On blades of glory

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 April, 2009, 12:00am

From April 28 to May 9, the Mega Ice Hockey 5's will take place at Mega Ice, the largest ice rink in the city. The tournament will be separated into youth and adult divisions and is set to feature 60 teams from around the world, including Canada, Japan, China and Singapore.

This is an exciting opportunity for players coming from overseas.

'It's a great experience to fly to other countries to play hockey,' says Tom Guinchard, a forward centre / right wing for the Singapore Ice Dragons, while his team mate, Curtis Marusiak who plays defence, says: 'We're very excited that we get to miss school for hockey.'

Singapore may not be known as an ice hockey hub like colder cities Toronto and Tokyo, but coaches stress that the sport is important no matter where it's played. Mark Cranley, who coaches the Singapore players, says: 'I am always honoured to teach hockey and help with their development as a player and a person.'

Mr Cranley believes Beijing will be their biggest challenge. 'They tend to be the team to beat each year,' he says. Ice hockey has been played in Beijing for more than 20 years.

While the Beijing Imperial Guards would like to credit their success to pure talent, they also train hard. As well as regular team practices, many go the extra mile.

'I also have a private power-skating lesson ... with a really tough coach,' says Jack Kirkwood, who plays right wing.

In the end, winning comes down to the right balance of teamwork and experience.

'The more we practise as a team, the better we will be in game situations' says Timo Walther, defence for the Imperial Guards. They proved this credo in Canada last year, where they won the Bell Capital Cup.

But a little bit of luck doesn't go amiss.

'My good luck charm is my number, which is 44' says defenceman Trevor Atkeson. 'I know that, in Chinese, it can be an unlucky number because it means double death, but for me, it's lucky.'

Maybe the double death is saved for their opponents.