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    Nagano Cup 2010

    Posted by simon c on 2010 January 15日 Friday

    The international tournament that’s been abandoned since 2007 is back.

    Nagano Cup 2010!

    Feb 11(Thu/Hol) 13:00 Japan v Slovenia; 16:00 Denmark v Kazakhstan
    Feb 12 (Fri)16:00 Slovenia v Denmark;  19:00 Japan v Kazakhstan
    Feb 13 (Sat) 13:00 Kazakhstan v Slovenia; 16:00 Japan v Denmark

    All games at Nagano Big Hat, tickets are 2000 yen.

    http://www.cnplayguide.com/evt/evtdtl.aspx?kcd=39009

    Unfortunately, the exhibition game announced to be on Feb 9 in Higashifushimi, Tokyo has been cancelled.

    Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International, Japan, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Asia League 2009-10 Preview

    Posted by simon c on 2009 September 17日 Thursday

    logo

    The ever changing Asia League of Ice Hockey had another paradigm shift this past off season. They’re easier to sum up in point form, so here we go:

    • Seibu Prince Rabbits are no more. The club has folded after finding no takers for its 5-oku yen (~$5m) annual team budget. With this, the league and Japanese hockey has lost their most powerful backer in the Seibu Group. The fallout from this catastrophic event saw former Seibu players becoming Seibu group employees, picked up by other Asia League teams, or moving to teams abroad.
    • Tohoku Free Blades are born! In the place of Seibu, a new team based in the Tohoku region (north east part of the main Honshu island) has joined the league. This is something to be celebrated as times are tough for the entire corporate sports scene in Japan with various company teams folding, disbanding, and suspending operations and hockey being no exception. The Blades are backed by major sports equipment retailer Xebio.
    • s_logoChina Sharks are now the China Dragon. The Chinese entry in the Asia league has severed its ties with the NHL San Jose Sharks after only one season. The Sharks had provided coaching and players who were crucial to the Chinese team avoiding the league basement for the first time in the league’s short history. But the team is heading in a new direction with its Belarusian coach and fewer imports in order to train their domestic players (the Dragon are essentially the Chinese national team). It is unclear what the financial arrangements were when the San Jose Sharks were affiliated with the China Sharks and what brought about this change in direction.
    • The league is shortening the playoffs to a best of 5 format instead of a best of 7 format that produced so much drama last season (bad move). Top 4 teams will make the playoffs instead of the top 5 (I liked the best of 3 play-in round between 4th and 5th place teams). It is also adopting IIHF rule changes that does not permit line changes for teams that committed icing, and also initial faceoffs on powerplays will take place in the offensive zone.

    Now, let’s take a team by team look at the upcoming season in more detail:

    c_logoNippon Paper Cranes (21-4-11, Playoff Champions)

    The defending champions from the 2008-09 season returns with a team largely unchanged. The Cranes have reduced the number of imports from two (Brad Tiley, Kelly Fairchild) to one (Pierre-Olivier Beaulieu) in order to save costs (Beaulieu has only ECHL and German 2nd division experience, thus should be considerably cheaper than the more experienced Tiley and Fairchild, but whether he’ll be able to contribute as much remains a question to be answered), and have also picked up national team member Daisuku Obara from Seibu. The amazing playoff run last season that capped off with the championship trophy was largely due to the outstanding goaltending of Hisashi Ishikawa who absolutely stood on his head in many postseason games. More of the same will be needed for the team to repeat as champions as the top of the league could be a logjam.

    a_logoAnyang Halla (23-4-9, lost in semifinals)

    In 2008-09 Halla became the first non-Japanese team to claim the regular season title. However, the team was unable to overcome the eventual champions Cranes despite having the home ice advantage in a tough 7 game series that went the distance (4 of the 7 games were 1 goal games). The core of the team is intact as Halla has done the previously unthinkable in the AL by inking their successful imports to multiyear deals (3 years for leading scorer Brock Radunske, 2 years each for Jon Awe and Brad Fast). With sniper Song Dong-Hwan back having a successful season (35GP 45P) after missing 2 seasons to military service, the team looks poised to avenge their playoff disappointment from the previous season.

    o_logoOji Eagles (22-4-10, lost in semifinals)

    The Eagles have decided to really save on expenses by doing away entirely with imports for the upcoming season. Instead the team has added national team forwards and former Seibu players Sho Sato and Yosuke Kon (the AL and Team Japan pest, in the Esa Tikkanen mould, it’s a compliment). The production from veteran imports Ricard Persson and Shane Endicott will be missed, but with the parent company Oji Paper’s finances on shakier grounds with the economic downturn, the team will ice an all-Japanese squad this season (though the team still has a “ringer” in Japanese passport holding Japanese-Canadian Aaron Keller who is also a national team defenceman). It’s still a good team, especially with the addition of Sato and Kon, but it’s tough to see this team taking either the regular season title or the playoff trophy home with them.

    h_logoHigh1 (13-4-19, lost in first round)

    The High1 club had a disappointing 2008-09 season being unceremoniously swept out of the play-in first round of the playoffs against the eventual champs Cranes after a 5th place finish in the regular season where they were not in contention with the top 4 teams. The team looks to rebound to 2007-08 form when they finished 2nd in the regular season. The team has brought back Tim Smith who had a successful run from 2006-08 (63GP 106P) and has also brought in new imports D Jeremy Van Hoof and F Trevor Gallant. Along with their Korean rookies, the team has also added Japanese rookie Hiroki Ueno who scored 30 points in 24 games for Waseda University in the Kanto University League (top university league in Japan).

    d_logoChina Dragon (6-4-26, did not make the playoffs)

    The ever changing Chinese entry in the Asia League will play as the China Dragon this season. The former China Sharks became the first team to send a non-Chinese team to the bottom of the standings last season largely in part to the excellent goaltending by NHL and AHL veterans Wade Flaherty (who won AL goalie of the year last season) and big, tough defenceman Steve McKenna, and the team showed the most discipline of any Chinese team in AL history by staying close in many games where they were blown out in the past (well, it may have been mostly due to Flaherty who played every game making 40+ saves per game with a 91.7% save percentage). The Dragon are allowed to have 7 imports on their roster, but intend on entering the season with only 3 or 4 imports in order to be less reliant on imports to better develop domestic players. The team is under the stewardship of experienced Belarusian Andrei Kovalev, and its imports haven’t been announced as of yet. Unless the team can sign a Flaherty-class goalie, look for China to sink back to the bottom of the league standings in the coming season. Oh yeah, and the new Dragon logo is totally underwhelming and uninspiring piece of bureaucratic art(?), don’t they have snazzy designers in Shanghai these days?

    i_logoNikko Ice Bucks (6-2-28, did not make the playoffs)

    The Bucks had their worst season since AL begun by becoming the first non-Chinese team to finish the season at the bottom of the table. The interesting choice of using unproven import forwards Eric Lafreniere (34GP 10P) and Mickey Gilchrist (36GP 19P) did not quite work out, but this is the team that has experienced the most changes during the offseason. Firstly, the Bucks have brought in 6 former Seibu players including national team captain Takahito Suzuki and NT goalie Naoya Kikuchi, the addition of 3 quality defencemen is sure to bolster their game in the defensive zone, and the addition of Bud Smith gives the team flexibility with its top 6 forwards. With such a significant upgrade to their team, the Bucks are the wildcard in the 2009-10 season. If the team gels well, it could finish high in the standings and fight their way through the playoffs. Though a 2 year plan is probably more realistic.

    fb_logoTohoku Free Blades (expansion team)

    The unproven Blades take the place of powerhouse Seibu in the league. The team was created last year based on 14 players who made the cut in team tryouts. Then once the team was officially approved to join the league, the Blades went out and reinforced their lineup with Asia Leaguers and imports. It was a coup obtaining Bin Ishioka (36GP 18P) from Seibu and D Steve Munn and LW Bruce Mulherin have a good trackrecord in the English league the past couple of seasons and have proved to be solid additions to the team so far in the preseason. The goaltending duties will fall on homegrown Michio Hashimoto who got bumped from the Bucks when they acquired Kikuchi, but Hashimoto is capable of stealing some games and will keep the team in games where they have no business being in. The Blades will play most of their games in Hachinohe, Aomori, but will also play a series in Koriyama, Fukushima, another city in the Tohoku region.

    pr_logoSeibu Prince Rabbits aftermath: 6 players including Suzuki and Kikuchi have signed with the Bucks, Kon and Sho Sato have signed with Oji, the Cranes acquired Obara, Kashino and Ishioka went to Tohoku, Yuya Yamada to High1, and G Inoue who was to become the first Seibu player from the Seibu junior team has joined China. Players going overseas are Go Tanaka to German 2nd division team ESV Kaufbeuren, Ryuichi Kawai (along with his younger brother Takuma who is the first Japanese player to appear in the Memorial Cup) are training in Alberta in now-retired Ryan Fujita’s hometown of Taber, Alberta (also Devin Setoguchi’s hometown) and will be trying out for minor league teams, long time ALer Joel Prpic has signed with Medveščak, the Croatian entry in the EBEL (Austrian based international league), and is waiting for his Croatian passport (his parents are Croatian) to be processed and should start playing with them in October.

    To say the least, this should be a very interesting Asia League season with so many changes to the league. I expect Halla to be the team to beat in the 2009-10 season, but the top of the standings could get very congested with the Cranes, Eagles, High1, and the Bucks all having a crack at it. Unless China can bring in a quality goalie, I expect the Dragon to be doormats once again, and the expansion Blades should finish ahead of them with Hashimoto in nets. And since the teams have only been playing preseason games in their respective regions (Hokkaido, Honshu, Korea, and China) probably to cut costs, so we are even more in the dark than usual regarding team strength and chemistry.

    The season opens on 19 September with the Hokkaido teams hosting the Honshu teams and the Korean derby in Anyang. Let’s drop the puck!

    PS This is exactly the 600th post on this blog, yay!

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

    Blades win!

    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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    高橋一馬がハバロフスクに

    Posted by simon c on 2009 August 19日 Wednesday

    どういう伝手では知らないか、昨シーズンまでECHLにいた高橋一馬選手が、今ハバロフスクのKHLアムールの下部チームの練習に参加しています!さすが常に良く考えてる高橋選手、行動力が凄いですね。

    という事で、彼のブログからいくつか抜擢:

    以前、アジアリーグにも加盟していましたハバロフスクの”ゴールデンアムール”ですが、現在はオーナーが変わり、KHLというリーグへ参戦しています。そこのファームチームへの練習参加のためにこちらに来ています。さすがにKHLに所属するトップチームへの参加は厳しかったです。

    http://kaz78.com/article/125490977.html

    さて、こちらでの生活サイクルは
    9:15~10:30 氷上
    10:50~11:50 陸トレ
    17:00~18:30 氷上
    という感じです。

    日本でもかなりバタバタした生活をしていましたが、こちらではやれることが限られているので練習に忙しいもののホッケーに集中して生活することができています。

    まだまだ、数日しか体感していないロシアホッケーだし、1チームしか知りませんが、簡単な北米との違いの印象としては、

    アメリカ・カナダ=『点数を入れるために、勝つために練習をする、常にサバイバル』
    ロシア=『アイスホッケーがうまくなるために練習をする、アイスホッケーを通して生活・物事の考え方を教育』

    http://kaz78.com/article/125636736.html

    ロシア語の『バーニョ』はサウナ!!
    リンクの片隅にサウナ室があり、みんなキツキツに入りながら、文字通り裸の付き合い。
    サウナに入って一週間の疲れを労わりました。

    サウナ入らない人には分からないと思うんですが、サウナでは頭って結構熱くなって大変なんですよ。
    その防止のために、なんとここではあのロシア製の帽子が登場!!
    こんな熱い中でこの防寒帽子なんて、はじめギャグかと思っていると何人もかぶりながら入ってきて、しまいには自分もかぶるはめに。

    こんな熱い中でこの暑苦しい防止かよ、しかも裸にこの帽子って!!

