Kyrgyzstan wins at home

Promoted to top Challenge Cup top division


Tournament MVP Oleg Kolodi of Kyrgyzstan is followed by India's Ali Amir. Photo: Alisher Abulkasymov

BISHKEK – Since their inception into the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia program, Kyrgyzstan has taken a silver medal (2014) and a bronze (2015) in Division I play.

In 2016 they completed their collection by winning the gold on home ice in Bishkek and also promotion to the top division where they will join the likes of Chinese Taipei, United Arab Emirates, Mongolia and Thailand.

The home nation powered their way to tournament victory like they were the forty clans of Manas putting on a goal scoring exhibition that saw them claim the title after just three of their four games played.

Two goals from team captain Amanbek Esen Uulu, Salamat Tynaliev, Oleg Kolodi and Duulat Abyshev disposed of Kyrgyzstan’s first opponents India by 11-1. Goalkeeper Elzar Bolotbekov kept his concentration making just eight saves against newcomer Qatar to record the only shutout of the Cup, while Oleg Kolodi scored four goals handing Kyrgyzstan a 9-0 victory over Qatar.

In what was to eventual be the theoretical gold medal game on Day 3 of the tournament between Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia, a superb individual performance by goal-scoring machine Oleg Kolodi ensured that his team would get to celebrate promotion in front of their home fans. Kolodi found the back of the net seven times and assisted on Uulu’s goal to have his hand in all of his team’s goals in their 8-4 win. The home team then capped off the tournament with another dominant 8-1 performance over Macau.

On the final day, Malaysia captain Ban Kin Loke’s nine-point (4G+5A) game insured that they would go home with the silver medal, beating India 11-5. Macau’s two wins handed them the bronze ahead of Qatar in fourth place in their first Challenge Cup, and a winless Indian team.

Oleg Kolodi’s goal haul merited that he would be named the Cup’s Most Valuable Player. Macau’s Tel in Chu was awarded best goalkeeper, while India’s Ali Amir and Malaysia’s Ban Kin Loke were named best defenceman and best forward respectively.

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