▲ The Winter Classic was the eighth tournament overall for the Islanders. Photo by Eric Hevesy.
The Gwakji Kings captured the 2017 Jeju Winter Classic which was played on Dec. 9 at the inline rink in Jeju City. The Winter Classic was the eighth hockey tournament organized by the Islanders hockey club.
The Kings were able to outlast the Jungmun Jets in the final, winning by a final score of 2-1. The Jets came into the tournament as the team with the most wins in the cup competition. These came in the Winter Cup last year and the Summer Classic this year.
The Jets were a well-balanced outfit as always, and with Paul “The Wall” Boland standing on his head between the pipes for the two time defending champions, it looked as if a three-peat was in order.
▲ Despite Paul Boland's best efforts in goal, the Jets were denied a third consecutive championship. Photo by Eric Hevesy.
The potent Kings attack was led by captain Sean Pratt, who proved right from the outset that he was a man on a mission after having been denied a second title for two tournaments in succession.
Pratt’s goal-scoring prowess was on display throughout the tournament, highlighted by a five-goal burst against the Pyoseon Penguins in round robin play. The Kings’ victory made Pratt the eighth player in Islanders history to win the trophy on multiple occasions.
“It feels great to win again,” Pratt began. “We have a great group of people on the island, and this year I was lucky enough to play with some outstanding people and hockey players,” he added.
“Ultimately, it has been a fantastic experience playing hockey with my friends over the past five years. The Jeju Islanders tournaments are something that I look forward to playing in every year.”
▲ Sean Pratt and the Kings were the best team on the day. Photo by Eric Hevesy.
The Kings, however, also had a strong supporting cast, with the likes of two way threat Steve Dufresne, who was a late addition to the squad, fellow second time winner Ian Josephson, who became the ninth player in Islanders history to achieve the feat, Amy Ward, who scored the championship winner, and Rob Defelice, who was solid in goal.
Josephson, while very happy to win the tournament for a second time, also stressed the importance of why the event is held for the community.
“As nice as it is to win a second time, especially since the competitive juices flow a little more during the tournaments as opposed to the regular Saturday night games, it’s even nicer to see the community come together in the name of sport and charity.”
▲ The Kings captured their third trophy in winning the Winter Classic. Photo by Eric Hevesy.
He also pointed to the importance of the roles of Allan Moore, who oversees club operations, and Alexis Oesterle, who was critical in organizing this year’s charitable sponsors as she has done in the past.
“The hard work of Allan and Alexis, among others, and the support of people who come out and play, not only allows for a fun day, but raises money for a great cause,” he added.
Pratt echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“I really appreciate all of Allan Moore’s work behind the scenes. And a special thanks to all promoters and companies that helped sponsor another fantastic classic.”
This year’s Winter Classic was generously supported by a host of sponsors who donated their time and money to help make the latest installment of the cup a huge success.
The sponsors for the Winter Classic included Bagdad Cafe and Restaurant, The Bar, Goofy Foot, Bottle and Bowl, Taddy Mason, Spencer McCoy, Take 2, Eric Hevesy Photography, Quizno’s, Samda Burger, Arepa Grill, Holla Jeju, Texia, Team K, The Corner Hairshop, Hola Tacos, and Macho Grill just to name a handful.
The proceeds from the tournament raffle amounted to over 750,000 won, and the money will be donated to children’s orphanages here on the island.
The Winter Classic added another memorable chapter to the team’s history. The team itself has grown a lot throughout this calendar year, and good things are expected in abundance for 2018.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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