by Rey Bancod
The Philippines rode on the heroics of veteran Carl Michael Montano to turn back Seoul Thunder, 3-2, Wednesday at the start of the Philippine Ice Hockey tournament at SM Megamall ice rinks in Mandaluyong.
The 33-year-old Montano, a seven-year practitioner, made his goals in the second and third periods after teammate Paul Sanchez came through with the equalizer in the first period.
Gianpietro Iseppi, the goaltender, also played a key role in the victory, stopping several attempts by Seoul to turn the game around.
The Filipinos are using the event to prepare for the Southeast Asian Games slated in August in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
They were set to face Taipei U20 last night to determine the draw in the next round.
Taipei U20 edged Seoul, 2-1, in the first of a four-game bill.
In other matches, Old Puckers clobbered Islanders, 8-3, while Pandoo held off Islanders Red, 5-3.
The six-team field is divided into two groups.
After a single-round robin tournament, the teams advance into the crossover next round where the top teams from each group facing the third-ranked squads, and the second-best teams from each group face off.
The top two teams based on match records advance outright to the semifinals where they await their opponents clashing in the quarterfinals.
Ice hockey, an Olympic sport, made its debut in the Philippines about 27 years ago and is slowly gaining adherents among the young despite the limited ice rinks in the country.
Francois Gautier, the event’s organizer and tournament director, said they have about 150 active members.
“We hold twice-a-year tournaments, including events for children,” said Gautier.
The Philippines won the bronze medal in the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan last February, the first time it entered a team.
The Filipinos stunned Macau to take third place behind gold medalist Turkmenistan and silver winner Kyrgystan.
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