It was basically a bronze medal game, but it did not stop the Philippine Men’s Ice Hockey Team from ending their Challenge Cup of Asia debut with a bang. And bronze is definitely better than nothing.
The 2017 Southeast Asian Games gold medalists stormed out of the gates and never looked back, whitewashing Singapore, 15-0, and taking a third straight win to end their first-ever CCOA stint, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Skating Rink.
Missing the services of scorer Paul Sanchez due to suspension, the Nationals knew all of them needed to step up more than ever on offense. Assistant captain Carl Montano shared, “We had the mentality that we had to play our game. It’s a big blow that we were missing Paul, but we were focused. We came out hard and we came out fast; we knew what we had to do.”
And strong and fast they did.
The Philippines started the scoring after barely a minute had passed, with a goal from Nico Cadiz, before two goals in quick succession followed at the four minute mark from the captains Steven Fuglister and Montano.
In the 7:38 mark, BJ Imperial was assessed a penalty for boarding, but two minutes after made amends with a beautiful finish for the Nationals’ fourth. Jan Regencia then added another one to end the period in their favor at 5-0, capitalizing on the goalkeeper change of Singapore.
Finding their groove and executing better on both sides of the ice, the Philippines registered their best scoring period of the tournament in the second. Six goals found the back of the net.
Fuglister, Cadiz, and Imperial scored their second goals of the night, before three goals came in afterwards to open the flood gates.
Defenseman Patrick Syquiatco joined in the scoring party at 33:16 mark. Goalkeeper Paolo Spafford saw that his defender had an open lane and delivered a perfectly timed pass, which the latter hit to the net.
David Samson, who is usually not part of a complete line, showed everyone that he too can deliver. The forward scored twice, three minutes apart to virtually seal the bronze for the Philippines with a commanding 11-0 lead.
The third period saw the Philippines keep their air-tight defense while still taking advantage on opportunities to score. It took three minutes for the Nationals to get another on the board, as Samson plucked his third goal of the contest.
Then, leading by example, Montano and Fuglister scored the last three goals of the squad, with the last being a great finish from the captain off a pass from his deputy — a fitting end to the Philippines’ debut in the tournament.
The Filipinos finish in third place despite the same 3-1 record with Mongolia and Thailand, due to the goal difference in the games played among the three.
The East Asians took their maiden CCOA title after beating Thailand, 5-1, Saturday, which put them at plus-3 (lost to the Philippines, 5-6). The Thais settled for the silver at minus-1 (win over the Philippines at 7-4). The Nationals get the bronze at -2 (win over Mongolia 6-5, lost to Thailand 4-7).