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    Posts Tagged ‘prince rabbits’

    Asia League player movement

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 June 7日 Sunday

    A few of the former Seibu Prince Rabbits players have found new homes this offseason after the team was shut down by its parent company Seibu Holdings. All these players so far are national team players.

    Yosuke Kon, Sho Sato (both forwards) to Oji Eagles, joining former Seibu/Kokudo player Kei Tonosaki on the team.

    Daisuke Obara (forward) to Nippon Paper Cranes, he’ll wear #76 with the Cranes, joining former Seibu/Kokudo forward Chris Yule on the team.

    In addition, productive Nikko Ice Bucks defenceman Takyuki Ono (one of the three on the team to notch over 1o points last season) has signed with Korean powerhouse Anyang Halla (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese players do not count as imports in the Asia League).

    The word is still out on the rest of the Rabbits squad (about half are expected to take up regular jobs within the Seibu Group), and of a possible new club team being founded at Higashifushimi, the former home of the Seibu/Kokudo teams, the chances are slim to nil as there is clear lack of a big time financial backer. And there’s still no word yet on how the new entrant in the league, Tohoku Free Blades, are doing to bolster their currently barebones lineup in preparation for their inaugural Asia League season in 2009-10.

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Fukufuji next season

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 May 24日 Sunday

    First ever Japanese NHL player and ECHL Bakersfield Condors goalie Yutaka Fukufuji has hinted on his blog that he’s looking outside America for a team to play next season. With his former Asia League team Kokudo/Seibu team folded, I’m not sure whether he means a return to Japan (the newly formed Tohoku Free Blades? Very unlikely), move to Europe (ECHL goalie would translate to second division in an elite nation?), or maybe he’s just yanking our chain and is looking into Canada 😛

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Blades the newest AL team!

    Posted by japanstats 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: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    2008-09 AL Season Review

    Posted by japanstats 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:
    • 0809_al_scoring
    • 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.

    186-goalscored

    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.

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    Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa, the playoff MVP, who unbelievably stopped 54 of 56 shots for the game 7 victory.

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    Cranes with the Asia League trophy, congratulations!! (and let’s hope there are at least 7 teams in the league again next season..)

    460-trophy

    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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2009 All Japan Championship details

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 8日 Wednesday

    Not all of them but here they are. 

    Thu 12 Feb. Round 3
    Tomakomai-Komazawa U 7 – 1 Vanguards (Higashifushimi)
    Kansai U 3 – 0 Toyota Hokkaido Centuries (Higashifushimi)
    Waseda U 3 – 1 Hachinohe Kodai1 High School (Shin-Yokohama)
    Meiji U 6 – 1 Tomakomai City Hall (Shin-Yokohama)

    Fri 13 Feb. Quarterfinals
    Seibu Prince Rabbits 7 – 0 Tomakomai-Komazawa U (Higashifushimi)
    Kansai U 0 – 2 HC Nikko Ice Bucks (Higashifushimi)
    Oji Eagles 6 – 2 Waseda U (Shin-Yokohama)
    Meiji U 2 – 4 Nippon Paper Cranes (Shin-Yokohama)

    Sat 14 Feb. Semifinals
    Seibu Prince Rabbits 5 – 4 HC Nikko Ice Bucks (Higashifushimi)
    Oji Eagles 2 – 4 Nippon Paper Cranes (Higashifushimi)

    Sun 15 Feb. Finals/Bronze game
    Bronze: HC Nikko Ice Bucks 2 – 5 Oji Eagles (Higashifushimi)
    Finals: Seibu Prince Rabbits 6 (1-0, 2-4, 3-1) 5 Nippon Paper Cranes (Higashifushimi)

    Scoring:

    Seibu 18:02 Ishioka
    Cranes 27:45 Haratake
    Seibu 30:33 Tanaka
    Seibu 30:43 Prpic
    Cranes 30:59 M. Ito
    Cranes 32:42 Nishiwaki
    Cranes 38:37 Iimura
    Cranes 45:49 Mitani
    Seibu 47:46 Suzuki
    Seibu 52:03 Obara
    Seibu 57:09 Prpic
    —————-

    Tournament MVP: Go Tanaka F (Seibu)

    This year, all quarterfinalists who got to play the Asia League teams were university teams. On the way to the quarters, the uni teams beat a couple of senior amateur teams (Toyota and Tomakomai City Hall) and a high school team from Hachinohe! The high school team beat a Hokkaido senior amateur squad Tadano to get to the quarters, though the high schoolers were seeded above a couple of senior amateur teams. It all concluded with an exciting high scoring final that saw the teams trading leads, and Joel Prpic cashing in with the championship winner with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation.

