Posted by simon c on 2009 September 3日 Thursday
Yes, it sounds like a Chinese restaurant, but the Chinese entry in the Asia League has cut off its affliation with the NHL San Jose Sharks after one season, and now will be known as the China Dragon and will split their home games between Harbin and Shanghai (It’s good to see elite hockey back in Harbin on one hand, but this’ll lessen the impact in Shanghai, too bad China can only put together one viable AL squad.) The team is currently training in Harbin, and only has one import, the super veteran 42-year old Igor Andryushchenko who was instrumental in the Belarussian Junost Minsk winning the 2007 European Continental Cup (one level below the European Champions League or its equivalent) along with his then teammate and now China Dragon coach Andrei Kovalev.
The Dragon plan on adding 2 or 3 more imports but they do not intend on maximizing the 7 import slots that they have in order to grow domestic talent. But they will be hard pressed to avoid being a doormat team again without an elite goalie like they had with Wade Flaherty last season. Imports are expected to be Belarussian and Kazakhstani. Though the coach or the Belarussian media still think that the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits are the team to beat in the league, so accurate information seems to be hard to come by. Unless the Dragon get an elite goalie, with the traditionally sieve defence of the Chinese, it’ll be a long season, especially with the highly bolstered Bucks lineup to contend with, and the Blades may be no pushovers either.
Anyways, it’ll be yet another interesting season coming up in the ever changing Asia League.
The Chinese hockey federation (government) is apparently saving money by going the Belaruss route instead of American, but I thought the Sharks provided coaching and players for almost free last season, but I might be wrong, and the economic downturn doesn’t help. This is mostly speculation.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: Andryushchenko, china, dragon, free blades, harbin, Ice Bucks, junost, Kovalev, minsk, nikko, qiqihar, san jose, shanghai, sharks, tohoku, wade flaherty, yunost | 2 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2009 March 9日 Monday
The new team Tohoku Free Blades who are aiming to join the Asia League starting next season played another exhibition game recently. The team is still undermanned and its 5 defencemen and 7 forwards hung on but lost 6-4 to western Japan powerhouse amateur team Surpass Kagawa. Once the team’s status on joining the Asia League becomes clear, the team is likely to sign the rest of the players to fill out its roster (some imports will be needed to be competitive in the AL).
Eri Kiribuchi’s dad made the trip from Prague to be at Harbin for the Universiad where Eri made her debut with the Japanese national team. He has uploaded a bunch of video segments to Youtube. They’re not just Japan-centric, but Eri-centric as the camera never leaves the goalie 😛
And last but not least, the Nippon Paper Cranes pulled the rug from under Anyang Halla’s feet. The Cranes were down 3-2 in the semifinals with the series heading back to Anyang, Korea with Halla only needing to win one game to become the first non-Japanese team to advance to the Asia League finals. But the Cranes managed a gutsy OT win in game 6, followed by another 3-2 win in game 7, this time in regulation time.
The Cranes will meet the Seibu Prince Rabbits in the finals which will begin on the 13th with games 1 and 2 in Higashifushimi, Tokyo at the Dydo Drinco Arena (Higashifushimi Station on the Seibu-Shinjuku train line). Game 1 on Friday should start at 7pm and game 2 on Saturday at 2pm. Games 3 through 5 will be in Kushiro, Hokkaido. And game 6 will be on the afternoon of Sunday 22 March, and game 7 on the following evening if necessary. The Rabbits are looking to go out on top as the team won the All-Japan Championship tournament earlier in the year, and the club will fold after this season if no buyer is found (and in this economy, it looks unlikely. Luckily it looks like the Blades will replace the Rabbits in the league.)
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: 2009, china, cranes, eri, free blades, freeblades, harbin, kagawa, kiribuchi, nippon paper, prince rabbits, seibu, surpass, tohoku, universiad | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 February 18日 Wednesday
Eri Kiribuchi (long bio here), whose blog is right here (Japanese), is competing in the Winter Universiade 2009 which started in Harbin, China today. We’ll see if she starts in goal, to the best of my knowledge she still hasn’t started an official game for Bemidji State University in Minnesota, where she is competing with two other freshmen goalies to be the starter.
