But with only three professional teams competing in the Asia League, there remains a limited number of roster spots available for rookie players coming out of the five Korean universities (Korea, Kwangwoon, Kyunghee, Hanyang, and Yonsei) with hockey teams. One team, Daemyung Sangmu, is comprised of pro players who are serving their two-year compulsory military service.
Now comes a new professional team – Waves Ice Hockey Club, based in Seoul. Waves was founded by former Anyang Halla center Hongil Kim who played for Yonsei University before turning pro in 2003. Kim played eight seasons with Halla, contributing 153 points (49 G, 104 A, +11) and 198 Penalty minutes (PIM) in 227 regular season games. He added nine points (3 G, 6 A) and 10 PIM in 26 post-season contests.
The idea for the new club stemmed from an impromptu visit to the arena in Mokdong where Kim used to play. Although it was past 1:00 am, Kim found over a dozen former university and semi-pro players who were in the middle of playing a game in poor conditions.
After speaking with the players and noting their passion for the game, Kim wondered if he could build a new team and help to develop a new infrastructure – a system that has not been tried before – one that would allow them to continue their pursuit of the game.
Kim began meeting with numerous players and eventually set a goal to give them with the opportunity to play organized hockey in Korea once again. At first, he worried about not being able to guarantee a salary for players until the team found a primary sponsor. But after speaking with the players, he found that their concern was centered on being able to play again rather than how and when they would be paid. The more he met with the players and recognized their dreams and aspirations, the idea to establish the Waves Hockey Club continued to grow and became a reality last October.
Kim put together a staff that includes his former Halla teammate Hansung Kim who will serve as the Waves’ assistant coach. Kim played for Korea University and also went pro in 2003. He played for the ECHL’s Greenville Grrrowl during his rookie season and tallied 16 points (7 G, 9 A) and eight PIM in 32 games. Kim played the next eight seasons with Halla, contributing 136 points (71 G, 65 A, -1) and 135 PIM.
Other staffers include Junsoo Park (Goalie Coach), Minwoo Kim (Public Relations Manager), Yangkil Woo (Marketing Manager), Kyungju Kim (Team Press) and Chaewoo Lim (Photographer).
It’s a unique story – a team built by players, for the players. Through a lot of hard work and perseverance, the dream of a new professional hockey team has come to fruition. Waves Ice Hockey Club will participate in two leagues in 2013 under the auspices of the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) beginning next Monday, November 11th.
The first is the Korea League (11/11-11/18) which includes: Waves, Korea University, Kwangwoon University, Kyunghee University, Hanyang University, Yonsei University.
The second is the 68th Jonghap Seonsukwon Daehoi (11/21-12/1) which includes Korea’s three Asia League teams: Waves, Anyang Halla, High1, Daemyung Sangmu, Korea University, Kwangwoon University, Yonsei University.
The Waves’ inaugural roster includes former players from Korea’s five university and semi-professional teams:
Goaltenders – Seungyup Lee and Seongsoon Park.
Defensemen – Taeho Kim, Youl Han, Samuel Kang, Kyungwoo Lee, Minwoo Kim, Minkyu Kim, Byungwook Hwang, Daeho Oh, Guyong Han and Soonho Kwon.
Forwards – Hyungjong Yong, Donghyun Kim, Sungkuen Lee, Kookil Yoon, Seunghwan Bang, Daniel Kang, Daehun Kwon, Huiju Jeon, Jungwoo Ham, Dongyeon Kim, Hyunmin Kim and Heechol Shin.
The long-term goal of the club is to help ice hockey continue to grow into a popular and influential sport in Korea. They hope to eventually have their own rink and would also like to help develop youth ice hockey to promote the next generation of Korean hockey players.
In the meantime, Waves Ice Hockey Club will build a foundation for the future with their opening contests beginning next week.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter: @prohockeynews