    Here’s the full results (the JIHF tournament page) in Japanese:
    http://www.jihf.or.jp/jihf/data/schedule.php?id=160

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

    Rescuing the Seibu Prince Rabbits

    Posted by japanstats 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: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    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 »

    Seibu Prince Rabbits on the Globe

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 3日 Friday

    The Asia League Ice Hockey powerhouse Seibu Prince Rabbits folding even made the news in the Globe and Mail (via AP), the Canadian (or Toronto) newspaper.

     TOKYO — The Seibu Prince Rabbits, a Japanese hockey team with a 37-year history, is the latest casualty of Japan’s economic crises.

    The Rabbits were disbanded Tuesday after the club’s parent company, Prince Hotels Inc., was unable to find a new owner.

    Since announcing its withdrawal from the sport in December, the Seibu group held talks with more than 20 companies seeking a buyer for the team but found no takers.

    “I think they could have done more,” Chris Wakabayashi, the team’s Canadian-born coach said Wednesday. “They tried to negotiate with companies to take over the whole team and that’s tough to do in this climate. It seems to me there was no Plan B and I think they just wanted to get out of the sport.”

    Annual costs of running the team were estimated at $5.1-million (U.S.), while the average attendance for games was just 1,000.

    The decision leaves Seibu’s players out of a job. Wakabayashi said about 12 or 15 players on the 30-man roster have a chance of finding a place on other teams in Asia or Europe.

    The Rabbits roster includes Richard Rochefort of North Bay, Ont., and Joel Prpic of Sudbury, Ont.

    http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090401.wsptjapan0401/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home

    What’s surprising is that there were over 20 companies who were in talks (who knows how deep, though probably not very) to take over the team.

    Here’s an official statement from the Asia League chairman, it’s good to know that the league is forward thinking about accepting new teams (ie.  Tohoku Free Blades.)

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

    水野裕子のアイスホッケー

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 1日 Wednesday

    フジテレビのすぽるとのコーナーで一月にタレントの水野裕子が、SEIBUプリンスラビッツと一緒にアイスホッケーに挑戦しました。まあ、全く競技を知らない人にはアイスホッケー入門みたいな感じになれるかな?今日からは無いチームの西武側から参加してスケーティングやシュートの教え役は河合龍一、田中豪、そして長身のジョエル・パーピック。なんだか楽しそうです。もう西武のユニフォームも見れないんだね(といっても近年コロコロとチーム名とユニフォームを変えすぎていて全く愛着は無いのだが…)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 01_日本語, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, random, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Cranes Win! Seibu goes into history

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 26日 Thursday

    Monday 23 March 2009, Higashifushimi, Tokyo.

    sp3230048

    Game 7 of the 2009 Asia League Ice Hockey Finals. The full house witnessed history.

    sp3230052

    This was going to be the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits (formerly Kokudo and Seibu Railway hockey teams) no matter the team won or lost against the Nippon Paper Cranes. The two teams have been waging an epic battle for the championship with Seibu coming back from being down 1-3 in the series to force the deciding game.

    In fact, the Cranes themselves came back from being down 2-3 in their semifinals against Anyang Halla of Korea to reach the finals, and before that they dispatched the other Korean team in the league, High1, in the play-in round of the playoffs with a 2 game sweep (best of 3). Meanwhile, Seibu swept the semifinals against the Oji Eagles, but all games were decided by a 1 goal margin (excluding the empty netters).

    Game 7 started off quickly, like Game 6, on a Cranes goal as Darcy Mitani opened the game in the 4th minute with a power play tally. But unlike Game 6, the first period did not turn into a wild goalfest, and both teams played solidly, though not without chances.

    Crane (and former Seibu/Kokudo) Chris Yule sitting alone in the Cranes bench after the first period.

    sp3230056

    sp3230057

    The Cranes added 2 more goals in the 2nd period and seemingly already wrote the end of the history for the Seibu hockey club. But captain Takahito Suzuki came out huge for Seibu as he scored with 4 seconds left in the period assisted by retiring Kiyoshi Fujita (thanks Ryan! you were the best player in the league for a long time, Theo Fleury of Japan in the best sense, and lots of fun to watch, you’ll be missed) and Daisuke Obara. This was a huge goal as going into the second intermission being 2 goals or 3 goals down makes a massive difference to team morale. 

    sp3230060

    In the third period, Seibu continued to pressure and kept on peppering the Cranes net with shots but Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa totally stood on his head as he saved 54 of 56 shots (!) on net to earn the victory and championship for the Cranes.

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    Congratulations, the 2009 champion Cranes! And thank you Seibu for all the memories! (and hopefully the team will survive in one form or another and elite level hockey will be played in Tokyo next season.)

    Playoff MVP Hisashi Ishikawa who backstopped the Cranes to the championship capped off by his herculean efforts in Game 7. Ishikawa played 14 of the Cranes 16 playoff games, and was a well deserving recepient of the award.

    sp3230088 

    Joel Dyck Oshiro holding up the AL Championship trophy properly (that is, sideways)

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    More random photos and videos from the game follows this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »