Posted by simon c on 2009 July 4日 Saturday
Asia League Ice Hockey office has announced the tentative 2009-10 season schedule (pending Tohoku Free Blades approval into the league in the September general counsel, which seems backwards). The Blades basically take the place of the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits, and the league will operate just like last year with 4 Japanese teams, 2 Korean teams, and 1 Chinese team as a 7 team league. The teams will play 6 games against each other for a 36 game regular season that opens on 19 September in Korea and Hokkaido.
Due to (cost cutting? and) to avoid clashing with the Vancouver Olympics, the playoffs have been shortened from 2008-09 and will only feature 4 teams playing two rounds of best of 5 series to determine the champion (last season included a best of 3 play-in round between 4th and 5th place teams, then best of 7 series).
The expansion Tohoku Free Blades will open the season against the defending champion Nippon Paper Cranes in Kushiro. And the Greater Tokyo area will host a few games as the four Japanese teams will play doubleheaders in Shin-Yokohama on 14-15 November, in Sapporo on 19-20 December, and in Nishi-Tokyo (Higashifushimi) on 6-7 February.
The Tohoku Free Blades will play half its home games at the Tohoku hockey hotbed of Hachinohe, Aomori, and will play the rest of the games in various cities around Tohoku including Koriyama, Fukushima.
In addition to the officially announced player transfers, China Sharks have acquired tall scoring pest Joel Prpic (Seibu 35GP 43P 174PIM, he managed to score and draw a penalty simultaneously twice in one game I went to see) and Bin Ishioka (Seibu 36GP 8G+10A=18P). Though this alone won’t keep the Sharks up with the newly powerful Bucks, it is a step in the right direction (Prpic is a Japan/Asia vet that knows the league well with a long and successful career, and Ishioka won’t count as an import because Japan/Korea/China nationals do not count against imports in this league). (Thanks Martin!)
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: china, cranes, free blades, hachinohe, higashifushimi, hokkaido, ishioka, kushiro, nippon paper, prince rabbits, prpic, seibu, sharks, tohoku, Vancouver, yokohama | 4 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2009 June 8日 Monday
The former members of the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits (formerly Kokudo and Seibu Railway ice hockey teams) will face off in an apparently all out scrimmage as a final farewell to Higashifushimi, Tokyo, the teams’ long time home ice.
Date: Tuesday 9 June 2009
Time: 10:00 – 11:30
Where: Dydo Drinco Ice Arena, Higashifushimi, Tokyo
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, tokyo | Tagged: higashifushimi, prince rabbits, seibu | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 June 5日 Friday
A free admission amateur hockey tournament will take place at the Dydo Drinco Higashifushimi this month.
The participating teams are sogo-shosha (general trading corporations) in Tokyo. All teams belong in the top division (Super League) of Tokyo hockey, so the level of play should be reasonably high.
The tournament has been going on for 30 years, and this intra-industry rivalry should be exciting.
Game 1: 14:00-15:20 Itochu v Marubeni (officials: Mitsui)
Game 2: 15:35-16:55 Mitsui v Mitsubishi (Marubeni)
Game 1: 13:45-15:05 Itochu v Mitsubishi (Marubeni)
Game 2: 15:20-16:40 Mitsui v Marubeni (Itochu)
Game 1: 13:45-15:05 Itochu v Mitsui (Mitsubishi)
Game 2: 15:20-16:40 Mitsubishi v Marubeni (Mitsui)
Free hockey for those in Tokyo!!
Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: amateur, higashifushimi, itochu, marubeni, mitsubishi, mitsui, shosha, tokyo, trading company | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 April 9日 Thursday
I’m currently lacking both the brain cells and the time to do this properly, so the 2008-09 Asia League Ice Hockey season will be reviewed in bullet point style.
- Nippon Paper Cranes reign supreme again! Asia League power house returns to the top after fighting through 3 rounds of playoffs, and going the full 7 in both the semi and finals. The Cranes last won the trophy 2 seasons ago, so it was a short absence from the top.
