A French-Canadian team travelling all the way from Montreal, Quebec, won the 19th Mekong Cup, held recently at the Centara Karon Resort Phuket. The team from Quebec had only eight players, including a goalie — less than two full lines — while most teams played with three full lines of four players each, plus a goalie. It was thought that the intense Phuket heat would cause early fatigue for the Quebecois squad, but the team has played around the world, including tournaments in the Caribbean, and they surprised everyone with their skill and stamina.

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The Quebec team beat the defending champs the Singapore Chili Crabs 8-4 in the final. The Quebec squad, which finished second in the five-team round robin tourney, defeated the Bangkok-based Thai Stix squad 5-3 in one semi-final, while the Chili Crabs defeated the Hong Kong Islanders 9-3 in the other semi to set up the final series. Actually, three teams, the Chili Crabs, the Thai Stix and Quebec, finished with identical 3-1-0 records after round-robin play but goal differential saw the Chili Crabs seeded first, the Quebec team second and the Thai Stix third, with Hong Kong coming in fourth, as they defeated Team ASEAN 6-3 in their match-up to claim a lone victory and the final play-off spot. Team ASEAN, was thrown together at the last minute, and the team was composed of players from Bangkok, Singapore, Phnom Penh and Phuket. They tried hard, but lost every game they played. 

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Tourney organizer and referee John Casella had his hands full in this one, particularly in the semi-final between Bangkok and Quebec where things looked like they would turn very ugly. After a long day of intense competition under the Phuket sun, tempers have been known to flare in the Mekong Cup play-offs and the 19th instalment of this annual ball hockey classic was no exception. Fortunately, the gloves stayed on at all times and the worst that was exchanges were some nasty words in both English and French. Casella called a longer-than-usual timeout at half-time of the game and encouraged both teams to dial it down a notch and it worked as play wasn’t so heated in the second half.

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The Quebec team goes under the moniker Team Coupe Burrows, because of their relationship with Vancouver Canuck winger Alex Burrows, who has been twice named the international ball hockey player of the year.

On hand observing the tournament was Vit Rezac of the ISBHF (International Street and Ball Hockey Federation). Before the tournament, he gave a brief presentation to the captains of what the organization does to promote the sport of ball hockey around the world.

During the banquet dinner, it was announced that John Casella had been named the first member of the newly-formed Southeast Asian Ball Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Mekong Cup has been held for nineteen years, the first seventeen were staged at the Amari Coral Beach Resort in Patong, while the last two have been held at the Centara Karon Resort. Management and staff at the Centara, especially GM Darren Shaw, deserve kudos for staging a great event.

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List of Mekong Winners
1995 – Bangkok/Kuala Lumpur (co-champions)
1996 – Singapore Chili Crabs
1997 – Kuala Lumpur Cobras
1998 – Kuala Lumpur Cobras
1999 – Singapore Chili Crabs
2000 – Bangkok Thai Stix
2001 – Bangkok Thai Stix
2002 – Bangkok Thai Stix
2003 – Singapore Chili Crabs
2004 – Bangkok Thai Stix
2005 – Hong Kong Islanders
2006 – Hong Kong Nordiques
2007 – Hong Kong Islanders
2008 – Hong Kong Islanders
2009 – Hong Kong Islanders / HKL-MJM Petrzalka
2010 – HKL-MJM Petrzalka
2011 – Hong Kong Islanders
2012 – Singapore Chili Crabs
2013 – Montreal Coupe Burrows

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