Posted by simon c on 2009 September 12日 Saturday
The Tohoku Free Blades hosted their first preseason game today in Hachinohe, Aomori against the Nikko Ice Bucks. And despite local reports that it was a rough game with lots of penalties against the Blades, the expansion team managed to pull off a wild 9-6 win over the stronger than usual Bucks squad. The shots on goal were Blades 35 – 36 Bucks, so it looks like the Blades have improved a lot compared to their first pair of preseason games in Nikko where they were clearly being outplayed. Apparently there was a decently sized crowd as well (there better be, as it was a weekend game, and the first one against an AL team at that.)
Edit: Official game sheet. There were 420 spectators, this’ll have to improve during the regular season.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion | Tagged: 2009, aomori, free blades, hachinohe, Ice Bucks, nikko, preseason, tohoku | 2 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2009 August 22日 Saturday
The new entry into the Asia League for the upcoming 2009-10 season, the Tohoku Free Blades, have finally signed enough players to form a complete roster. The new players should significantly improve the team and hopefully not make them a yearlong doormat in their expansion season (since the China Sharks don’t have Wade Flaherty anymore, there’s hope).
F Akiyumi Okuyama 31GP 1G+1A=2P (Oji)
F Masahito Suzuki 34GP 4+11=15 (Oji)
F Bin Ishioka 36GP 8+10=18 (Seibu) – Bin’s move to China turned out to be just an unconfirmed rumour
D Kazumoto Imajo (Chuo University captain – was supposed to join the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits)
D Steve Munn (AHL/ECHL)
D Brad Farynuk (AHL/ECHL)
LW Bruce Mulherin (EIHL/ECHL)
LW Jon Smyth (Bundesliga 2nd Division)
All 4 imports are Canadian.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: aomori, bundesliga, canada, chuo, eagles, free blades, fukushima, germany, hachinohe, koriyama, Oji, prince rabbits, seibu, tohoku, university | 1 Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 April 14日 Tuesday
The Tohoku Free Blades have been tentatively accepted into Asia League Ice Hockey starting with the upcoming 2009-10 season!
The Blades currently only have 12 skaters and 2 goalies on contract, but now they can start their work in earnest to strengthen the team by signing more experienced players (probably some former Seibu Prince Rabbits) and imports, now that they’re more or less officially part of the AL. This is great news for hockey in the Tohoku area (north eastern part of the main Honshu island). The timing is great as most seasons in hockey playing countries are starting to wind down, and players and coaches will be looking for employment for next season. The plan is to play 8~10 games in Hachinohe, Aomori, and other games in the Tohoku area such as Koriyama, Fukushima where the team will be based.
Edit: The team is expected to operate on an annual budget of 150 million yen = $1.5m (much closer to the Nikko Ice Bucks budget than the Seibu Prince Rabbits’ 500 million yen = $5m), and is going to work to draw an average attendance of 1,500 per game.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, press releases | Tagged: aomori, free blades, fukushima, hachinohe, Ice Bucks, koriyama, nikko, prince rabbits, seibu, tohoku | 3 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2008 November 14日 Friday
Official press conference for the perspective Asia League franchise was announced on 12 November in Koriyama (Fukushima, the team’s headquarters), Hachinohe (Aoyama, the team’s training base), and Sendai (Miyagi, the largetst city in the Tohoku area). The team’s name is the Tohoku Free Blades, incorporating the meaning of free and sharp newcomer in the league that will cut through the old bureaucracy (not sure how realistic this is.)
The team was established in Xebio as part of its subsidiary, so it’s another industrial team insted of a club team. The Blades already have 12-13 players under contract, and are planning of adding about 10 players who are new graduates this spring from various university teams, and also through some tryout sessions (open to foreigners, though all players bear all costs during the tryout) in December 10-11. It will definitely be a young team, and if it is approved to join the AL in the April meeting, I expect them to be compete with the Bucks and Sharks for the last playoff spot.