- Seibu Prince Rabbits fold. The tin foil hat says that this is part of Seibu Group’s attempt to rid of Tsutsumi colours (including the baseball team’s uniform colour, literally). There’s hope of the team being resurrected as an independent pro club team as seen in an earlier post on this blog.
- Anyang Halla is back, but High1 falls back. Anyang Halla added quality imports, got its sniper Song Dong-Hwan back from 2 years of military service (he didn’t miss a beat, being 4th in league scoring 3 seasons ago as well as this past season), and rookies who immediately contributed by finishing top 10 in scoring (Kim Ki-Sung and Park Woo-Sang who were just from universities drafted in the offseason). High1 was 2nd in the 2007-08 regular season, but fell down to 5th place and immediately got swept in the first round play in against the Cranes. 1st to 4th this year was a complete toss up, but then there was a big gap to High1 in 4th. High1 will be looking to climb back up to the top half of the table next season, and especially not to finish the season below their Korean rivals Halla.
- The bottom of the table was occupied by the usual suspects, the Nikko Ice Bucks and the Chinese entry, the China Sharks. But things were upside down this past season with the Sharks crawling out of the basement thanks in large part to Wade Flaherty’s Herculian efforts (he won the Best Goalie Award) and kicked the troubled Bucks down into the basement.
- Since there were no double digit blowouts like in previous seasons when teams could run up the score on Chinese teams, finally for the first time, stats in the Asia League is actually quite credible (no need to sift through strength of schedule, opponents, and run a query). So let’s take a look at the scoring board:
- High powered offence of Halla has 5 players ranked in the top 11, including a rookie in Kim Ki-Sung, and sniper Song Dong-Hwan who returned to the league after missing the last 2 seasons due to mandatory military service for all Korean adult males (except big time celebrities and sports figures it seems, if they can win exemptions or wiggle their way out). There are many of the usual suspects on the list including Suzuki and Prpic of Seibu, but who knows what their future holds for now. And Chris Yule showed his former team that he was still an offensive force.
- Additionally, defenceman Jon Awe (AHL 12+17=29) finished on top of scoring for defencemen ahead of Asia League and national team vet Aaron Keller (OJI 5+19=24) and AL sophomore Richard Rochefort (SPR 7+17=24), and Halla’s other import Brad Fast (7+27 = 34) ranked high in league scoring, prompting an unprecedented move by an AL team when Anyang Halla re-signed all their imports to multi-year deals with scoring leader Brock Radunski signing a 3-year contract and the others to 2-years.
- This was in part prompted by Halla’s awesome offence as they became the first non-Japanese team to win the regular season (and were one win away from becoming the first non-Japanese team in the playoff finals). The awesome Halla offence racked up 150 goals in 36 games for a very impressive 4.17 G/G with and converted astonishing 38% of their power play chances for 54 goals. I’m sure Halla is glad to have their offence intact for next season, as they were only a win away from reaching the finals.
- While all other teams allowed 95 goals or more, the finally nicknamed Oji Eagles impressively only let in 77 goals, and were also 2nd in the league in both the power play and the penalty kill.
- Finally, since Deanna brought her big camera with her to game 7 of the finals, we have some good pictures of the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits.
(Photos courtesy of Deanna)
Cranes celebrate first goal of the game by Darcy Mitani.
Seibu Prince Rabbits and Japan national team captain Takahito Suzuki who almost singlehandedly won the championship for Seibu, scoring the game winner with 45 seconds left in game 6, then both of Seibu’s goals in game 7.
Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa, the playoff MVP, who unbelievably stopped 54 of 56 shots for the game 7 victory.
