) 2020-21campaign was delayed a month due to the second spike of the COVID-19 pandemic but once action started in early February a similar pattern emerged.
Defending champion Novotel Spitfires won the first three games of the New Year. Novotel is led by Captain Mike Freeson, Swiss star Tomas Stastny, Thai national team captain Ken Kindborn, and Thai-American goalie Ben Kleineschay - they just seem to find a way to win and the team is the favourite to take the championship this season.
A mid-season transfer saw Patrick Forstner move from Siam Mandalay to replace the injured Jari Eerikainen on KCG. And it is these two teams that are fighting it out to take on Novotel for the title.
Siam Mandalay’s charismatic Crash Line (Turner Johnson, Darius Konotopetz, & Mitch Morrison) is making life rough on their opponents because of their scoring prowess and tough physical play.
The matches between KCG and Siam Mandalay have been dramatic cliffhangers all year as evidenced in their February 21st match. Down 4-1 to Siam Mandalay with less than six minutes to go, KCG, led by Jan Isaksson, roared back scoring four unanswered goals to win 5-4.
At the other end of the standings, Justin St. Denis’ Aware squad is winless early in the New Year despite the acquisition of Thai nation al team star Kim Aarola.
After eleven weeks of action, the Novotel Spitfires sit atop the SHL standings with a 10-1-0 record for 20 points. KCG sits in second spot with a 6-3-2 record for 14 points. Siam Mandalay, the only team to beat Novotel, is in third position with a 5-5-1 record for 11 points and Aware is in the cellar with a 1-10 record.
The Novotel Spitfires still dominate the SHL race as Mike Freeson is in first spot with 20 points, Ken Kindborn is in second spot with 17 points and Tomas Stastny is in third place with 15 points. KCG teammates Jan Isaksson and Patrick Forstner are in fourth and fifth place with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
SHL games take place at the arena on the fifth floor of Imperial Samrong every Sunday night at 9 and 10pm.
Check out Dom Dumais’ weekly SHL podcasts sponsored by the BiGChilli magazine at www.siamhockeyleague.com. The games are also carried live at www.facebook.com/thailandtv.tv, thanks to producer Keith Mueller.