The Flying Farangs 2004 Tourney Roundup
By Robert Kennedy #64

Undefeated: 3-0-2 record.

The 2004 Bangkok International Tournament was ours to win. We were fired up. Finally, after many painful years, we had secured entrance into the best rink in town. We had practiced hard for a year on the pristine ice, after negotiating the worst venue hockey players could imagine; the ruts, the fog, the pools of water at the blue line … the ridiculously small ice surface.

But for the Bangkok Flying Farangs, the laughable rink at Lad Prao was the best we could get in those days. The World Trade Center, as it was then known, refused to host hockey players on its prime, Olympic-sized sheet of ice. But just before the 2003 tourney, the Flying Farangs hockey club was allowed to skate at World Trade. It was a dream come true for the players, particularly veterans like Scott Murray. We managed okay as we settled into our new digs. We tied one of the best, and classiest, teams in the region – the Tokyo Canadians – during round-robin play at the 2003 tourney. The Canadians would go onto the final. A year later, the match-up would rekindle itself.

GAME 1: The Farangs handled Kuala Lumpur easily in the first game of the 2004 event. KL is always up for a good game, and until the third period it was close. But Bangkok’s scorers came alive. Final 5-1. Our goalie Cots stoned them all game long, and only a late defensive lapse allowed the shutout to vanish.

GAME 2: Next came Tokyo. Having tied by the underdog Farangs the year previous, the Canadians stormed out of the gates. Their heady passing plays and smart hockey was a wake up call. But Bangkok answered swiftly. The defence buckled down, but it again it was the goalie, Jason Cotsmire, who held the fort. The game ended 2-2, but it was a late goal by the Canadians that evened the score this time around. Their relentless chances made the game interesting. We held on in the end but could have won had we played the full 60 minutes.

GAME 3: Next was Beijing. Funny enough, it was the boys from China that sunk the Farangs the year before. Cocky, we banked on a walkover, but that simply didn’t happen. It was a tight, ugly hockey battle that decided it, again a 2-2 draw. We should have won, and we all knew it. They were short players, out of shape, and out gunned. But they played it smart, dumping, chasing and trapping our flying forwards in the neutral zone.

From tying one of the best, to drawing one of the worst, the Farangs were devastated with the tie. We quickly realized in the dressing room afterward that we relegated ourselves to the B-side, even though we hadn’t lost a game in the round robin.

Our leader, Scotty Murray, took it particularly hard. The tie meant, once again, that the Farangs wouldn’t have a shot at the A-side final – the goal set for so many years. Players peeled uncomfortably from the dressing room. Some immediately decided it was hard-drinking time. Others followed suit in a lower key beer manner. A few realized the B-side championship was at stake, as was our pride.

Regardless, the next game was the playoffs. And our first opponent was none other the Beijing. It was payback time, and the boys were ready to go. It was a 1 a.m. start, but even those shit-faced or recovering were focused and fired up. The Terminator rolled a fat one.

GAME 4: The Farangs came out bitter from the loss hours earlier to Beijing and play reflected it. Whitty was belligerent on the ice, and it worked for the team. The defensive trap that the less-talented squad from China played was parlayed. Ugly hockey played out, but the Farangs knew what it would take to win. Thanks to the stingy defence and Cotsmire’s brilliance, the Bangkok boys left the ice 2-1 victors. Disappointment for the A-side ousting aside, the Farangs realized collectively that we had a mission to accomplish. We are a proud team, and that wasn’t forgotten.

GAME 5: Once again, it was our old nemesis, Kuala Lumpur, in the B-side final. To be honest, it was an ugly affair. Passes failed to connect, the few shots on goal were flutters or from far out, and the defence was relegated to banging the puck out. But play was the same from both sides, and the talent on the Farangs ultimately ensured victory. Final 3-1. We were the B-side champs again. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Two of our stars – power forward Michael White and netminder Jason Cotsmire – were honored with tourney awards for their play: both well deserved. The Farangs once again “kissed their sister” – as Captain Murray liked to say – but hockey, much like life, is a learning experience. One benefits and improves from the trials and tribulations.

Like the Gretzky-Messier-led Edmonton Oilers in the early 1980s, or the Yzerman-Shanahan-powered Red Wings of the mid-90s, talented hockey teams need to face adversity before becoming champs.

The Flying Farangs are no different. Be it Tokyo, Hong Kong, or any other solid teams in Asia, we’re coming for you. And you’ll know it soon. Hockey in Thailand is burgeoning. Nothing can stop us now.