Cranes with the Asia League trophy, congratulations!! (and let’s hope there are at least 7 teams in the league again next season..)
more photos after this break:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, statistics, tokyo | Tagged: 2008-09, 2009, anyang, awe, bucks, china, cranes, eagles, fast, Flaherty, fujita, halla, higashifushimi, High1, Ice Bucks, kim ki-sung, nikko, nippon paper, nishiwaki, Oji, park woo-sang, playoffs, prince rabbits, prpic, review, seibu, sharks, song dong-hwan, suzuki, yule | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 April 7日 Tuesday
Well, the Seibu Prince Rabbits are no more, but the club may survive without its parent company as an independent sport club, a la Nikko Ice Bucks (formerly Furukawa Denko) and the now defunct Sapporo Polaris (formerly Snow Brand). This is because of the “Society for Rabbits Survival” which is a fan organized group active in activities for club’s continuation, such as collecting signatures, and the Higashifushimi Shoeikai which is the local business organization at Higashifushimi where the Rabbits home rink is located.
Since many of the Rabbits players wish to keep on playing instead of becoming regular Seibu Group employees, the two groups are going to work together to consult with the Japanese Ice Hockey Federation and court businesses to sponsor a new club team to replace/continue the Rabbits.
Of the 25 players on the Rabbits roster, 12 are full time employees of Seibu, and 13 were on contract. The 12 employees are now faced with the decision of continuing to play hockey and leaving Seibu, or working full time at Seibu and quitting hockey. In the mean time 9 Seibu players are on the Japan national team that will play in World Championships Division I Group 1A which will run from 11-17 April in Vilnius, Lithuania.
These turn of events is not entirely unexpected, but the lack of support from the fans and the community makes this situation different from the Bucks who have been survived for 10 years as a pro club without a parent company. When the Bucks formed 10 years ago, they had over 4000 paying members of the supporters club. The Rabbits Society was only able to collect slightly more than 6000 signatures from all hockey fans in Japan, let alone Rabbits supporters. And of course, the current economic climate does not help. But let’s hope for the best and that a club team can rise out of the ashes of Rabbits, and that the Asia League will have 8 teams next season (as the league board is being forward thinking about letting the Tohoku Free Blades join, partially due to losing a team with Seibu folding).
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: free blades, higashifushimi, prince rabbits, seibu, tohoku | 1 Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 December 1日 Monday
The 2009 edition of the All Japan Ice Hockey Championships will take place in Yokohama (preliminaries) and Tokyo (preliminaries and final tournament) in February 2009.
Date: 9 (Mon) ~ 15 (Sun) February 2009
Location: Yokohama (Shin-Yokohama Skate Center), Tokyo (DyDo Drinco Ice Arena, Higashifushimi)
It’s a knockoff tournament and the preliminaries will take place in both Yokohama and Tokyo from the 9th to the 12th.
2.13(Fri) Quarterfinals – The 4 Asia League teams enter the tournament here as seeded teams
2 games each at Higashifushimi and Shin-Yokohama
2 games at Higashifushimi, Tokyo
2.15(Sun) Finals/3rd place game
2 games at Higashifushimi, Tokyo
Since the tournament starts off with regional, university, and high school champion teams, it’s a great opportunity to see grassroots amateur Japanese hockey in Tokyo. The Shin-Yokohama venue is at the Shin-Yokohama station (it’s the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center, NOT the Yokohama Arena).
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, JIHF, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: all japan, championship, drinco, dydo, higashifushimi, ice arena, shin-yokohama, skate center, yokohama | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 November 20日 Thursday
Well, the China Sharks are in Tokyo playing the Seibu Prince Rabbits, but Claude Lemieux is not on the roster. This could be because of visa problems, but it’s more likely that he’s managed to secure an AHL contract with the Worcester Sharks (a couple of unconfirmed sources, including an AL player). Who knew that playing for the China Sharks could be the first step in working your way up through the Sharks organization!?
Finally, a notification on the official AL website.
The China Sharks have deactivated Claude Lemieux and reactivated Adam Taylor.
Plus, some interesting(?) marketing effort by the China Sharks as they’ve relocated to fashionable Shanghai from drab Beijing. Yup, that’s Wade Flaherty in the first picture, and Chinese players (and of course the model) in the other pictures.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, NHL, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: adam taylor, ahl, china, claude lemieux, higashifushimi, san jose, sharks, worcester | Leave a Comment »