KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait hosted the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia Division I and it was a success for the country on the ice as it won all three games to keep the trophy at home.
Re-entering the competition, the Kuwaiti started strong and beat Macau 8-0. Ahmad Al Ajmi opened the scoring at 8:00 and added a natural hat trick in the third period in front of 450 spectators. The 38-year-old veteran easily won the scoring race with 11 goals and 17 points and was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
India provided the hosts a bigger challenge on the second day and went up 3-0 with three goals between 11:47 and 12:45. Then the Kuwaiti reacted immediately and scored three goals in less than one minute on their own between 13:14 and 14:05.
The game continued to go back and forth and Kuwait tied it at five midway the third period before scoring three unanswered goals for an 8-5 win.
Kuwait needed at least one point from its last game against Oman to win the tournament but had little trouble this time, steamrolling its Gulf rival 13-0.
India, which used to struggle at these tournaments because the national championship is only played on a frozen water reservoir in the deepest winter weeks, showed a much improved performance and took second place at the event after wins against Oman, 3-2, and Macau, 7-3. It’s the first time India won two games in a tournament.
The win against Oman was only the second time that the Indian men’s national team won an IIHF-sanctioned game after beating Macau in 2012 on home ice in Dehradun. Long time the Indians didn’t capitalize on their surplus of shots against Oman but in the third period Tsewang Dorjey’s second goal of the game tied it at two and with 2:09 left in regulation time Rigzin Norboo scored the game winner.
Two Indians won individual awards with Nawang Dorje voted Best Goaltender and Chamba Tsetan Best Forward. Kuwait’s Jasem Al Awadhi was named Best Defenceman.
Oman recorded its first regulation-time win in IIHF play when it beat Macau 2-1. Macau outshot the Omani 26-18 but goals from Talal Ambusaidi and Ibrahim Al Gabashi gave Oman the lead they managed to defend to earn a third-place finish. Click here for scores and stats from the tournament.