x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Storms silence Typhoon for Bangkok hockey international title

The win against few odds has provided a fantastic start to the UAE season but 'only the beginning' says coach Faikov.

The UAE underlined their status as an emerging force in Asia after the Abu Dhabi Storms, a team comprised mostly of Emirati national team players, deposed the two-time champions Taipei Typhoon in the international division of the Land of Smiles Hockey Classic in Bangkok.

The Storms were unbeaten in the six-team competition played over three days, winning the final 3-1. Ahmed Al Mazrouei, the captain, scoring the decisive second goal, with the Serbian pair Vitali Sauko and Bojan Zidarevic getting the others.

"The success we have had in this competition is the due to the ambitious development programme and the continuation of the hard work in the last few years," said Al Mazrouei, who is also the UAE Ice Hockey Association's chairman of the board of directors.

"It is really fantastic start for the season and a great achievement for the sport in the UAE. This title is an early National Day gift for the entire nation and for the government for financially assisting on developing the sport."

The Storms arrived amid fears of the floods in Bangkok. But the team did not encounter any problems as the tournament went off smoothly; that part of the city remained unaffected.

"There were some concerns of our travel plans but we were assisted from our embassy in Bangkok," said Ali Al Hosani, the marketing and communications manager.

"We encountered only one problem when drinking water was rationed to six bottles per person as the supplies were cut because of the floods.

"So we purchased 1,500 bottles and stored it in our hotel. Otherwise everything was well for us."

The Storms' opening encounter was against the Flying Farangs from Bangkok, which they drew 2-2.

They went on to win the next two over Vancouver Devils 4-2 and Peking Ducks 4-1 as well as outclassing Singapore Minimal 7-2 in the semi-finals.

The Storms travelled after winning both their matches in the Emirates Hockey League (EHL), followed by a one-week preparatory camp.

"We played a couple of friendlies during the week-long camp and a practice game in Bangkok, but we didn't play true to our potential until the last two games, which was the two most important matches," said Yuri Faikov, the coach.

"It was a very good competition with a lot of good teams and to return as champions was a good achievement, but this is only the beginning and we must not forget a lot of hard work is ahead."

The EHL takes a break for Eid this week and the Storms will have a double-header against the Dubai Mighty Camels on Friday and Al Ain Theebs three days later, both at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.

Theebs, the second team to travel to Thailand from the UAE, were eliminated in the semi-finals by the eventual champions, Canstar, in the second-tier championship.

Theebs went down 2-0 to Canstar in the opening match in the league phase before winning the next two against BISC Thunderous Scorpions 6-0 and Hong Kong Hitmen 5-4. They came up against Canstar again and lost 3-0. Canstar won the final 4-0 over Hong Kong Hitmen.

 

apassela@thenational.ae