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After SEA Games, hockey out to conquer Asia’s challenge tilt

The national ice hockey team is setting its sights on a strong showing in next year’s Challenge Cup of Asia after emerging as one of the surprise gold medal winners in the recent Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.

The Philippine squad went unbeaten in four matches, clinching the gold with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Thailand in the final day of competition at the Empire City Ice Arena in Selangor.

Team captain Steven Fuglister said the SEA Games should make them even more determined to produce another impressive performance with the country set to host the Challenge Cup of Asia in March.

“We got promoted in the top division and we gonna play all the powerhouse teams that have the programs in place for years, but I think that’s where we belong,” Fuglister said Thursday when his team along with ice skaters Michael Martinez and Jules Alpe were honored by SM Skating at the Megamall ice rink.

Among the countries that will compete in the tourney are United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Mongolia, SEA Games silver medalist Thailand and fourth placer Singapore.

The SEA Games victory kept the great run of form of the Filipino ice hockey team followed a bronze medal in the second division of the Asian Winter Games held earlier this year in Sapporo, Japan.

Associate team captain Paul Sanchez scored 14 points on eight goals and six assists with the 31-year-old Fuglister adding 11 with seven goals and four assists to cap off the Philippines’ title win in the first ice hockey competition of the biennial meet.

“Amazing journey for everyone,” Fuglister said. “The bronze we got in Sapporo was a great achievement. Of course, we trained hard, we knew what we can do and we wanted even more. Everyone was hungry on the team and we went to the SEA Games and that was a big stage for us.”

Other members of the team were Lenard Rigel Lancero II, Carl Montano, Patrick Syquiatco, Carlo Tenedero, Jose Iñigo and Javier Cadiz, Daniel Pastrana, Francois Gautier, Paolo Spafford, Gianpietro Issepi, Julius Santiago, Joshua Carino, Miguel Serrano, Jan Regencia, Georgino Orda, Hector Navasero, Jorell Crisostomo and Benjamin Imperial.