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 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)
The Blades have also acquired Chris Wakabayashi the former manager of Seibu Prince Rabbits as its Head Coach to assist Manager Keisuke Araki.
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: free blades, hachinohe, hashimoto, Ice Bucks, kikuchi, koriyama, nikko, offseason, tochigi, tohoku, wakabayashi | Leave a 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 »