ANYANG, Republic of Korea – Defending Asia League Ice Hockey co-champion, Anyang Halla, has signed 21 players thus far in preparation for the upcoming 2011-12 season.
11 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders make up the current roster. The status of center Woo-Sang Park and winger Ki-Sung Kim are expected to be announced soon. Forwards include Han-Sung Kim, Geun-Ho Kim, Won-Jung Kim, Sang-Wook Kim, Sang-Woo Shin, Kwon-Jae Lee, Jin-Ho Jeon and Kook-Hwan Moon, a prospect from Han-Yang University. In addition, Yong-Jun Lee joins the team after four seasons with High1.
Defensemen include team captain Woo-Jae Kim, Yoon-Hwan Kim, Don-Ku Lee, Hyun-Mok Hong, Seung-Yup Lee and prospect Woo-Young Kim from Korea University. Kyung-Won Yoon, who just completed a two-year military obligation, returns for another stint with the club.
Goaltender Hyun-Seung Eum is back for a second season with the club, after two seasons with High1. Sung-Jae Park and Sung-Je Yoo have also signed.
Departures include the “Korean Rocket”, Dong-Hwan Song, the all-time point leader in Korean hockey history. Song has signed with the Nikko Ice Bucks as has defenseman Takayuki Ono, the team’s only Japanese player. Halla also released Kim Hong-Il, who played eight seasons with the club and Mn-Chul Baek, who just finished his rookie season.
For the upcoming season, Halla is allowed three import players, down from four last year. Brock Radunske, who signed the club’s longest contract extension (a three-year deal in early 2009), returns for his fourth season.
Alex Kim, who signed a two-year deal last December, also returns after recovering from a knee injury.
Brad Fast’s status is currently unknown. Fast was sidelined last season, his third with the team, after suffering a hand injury in November. He missed rest of the season and was replaced by Kim.
Two import defensemen will not return. Dustin Wood has signed with HC Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Extraliga. Jon Awe has not been asked to return. Former Halla forward Patrick Martinec, who moved from the ice to the bench last season as an assistant coach, has returned to the Czech Republic to join HC Sparta Praha, one of the most successful and famous clubs in Czech ice hockey history. Martinec spent eight seasons with Sparta Praha early in his 20-year playing career (1994-2001, 2002-03). He played his final five seasons (2005-10) with Halla.
“The contract with Sparta will for sure be a great experience for me,” Martinec said. “It will help me become a better coach. I believe I will maybe come back to Halla one day.”
With their fourth place finish during the regular season, Halla had to face the Oji Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. Halla took two of three games in Japan and upon returning to South Korea, they won the fourth game of the best-of-five series, knocking the Eagles out.
After the Tohoku Free Blades defeated the Nippon Paper Cranes, Halla was set to host them in the first game of the best-of-five championship series, to be played at the Bandai Atami Ice Arena in Koriyama, Japan on March 12th.
Asia League Ice Hockey officials decided to cancel the series following the devastating 9.0 earthquake that struck the island nation on March 11th. Halla and the Tohoku Free Blades were declared co-champions. This was the second consecutive championship for Halla, who defeated the Paper Cranes in the 2010 finals.
Instead of raising a trophy to celebrate their championship, the team took a final photo holding signs of sympathy and encouragement for Japan. The team held a charity game on March 22nd to raise money for Japanese earthquake relief.
In addition to the ALIH championship, the team successfully defended their Korea Domestic Championship title against High1 by defeating them 5-1 in the final game of the week-long tournament last November.
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