If our participating in the Korea tournament proved anything positive about the TSHA, it is that we can get things together quickly, even if the end result is half-assed.
Rumors of the tournament in Seoul had been circulating for several months prior to the actual tournament day, but seemed a crazy pipe dream to those who regularly attend hockey on Sunday. Constant mention of it during the weekly reports, mixed in with the occasional after hockey beer conversation about the subject, led many to believe we were talking out of our asses like we most often do.
Then, a sudden commitment by Paul spurred the group and things quickly came together 2 weeks prior to the events actual start day.
Ted flew out in the morning. Chad followed him and arrived in the mid-afternoon. And the other three participants (Paul, John, and last minute-joiner Dave) left Tokyo in the late evening and arrived at the hotel in downtown Seoul shortly after 11pm.
The first night, the group met up for a few beers and a wander in the Insadong area near the hotel. Paul and Dave returned for a nightcap around 1, while Chad, John, and Ted went wandering the streets in search of fun, excitement, and anything with breasts...they found nothing.
The next day, a Saturday, saw the TSHA reps head down to the magnificent facilities for the tournament at the Korean National Stadium, home to the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The group then proceeded to head out into Seoul to do some sight seeing.
After hours of ruthlessly efficient touring, the group meandered over to one of Seoul’s trademark establishments – Hooters. There we were greeted by several of the hosts from the Korean team.
Despite Paul’s incessant badgering about the taboos of alcohol and staying out late, the TSHA found itself whisked away from Hooter’s to Itaewon, Seoul’s shitty version of Tokyo’s Roppongi district. Several drinks later, the boys wised up to the fact that there was a hockey tournament the next day and that sleep may actually be beneficial, and thus returned to the hotel for a nightcap.
Following a winner’s breakfast at Starbucks the next morning, the TSHA members headed over to the arena hell-bent on winning the tournament. Their hopes were quickly dashed when they found out that all the competing teams had twelve-plus players compared to the TSHA’s five.
Luckily, the TSHA received a few substitute players garnered from extras who had yet to play in the Seoul league. With a total of 8 members, the TSHA put forth a mighty effort in the first game but ended up losing 3-0 to the team from Pusan.
In their second game, the TSHA withstood an early onslaught by the Seoul Spartans and managed to score their first goal of the tournament, tallied by Paul. In the end, TSHA lost 5-1 despite a valiant effort.
The third game saw TSHA square off against the reigning champions from Suwon. A stellar effort by their goaltender prevented the invocation of the mercy rule, but the team still fell 4-1.
In their final match of the round robin, the TSHA faced the black team (name unknown) in what was to be the greatest game the TSHA has ever played on international soil. Goals from Dave, John, and one of the new recruits allowed the TSHA to take a 3-0 lead into the second half. During the break, the black team regrouped and came out flying. They quickly cut the lead to one, but goals by another new guy and Chad put the TSHA up 5-3, which was to be the final score of the game.
The victory put the TSHA into a tie for 4th with team black, who had one more game remaining against the Seoul Spartans. Their game saw much back and forth action, and a strong effort was put forth by the Spartans to come out victorious. Unfortunately for the TSHA and all of their fans in the crowd, the Spartans fell 3-2, which solidified team black’s 4th place finish in the round robin and relegated the TSHA to 5th.
Although an early exit from the tournament wasn’t a pleasant experience, it gave the TSHA a free evening to go out and enjoy more of Seoul. Highlights of the evening included:
- The Hammering Man statue
- Chad and Ted eating silkworm larvae
- A short trip to Namdeamun market
- The best Korean dinner ever and a lot of Korean rice wine
- A fantastic Korean foot massage
- Krispy Kreme donuts
All in all, the trip was a blast and we hope to go back in 2009 with a larger team so we can show Korea that the TSHA should not be trifled with.
Paul – for using a Gorilla Tripod in a more annoying fashion than anyone else on the planet.
Dave – for constantly reminding everyone that Seoul is like a shitty version of Tokyo.
John – for never revealing whether or not he was enjoying himself.
Chad – for only crying and gagging a little after eating a spoonful of silkworm larvae.
Ted – for not scoring a single point in the whole tournament (but playing stellar defense.)