World Championship Icehockey 2014 Division III - Hong Kong - Bulgaria 1-6 (2014-04-11)


Kockelscheuer. Luxembourg, Friday 11 April 2014. The Hong Kong team is coached by Canadian Barry Beck. A former NHL defenceman who spent most of his time with the New York Rangers. Hong Kong debuted at these World Championships in Luxembourg, with a quarter of the team still being in their junior age. All players hail from the domestic league teams Mega Ice, Gold Club and a lone player from the Hong Kong club. Team Bulgaria even brought 8 youngsters. Amongst others 17-year old back up goalie Dimitar Dimitrov and star forward Ivan Hodulov (19). But team Bulgaria also heavily counted on some veterans. Notably goaltender Konstantin Mihaylov, who will turn 50 on May 22nd. He is a fixture in goal for team Bulgaria since 1989. Also defenseman Alexander Panev (43) boasts a lot of experience. First liner and right wing Alexei Yotov is one of the few players not to play his club hockey at CSKA Sofia, but is believed to play in Russia. Head coach Kiril Hodulov is a former import of Belgian League team Olympia Heist-op-den-Berg. Starting goaltenders are Konstantin Mihaylov and Emerson Kwokway Keung.

At the face off are Jordan Sun Yin Ho and Petar Mihov. The first serious attack leads to the first goal. Alexei Yotov sets up play for Ivan Hodulov, who scores the 0-1 after 1.10. The first Hong Kong attack brings the equilizer. On a break Alvin Cheuk Him Sham scored after 2.07. On the powerplay - Hon Chung Julian Ma is serving a delaying the game penalty - Stanislav Muhachev acts solo. His drag shot fails and soon after that the penalty is over. Alexander Panev is sent to the penalty box for high sticking. But the most dangerous attack comes from Team Bulgaria, with Stanislav Muhachev only missing the goal by centimers after a good Alexei Yotov pass. After a shot by Ivan Hodulov goalie Keung has lost track of the puck. His defenceman come to his aid and freeze the puck, which was lying in the open before the goalline. Hong Kong #5 Hon Chung Julian Ma forces netminder Mihaylov to a second save. For a short period of time Hong Kong has a two man advantage. Defenseman Yin Hay Yannick Wong shoot, but Mihaylov saves with his stick. With one Bulgarian returning the Easteuropeans take control of the match. A Ivan Hodulov shot is gloved by Keung. When first Siu Him Kan and at 14.38 followed by Yin Hay Yannick Wong are directed to the penalty box coach Beck takes his time out. Heavy traffic in front of the Hong Kong goal. But the penalty killing of Kin Chi Lam, Bun YU Bernard Fung and Jordan Sun Yin Ho is effective. And there is always great goaltending by Emerson Kwokway Keung, who denies Ivan Hodulov and Alexei Yotov on several shots. But before the end of the period Alvin Cheuk Him Sham gets another shot on goal. But the last word is for Petar Mihov, who sends the puck just over the cross bar. All the while during the first period some team members of Hong Kong who stand beside me comment on the play on the ice. In almost every sentence they use the four leter word "f**k". In the intermission I walk past them and they apologise for their foul language.

In the first minutes of the second period a bombardement of pucks fly at the Hong Kong net. Alexei Yotov tries desperately to score. But also defenceman Bogdan Stefanov fires a dangerous shot, which is brilliantly gloved by Keung. The blocker of Keung sends a sharp shot by Ivan Hodulov into the corner. But on another try Ivan Hodulov sends the puck top shelf into the right corner of the cage, 1-2 after 25.25. Bogdan Stefanov hits the outside of the goalpost with his blast from the blueline. Then Siu Him Kan is send to the penalty box for high sticking. Martin Boyadjiev sends the puck cross ice to Ivan Hodulov at the far goalpost. A onetimer. Netminder Emerson Keung gets a piece of it, but not enough to prevent the puck from going into the net, 1-3 at 27.06. Keung then gloves a shot by Alexei Yotov. A rare break by Hong Kong. Defenceman Pak Lun Chow shoots from the blueline. A sneaky deflection by Alvin Sham, but Mihaylov stands tall. When Alvin Sham covers the puck with his body in front of his goal he "earns" a delaying the game pernalty. Ivan Hodulov only hits the cross bar with his vehement shot. A second after Sham returns Yin Wong must serve a double minor penalty for cross-checking and elbowing respectively. In the second part of the powerplay captain Stanislav Muhachev starts a solo. From the boarding he skates into the slot and leaves Keung no chance, 1-4 at 34.25. And Wong returns on the ice. Keung nullifies all Bulgarian shots, whether it comes from the stick of Hodulov or Boyadjiev. The final shot on goal however is fired at the other end of the rink. But in haste Hei Yu To shoots right at the goalie.

In the final period King Chi King Ho replaces Emerson Kwokway Keung in goal. Siu Him Kan gest the first shot on goal. With the same Siu Him Kan in the sin bin Alexei Yotov hits the goal post with his shot on a feisty Bulgarian powerplay. Team Bulgaria gets caught with six skaters on the ice. Yanaki Gachev sits out the penalty. Soon followed by Bogdan Stefanov. Only for Jeffrey Wing Cheong Tai to get penalised as well in preventing Alexei Yotov to score. That is the sign for coach Hodulov to place young Dimitar Dimitrov between the pipes at 47.59. As Tai's penalty expires Ivan Hodulov tips in a Alexei Yotov feed at the far goalpost. 1-5 after 49.20. Hong Kong decides to test the young goalie. Dimnitar gloves a shot by Yin Wong nicely. But on other shots he isn't able to hide his nervousness. Scared he looks behind him after captain's Arthur Kong Chi Tam slapshot. And also a dangerous rebound follows a Yin Wong shot. But still Dimitrov keeps his cage clean. Bulgaria takes over. Even when being shorthanded. Martin Nikolov and Alexei Yotov lead the way. Hong Kong can only withstand these offensive waves by taking penalties. They even survive a three on five situation thanks to Chi Kin Lam, Jordan Ho, Pak Lun Chow and of course brilliant goaltender King Ho. But still on another powerplay Petar Mihov beats King Ho form close by for the final marker, 1-6 (59.08).

The spectators saw a brilliant Hong Kong last line of defense, consisting of goaltenders King Ho and Emerson Keung. On a kind of college hockey team. Bulgaria had to depend too much on their first line. Which, beside Ivan Hodulov who scored four, had a little trouble to net the puck. Rightfully so Ivan Hodulov got the nod for Man-of-the-Match. Forward Hei Yu To was Hong Kong's MotM. And Alexei Yotov was to earn Best Tournament Forward selection. Likewise Hong Koing netminder King Chi King Ho was selected Best Tournament Goalkeeper. Afterwards #3 Hei Yu To and Hong Chun Julian Ma were interviewed for TVB Sports, Hong Kong.