Earlier this month I was given the opportunity to capture game action between the Edmonton Girls Hockey Association (EGHA) and Harbin (China) Sport School in exhibition hockey. EGHA would have the PeeWee Swarm, Bantam Sabres and Bantam Inferno take on the young Chinese hockey team who were also involved in attending Wickfest, the Canada vs United States women's hockey game and various hockey sessions such as skating with Serdanchy Power Skating in Edmonton.
Harbin is located approximately 1,200 kilometres north east of Bejing in the Heilongjang province. The capital city of the province is home to 10,500,000 people with hockey becoming a growing interest in the area. There is a good relationship between Canada and China in terms of hockey development with various Chinese teams training and playing games in Canada to develop their hockey skills for events as big as the Olympic games and international junior hockey tournaments. There are multiple news stories about the game of hockey growing throughout China, moving from something people did on frozen lakes, to now most large cities having multiple hockey rinks like the 14 spread out across Beijing accommodating 2,500 hockey players. The 2022 winter Olympics are right around the corner and China is looking to groom skilled hockey players for the event. The National Hockey League held their first ever games in China this season, as the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played a couple of exhibition games in September.
It was amazing to be a part of the exhibition series and capture the joy of amateur hockey at a grass roots level. Skill development and knowledge of the game are two things that are at the forefront of coaches minds at this level of hockey, but the passion and excitement for the game is as high as it is in any level of hockey I've seen.