Chinese Taipei takes step up
by Risto Pakarinen|27 APR 2023
In an entertaining tournament in which it seemed like anybody could be anybody, one team refused to be beaten. Chinese Taipei allowed only four goals in four games and went undefeated in the tournament, earning a promotion to Division II B next season.
The next three teams, Turkmenistan, South Africa, and Thailand, ended up with six points each, and their order was determined by head-to-head number of goals scored. Turkmenistan had twelve goals, South Africa ten, and Thailand eight.
Last season, Cape Town hosted the Division III B tournament which South Africa won.
“It has been an ice hockey fest over the past three months, with Cape Town hosting the women’s and under-18 divisional World Championships, and now our men’s team is in action too,” said JP Smith, the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security Alderman.
“It excites me to see how much the sport is growing, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Western Province Ice Hockey Association to grow the status of ice hockey and ensure that we provide an enabling environment for young and pro athletes to showcase their skills and abilities,” he added.
The crowd was fully behind their team, cheering them on as they pursued their second advancement in the IIHF World Championship system.
The hosts got off to a great start, as they rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Turkmenistan 9-6. Team captain Uthman Samaai led the way and scored a hat trick.
When not playing hockey, Samaai works in The City of Cape Town's communications department.
“A few of [our players] are digital designers. We've got a couple of teachers. We've got a headmaster. We've got people who work for American companies and guys who work in crypto, a few students - one of them is studying mechanical engineering and the other is studying to be a priest,” he told ESPN during last year’s tournament.
“I think that we've got a very wide variety of people, but I guess that's kind of what makes the team so nice. We come from very different backgrounds, but when we get together, it's like magic.”
But in their next game, he hosts hit a stumbling block called Chinese Taipei. Samaai scored again but his fourth of the tournament wasn’t enough as the opponents scored six. Chang-Hsing Yang and Hung-ju Lin scored two goals and three points each.
Chinese Taipei opened the tournament with an 11-2 win over Thailand, then steamrolled South Africa 6-1, shut out Luxembourg 10-0, and finished the tournament with a 3-1 win in their game against Turkmenistan who scored their lone goal with four seconds remaining in the game.
The tournament leading scorer was Thailand’s Swedish born Jan Mikael Isaksson who scored nine goals and eleven points in four games. Chinese Taipei’s Lin had eleven points, too, but only six goals. Isaksson’s teammate, and fellow Swede, defender Ken Kindborn scored one goal and added nine assists.
Chinese Taipei’s goaltender Po-Yu Hsiao, was in a class of his own, posting an impressive 95.9 save percentage and a 1.07 goals against average. Second was Thailand’s Ben Kleineschay, whose save percentage was 87.9.
Hsiao was named Best Goalkeeper, Kindborn Best Defender, and Isaksson Best Forward.