An icy adrenaline rush for Hong Kong's ice hockey players

By John Kang

Forget football or rugby, three Hongkongers have abandoned the typical sports in favour of ice hockey, and they are loving it

By John Kang |

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No one gets given the cold shoulder on the HKAHC Giants team.

Victor Yang, Jonathan Han, and Wan Chun-kit first got into ice hockey for different reasons, but they all stayed on for the adrenaline, brotherhood, and university applications.

"When I was seven, I started figure skating because my sister does it, but then I got bored of it … it was kind of a girly sport since I was skating mostly with girls and there wasn't any teamwork, so I didn't like it," said Victor, who plays defence and goes to Harrow International School. "But my skating coach's cousin was an ice hockey coach, so I got into ice hockey, which is totally different from figure skating, and I liked it."

Chun-kit, who goes to American International School and plays defence alongside Victor, got into ice hockey because his parents wanted him to improve his English. "My English teacher, who's Canadian and was a hockey player, introduced me to the sport," said Chun-kit. "It helped me improve my English because all the coaches are from the US or Canada, and they can only speak English."

And Jonathan, who is the team's goalie, got into the sport because "I was forced by my mother," he joked. "My mother works in the ice hockey industry, so I just got into it. But there are health reasons too, cause I was pretty chubby back then," said Jonathan, who goes to King George V School.

Ice hockey is fast-paced, and one reason why the three continue to play it even though they've already improved their English and lost weight, is for the adrenaline.

"I love the feeling of adrenaline and it makes you think fast, because it's so fast paced," said Chun-kit. However, the speed of the game is sometimes a challenge for those who are new to the sport. "One of the reasons people might not like watching ice hockey is because it's so fast and they don't know what's going on," said Jonathan.

As a goalie, Jonathan might not get to skate around the rink much, and he definitely can't move as quickly as the others with all his protective gear on, but he does get satisfaction elsewhere. "Being a goalie is great if you're a sadist," said Jonathan. "You get that fulfilment when you take away the opponent's hopes of scoring and you please your own team at the expense of the opponent," he explained.

Jonathan Ha (right) just saving some goals.
Photo: HKAHC

"That feeling when you make a good save, and your teammates tap you on the pads, there's nothing like it … you can really feel the friendship."

But with university on their minds, ice hockey offers the boys other advantages, too. "It's a unique sport in Hong Kong, so it's great for university applications," said Victor. "It wasn't the original goal, but it's a good plus."

Chun-kit agrees that this "plus" helps them stand out from the piles of university applications. "It's pretty unusual to play ice hockey here in Hong Kong, so it can help me get a better reputation for colleges in the US, where I want to go for university," he said.

And because it's so uncommon in Hong Kong, there's also a better chance of making it into a team. "The chances of reaching the upper levels of competition are much higher in Hong Kong," said Jonathan. "Especially if you're playing in special positions, like goal … there aren't too many of us with a Hong Kong passport, so it's not saturated and it's easier to get to an international level," said Jonathan.

Victor added: "Ice hockey in Hong Kong is still developing and there aren't a lot of people playing it, but it's good for me because there's less competition."

All three play for the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club (HKAHC) Giants, and Jonathan and Chun-kit played for the U18 national team this year. Last week, they took part in a three-day international amateur ice hockey tournament, the BOCI-Prudential Asset Management 2015 HKAHC Invitational Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament, where they finished with three losses and a draw.

If ice hockey sounds like the sport for you, check out the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club website for the latest Hong Kong events.