BEDFORD BLUE-LINER CAPTURES GOLD WITH TEAM JAMAICA
Sep. 18, 2019
A few years ago, if you had told Sounthon Thammachack that he would one day be representing Jamaica on the ice, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.
“It’s definitely not something that I saw coming,” the Valley Wildcats Jr. A defenceman said with a laugh.
“But you know, it was a dream for a lot of people.”
Thammachack grew up in Bedford, N.S. and played his minor hockey with the Bedford Blues Minor Hockey Association.
The young blue-liner excelled on the ice and soon found himself manning the point for the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League’s Bedford Barons, and later the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League’s Halifax McDonald’s.
Along the way, he caught the eye of Lester Griffin, an assistant general manager with the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHT), who recruited him to be a part of the program.
The JOIHT is an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and its mission is to one day send a hockey team to the Winter Olympics. The Caribbean nation doesn’t have any hockey rinks so its roster is made up of players from North America with Jamaican ancestry.
Thammachack, whose mother is of Jamaican descent, had his first opportunity to suit up for Team Jamaica in May of 2017 when the country’s under-20 team, which consisted mostly of players from the Ontario Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League, travelled to Nova Scotia for a series of exhibition games.
“It was definitely really, really, really cool just to be involved with a national program, especially the Jamaican national program, and to help get something started with the program,” Thammachack said.
Earlier this month, the defenceman, who is in his second season with Maritime Hockey League’s Valley Wildcats, had another chance to represent Jamaica — this time, in international competition.
The 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup was held from Sept. 6-8 at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, FL. Aside from Thammachack’s Team Jamaica, the Men’s Division I tournament featured six other national hockey teams including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Thammachack scored once and added an assist as the Jamaican squad opened the tournament with a 5-0 victory over Colombia and never looked back.
“I was super proud to be able to represent Jamaica and see how things came together,” Thammachack said.
“On that first day, that first game we played, there was almost nobody there. But then, because of the great organizers with Team Jamaica, we got the word out and every single game, more Jamaican people would show up to see hockey games.”
The Jamaican crowd was treated to lopsided victories over Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
“For some of them, it was their first time ever going to a hockey game. Eventually, by the final, there was a lot of Jamaican people there and they were really supportive, they were awesome, and it was just really cool to see what it meant to Jamaica.”
En route to that championship final, a re-match with the Colombians, Thammachack picked up three more assists for a talented Jamaican team that included players like Jaden Lindo, a sixth round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014.
“There was top-end talent and a lot of the players on our team have bright futures in hockey.”
A shootout would be required to decide a winner as Jamaica edged the defending champions 3-2 to capture their first-ever Amerigol LATAM Cup.
A special moment for Thammachack and an important milestone for a young group that one day dreams of representing the island nation at the Olympics.
“When we went around the room and talked about what the team meant to us, it was really interesting to see how many people [had been] waiting for this to come together,” Thammachack said.
“And it finally did and they had an opportunity to play on the team and win a championship with the team which is awesome.”