Thai women write history
by Martin Merk|26 APR 2019
The nine teams from the two tournaments at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia came together for a joint photo after the closing ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
photo: Yuka Fukuma
The IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia has a new winner. For the first time Thailand won the tournament at the 2019 edition that was held in Abu Dhabi.

The United Arab Emirates hosted nine teams during the week-long event with five teams playing in the top division and four more teams playing it out in a separate Division I tournament.

The event mostly included teams from smaller ice hockey programs in Asia that don’t compete in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program with two exceptions. Chinese Taipei competed with a different, younger team in Abu Dhabi than recently at the Women’s Worlds while New Zealand used the event again to send its U18 team.

In the past it became a clash for gold between these two special teams but not this year as Thailand won with its “regular” women’s national team.

The foundation to the success was already laid in the first game of the tournament where Thailand beat Chinese Taipei 3-2. Pijittra Saejear opened the scoring already after two-and-a-half minutes but Fang-Chi Wu tied it up for Chinese Taipei two minutes later. Nion Putsuk gave Thailand the 2-1 lead during a power play at 12:07 and Nuchanat Ponglerkdee’s third goal at 7:55 of the second period turned out to be the game-winner. Pei-Chen Liu’s goal early in the third period brought Chinese Taipei within reach but despite several power plays her team didn’t manage to tie the game.

Defending champion Chinese Taipei continued with a flawless tournament and Malaysia (13-2), Singapore (3-1) and New Zealand (3-0), however, it needed Thailand to lose four points to claim first place. Thailand had a minor setback in a shootout loss against New Zealand’s U18 team. The scoreless game was decided in a penalty-shot shootout. Both New Zealand’s Lilly Forbes and Thailand’s Wasunun Angkulpattanasuk kept their shutout streak until Jamie Kaisser scored the first and only goal with the 10th shot to give the Kiwis the win and extra point.

The Thai didn’t lose any more points after that and beat Singapore (9-1) and Malaysia (9-2) to win their first ever IIHF trophy in women’s ice hockey one point ahead of Chinese Taipei.

Also the bronze winner wrote history as Singapore beat New Zealand’s juniors 5-2 in the teams’ first game followed by a 5-2 win over neighbour Malaysia and after two losses against the top-two teams finished in third place. New Zealand had to settle for fourth place while the Malaysians, promoted to this level, finished winless.

Thailand’s Ponglerkdee led the tournament in points (6+5=11) and was voted Most Valuable Player. Other awards went to Singapore goaltender Qina Foo, Thai defender Sirikarn Jittersin and Su-Ting Tan as best forward with her tournament-leading eight markers.
2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's Challenge Cup of Asia