Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

At the beginning of the season the Ramkhamhaeng Red Wings, at least on paper, did not look like a team that would win the 2013-14 championship, but the “Comeback Kids” as they came to be known surprised everyone, except themselves, to capture this season’s Thai World Hockey League (TWHL) crown, defeating the Sport Corner Snipers 4-2 in game three of the TWHL best-of-three championship to take the series two games to one. 

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The Red Wings effectively shut down the “Sammy Wheeler Show” in game three of the final and as the Snipers were missing captain Rob Taylor that really hurt. Speculation swirled at to where Taylor was. One unconfirmed rumour had him in hospital on an IV drip; all that was known for sure was that he wasn’t there. 

But the Red Wings were missing star forward Christian Lefebvre, who potted three goals in game two of the final, and starting goalie Jason Cotsmire. Pattarapol “Dream” Angkulpattanasuk filled in for Cotsmire and did an outstanding job, particularly in the first period turning away a number of splendid Sport Corner scoring chances. Dream ended up saving 21 of the 23 shots he faced while the Snipers’ Dave Anderson turned aside 12 of the 16 pucks fired at him.

The game was originally to be played two nights earlier on Monday March 31st, but as Red Wing goalie Jason Cotsmire was pulling into the Central Grand Rama IX parking lot he received a call saying his mother had been rushed to emergency room of a nearby hospital with heart problems. Luckily, she stabilized but Jason stayed bedside for the next few days forcing Dream in as his replacement.

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Wheeler did score one goal but he didn’t dominate play the way he had in earlier playoff games. The Red Wings jumped in front early on a goal by Zac Garofolo from Albert Atri. Wheeler then tied the game from Stephen Lemieux before Justin St Denis and Paul Stoddart, with the eventual championship winner, scored giving the Wings a 3-1 lead. Snipers GM Jesse Starosta then brought Sport Corner back within one but Jason Young sealed the victory and championship for Ramkhamhaeng with an empty-net goal.

The game did get ugly at one point when the Snipers’ star defenseman Anun “Kak” Kulogin, (known for his end-to-end rushes called “Kak Attacks”) hip-checked Red Wings Zac Garofolo at knee level in the corner; Red Wings Jason Young and John Schachnovsky drew exception to the hit and each drew a minor for attempted retaliation while Kak drew two minors himself as well as a ten-minute misconduct.

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The Snipers Darius Konotpetz’s over-aggressiveness play also caught up with him in the final game as he took two costly minor penalties that really hurt his team as the Red Wings scored two power-play goals.

It was the second straight championship for Mike Swager, Paul Stoddart, Greg Adams, Jason Cotsmire and GM/coach Scott Murray, who all won a championship the year before with the Jogsports Ice Jackets.

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As one veteran hockey observer put it, “The Red Wings just never seem to get flustered, and if things went wrong for them, they just put their head down and worked through it, they didn’t look for scapegoats or try and blame anyone, they just kept their legs pumping and didn’t quit.”

The consolation final had finished the week previously with the Chatuchak Canucks sweeping the Jogsports Ice Jackets in two straight games to finish off their best of three series early. 

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