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Tycoons stun first place Lions and advance to the SCIHL Finals

Tycoons stun first place Lions and advance to the SCIHL Finals

March 15th, 2024

Do you believe in miracles? Because that's what the Hong Kong Tycoons needed going up against the powerhouse RBC Lions in the opening round of the 2023/24 SCIHL playoffs. Led by captain and the all time leading scorer of the CIHL Greg Smyth, along with Rob Schremp -likely the best hockey player ever to ply his trade in south-east Asia, and not to mention some of the best U18 players in Hong Kong, the number one seeded Lions were clearly the favourites.

The Tycoons however are a rag tag ensemble. With the other SCIHL teams possessing multiple players with Jr. A, major junior, college and professional experience, Hong Kong's Connor Quinn is the only player on his roster that boasts an NCAA resume. Surely the RBC Lions would be a shoo-in to advance to the championship finals?

Things certainly looked that way to start as RBC jumped out with the lead just a minute and a half into the game as, you guessed it, Robbie Schremp set his team up with a quick goal. Despite the early setback, the Tycoons stuck to their script and played a tight defensive first period. Down 1-0, Hong Kong was eventually rewarded with their first marker off the stick of star forward Francis Lam, nearly halfway into the frame. RBC would go on to fire 12 shots on net in the opening period but Tycoon netminder Evan Thorpe would turn away 11 of them to keep the game at 1-1 before the intermission.

Now mind you, heading into the second period all tied up for the Tycoons was a great start against a squad they struggled against all season. Hong Kong was getting ready for a battle of attrition as they sought to wear out the RBC Lions and most of all, their star player Rob Schremp. Unseen for the most part during the regular season, the Tycoons' relentless forecheck was able to stifle the Lions' offensive prowess, limiting their opponents to just seven shots on goal.

In a breakthrough for Hong Kong, perennial leader and Tycoon captain Jimi Fanstone got the go-ahead goal with just two and a half minutes before the end of the second period. That wouldn't be the only goal of the period though as the Tycoons would get on the board again with Connor Daly finding the back of the net a minute later to close out the frame.

Heading into the third period with the score sitting at 3-1 for the Tycoons, the Lions fell even further as Scott Strickland took a feed from Francis Lam, putting it past Rudi Bernart. Fighting a three goal deficit, RBC was picking at straws as they fell victim to their opponent's aggressive forecheck. Particularly burdened by the intense Tycoon coverage, Robbie Schremp could be heard telling his teammates to "get open" as he sought to find a seam through Hong Kong's oncoming defenders. With the game sitting at 4-1, the situation worsened for the Lions as Maritime native Jeff Wall would be sent on a breakaway. Faking from forehand to backhand, Wall would pot Hong Kong's fifth goal of the evening.

However the Lions would cut their deficit back down to three as Greg Smyth found the back of the net a minute and a half later. Moving on into the final minutes of the third period, captain Jimi Fanstone would be sent on a break, scoring the Tycoons' final goal of the match. RBC would muster up their last goal with just 17 seconds left in the game, but that wasn't enough as the regular season champion Lions fell to the basement dwelling Tycoons by a score of 6-3.

In a shocking turn of events, the last place Hong Kong Tycoons move on to the SCIHL playoff finals. RBC star and league scoring champion Robbie Schremp was held to just two points while captain Greg Smyth finished with two goals and an assist in the loss. Unceremoniously, the regular season champion Lions will now play in the third place game on May 21st.

On the other end, the Tycoons' Connor Quinn, Jeff Wall and Francis Lam each registered two points in the win. Jimi Fanstone had a big night walking away with three points whilst quietly, Scott Strickland picked up four assists and is now the SCIHL playoff scoring leader. Tycoon netminder Evan Thrope would cap off the evening with a .900 save percentage, turning away 27 shots in the victory.

UPCOMING GAMES - March 21st @ Discovery Bay Ice Rink

Game 1: Lions vs Warriors @ 8:15 pm

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