SEA Games 2019: PH men’s hockey team grateful for fiery home crowd support

To play on home ice especially in a prestigious event is a rare opportunity, so the Philippine national men’s ice hockey team is not wasting any chances to make their country proud.

In front of an ecstatic home crowd, the Philippine Eagles started their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games title defense campaign on a strong note after overpowering Malaysia, 15-1, yesterday in the ice hockey tournament opener at the SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink.

The defending SEA Games champions delivered a strong message to the competition, showing no mercy against the Malaysian team as they pulled away early in the first period to skate away with their first win.

Not as prominent as other teams due to their sport’s perceived incompatibility with the country’s tropical climate, the Eagles played an inspired game with the Filipino crowd as their sixth man.

Captain Steven Füglister, who collaborated with defender EJ Sibug to lead the team with three goals each, expressed his gratitude to the home crowd who came out to show full support for the Philippine team.

“Usually we don’t have many people watching us, so it’s crazy to see everyone’s energy. We all appreciate everyone who comes out to watch us, and we hope people keep coming to watch our games,” the captain said.

It was a total team effort for Team Philippines with eight different players recording goals in their landslide win against Malaysia, a far different outcome compared to their narrow 8-7 overtime win back in the 2017 edition of the tournament.

READ — SEA Games 2019: Steven Füglister lauds total team effort in PH’s 15-1 win over Malaysia

Forward Carl Montano, who scored two goals including the opening point for the Eagles, said the team wanted nothing less but perfection after seeing the strong support from the home crowd.

“It’s amazing, playing in front of the Philippines–even in the Challenge Cup three years ago, and this one especially now with a sold-out crowd, it’s like a dream come true,” the forward said.

Both Füglister and Montano lauded their teammates for a total collective effort, noting the team’s consistency as the strongest suit in their title defense campaign.

“We’re running four lines the whole game and all eighteen players are getting ice time, [so] it’s really good for us because we benefit in the long run,” Montano said.

“If our top players are getting tired, it’s not going to be beneficial for our team, so it’s a good thing that all four lines were clicking,” he added.

The Philippine men’s hockey team looks to stage back-to-back wins as they face Singapore tomorrow.