China wins U16 invitational

New Asian tournament held in Hong Kong

25.01.2011
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Hong Kong’s wunderkind Justin Cheng skates with the puck against his much bigger opponents in the gold medal game against China. Photo: Shirley Chow

HONG KONG – The IIHF’s Asian Strategic Planning Group organized a new event, the 2011 Hong Kong U16 Invitational Tournament. It was won by China.

All Chinese IIHF member associations took part in this event: The People’s Republic of China, its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Chinese Taipei.

Macau, the smallest of the four members, was allowed to play with an U19 team due to lack of players of that category.

The tournament was hosted by the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association at MegaBox, a shopping mall that has an IIHF-sized ice rink with sea view from the tenth floor.

Favourite China had a bad start into the tournament after a 42-hour train trip, giving up a two-goal lead against Hong Kong for a 6-6 tie, but they defeated Macau 11-2 in the second round-robin game.

Host Hong Kong got their first win on Day 2 when Pak Lun Chow scored the game-winning goal with 81 seconds remaining in regulation time to defeat Chinese Taipei 6-5.

Chinese Taipei recovered after that game, upsetting China with a 5-3 victory and defeating Macau 13-1.

Hong Kong finished the preliminary round in first place to get Macau in the semi-finals while Chinese Taipei and China faced each other in the other semi-final game.

Hong Kong had a much more difficult game against Macau in the semis than in the 9-0 preliminary-round win as the Macau players started to get used to the big rink, but the hosts eventually won 6-2.

China avenged the preliminary-round loss against Chinese Taipei in a lopsided 10-2 victory, setting up a final against Hong Kong.

The teams began the gold medal game with lots of caution and although China outshot Hong Kong 27-7 in the first two periods, the game remained scoreless for a long time until Ziyang Zhu opened the scoring for China in the middle stanza.

Within the first five minutes of the last period, China made it a 4-0 lead with another goal from Zhu and two from tournament MVP Peng Ji. Both teams scored once in the dying minutes and China claimed the gold with a 5-1 victory.

The tournament provided the opportunity for a number of players to test their skills in an international environment for the first time.

“With body-checking not allowed at this age, it was not so much the size that mattered, but the skill and game sense,” said Jukka Tiikkaja, the IIHF’s Asian Sport Development Manager.

He pointed out that one of the scoring leaders in the tournament included Justin Cheng from Hong Kong, who’s only 12 years old. “Despite being one of the youngest  and shortest players in the tournament, he showed that it is possible to compete with older players,” Tiikkaja said.

Cheng finished with three goals and nine assists in the five games of the tournament.

“I like playing with older players because there is more emphasis on team play,” Cheng answered the question in a similar fashion his favourite player Wayne Gretzky might have done at that age.

MARTIN MERK

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