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    Martin Kariya

    Posted by japanstats 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 »

    Bucks acquire 6 Seibu veterans

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 June 28日 Sunday

    The Nikko Ice Bucks of Asia League Ice Hockey has acquired six veterans from the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits. The new players include Japanese national team captain Takahito Suzuki, national team goalie Naoya Kikuchi, defencemen Kazuyoshi Yamaguchi, Tomohito Okubo, and Masahiro Kawamura, as well as forward Tomohiko Uchiyama.

    This basically gives the Bucks an entirely new and capable first set with a national team goalie and makes them instant playoff contenders instead of fighting to escape the cellar with the China Sharks. No word on what the new players will get paid but they are likely taking a significant pay cut as the Bucks operate at about 2-oku yen ($2m) budget while Seibu ran with about 5-oku ($5m).

    All the newcomers are 29 or older, so the Bucks will be looking for immediate results. Suzuki had received offers from other teams, but settled with the Bucks who are coached by his childhood friend and former Toyo University teammate Tadahiro Murai. Okubo and Yamaguchi had previous stints with the Bucks, four and six years ago, respectively. All but Okubo have national team experience, this instantly increases the number of national team players on the Bucks from zero to five.

    2008-09 regular season stats

    Suzuki 36GP, 16G+29A=45P (6th, 4th, and 4th in the league)

    Uchiyama 36, 7+8=15

    Okubo 36, 4+18=22 (expect this offensive defenceman to quarterback the powerplay)

    Yamaguchi 35, 1+2=3

    Kawamura 22, 4+9=13

    Kikuchi 32GP, 90.5 SV%, 2.85GAA

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    Seibu oldtimers game and AL’s future

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 3日 Friday

    On 28 March 2009, as part of the Seibu Prince Rabbits fan appreciation day, there was a Seibu Railways (Polar Bears) – Kokudo (Bunnies) oldtimers game (Seibu Prince Rabbits are a result of the merger between Seibu Railways and Kokudo teams, both owned by the Seibu Group, in 2003. In fact, the Seibu Railway team split into Kokudo in 1972, shortly after the club was formed in 1966, a now jailed Tsutsumi CEO project, he was a huge hockey fan who even took Daisuke Matsuzaka to a Seibu hockey game shortly after he was drafted to the Lions).

    Here are some great photos and story (Japanese) from the oldtimers game. The advert-less unis look wonderful, as the old rivals squared off for one last time. There were 44 Seibu oldtimers and 29 Kokudo seniors. Seibu had a ringer in current Nikko IceBuck Hideji Tsuchida (sorta like Mark Messier in the Canadiens v Oilers oldtimers superstars match while he was still an active Ranger). The oldtimers game ended in a fitting 5-5 tie.

    Apparently more than 20 companies made inquiries about taking the Rabbits off Seibu’s hands, but the 5-oku (~$5m) operating cost and average attendance of 1,000 was the deal breaker (in the 70s(?) hockey was able to draw crowds of 10,000 at Yoyogi Arena). Though I doubt that any of the discussions went too deep, because it’s possible to run an Asia League hockey club on less than half that budget, like the Nikko IceBucks are doing. Something tells me that Seibu wanted to get rid of its hockey arm, as part of eliminating the Tsutsumi colours, what with the former group president being convicted for large scale fraud. (And I suspect that’s the similar reasoning behind the Saitama Seibu Lions moving away from the sky blue and Osamu Tezuka Leo logo towards almost-black navy and the weird lion palm and baseball logo, though the faux-Detroit Tigers unis are classy.)

    Here’s the official statement from the AL Chairman about Seibu folding. The one positive is that he mentions that the league is rather positive about accepting new teams into the now 6 team league (same size as the old Japanese Ice Hockey League). This is good news for the Tohoku Free Blades who have an exhibition game against the Oji Eagles  on 5 April at 13:00 at the Bandai Atami Ice Arena in Koriyama, Fukushima (one of the Blades’ home towns). The Blades have already played an exhibition match against the AL last place team Nikko, so the increasing involvement with AL teams is positive development for the Blades to join the AL. (I’m also hoping that the western Japan powerhouse Surpass Kagawa will eventually join the AL as well, but there are no current rumours.)

    So, there’s a decent chance that the AL will still be a 7 team league next season, despite being weakened by the loss of Seibu (though this opens the door for the Korean and Chinese teams, which is a welcome change). Apparently 12-15 Seibu players have a chance of catching on with another team in Asia or Europe next seasons, others are likely to become regular Seibu Group employees. Though with the lack of funding for the Blades, they look unlikely to be taking on the expensive Seibu players.

