Underdogs Taiwan shine at ice hockey World Championships

2018/03/25 18:37:20 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation

Photo courtesy of Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation

Taipei, March 25 (CNA) Taiwan's women's national ice hockey team stunned hockey fans and themselves when it finished second in Group B of Division II of the 2018 Ice Hockey Women's World Championships this past week.

Having just qualified for Group B last year, Taiwan's team of mostly college students in their early 20s and a high school senior won four of its five games in the Group B tournament that was held in Madrid, Spain from March 17 to 23.

Taiwan defeated Turkey, Romania, New Zealand and Iceland but lost 6-1 to host Spain, which topped Group B to qualify for the higher tier Group A tournament next year.

Woden Sun (孫經武), general-secretary of the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation (CTIHF), said in a phone interview Sunday that for a country that barely sees snow, the national team's success was a true Cinderella story.

The second place finish came as an even bigger surprise given the fact that the team has only existed since 2014 and gets an average of only three hours of practice a week on ice, he said.

"There is only one standard ice rink in Taiwan, in Taipei Arena, and the women can only practice there after the arena is closed at 9:30 p.m. once a week," Sun said.

On other occasions, they practice on roller blades at a roller rink, he said.

Sun credited to the team's success to the dedication of each member of the team and to the head coach's scouting of opponents to come up with good strategies.

The team now has a 12-1 record in international competitions since it was founded.

The IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championships are divided into three tiers: the top division, division I and division II, where Taiwan competes now.

Just making into the Women's World Championships was a challenge itself, Sun said, as the team had to first win two qualification tournaments in Asia in 2016.

Sun expressed hope that the team's good performance will get more people to pay closer attention to Taiwan's ice hockey team. The next goal, he said, is for the women's national team to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics being held in Beijing.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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