The team intends on drawing talent from the hockey rich Tohoku area eventually, but is mainly compoased of players from hockey hotbed Hokkaido for now. The Blades will host games in Koriyama and Hachinohe, but will also host games in Morioka and Mitsuzawa also in Aomori.
This is wonderful news for Japanese and Asian hockey which has been constant decline in the number of teams. Hopefully the Blades will be granted the permission to join the Asia League next season, they certainly seem keen enough.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, press releases | Tagged: aomori, expansion, free blades, fukushima, hachinohe, koriyama, mitsuzawa, miyagi, morioka, sendai, tohoku | 1 Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 August 11日 Monday
Sports world has kicked into an ultra high gear during my absence as Koshien continues, Japanese Olympic baseball team played preparation games against CL and PL selects (more on that in a later post, hopefully), Olympics has started, and NPB continues to chug along.
Kosuke Kitajima just won gold in the 100m breast stroke with a world record time (58.91, first time the 59 second barrier has been broken) despite being 3rd at the 50m turn. Impressive. Of course, this race, moment, and his post race interview (with tears) will be played ad nauseum from here on in, so I’ll quickly lose interest, but it’s great at the moment. (The Japanese national anthem during medal presentation wasn’t greeted with jeers and whistles like during the Asia Cup football tournament in 2006 in China, the Chinese government is reigning in hard with the crowd control and behaviour.)
Through a quick glance of the Koshien match results through day 8 after all 55 teams have played their first game, we see that there were no major upsets. Some interesting game results and notes (though I didn’t get to see most of the games):
- Northern powerhouse Aomori-Yamada (Aomori) narrowly defeated Nihon-Koku (Yamanashi) 2-1 in the first round, then was just the better team right now as they won convincingly 4-0 against the young Honjo-Daiichi (North Saitama) in the second round game that has just concluded right now on day 10.
- Toho (West Aichi) and Hokkai (South Hokkaido) played a slugfest on day 5 as the former defeated the latter 15-10. Hokkai kept on coming back from behind but that just wasn’t enough. In the mean time, powerhouse Osaka-Toin (North Osaka) crushed the minnows Nitta-Rinko (Oita) 16-2 in the biggest win of the tournament so far.
- Tainted Kiryu-Daiichi (Gunma), a 2nd year non-roster player groped a girl after the team got to Osaka for Koshien, thankfully lost their first round match against Kanazawa (Ishikawa) who feature many usable arms, but will be hardpressed to win against Osaka-Toin tomorrow on day 11.
- There were a couple of powerhouse matchups in the first round. One of the tournament favourites Yokohama (South Kanagawa), and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s alma mater, pulled off a 6-5 victory against Urawa-Gakuin (South Saitama). And the 53rd and 54th schools to enter the tournament, in the battle of powerhouses from small prefectures, Kurashiki-Sho (Okayama) defeated Saga-Sho (Saga) 2-0.
- In round 2 games that started on day 8, Komadai-Iwamisawa (North Hokkaido) easily handled Morioka-Dai (Iwate), the 55th team and final team to play it’s first game in the tournament, 8-3. And in matchups of powerhouses, Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama) beat another tournament fave Kisarazu-Sogo (East Chiba) 5-2, meanwhile their sister school Chiben-Gakuen (Nara) barely lost to Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) 4-5.
- As for teams with rooting interests, Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo) beat baseball school Naruto-Ko (Tokushima) 5-2, and Urasue-Sho (Okinawa) won against Chiba-Keidai (West Chiba) 12-9 despite Chiba’s late 6 run come back in the 7th inning.
- Surprisingly, the remainder of round 2 doesn’t offer tantalizing powerhouse matchups, but it’ll be interesting to see if Kanazawa’s 4 pitchers can keep Osaka-Toin’s powerful bats off balance long enough to steal the game on day 11 tomorrow.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, tokyo, olympics, high school | Tagged: 2008, koshien, yokohama, okinawa, matsuzaka, china, beijing, kanto, osaka, honjo, toin, urasue, daiichi, aomori, yamada, daisuke, kitajima, kosuke, breast stroke, swimming | 1 Comment »