    A short Q&A was held with the Seibu hockey club owner (president) Koyama on 31 March when the official team folding was announced. Here’s the abridged version (full version in Japanese here).

    Q: What was the reasoning behind the timing of this press conference?

    A: Each team must submit player transfer/release list by mid-April, hence the timing.

    Q: How will the players be treated going forward?

    A: Individual interviews will be conducted with each player during April. The key question is whether players want to keep on playing hockey or joing the company (Seibu) full-time and start working on regular jobs. We will support the players as much as possible.

    Q: What are the specific plans to support the players?

    A: Players will be able to stay in the team dorm until July. Request has been made to the company so that the (semi-pro) players will be given a 2 year sabbatical from the company to pursue their hockey careers if that is their wish.

    Q: What will happen to company referees and coaches who contribute to the AL?

    A: Immediately pulling them out will cause trouble for the league, so we are in discussion with officials such as the federation for their future. The rink (Higashifushimi) will continue to operate as usual (as the home of the women’s Princess Rabbits team, figure skating, and public skating.)

    Q: What were the reactions inside the company regarding the hockey team folding?

    A: The company itself is undergoing major restructuring, so this issue went rather unnoticed compared to the past.

    Q: How did the discussions go with prospective buyers of the team?

    A: 20 to 25 companies from Tokyo and outside Tokyo expressed interest. They were interested in hockey as a sport, but the average attendance of 1000+ made serious discussion difficult, and ultimately ended in failure.

    Incidentally, 2008-09 average attendance:

    1: Oji Eagles 1498 (all games over 1000)
    2: Seibu Prince Rabbits (attendance boosted after team folding announcement)
    3: Nippon Paper Cranes 1211
    4: Anyang Halla 1052
    5: Nikko IceBucks 1013 (used to have over 4000 supporters when the club first formed 10 years ago)
    6: High1 488 (all tickets are free, but no advertising, sponsor must be loaded)

    7: China Sharks (many comp tickets given out, attracting thousands of fans at some games, hopefully they gained some traction in the Shanghai student town.) 

    Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion, press releases, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Blades and Bucks update

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 2日 Monday

    The Tohoku Free Blades played an exhibition match against the last place Asia League team Nikko Ice Bucks on 28 Feb during the Ice Bucks Fan Appreciation Day. The game was 3 periods of 15 minutes each, and the Bucks won easily 8-3. But the real news was that the Free Blades only had 15 players dressed. 2 goalies, 6 defencemen, and 7 forwards. I assume that the Blades are going to sign the rest of the players during the off season, depending on whether they’re accepted into the Asia League or not (decision on signing imports and their number depends on this). 

    Bucks in black and Blades in grey, not sure if the Blades uniforms are just practice unis or the real thing:



    Also a note of concern was that the Bucks were only able to draw 572 fans to the exhibition match despite it only costing 1000 yen and the event being held on a Saturday. Then Bucks supporters club used to have over 4000 members, but is now hovering around 1000 members. I pray that the Bucks survive (currently they’re carrying more than 100 million yen = $1m in debt on an operating budget of about 250 million yen per year) and that the Blades join the Asia League now that Seibu Prince Rabbits are folding (the best option here would be another company buying the team or it becoming a club team, but this is very unlikely in the current economic climate).

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Japanese hockey wrap

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 February 20日 Friday

    The best-of-3 play-in round between 4th place Nippon Paper Cranes and High1 finished in a blowout for the Cranes, sweeping the series with 5-2 and 8-4 wins. Now the semifinals pits the rested Anyang Halla (the first non-Japanese team to top the regular season standings) against the battle worn Cranes, and soon to fold Seibu Prince Rabbits against the Oji Eagles. They both should be dandy series, and with the balanced schedule this past season, Halla’s record is for real and I’m looking for them progressing to the finals! (And for Seibu to have its last hurrah in addition to them winning the 2009 All Japan Championship in an exciting 6-5 final against the Cranes.) 

    In other Japanese hockey news, with the Seibu group officially pulling the plug on its hockey team, there will be a memorial alumni game to be held at the DyDo Drinco Arena in Higashifushimi, Tokyo, on 28 March. The match should feature Kokudo and Seibu Railway legends such as the Wakabayashi brothers, Herb and Mel.

