Youth Hockey League (Asia Region) holds final stop at Beijing
Hong Kong players perform during KHL game intermission
Echoing the sentiment in supporting the winter sports development in China, Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey (HKAIH) and the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club (HKAHC) re-launched the Youth Hockey League (Asia Region), also known as AYHL, in 2016. With the re-launch, we have invited NHL Alumni Association to be the partnering organization of the league with the vision to pass on ice hockey knowledge and culture and to provide teamwork experiences for players. The 2016-17 Youth Hockey League (Asia Region) has travelled to Shanghai, Taipei, and just had the final stop at Beijing from January 14-16, 2017. At each stop, ice hockey activities and workshops were arranged aiming to enrich young players, casual fans and spectators with unique hockey experience.
Participants of the AYHL are aged between 8-10 from six cities - Beijing (HOKAY Ice Centre), Harbin (Harbin Future Stars Hockey Club), Hong Kong (Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey), Shanghai (FeiYang Skating Center), Taipei (Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey School), Wuhan (Wuhan Dragons Ice Hockey Club).
At the Shanghai stop, we had the pleasure to have NHL Hall-of-famer Mr. Lanny McDonald, professional KHL player Mr. Zachary Yuen, and myself, former N.Y. Rangers Captain Barry Beck to form the coach team for the hockey clinic. Lanny was a tough opponent and Stanley Cup Winner, and at the clinic, he has wonderfully ingrained ice hockey with Chinese traditional values during this unique experience in Shanghai. He emphasized teamwork, perseverance and dedication to the five hockey clubs in China. This provided an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange not only between the junior players, but also between the coaching staff from different Chinese cities. Youngsters can learn and benefit from both Western and Chinese teachings in terms of sports culture.
To promote ice hockey knowledge from seasoned professionals to the young players, an ice hockey exchange clinic was arranged during the Taipei stop for the participants of AYHL to learn from the pros – NHL Alumni Association members myself, former Edmonton Oilers member Doug Lynch, Russian coach Nikolaev Vladimir, coach of the Chinese Taipei National Team Ryan Lang, along with former Chinese Women Ice Hockey Team member Tan Anqi, to lead players through an intensive ice hockey clinic to train the players both mentally and physically for the games.
On January 14, players from the AYHL were invited by the HC Kunlun Red Star to watch their KHL game live at LeSports Center, playing against Dinamo Minsk, and AYHL players performed during the intermission period for the audiences in the stands. I also had the honour to participate in the drop puck ceremony before the game alongside Ms. Emma Liao, CEO of the HC Kunlun Red Star. It was great to watch the game live from the VIP lounge. The AYHL Gala Dinner was also held on the same day and Zachary Yuen, current player of the Kunlun Red Star, along with a few of his teammates, joined us at the dinner and was our special lucky draw presenters that evening. Young players had the chance to chat with and take photos with them and everyone had a great time. I remember Zachary was also part of our HKAIH coach team during our first stop in Shanghai and now he’s back to help out at our Beijing stop despite his busy schedule, it was great to see our young friend do well in his hockey career!
After 3 days of intense games, the Beijing team won the Champion title of the AYHL and brought home the gold medals.
Sports exchange is an important part of international cultural exchange. In fact, the NHL and KHL are the top two professional hockey leagues in the world. With the perseverance from our team, we look forward to having more chances to bring our players to see the world.
Former Captain of the New York Rangers