The heart was there for the Philippines Men’s National Ice Hockey team, but the defending champions Mongolia proved equal to the fight.
The East Asians stifled the Nationals’ comeback in the third period with a plethora of goals, to bag their second straight gold medal of the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, 6-3, Saturday evening at the Malaysian National Ice Skating Stadium.
Nonetheless, the Filipinos took it up a notch from its third-place finish last year on home soil.
Mongolia produced two quick-fire goals that breached Paolo Stafford’s guard to take the early lead at 2-0 just eight minutes into the match. Bayarsaikhan Jargalsikhan opened the scoring for his squad and Erdenesukh Bold then doubled the tally.
Jargalsikhan was also instrumental in the defending champions’ third goal as he found Gerelt Ider, who slotted the 3-0 advantage at the end of the first period.
The Philippines had to deal with four minutes inside the penalty box, as they could not keep it rolling at the start of the game.
Nonetheless, the entry of Julius Santiago gave the Nationals a boost, as the forward came off the bench to put the team on the scoreboard. Assistant captain Carl Montaño found Santiago in the passing lane; the latter hit the back of the net at the onset of the second period.
The goal awakened the Filipinos on the defense as well, as they kept the score at 3-1 at the turn of two periods despite the chances from the reigning Kings.
Montaño then clinched his second point of the night. This time, he delivered the puck to Jose Iñigo Anton Cadiz, who bagged the second goal for the Philippines. Less than a minute later, Jan Regencia plucked the equalizer, turning in a good pass from BJ Imperial and Steven Fuglister into the goal.
The celebration was cut short, as Jargalsikhan punched in his second goal to put Mongolia back in the lead at 4-3.
With the throne on the line, Bold also bagged his second goal at the 47:54 mark. Jargalsikhan then smelled blood and bravely iced the match with his third marker before the 50th minute.
The game’s Best Player Jargalsikhan ended with four points on three goals and an assist. Goaltender Baatarkhuu Bazarvaani also finished with 26 saves, the most crucial of which were the last few to overthrow the Philippines’ last-ditch efforts.
The Philippines, who applied for World Championship Division III slot for next year, was paced by Montaño with two points, both on assists. Spafford was commendable between the sticks with a whopping 41 denials.