Africans finish strong vs. TCHC


Date of Game: March 16, 2024

Team Africa

by Joe McGrath, Sr. Correspondent

Saturday afternoon was a beautiful sunny day. Spring has Sprung, but it was still a bit chilly for our first time opponents – Team Africa.

TCHC captain and founding member, Joji Hiratsuka, with help from the Friendship League, arranged a Japan Tour for some hockey players from the African continent.

The visiting players were from Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa. They were:

LITIM, Harond (Algeria) CF
GHONAIM, Mahmoud (Egypt) FW
MBURU, Benjamin (Kenya) FW
SIHOHO, Faith (Kenya) FW
BALHA, Charles (Morocco) FW
GIESSEN-HOOD, Nadja (South Africa) DF

To fill out the Team Africa roster, members and alumni from the Tokyo Canadians joined their squad for a fun afternoon of exhibition hockey.

The noon-time start at the DyDo Drink Ice Arena in Higashi Fushimi was a bit early for a couple of the Tokyo Canadians who got stuck in the midday traffic so the team started out a couple of players short.

The game started as a tight checking affair with the teams feeling each other out. Team Africa took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal from Charles BALHA and assisted by Benoit HARDY-CHARTRAND.

The second period saw the African squad add another tally – unassisted via giveaway – by Benoit HARDY-CHARTRAND, before TCHC finally got on the board with a marker by rookie Mickaël HÉBERT BUREAU, making it 2-1 at the end of two, with the late arrivals finally suiting up.

The game broke open in the 3rd period with the Africans scoring four unanswered goals by Harond LITIM (Satoshi Kobayashi); Chris COLUCCI (unassisted, another giveaway); COLUCCI again (Jake TROST) and the capper from Game MVP Harond LITIM (Charles BALHA).

Harond LITIM is the captain of the Algerian national team and has played many years of pro hockey in France.

Both goalkeepers played superbly, stopping multiple breakaways and in-close chances, flashing the leather and leg pads. Takeshi Tatsumoto kept the score close for the TCHC for two-and-a-half periods before the Canadians’ giveaways became too plentiful. Tatsumoto was the Game MVP for the TCHC.

Team Africa goalie, Emerson Keung, from the eastern African island of Hong Kong, was like Velcro stifling the Tokyo Canadians time and time again. The speedy TCHC late comer (who’s late every game…), did not get the pre-game scouting report, so was unaware that you DO NOT shoot high glove on this keeper. Keung will stop all the high shots if he can see them.

In addition to the game versus the Tokyo Canadians, Team Africa also played a team in Osaka and a high school team in Tokyo. They travelled to Tohoku to train with the semi-pro team, the Tohoku FreeBlades, for a couple of days and will have a rematch with the Tokyo Canadians at Meiji Jingu Gaien Ice Skate rink on Saturday, March 23rd.

Photos courtesy of Maria Cecilia Mena

Game Sponsor

Harond LITIM

Harond LITIM, the captain of the Algerian national team, scored two goals, including the game winner, for Team Africa.