With 13 members and an average age of 37.5, the TSHA headed back to Seoul to take part in another Korea Cup. This year’s tournament was held a Saturday (April 25th) instead of a Sunday and boasted nine well-rounded teams in two pools.
The TSHA's pool consisted of five teams: TSHA, Geckos, CBHK All-stars, All-Drinkers, and Dague.
Our first game was against one of the heavily favored teams, the CBHK All-stars.
The TSHA, with members lacking in experience playing 5-on-5 on such a large surface, were quickly exploited by the much younger and faster All-stars. After falling behind 4-0, Dave was able to respond with the TSHA’s first goal of the tournament. Despite losing 6-1, the team continued to settle into the 5-on-5 style and our play improved greatly over the course of the first game.
The second game of the day was versus the Geckos, an ice-hockey team who was taking part in their second tournament in Seoul. The Geckos possessed much better stick handling, passing, and positioning, which allowed them to often blow by our defenders. The Geckos took a quick lead and never really looked back. Chad was able to score for the TSHA, but the Geckos didn't fold and eventually won the game 4-1.
On a positive note, Eric “Sockfoot” Chho, our goalie, played incredibly well and made some highlight-reel saves. Also, the team controlled the ball for the majority of the game and the opposition’s defensemen were getting extremely frustrated by our intense forechecking. So there were some forward-looking takeaways from this game.
Game three pitted the TSHA against the All-Drinkers. By this point in the day, their team had consumed a fair amount of alcohol, so they were not to be taken too seriously. With that said, it was a great chance for the team to practice their positioning and breakouts. The game started well as Chad scored the fastest goal of the tournament, running forward following the face-off and undressing the All-Drinkers goalie. The TSHA continued to press and took a 4-0 lead, off of goals from Dave, John, and others. After establishing a comfortable buffer, the TSHA subsided somewhat, and the sober players on the All-Drinkers made a few great plays to create some scoring chances. Again, Eric was a wall, and was able to hold the fort to earn the team a shutout.
Then the rain started and the playing surface got slick. Although most people’s motivation plummeted at this point, the TSHA was positively optimistic since, as Paul says, “we are a bunch of mudders” and rain plays in our favor.
The final game of the round robin was against Dague. There was a heightened sense of urgency in this game as the teams were tied with one win each and the loser would likely face the reigning champion Suwon Snakes in the quarter-finals. The game was lacking in intensity since most players spent the game sliding past the ball or falling on their asses. The TSHA managed to outplay Dague but only Chad was able to get one past their tender and the team fell 2-1 in this game.
The loss set up our quarter final game against the Suwon Snakes, the reigning champion and highly favored team. The pace was slowed by the rain and the two teams continued back and forth before an unfortunate slip and awkward landing sent Dave off with what was later diagnosed as a broken wrist. Without Dave, the TSHA still managed to keep pace with the Snakes and ended regulation tied at one. Being the quarter final, there was only one true way to determine the winner: a shootout. The TSHA chose Gord, Chad, and Sean while the Snakes picked Jamal, Scott, and Sean.
First up was Gord, who went in slowly, moved to his right and tried to shelf it in the opposite corner. Unfortunately, the Snakes goalie stayed with him the whole time and got a piece of the ball with his shoulder.
Jamal from the Snakes then came streaking in and rifled one past Eric from about three meters out.
Chad then shot for the TSHA. He went straight in, faked a shot, and pulled it around the frozen goaltender to slide it in on the backhand. To rub it in the faces of the Snakes further, he utilized the slick surface to ride the stick in front of Suwon’s bench...
The second shooter for Suwon was Scott “the Beard” Lumsdon. He also went in down the center and tried to shoot, but Eric was a wall and stopped him cold.
Next up for the TSHA was Sean. Many people questioned this decision by coach John, but it paid off as Sean was able to trickle a slow one past the Suwon goalie, putting the TSHA up by one.
The final shooter for Suwon was Sean, one of the top scorers in the Seoul league. Once again, Eric was calm and as Sean came bearing down on the net, Eric stood his ground and easily deflected the shot into the corner, clinching the game for Tokyo.
After the victory, the TSHA entered the semi-final for their second game of the day against the CBHK All-stars.
Much like the game against Suwon, the teams spent more time puttering around the rink then really running or shooting. Unfortunately, the All-stars were able to put one past Eric about midway through the game and the TSHA was unable to get close. There were some chances near the end as the clock was counting down, but the ball was cleared and the buzzer sounded.
So, the TSHA was sent home with their heads held relatively high after, by Paul’s logic, a third place finish and a solid effort by all members.
Oh yeah, the All-stars beat the Geckos 4-0 in the final...