POSTED: June 30th 2015
NewsUpdate

Beijing pride shows at NHL Entry Draft as Andong Song is the first Chinese player to be drafted into U.S. professional ice hockey league

Andong Song entered the history books as the first Chinese player to make the NHL © Mike Ehrmann - Getty Images
Andong Song entered the history books as the first Chinese player to make the NHL © Mike Ehrmann - Getty Images

The draft took place in Sunrise, Florida © Bruce Bennett - Getty Images
The draft took place in Sunrise, Florida © Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

MARISSA FLANDERS (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Last Saturday, all of China was waiting to hear an individual name announced at the 2015 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft. That name was Andong Song. Song was selected in the sixth round, 172nd overall by the New York Islanders. The 18-year old, Beijing native entered the history books as the first Chinese player to get into the NHL.

Song stated, "I am the first...Hopefully what I want to do is rally people behind me. Not focus on myself but do something good for Chinese hockey."

The 6-foot, 161-pound defensemen is not a stranger to playing internationally. The past two years, he has played for China at the International Ice Hockey Federations (IIHF) Division 11-B World Under-18 Championship. This year he served as Captain and China ended up finishing fifth. Song has been playing at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, in 26 games he has recorded three goals and seven assists.

Etienne Bilodeau, the Lawrenceville School coach, had high praise for the young player, "...His game is steady. He has good edge work, handles the puck well and really is very well-positioned all the time in the context of anticipating and knowing how to support the offense and knowing how to take care of his end and to be very reliable on both sides of the puck."

China has been weak when it comes to winter sports. They ended up ranking 12th overall in the medal standings at last year's Winter Olympics (Sochi 2014). However, this didn't hinder Song from falling in love with the sport of hockey, which he stumbled upon almost by accident.

"When I was 6 years old I kept getting sick as a child and my mom tried finding a sport for me and hockey came up," Song continued saying, "I tried it out and fell in love with it."

However, Song didn't have the advantage of having NHL size rinks in the area and had to make do with what he had. To pursue his love of hockey, Song even practiced on oval spaced, speed skating tracks.

As a recent graduate, Song will play next season at Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and will try to get a spot on an NCAA team.

"To be the first Chinese player, it's a lot of pressure from people back home," stated Song, "Good pressure. That'll motivate me to become a better player and hopefully I'll make them proud."

If Beijing were to be awarded the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, their hockey prowess would grow exponentially along with winter sports in general. Song would only be the start of Chinese players to find their way into the NHL.

"There wasn't much support for the game. Last year when I went back, it had been eight years since I'd seen Chinese hockey, and it was tremendous how far it's grown. I'm sure they'll keep trying to catch up to Europe and North America and Russia. There's still a gap between them, but I'm sure if we focus on hockey we can catch up," expressed Song.

 ** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog www.thepenshockeyshow.com.


Keywords · Beijing 2022 · Beijing · NHL · Andong Song · ice hockey · New York Islanders


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