    And in Harbin 2009 Universiade news, Japan won 3-2 over China, with Eri Kiribuchi notching her first win turning aside 26 of 28 shots in a much better performance from the previous day’s game where she allowed 4 goals on 23 shots against Finland in a shutout loss. Without playing any official games this season, she seems to have secured the starter’s position on Team Japan, way to go Eri! The men were lucklustre in their 1-4 loss to Slovakia on their opening game of the tournament.

    And finally, the newly formed Tohoku Free Blades is going to ice a team for the first time in the next few weeks. First an exhibition match (three 15 minute periods) against the Nikko IceBucks of the Asia League on the Bucks’ fan appreciation day on 11am 28 February at the Nikko Kirifuri Arena. This event will cost 1000 yen and it will be a good measure to see if the team can be competitive in the Asia League. The Blades will also be making an appearance (normal rules) against western Japan amateur powerhouse Surpass Kagawa at 8pm 6 March in Miki City, Kagawa Surpass Sports Center Arena. Let’s hope this helps Blades pass the muster to enter the Asia League, as the uncertain future of Seibu means that a new Japanese team in the league will be a much needed infusion.

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

    2009 All Japan Championship

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 February 14日 Saturday

    The 76th edition of the All Japan Ice Hockey Championships are going on right now in Yokohama and Higashifushimi with the latter being the main venue. The quarterfinals featured 4 university teams against the seeded Asia League teams with Kansai U and Meiji U putting up the best results with 2 goal losses.

    You’ll be able to find the results on this page

    Team pages should have some sort of updates as well





    You can run them through google translate and probably get somewhat of coherent results.

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

    Nikko IceBucks injuries

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 October 1日 Wednesday

    Only 5 games into this 2008-09 AL season (36 games long), the Nikko IceBucks have already been hit by the injury bug in their games against the Seibu Prince Rabbits and the China Sharks. Forward Kojiro Tsuji and Defencemen Keisuke Toda and Toshiaki Okamoto are all out of the lineup for an extended period of time, this came in a crucial period of the Bucks season where the team plays 6 games in the first 12 days of October where a 3 game Korean roadtrip is thrown in for good measure.

    Tsuji is out for 2 months with a spine fracture.

    Toda is out for 3 weeks with a right ankle bone fracture.

    Okamoto is recovering from his left wrist fracture but won’t be able to return to the team for another 2 weeks.

    Since the Bucks have a bare minimum roster of 23 players, and all injured players received significant playing time last season, these injuries have critical impact on the team in a very trying part of their schedule. We’ll see how the team copes with this situation starting with the game against a resurgent and powerful Anyang Halla (their power play firing at 110%, literally, as AL measures PP success against PP time, and Halla have scored 11 PP goals in only 20 minutes of man advantage) tonight at home at Kirifuri Arena.

    Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

    AL 2008 Preseason Wrap

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 September 17日 Wednesday

    The Asia League 2008 preseason schedule in Japan has concluded with a series over games over this past long weekend and here are the results:

    9.14 Seibu Prince Rabbits 6 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2) 3 Nikko IceBucks (@ Higashifushimi, Tokyo)

    The Bucks yet again did not dress their two imports, Mickey Gilchrist and Eric Lafreniere. Let’s hope that’s their missing ingredient for some success in the upcoming AL season. The Bucks only played 2 preseason games against Seibu and lost them both. Seibu went 1-5 in Bayern, Germany in late August and won both games against the Bucks to finish the preseason 3-5 (though, only winning against weaker opposition, so it’s a bit difficult to gauge the now Chris Yule-less Rabbits strength at the moment, I’ll see the 2 teams in action as the 2008-09 regular season opens on the 20th.) 

    80th Hokkaido Ice Hockey Championships (A class)Tsukisamu Arena, Sapporo


    9.13 Nippon Paper Cranes 5 (2-0, 0-0, 3-0) 0 Toyota Jidosha Hokkaido Centuries

    9.13 Kushiro Koseisha IHC 0 (0-2, 0-2, 0-6) 10 Oji Eagles

    As expected, the AL teams totally outclassed their amateur opponents, though Toyota did well keeping things close against the Cranes until the final frame (though I have no idea what kind of lineup the Cranes iced that day).

    3rd place match

    9.14 Toyota Jidosha Hokkaido Centuries 9 (1-0, 4-1, 4-1) 2 Kushiro Koseisha IHC

    Toyota proves once again that they’re the best amateur side on the northern island of Hokkaido.


