BC HOCKEY'S OLYMPIC CORNER: TEAM CHINA, WOMEN'S AND MEN'S TEAM
Photo Credits: Golden Bears & Pandas Athletics / UConn Huskies Athletics / Bob Frid, UBCThunderbirds
By MARIO ANNICCHIARICO
British Columbia’s representation in the men’s hockey portion of the Beijing Olympics isn’t just limited to the Canadian team. Host team China includes 11 Canadian-born players with five from its most western-situated province.
Forward Brandon Yip leads the way as the Maple Ridge native wears the Chinese captaincy for the international tournament. He is joined by centre Luke Lockhart of Burnaby, Vancouver defencemen Jason Fram and Zach Yuen and goaltender Paris O’Brien of Coquitlam.
All of Team China’s roster are members of Kunlan Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League as the team has attempted to bond for the international event on Beijing ice.
The remainder of the roster, outside of the Canadian contingent, is comprised of seven Americans, one Russian and six home-grown Chinese players. Three of the latter have played in the British Columbia Junior League over the last few seasons.
Yip, who has a combined 190 regular-season and playoff contests over parts of six National Hockey League seasons with Colorado, Nashville and Phoenix, recently told reporters that roster diversity has brought the group together.
“An incredible journey,” said Yip, who is proud of his Chinese heritage. “It’s been really great to see a lot of the Chinese national players and a lot of the other heritage players, how much they’ve grown. They’re really turning into some great hockey players, and I think we’ll put that on display.”
One thing Yip - whose full name is Ye Jinguang in Chinese - stressed is he promises his group will leave it all on the ice.
“We’re gonna work our butts off and I think we’re gonna turn some heads,” said Yip, who played in the Ridge Meadow Minor Hockey system then with the Ridge Meadows Flames of the PJHL. He then joined the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL and Boston University, and eventually landed between the NHL and AHL.
Lockhart is a graduate of the Burnaby Minor Hockey system, playing with the Burnaby Bulldogs U15 AAA; Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL and then the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (U Sports).
Fram played his minor hockey in South Delta and had stints with the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BCEHL, Spokane Chiefs of the WHL and the University of Alberta Golden Bears (U Sports), where he won a University Cup Championship.
Yuen grew up in the North Shore Winter Club minor hockey system before also playing with the Greater Vancouver Canadians and then the Tri-City Americans of the WHL, prior to several stops in the ECHL.
O’Brien is a product of the Coquitlam MHA before moving to the Delta Hockey Academy and eventually joining the Kunlun Red Star Jr. program.
The three Chinese nationals with BCHL experience include defenceman Zimeng Chen of the Cowichan Valley Capitals and University of Alabama-Hunstville; and forwards Cory Kane of the Vernon Vipers, Ferris State University and Providence Bruins of the AHL; and Juncheng Yan of the Victoria Grizzlies.
There are also four B.C. representatives on the Chinese women’s Olympic team in goalie Kimberly Newell of the Burnaby Winter Club, who went on to the Kootenay Ice U18 AAA, Princeton University, and Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays in Zhenskaya Hockey League.
She is joined by Camryn Elise Wong of Vancouver who played with the Burnaby Winter Club, West Coast Avalanche (BCEHL), Greater Vancouver Comets (BCEHL), Pacific Steelers (JWHL), University of Connecticut and KRS Vanke Rays.
Leah Lum, of the Richmond MHA and Richmond Ravens Female Hockey Association, played with the Pacific Steelers (JWHL), University of Connecticut, Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of the CWHL and KRS Vanke Rays.
Hannah Miller is a graduate of the North Shore Female Ice Hockey Association and skated with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 Prep, St. Lawrence University, Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of the CWHL and currently is with KRS Vanke Rays as well. Miller scored China’s first goal at the Olympics, which also counted as the first goal or point ever recorded by a B.C.-born female athlete in women’s Olympic hockey.
Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria who has previously covered the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Western Hockey League.