    と思いながらかぶったら、意外に快適。しかも、
    お前もロシア人の仲間入り!!
    みたいな雰囲気になり、大うけ!!
    ちょっと距離感が縮まったかな??
    裸にロシア帽子で今日のスキンシップは妙な光景だったでしょう。

    ついでに、サウナでロシア語講座開催されましたが、のぼせてほとんど頭に入ってなかったです。
    ロシア語は本当難しいです。
    はっきり言ってまったくしゃべれないし、聞き取れませんからね。
    大変ですよ。

    http://kaz78.com/article/125773106.html

    さて、ロシア語がさっぱりちんぷんかんぷんな私ですが、ここでは日本語がほぼ完璧な、日本語通訳を仕事としているワロージャさんという方のおうちにホームスティさせていただき、生活しています。
    まさに、スーパーひとし君なのです。
    ですので、練習のメニューは少し早めに行ってコーチの聞き、生活面でも言葉のストレスがほぼないくらいにサポートしてもらい生活しています。食事やロシアの文化の話などもたくさん情報もらっています。

    欲を言えば、氷上でも通訳してもらえれば完璧ですが、そこまで甘えられないです。

    選手では、数人英語を話せる選手もいるので、英語を聞くと安心してそちらに頼ってしまいがちになりますが、自分自身でも、覚えられるだけロシア語を理解して生活できるようにして行かないと・・・・・。

    http://kaz78.com/article/125904372.html

    なんか、凄い充実してるみたいですね。常にチャレンジ精神旺盛の高橋選手には頭が下がります。今季のチーム探しが順調に行っている事を祈っています。もしかして今年はロシアリーグ(KHLは無理だろうけど)?

    Posted in 01_日本語, ECHL, hockey, Japan, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    アイスバックス対フリーブレイズ・プレシーズンゲーム

    Posted by simon c on 2009 August 11日 Tuesday

    対戦カード:日光アイスバックス VS 東北フリーブレイズ

    日時:2009年8月29日(土) 14:00~
    8月30日(日) 14:00~

    場所:栃木県立日光霧降アイスアリーナ

    観戦料:指定席1,500円/自由席1,000円

    ※大人・子供も同料金となります

    前売取扱所:H.C.TOCHIGI日光アイスバックス事務所(http://www.icebucks.jp/)
    栃木県日光市稲荷町2-360-9
    電話0288-53-5166

    主催:(株)スポニチプライム/H.C.TOCHIGI日光アイスバックス

    Preseason games between the Nikko Ice Bucks and Tohoku Free Blades will be held in Nikko on 29-30 (Sat-Sun) of August, faceoff at 14:00, tickets are 1500 yen for reserved seats, 1000 yen for general admission.

    Posted in 01_日本語, 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Free Blades update

    Posted by simon c on 2009 August 2日 Sunday

    Still no word on additional players on the meagre 14 man roster that’s supposed to be expanded to 23 players by 19 September when the 2009-10 Asia League season opens. (28 July, Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper)

    “東北”はゼビオの子会社が運営している。
    現在、14人いる部員を、9月19日のリーグ開幕までに23人に
    増やすという。(7月28日北海道新聞 朝刊)

    The Blades have also acquired Chris Wakabayashi the former manager of Seibu Prince Rabbits as its Head Coach to assist Manager Keisuke Araki.

    アイスホッケーのアジア・リーグに新たに来季から加わる東北フリーブレイズは27日、3月限りで解散した西武の監督だった若林クリス氏がヘッドコーチに就任すると発表した。荒城啓介監督を補佐する。

    There are rumours that the Blades will be able to sign more than 2 imports that other Japanese clubs are limited to. Also, rumour has it that now free agent former Ice Bucks starting goalie Michio Hashimoto is going to join the Blades, as he got pushed out of the Bucks by national team goalie Kikuchi, and Hashimoto is from the Tohoku area where the Blades call home.

    And finally, there are supposed to be 2 preseason matches against the HC Tochigi Ice Bucks (team renamed from the city of Nikko to the prefecture of Tochigi) on 29 (Sat) and 30 (Sun) of August at 14:00 (location unknown).

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Martin Kariya

    Posted by simon c on 2009 July 18日 Saturday

    Martin Kariya has apparently signed with Dinamo Riga (Latvia) of the KHL. Must’ve been quite an attractive offer to lure Martin away from the Swiss league where life is comfortable and his stats last season were 50GP 15G+43A=58P. Martin, of course, played half a season for the Nikko Ice Bucks in 2004-05 (15GP 6+12=18).