    9.14 Nippon Paper Cranes 2 (1-1, 0-1, 1-0, 0-1) 3 Oji Eagles

    Eagles squeak by the Cranes in OT to take the Hokkaido Championship.

    33rd Annual Mainichi Cup Oji Eagles v Nippon Paper Cranes @ Tsukisamu Arena, Sapporo

    9.14 Nippon Paper Cranes 2 (0-1, 1-1, 1-0, 0-1) 3 Oji Eagles

    Eagles repeat the feat the very next day in their annual match against the Cranes.

    Eagles look to be in top form already, having gone undefeated in the Anyang Cup then defeating the Cranes in consecutive games. Though the Cranes have added elite point-getter Chris Yule and with the return of Masahito Nishiwaki (ECHL Dayton Bombers last season), they’re also a force to be reckoned with. Hokkaido teams may very well rule the roost again this season (especially with the Cranes going with imports who are veterans with NHL experience, unlike their cheapskate import attempt last season. Cranes were also undefeated in the Anyang Cup.)  

    Coming up, regular season opens on the 20th, so hopefully a season preview post before that, as there has been a fair number of player movements across the league. (Oh, and I also have to prepare for a couple of hockey pool drafts  😛  )

    And in an interesting practice match, the Japanese universiad team defeated Korea’s Yonsei University 2-0 on 9 September in Tomakomai, Hokkaido.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Upcoming AL preseason action in Japan

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 September 11日 Thursday

    After the Seibu Prince Rabbits road trip to Bayern, Germany at the end of last month, followed by their game against the Nikko IceBucks (first of only 2 preseason games for this cash strapped club), and the Anyang Cup held in Anyang (suburb of Seoul) where the other 5 AL teams got to play 3 games each, there’s more Asia League Ice Hockey preseason games this upcoming long weekend before the regular season kicks off on the 20th. 

    Sun 14 Sept 14:00 Nikko IceBucks at Seibu Prince Rabbits @ Higashifushimi, Tokyo

    And a series of games up in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

    80th Hokkaido Ice Hockey Championships (A class) @ Tsukisamu Arena, Sapporo

    Sat 13 Sept 12:00 Nippon Paper Cranes v Toyota Jidosha Hokkaido Centuries

    Sat 13 Sept 15:00 Kushiro Koseisha IHC v Oji Eagles

    Sun 14 Sept 12:00 Bronze medal game

    Sun 14 Sept 15:00 Gold medal game

    Tickets: 1300 in advance, 1500 at door

    33rd Annual Mainichi Cup Oji Eagles v Nippon Paper Cranes @ Tsukisamu Arena, Sapporo

    Mon 15 Sept (holiday) 14:00 Oji Eagles v Nippon Paper Cranes

    Tickets: 1300 in advance, 1500 at door

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

    Nikko IceBucks 2008-09 Changes

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 September 7日 Sunday

    The Nikko IceBucks have welcomed 4 new members to the team for the 2008-09 season. 2 have passed open tryouts and they are defenceman Hiroki Iwasaki (Komadai-Tomakomai – Harrington College, Jr.A) and forward Shoichi Nakanishi (Nikko HS – Waseda Univ). And it’s good news that the team has the financial resources for 2 imports this season, and they are Eric Lafreniere (FRA-1) and his Middlebury (NCAA Div III) teammate for 3 seasons Mickey Gilchrist (AIHL Newcastle North Stars) who absolutely destroyed Aussie competition over the summer by scoring about 4 points a game to win the AIHL scoring title in only 15 games. Lafreniere and Gilchrist are both small but capable forwards and should be well suited for the less physical AL game. The Bucks have a bare minimum roster of 12 forwards, 8 defencemen, and 3 goalies, so player conditioning will be most important as any injury will be devastating to the squad.

    Pictures are small but the Nikko IceBucks have announced their new jerseys for this season

    Also, the Bucks are collaborating with Tobu railways (which connects Tokyo to Nikko), and will wear special Tobu railway uniforms against Seibu (which is sponsored by the Seibu railways). And special wrap Tobu trains will run between Tobu-dobutsu-koen and Nakameguro, starting in late September.

    Preseason finally got under way for the Bucks (latest out of the 7 AL teams) with a 1-3 loss (final goal an emptynetter) today to Seibu who went on an 11 day 6 game training trip to Bayern in Germany late last month.

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