Thailand goes undefeated to win gold
by Liz MONTROY|17 MAR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

Thailand went undefeated in Bishkek to win the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Group A tournament, with hosts Kyrgyzstan taking silver, and Luxembourg clinching bronze.

This was just the fourth World Championship appearance for Thailand, who finished off the podium last year. Thailand held the top spot in the standings throughout the tournament, while the race for silver and bronze was slightly closer.

Opening the tournament against Kyrgyzstan, Thailand came away with a 9-4 win despite being outshot 55-22. Scoring three goals on six shots in the second, Thailand had a 4-3 lead heading into the final period. Kyrgyzstan tied the game on the power play, but Thailand made use of a flurry of penalties and responded with five unanswered goals.

Benjamin David Kleineschay, who was eventually named the tournament’s Best Goaltender, got a shutout for Thailand in a 5-0 win over Mexico. Nicholas Charles Lampson and Jan Mikael Isaksson, who finished the tournament first and third in scoring (Lampson with nine goals and 10 assists and Isaksson with 10 goals and eight assists), each scored twice. Thailand had a similar showing against South Africa, winning 5-1.

They continued by beating Turkmenistan 13-3, despite an early 2-0 lead for Turkmenistan off a major penalty to Lampson. Thailand’s response was swift, scoring three goals in under three minutes, before erupting further in the second period with six goals. Lampson and Isaksson both collected hat tricks.

Thailand capped off their best ever international showing with a 6-1 win over Luxembourg, and Ken Edvin Kindborn was recognized with Top Defender honours after setting up 13 of Thailand’s 38 goals and putting forth a +19 performance.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

As with Thailand, this was just the fourth ever World Championship for the host nation of Kyrgyzstan, and it was their first time in this division, having been promoted last year from Division III Group B.

Following their opening loss to Thailand, Kyrgyzstan put forth a 7-3 victory over Luxembourg, outshooting them 62-32. Mamed Seifulov, the tournament’s Best Forward (who finished second overall in scoring) scored three goals, two of which were shorthanded.

Similarly to their game against Thailand, when facing Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan’s shots for were high, but they gave up goals on relatively few shots against. Kyrgyzstan led shots 58-19, and this time took the win 7-5. With this win, they became just the second team after Thailand to clinch more than one victory in regular time, and would go on to win the remainder of their games.

Kyrgyzstan’s 9-4 win over Mexico was highlighted by two shorthanded goals (they had five throughout the entire tournament) and another hat trick for Seifulov. Entering the final day of competition, Kyrgyzstan was ahead of Luxembourg by one point; Luxembourg lost their last game to Thailand, while Kyrgyzstan took a 10-1 win over South Africa to close out the tournament.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

Luxembourg’s bronze was a considerable improvement on last year’s winless fifth place finish, and they started the 2024 tournament with a riveting 4-3 win over Turkmenistan that was won in the final minute, with Luxembourg captain Colm Cannon scoring on the power play at 59:04 to give his team the win.After losing to Kyrgyzstan (in which Cannon assisted on all three of his team’s goals), Luxembourg came back with a 5-4 overtime win over Mexico and a 4-2 win against South Africa. Cannon continued to shine against Mexico, with three assists, including one on Alex Mykkanen’s overtime winner.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

Mexico, who were demoted from Division II Group B last year, continued to struggle in Division III Group A, and will be further demoted to Division III Group B. Their overtime loss to Luxembourg gave them their only point of the tournament. Scoreless after one period, Mexico got on the board first, with Luxembourg tying the game shortly afterwards. Both teams scored three goals in the third period. With Luxembourg leading 4-3 in the final minutes, Angel Tapia, Mexico’s leading scorer tied the game to send it to overtime.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

It wasn’t to be for last year’s silver and bronze medallists, Turkmenistan and South Africa, who finished in fourth and fifth place respectively. Turkmenistan bested South Africa 4-3, as well as taking a penalty-filled 8-4 win over Mexico on the final day. Four different players from Turkmenistan had two-goal performances, with the game featuring two shorthanded goals and five power play goals between the two teams.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

While South Africa opened the tournament with a 6-3 win over Mexico, this would end up being their only win. They scored three goals in the first 11 minutes of the tournament, and while Mexico edged closer, with South Africa leading 4-3 after two periods, penalty trouble for Mexico in the third period gave South Africa an opportunity to score two more.