The SEA Games gold medalist Philippine ice hockey team gears up for a tough outing as it slugs it out with some of the best in the region in the Challenge Cup of Asia unfolding on Tuesday at SM Skating Mall of Asia in Pasay.
The Filipinos hope to ride the momentum of their gold medal romp in the inaugural ice hockey event of last year’s SEA Games and draw inspiration from the local crowd as they seek a podium finish in the five-nation, six-day event sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
“We are very proud and excited to host, for the first time, the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia which has been held in different countries since it was founded in 2008,” said Chris Sy, Federation of Ice Hockey Philippines president.
The event also marks the first time that the Philippines will compete in the men’s top division of the annual tournament among some of the best ice hockey teams in the region.
Team PH, backed by the SM Group, kicks off its campaign against Thailand on April 3, then faces Kuwait on April 5, before tackling Mongolia and Singapore on April 6 and 8, respectively. All Phl games are scheduled at 7 p.m.
In other matches, Singapore will play Mongolia on April 3 at 3:30 p.m.; Mongolia battles Kuwait on April 4 at 7 p.m.; Thailand clashes with Singapore on April 5 at 3:30 p.m.; Mongolia collides with Thailand on April 7 at 3:30 p.m.; Kuwait squares off with Singapore on April 7 at 7 p.m.; and Kuwait and Thailand face off on April 8 at 3:30 p.m.
The SM Skating Mall of Asia is equipped with complete facilities such as digital scoreboard, players’ boxes, scorekeeper and penalty boxes, locker rooms, and a 200-seater stands located around the rink.
“We are honored to be a part of this opportunity to host the first official IIHF event in the country. This shows how the Philippines can truly be at par with its Asian neighbors not only in terms of the quality of its sports programs and athletes, but also in the quality of its sports facilities,” said Herman Medina-Cue, COO of SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc., the only company in the Philippines to carry Olympic size ice rinks.