How this Connecticut hockey player won an international medal for the Singapore junior team.

Visiting his family, Ben Qian was just looking for a place to skate.

Amity’s rising eldest ended up playing for his native Singapore in an international hockey competition in Bangkok, Thailand.

“I would say it was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” Qian said. “I met a lot of people”

Born in Singapore in the last days of 2005, Qian and his family moved to the United States when he was 3 years old. He had not returned since 2018.

“My mother’s whole side is in Singapore,” Qian said. “I had planned to go back to Singapore this summer, but I didn’t want to stop skating.”

He said he had emailed Singapore Ice Hockey to introduce himself, to say he would be coming in mid-June and to ask if he could participate in team training.

“They said they were trying to put together an under-20 team for a tournament in Thailand. They said bring your gear and try with the team, and we’ll see how you do,” Qian said.

Successful attempt: He stuck around. And between June 25 and July 2, he helped Singapore win a bronze medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Asia and Oceania Under-20 Championship, a competition for smaller federations. and younger.

“We weren’t the best team,” Qian said, “but of all the teams we faced, we had the most heart.”

The defender leaves aside that his coaches chose him as team best player of the tournament. It was Singapore Player of the Game in a 7-4 loss to Hong Kong in the pool, scoring two goals.

His fifth goal of the tournament opened the scoring in the gold medal match, a 4-3 loss to the hosts.

“Thailand are probably the best team in Southeast Asia and we lost 4-3. The last time they played we lost 15-0,” Qian said. .”

This year’s event featured teams as far apart as Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. The IIHF website says the eight teams represented federations with a total of 4,348 players of all ages. That’s about 1,000 fewer than USA Hockey says that were registered in Connecticut in 2021-22… 10 years or less.

The Singapore Ice Hockey Association, a member of the IIHF since 1996, is ranked 55th in the world with 528 players and two rinks.

But an ice rink was all they needed to practice before flying to Thailand.

“It wasn’t what I expected,” Qian said. “Bangkok is a beautiful place. I couldn’t explore it as much as I wanted. We were strictly there for the hockey. We did not go out at night or in tourist areas. We went out as a team, but not like tourists do. “

Thailand’s international ice hockey arena is new; Qian said it reminded him of the White Rink, the newest of three at the Northford Ice Pavilion here. There wasn’t much room in the building, but the crowds, he said, were great, with 535 people in attendance for the gold medal game.

“In the quarter-finals, we faced Malaysia. They are a bitter rival for Singapore,” Qian said. “We beat them in overtime.”

In the semi-final against the UAE, Singapore trailed 3-1 with seven and a half minutes remaining. Qian scored for start a return in a 4-3 win.

“The whole team still has at least a year to play. We will try to keep the same team,” Qian said.

“Next March there is a tournament in Mongolia, the same tournament except in Mongolia. I will try to go back too.; @fornabaioctp

Catherine J. Martinez