Mekong Cup 2003

written by Michel Van Ackere

Click here to see a collection of pictures from this tournament.

It's not over until it's over' - or so they say. Whoever they are, they also say that 'just showing up is half the game' and that 'seven is a lucky number. '

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The quotes go on and on, but at the Mekong Cup 2003, the Tokyo Team proved them all wrong, and in grand fashion. With only seven exhausted players, the TSHA never had a chance, and managed only two winning halfs (the first half of the first game against Hong Kong and the first half of the last game against Kuala Lumpur).

There is a silver lining to the cloud, though. The level of play at the Mekong Cup is not that different from the TSHA, and if we get two or three full lines worth of bodies out there, we would be right in the thick of things. This means we need 16 hearty souls who are willing to brave the rinks, beaches and bars of Phuket (So sign up early for next year’s tournament!).

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The playing 'arena' is great, the regulation size nets look like barns compared to our TSHA goals, and playing with a goalie is great. The problem was the heat, and the lack of numbers. No surprise that the team with the most players (Singapore with 16) took the tourney, followed by the team with the second most players (Thai Bullies with 14). Despite the addition of a random guy from Vietnam (whose team didn't show up) and stellar goaltending from Tai "Just In From Bahrain" Desa, the TSHA got worn down and then clobbered.

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But enough about hockey. The real games took place 'off-ice'. The TSHA was represented from Thursday onward with a growing contingent of shenanegans that led to some outstanding new nicknames, exciting picture opportunities, and most importantly should create interest in a larger group going next year. The hotel is gorgeus, luxurious and totally innappropriate for 100 plus uncouth, sweating hockey players. With Sean (aka Johnnie Thailand) as our guide, the fun grew exponentially as more and more members arrived.

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There are only two streets in Phuket -- the one with the on-duty hookers and the one with the off-duty hookers -- but there is plenty to keep a hockey team busy. The TSHA members totally enjoyed their off hours taking in the nightlife, running down streets trailing desperate (and largely ignored) hookers in their wake, sampling the “localist” of cuisines (as well as $50 dollar “10lb” lobsters), and engaging in semi-competitive pool

tournaments.

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More fun was had down at the beach; breaking body-boards and rental jet-skis, checking out “Shashinshu” Yuko and purchasing much needed and affordably priced hammocks. By the last night, we had "Akasaki" Miki doing Tequila shots and dancing with either a lesbian or a transvestite male (nobody is sure) at Star Wars, the local version of a club, while Detroit Geoff fended off the she-males (who were clearly looking for someone taller than themselves). The evening culminated with JT's triumphant 'Heart of Darkness' like descent down the club stairs with two companions.

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Ahh Phuket. For liability reasons, we refrain from further details, but we are looking forward to next year, with a bigger crew, and with Johnny Thailand again serving as our local guide.

Prizes to everyone for the following:

Bruce - for getting tired. For the first time in his life.

Darren - for getting Akasaki Miki back to the Amari on the last night.

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Dave - for organizing our entry into the tourney, collecting the cash, and for being there in spirit. We believe that Star Wars is his nirvana, and he will not be able to resist next year.

Detroit Geoff - for being the only TSHA player who looks at all intimidating.

Michel - for netting the first TSHA goal in international play

Paul - for almost getting into a fight, which would have been the first in TSHA international play

Sean (Johnny Thailand) - for scoring. And scoring. And scoring. And scoring again.

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Tai - for actually being the team MVP, and also the first TSHA player to almost hyperventilate and approach cardiac arrest during international OR domestic play

The random guy from Vietnam - for showing up.

And a big hand to the support team, who were willing to take on SARS for the sake of the TSHA, and who also gave the Hong Kong captains' imagination a run for the money by accompanying us to a Thai massage parlor: “Akasaki” Miki, “Shashinshu” Yuko, ”The Dealmaker” Hanako, and of course, our fearless leader, the General.

Click here to see a collection of pictures from this tournament.