The Malaysia National Ice Skating Stadium (MYNISS) saw history being made as Malaysia emerged victorious at the just-concluded 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Under-20 Challenge Cup of Asia.
Players from Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, India, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines between the ages of 15 and 20 gathered from Dec 12 to 17 at MYNISS, Empire City, to showcase their talents.
The inaugural tournament was jointly organised by the national governing body of ice hockey in Malaysia, Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation, and its global counterpart, the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Many came with high hopes, but the quality of the teams was evident by the second day of competition.
Host Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan were clearly a skill level above the rest and the result was a two-horse race until the end. For the other teams, a third-place medal was still up for grabs.
The two teams faced off on the second last day of competition to claim the top spot outright.
Kyrgystan took an early lead through Zhanbolot Tagayev and the Malaysian team quickly responded through Nurul Nizam Deen Versluis.
They never looked back after that and comfortably won the game 6-1.
The success of the Under-20 team bodes well for Bryan Lim Chee Ming, captain of the Malaysian team. Named Best Forward of the tournament, he credits the senior team’s success at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games as one of the motivating factors for the team.
“From my point of view, I see many upcoming talents after the SEA Games and this is good as it increases the pool of players for development programmes,” Lim said.
He sees a bright future for Malaysian ice hockey and the team’s success is a sign of things to come.
Malaysia closed the tournament not only as champion but also winner of two awards – Best Forward (Lim) and Most Valuable Player (Mohammad Hariz Mohammad Oryza Ananda).
Philippines’ Benjamin Jorge Imperial was named Best Defenceman while UAE’s Abdulrahman Al Hosani was Best Goaltender.
UAE came in third, with Philippines emerging fourth and India in fifth place.