The UAE got their Under 18 Challenge Cup of Asia off to a winning start, routing India 31-1 in Abu Dhabi
One-way traffic for UAE ice hockey youngsters
ABU DHABI // The UAE could be involved in a potential title decider Tuesday after playing just one game in the IIHF Under 18 Challenge Cup of Asia.
The Sunday night of the five-team tournament produced two lop-sided results at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink, with the national side demolishing India 31-1.
Earlier, Thailand defeated Malaysia 19-1.
The UAE meet Thailand on Tuesday, and Matti Fagerstrom, the UAE coach, said: "We still haven't seen Hong Kong, but it appears to be a deciding match so early in the championship. We didn't know what to expect from India. We didn't see them train or play, so we were prepared for a tough game.
"It turned out to be one-sided, as the scores suggest, but it is also the UAE's first international game [at under 18 level], so we are happy with the result."
The championship runs until Friday, and the five international teams will play each other in a round-robin format.
Khalifa Al Mahrouqi opened the scoring for the UAE three seconds into the game and they led 9-1 at the end of the first period. Rigzin Nurbu scored India's lone goal midway through the first period after the hosts had raced into a 4-0 lead after just four minutes.
Mohammed Juma Al Dhaheri, son of the UAE senior national team captain Juma Al Dhaheri, top scored for the host with five goals. Khalifa Al Mahrouqi and Mohammed Al Ketbi scored three apiece.
Fagerstrom had the luxury of giving his entire squad some time on the ice as it continued to be one-way traffic in the second and third periods.
"It was a good opportunity to provide everyone ice time," the Finn said. "I was expecting them to play as a team and not everyone trying to score goals. I had to make it clear to them and they played more as a team in the second and third periods.
"This result was good for the players and it would give the players the confidence for the next game against Thailand, which I would expect to be very toughest.
"They are fast and good skaters. We have now seen them and we know what to expect. So a good game is on."
Thailand also got off to an impressive start.
They led 3-1 at the end of the first period before going on the rampage, scoring 16 unanswered goals over the next two periods (nine and seven, respectively, from the second to the third).
Phongphan Krongsakunsuk topped the scoring with four goals and had six assists. Hideki Nagayama and Piyapong Krongsakunsuk netted three each.
Nurul Versluis got on to the score sheet for the Malaysians.
Hong Kong play India in the solitary game tonight.
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