By: Ashok Purohit
Debutant Oman may have failed to earn a promotion from 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia Division I that concluded in Kuwait City on Friday, but the sultanate players won the hearts of the other teams with a commendable show on their debut.
Host nation Kuwait won the six-nation International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournament to earn promotion in the tournament dedicated for Asian countries that don’t participate in the upper levels of the world championship system.
The Kuwaitis, who had two training camps in Swedish town Hallstahammar won all five games to clinch the first place. Singapore won the silver medal and Kyrgyzstan took the bronze.
However, the revelation of the tournament was Oman, which finished a remarkable fourth. The sultanate has only one ice rink of smaller dimensions (45 on 25 metres) that is located at Fun Zone at Qurm in Muscat. But its players showed from the beginning that they were able to contribute in a positive way to the tournament. In its first-ever official game, Oman beat India 6-5 in a shootout followed by another win after game-winning shots, 8-7 against Malaysia, before being ousted by the top-three teams in the other games. Oman lost to Kyrgyzstan 3-7 and was then blanked 5-0 by the hosts before it lost to Singapore 3-12 in its concluding match.
Malaysia only finished in fifth place despite a good performance in three losses by the margin of one goal. Its forward Ban Kin Loke was the tournament’s scoring leader and top goal-scorer with 12 goals and 16 points. Kuwait’s Meshal al Ajmi came second with nine goals and 15 points as a defenceman.
Oman’s defenceman Anad al Balushi was the team’s best performer with five goals and seven points India battled hard but didn’t win any additional points after the tight loss to Oman to finish at the bottom.
SOURCE: Muscat Daily