She’s a very interesting case for a Japanese hockey player, having left Japan with her family shortly after the 1998 Nagano Olympics, falling in love with hockey, specifically Czech hockey. The whole family moved to Prague to pursue the kids’ hockey dreams. After attending an athletics high school in the Czech Republic, Eri’s managed to secure herself a scholarship in an NCAA Division I school. Eri has been the most successful one, having managed this national team call up, but her brother Yuto has been no slouch either playing in the Czech Extraliga 2nd division club HK Lev Slaný. While Eri is playing in the highest level of women’s hockey in NCAA Division I, the rest of her family remains in Prague operating a B&B (Japanese). She’s fluent trilingual, has appeared in a cosmetics commercial in Europe 😛 , is a promising goalie for Japan’s future, so it is good to see that the national hockey program is looking overseas for promising talent. Good luck!
Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International, Japan, JIHF, opinion | Tagged: 2009, bemidji, czech, eri, goalie, harbin, kiribuchi, minnesota, universiade | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 9日 Wednesday
Japanese women’s national team is currently competing in the top level World Championships (that Japan qualified for by winning Division I last year) in Harbin, China. It has one game remaining in the 9 team 9 day tournament, and that will be against the hosts China in a likely relegation match that starts at 7pm tonight.
Defender and 1998 Nagano games veteran Yoko Kondo sat down with IIHF.com to answer some questions:
5. Which country do you have the most respect for at the championship, and why?
Canada, because hockey is almost a religion over there. Every player understands what it means to represent your country in competition and has so much pride to be playing for Canada. They have complete professionalism and compete very hard.
6. What player do you respect the most at this championship, and why?
Angela Ruggiero from USA. I saw her play four years ago in Halifax and used her as my model of how I want to play. When she plays, she’s big and she uses her body really well. That’s the kind of player I want to be.
7. What are your impressions of China?
It’s very different. The thing that really stands out is that soon they will have the Summer Olympics in Beijing and you get the impression that all sports are very important here. I think with the Olympics here, people are really starting to support all athletics here in China.
It turns out she played for the Ottawa Raiders of the National Women’s Hockey League (I think it’s a national league again after being split east/west) for one season in 2005-06.
But defence partner Krista Black says that where Kondo really shines is in her speed. “Her best attribute is that she is really quick on her feet. She always gets back on defence.”
And Kondo’s success on the ice, says Olson, has been matched by great success off the ice as well.
“Living here and not having family here, and having to deal with the different culture must be very difficult,” she says. “But she does it somehow.”
Olson spent a year abroad playing hockey in Sweden. While she says adapting to the new culture took time, it was made easier that there were no communication barriers.
“At least in Sweden everyone spoke English, everyone could speak to me in my language,” she says.
“I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have nobody around who speaks your language. I don’t know how she does it.”
Although most out-of-town players live together in one of the Raiders’ two team houses in Manotick, Kondo lives in a basement apartment closer to downtown because getting to practice in Orleans or work in Centretown was too much of a hassle without a car.
Kondo works about 15 to 20 hours a week at a Japanese restaurant on Bank Street.
Mitsu Ichi, the owner, says Kondo came into the restaurant about six months ago asking if they had any openings. He was looking for some help in the kitchen during the lunch shift, so he gave her a chance.
He says she gets along well with other workers and has been a great addition to his staff. “She is very nice, a very nice lady,”
Olson describes Kondo as “very self-sufficient,” but says that since she lives alone, team members take turns picking her up for practices and games on their way from work or from their home in Manotick.
“Anyone would pick her up, because we all appreciate what she is doing, and what she is going through to play for us.”
Good luck in the game tonight to avoid relegation!
Posted in 02_English, culture, hockey, information, International, Japan | Tagged: china, 近藤陽子, harbin, ottawa, raiders, wnhl, women's hockey, world championship, yoko kondo | Leave a Comment »