Kowloon Warriors completed the perfect comeback by taking the 2013-14 China Ice Hockey League Championship by beating South China Sharks in a thrilling battle at Mega Ice on Saturday March 22.
After languishing at the bottom of the league virtually all season, Warriors made a rebound in the second half of the season winning six-straight matches. But although they bounced back strongly, it was still not enough to move them off the bottom rung of the ladder. At the end of the League’s matches they were just one point behind Hong Kong Tycoons.
Warriors went on to win the best-of-three Semi-final against Macau Aces in two-straight games—winning 7-2 and 9-3—to take them into the Final against the high flying South China Sharks.
The Sharks finished second in the League, but lost to their Semi-final opponents HK Tycoons 1-4 in their last league match of the season giving the Tycoons real hope of moving to the Final, but the Sharks won their first two Semi-final encounters—7-4 and 5-2—to progress to last Saturday’s Final.
The Final started with a red carpet line-up of key sponsors leading to a ceremonial puck drop by Blandine Cressard of Baybridge Serviced Apartments.
The match was a thrilling encounter with the Sharks pushing two goals ahead with strikes by Mitchell Cooper and Craig Roessel before the Warriors hit back to even the score by the end of Period-1 with goals by Andy Ramsay and Devin Welsh.
The game changer was immediate at the beginning of Period-2 when Warriors slotted in three goals in the first minute with two strikes from Kory Falite, followed by a score by Greg Smyth.
Jordan So immediately hit back to make the score 5-3, but Kory Falite pushed the Warriors into a 6-3 lead mid-way through the period. Retro Broennimann brought the score back to 6-4 to give Sharks a real chance of pulling the match out of the fire.
Warriors were mainly in defensive mode in Period-3, although they did have some penetrating runs up field, no score came. When Anthong Devotz scored for the Sharks with two minutes remaining in the match, extra time was always a possibility. However, the Warriors held on to take the match 6-5.
Silver and gold medals were presented to the players and a huge trophy—the RBC Asia Cup—was handed to Greg Smyth of the Warriors by Michael Yong-Haron from CIHL League title sponsors the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
CIHL now takes a break until October 2014, but ice hockey lovers can look forward to the Hockey 5s, which will take place at Mega Ice from April 28 to May 10 with many overseas teams competing.