Day: February 24, 2017

S. Korea defeats Japan for 1st win in men’s hockey

By Yoo Jee-ho – Yonhap News

South Korea defeated Japan 4-1 for its first victory in men’s hockey at the Asian Winter Games on Friday.

Four different players scored for South Korea, and goalie Matt Dalton turned in a solid performance at Tsukisamu Gymnasium, as South Korea evened its record at 1-1.

South Korea will close out the Winter Asiad against China at 9 a.m. Sunday. Japan will play Kazakhstan in the finale, also on Sunday. The top three teams after the round robin play will emerge as the medalists.

Kazakhstan leads the tournament with two victories. South Korea and Japan both have a win and a loss, but South Korea is in second place thanks to its superior head-to-head record.

Mathematically, South Korea still has a shot at winning gold here — which would be its first for an Asian Winter Games — but will need plenty of help from other nations to win the tiebreaker.

At the previous Asian Winter Games in 2011, Kazakhstan won the gold, with Japan and South Korea winning silver and bronze, respectively.

South Korea, ranked No. 23, has now beaten the 21st-ranked Japan in three straight games, after suffering 19 losses and one tie in 20 previous meetings.

South Korea began the Asian Games here with a 4-0 loss to Kazakhstan Wednesday, a game that was even more lopsided than the score indicates. And the one that beat Japan seemed to be an entirely different team, as it played with far more oomph and chutzpah.

South Korea opened the scoring at 9:33 in the first, with Seo jumping in on an odd-man rush and beating goalie Yutaka Fukufuji with a slap shot from the right slot.

After a nifty outlet pass, Shin Hyung-yun sprinted up the middle and found defenseman Seo Yeong-jun charging down the right wing. Seo then sent a rising shot that zipped past Fukufuji over his right shoulder.

South Korea spent the majority of the first period in the Japanese zone, as the forwards frequently outmuscled the opposing defenders on forechecks and stripped them of the puck when Japan tried to mount counterattacks.

Japan came out in the second period with a little more juice, but South Korea quickly regained control. Japanese players then started taking some dumb penalties — four alone in the second period — and forward Michael Swift made them play with a power-play goal at 9:49.

With one second left in the second power play of the period, Swift beat Fukufuji with a wrister from the left wing. The forward appeared to have no angle, but somehow squeezed one past the Japanese goalie on the stick side.

South Korea went up 3-0 at 12:04 in the third, as forward Kim Won-jung, all alone at the top of the crease, deflected a point shot by defenseman Kim Won-jun.

Japan, after peppering shots at Dalton for the better part of the final period, finally solved the goalie at 15:53, with Hiroki Ueno banging home a rebound from the point-blank range.

South Korea killed a late penalty, and after Japan pulled Fukufuji for an extra attacker, Park Woo-sang scored one into the empty net to seal the deal.

South Korea was missing No. 1 line forward Michael Testwuide, who hurt his left shoulder in a collision with Kazakhstan goalie Vitaliy Kolesnik on Wednesday. Testwuide has been ruled out of the Asian Games.

Ed Willes on Barry Beck and building hockey in Hong Kong: ‘I went to Templeton high school and I never thought of Asia’

By Ed Willes – The Province

Stan Smyl arrived before the appointed hour and was taking in the sights and sounds in Kowloon when he saw his old friend wading through the crowd.

He was older, to be sure, but the frame, the presence, were unmistakable. The setting? That was a little different, but the man Smyl had known for over 40 years had always wanted to find his place in the game.

He just found it in another world. Literally.

“It was Bubba,” said Smyl, the Canucks’ director of player development.

And Barry Beck was home.

Beck, the legendary defenceman of a bygone era in the NHL, has spent the last decade in Hong Kong, where he’s become the driving force behind the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey and, by extension, the nascent hockey program in the Chinese territory. Starting with 10 registered players in the metropolis of seven million, the academy has grown to more than 500 players with age-group programs ranging from five- and six-year-olds to high school teams and, ta-da, the Hong Kong national team that competes in Division III at the IIHF world championship.

Beck has since stepped down as the national team head coach, but last spring he took them to the world championship in, of course, Istanbul, where they finished fifth in their six-team pool, largely because Georgia was disqualified for an eligibility transgression.

He’s also retired from the full-contact men’s league — please consider the image of the former blue-line terror playing in a Hong Kong recreation league — because a) his body couldn’t take the grind, b) he has five stints in his heart and c) he was suspended “a couple of times.”

My office told me maybe it was time to quit,” Beck says in a phone conversation from Hong Kong. “I think they were doing me a favour.”

He continues.

“I went through different stages in my life, but to me it was all growing experiences to take me where I am now. It was a different era (in his playing days) and a lot of things were around. But they never altered my decision-making.

“I’m still competitive and I get to coach kids in a competitive environment. I think we’re building something here and I always think of Ernie (McLean, who coached Beck and Smyl on the fabled New Westminster Bruins team of the late ’70s). He did so much for us as players and men, I try to use the same things he taught us.”

Barry Beck, first row, third from left, sits with the Hong Kong men’s national
team at the 2014 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Beck was brought to Hong Kong 10 years ago through a Vancouver connection with Thomas Wu, a local businessman who was interested in starting the academy. His position has since taken him all over Asia, including the Chinese hockey hot-bed in Harbin, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. He’s also travelled to Russia, the Czech Republic and taken the national team to Luxembourg. This summer he’s taking a group from the academy to Boston University, where they’ll rub elbows with the 40 or so NHLers who train at BU.

“I think about it,” Beck says of his long-strange trip. “Growing up in Vancouver, I mean I’d go to Chinatown, but I went to Templeton high school and I never thought of Asia as a destination.

“To me, this has been more of a spiritual journey.”

Still, that journey has placed Beck at a critical moment in the game’s development in Asia. The Winter Olympics are set for South Korea in 2018, where former NHL defenceman Jim Paek has helped build a competitive program, and Beijing for 2022.

The Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings are scheduled to hold training camps in Beijing this fall and play a couple of exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai, where the Anschutz Entertainment Group owns the Mercedes-Benz Arena. AEG owns the Kings and Beck has talked to his old Kings teammate Luc Robitaille, now the Kings’ president of business operations, about growing the game in China. The Boston Bruins are also running youth programs in Beijing. The Islanders and their owner, Charles Wang, are involved in Harbin. Then there’s the Canucks’ connection.

“The hockey world is changing,” Beck said.

And he’s changed with it.

If you’re unfamiliar with Beck, the player, think of a cross between Scott Stevens and Brent Burns and you’d be close. In his rookie year with the Colorado Rockies, Beck scored 22 goals. Two years later, he was traded to New York for five players and would be named the Rangers’ captain during the height of their rivalry with the Isles

Sadly, Beck could never stay healthy enough to fulfil his limitless promise. The temptations of Manhattan also distracted him from his purpose and the hockey world never really saw the best of Beck.

“When he was traded to the Rangers I thought, ‘Oh, oh,’ ” Smyl said, before adding. “I know everyone goes through hard times and goes through different phases in their lives, but I’m so happy he’s found himself. He absolutely loves it there. He’s at peace with everything and he’s making a difference. He’s always been a friend.”

And always will be, even if he’s a world away.

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