Getting ready for the new Maritime Hockey League season, members of the Valley Junior A Wildcats trained on the ice, in the gym, and one player won a gold medal – with Team Jamaica.
Wildcats defenceman Sounthon Thammachack joined the Reggae Boys for the Amerigol LATAM Cup Tournament in Florida. Jamaica won the Division One tournament, defeating Columbia, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil on route to the trophy.
The Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Team was comprised of players from Canada and the US with Jamaican heritage. Only one player was actually born on the island. Thammachack hails from Bedford, but has links to Jamaica through his great grandfather.
“They found me a few years ago playing for the Bedford Barons or Halifax McDonalds,” said Thammachack. “They reached out to me, and from that point on I went to Halifax with the team, and just kept in contact ever since.”
The Wildcats second year defender found the score sheet several times with Jamaica. Thammachack scored a goal and an assist in the team's opening 5–0 win over Columbia, added another assist in an 8–4 win over Argentina, and had two more helpers in a 6 – 0 semi final win over Mexico.
The final was a rematch with Columbia. It was much closer in the final as the teams went to a shoot out before Jamaica came out on top 3–2.
“It was awesome,” said Thammachack. “It was a great experience to win in front of the whole Jamaican community in Florida. Every single game, more and more people from the Jamaican community would come out and support, and by the end the stands were packed. It was awesome to see the community rally around us. For a lot of them it was their first hockey game ever, and they loved it."
Jamaica doesn't have an ice rink, but they do have a goal of one day playing in the Olympics, just like the Jamaican bobsled team made famous by the movie, Cool Runnings. Thammachack acknowledges it won't be easy, but says it is an accomplishable task.
“The story of them going to the Olympics has already happened. It shows us that we can make it there eventually, no matter how steep it is.”
That Cool Runnings effect does help the team get noticed. The story was picked up and featured on nhl.com. The tournament featured 21 teams in 4 divisions, and more than 400 players. A team from the Falkland Islands won the Men's Division Two title, defeating Puerto Rico, while Argentina won the Women's trophy, winning over Columbia in the final.
Story contributed by Valley Wildcats staffer Matthew Little