    2004-05 に半シーズン(15試合6得点12アシスト=18ポイント)だけ日光アイスバックスでプレーしたマーティン・カリヤが、KHL のディナモ・リガ(ラトビア)と契約したようです。マーティンは昨シーズンにスイスのトップリーグでプレーし、50試合で15得点43アシスト=58ポイントと良い成績を残した上、スイスリーグもヨーロッパのエリートリーグの一つですので、リガのオファーはかなり好条件だったのではないでしょうか。

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    久慈選手の矛盾?

    Posted by simon c on 2009 July 16日 Thursday

    Islanders GM Garth Snow invited Kuji after he was contacted by his university. Maybe it’s not coincidence that he landed in Long Island, as the club is owned by the Chinese-American businessman Charles Wang.

    While John Tavares, the number-one draft pick from Canada, is the undoubted poster boy at the Islanders evaluation camp, the club also reports on its website the “really impressing speed” of the small (172 cm, 5’8”) Japanese forward.

    The 22-year-old had a good debut with the national team at the Division I tournament in Lithuania, last April, winning bronze and scoring two goals, one assist in five games.
    And now he’s practising with the Islanders, whizzing around Tavares and other high-rated prospects, and giving autographs to kids attending the camp.

    “After watching Kuji for two days, his skating and his overall skills are not a problem at this level,” said Japan head coach Mark Mahon, who visited his player in the camp. “It is his decision making as the play moves much faster then the University level in Japan. Also the limited time and space is a factor with larger players and a smaller ice surface, but he has handled himself very well and according to Islanders coach Scott Gordon he has fit in very well and is a very attentive player.”

    (国際アイスホッケー連盟の久慈選手の記事から)

    今回の久慈選手のNYアイランダーズのキャンプへの参加は、早稲田大学からの促しがガース・スノーGMにあったそうだからだそうです。

    あと、日本代表のマーク・マホン監督もキャンプに視察に来ていて、久慈選手のスピード、スケーティング・スキルと、全体的なスキルはこのレベルに達していると評価しています。

    でも、久慈選手は早稲田を卒業した後に、王子イーグルスへの入団が内定してるみたいですね。

    アジアリーグのチームへの内定が決まっているのに、NHLチームのプロスペクト・キャンプへの参加、一体どんな意図なんでしょう?

    Posted in 01_日本語, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    久慈選手の第一印象

    Posted by simon c on 2009 July 14日 Tuesday

    Shuhei Kuji is really impressing with his speed. Kuji, who plays for Wasata University in Japan and for the Japanese National Team, was invited to Mini-Camp by Islanders GM Garth Snow.

    NYアイランダーズのプロスペクト・キャンプ2日目のレポートで、GMのガース・スノーに招待された久慈選手のスピードがアイランダーズに強い印象を与えているようです。

    Posted in 01_日本語, hockey, information, International, Japan, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    NYアイランダーズのキャンプでの久慈選手

    Posted by simon c on 2009 July 13日 Monday

    早稲田大学のキャプテンで、数少ない日本代表の大学生の久慈修平選手が、現在NHLのニューヨーク・アイランダーズのプロスペクト・キャンプ(NHL経験者のプロスペクト、ドラフト指名選手と、招待選手←久慈選手はここ)に参加しています。現地からの情報は入ってきていませんが、写真は一枚出てきました。キャンプでは#54を付けています(招待選手は大きい番号なんでしょう)、そしてこの場面ではアイランダーズが今年のドラフトで全体12位指名したディフェンスのCalvin de Haan選手と1対1ドリル(?)をやっています。結果はどうであれ、有意義なキャンプになるでしょう。誰かインタビューしてくれないかな?

    さすがです、Breakawayが現地からの報告をしています。早速今年のドラフト1位ジョン・タバレスを相手にした紅白戦のコメント付レポートも。

    久慈コメント
    「最初のチャンスに決められなかったのが悔しいです。そんなにコンタクトの強さは感じませんでしたが、ベイリー(昨季のドラフト1位)と組んだ時、判断の速さが違うと痛感しました。練習ではリンクサイズ(※NHLは国際規格より小さい)は気にならなかったのですが、試合だと相手のプレッシャーの速さもあり、狭く感じました。」

    kuji_islanders

    Posted in 01_日本語, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »