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Nat’l hockey captain to try out for Beijing team

Apr 27,2019
Korean men’s hockey captain Kim Sang-wook will knock on the door of a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) club in China next month, the sport’s national federation said Friday.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) said Kim, 31, will participate in the tryout camp for Beijing-based Kunlun Red Star in the KHL, considered the most competitive circuit outside the National Hockey League (NHL). No Korean has yet made it to the KHL.

Kim is currently in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division I Group A tournament, which starts Monday. It’s the second-highest level of the IIHF World Championships, and the top two finishers in the six-nation tournament will be promoted to the top-tier world championship for 2020. The worst team in Nur-Sultan will be relegated to Division I Group B next year.

The tournament concludes May 5 and the KIHA said Kim will travel to Beijing four days later for the tryout.

The KHL is made up of 25 clubs from seven nations: 19 teams in Russia and one each in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.

Kim, who plays for Korea’s Anyang Halla in the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH), has been one of the country’s top offensive weapons since making his senior team debut in 2011.

The highly-skilled forward was named the 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year in the ALIH, and had a short loan stint with HC Keski-Uusimaa in Finland’s second-tier league, Mestis, in the second half of 2012.

Upon returning home, Kim blossomed into one of the Asian league’s best forwards. His development culminated with becoming the regular season MVP during the 2016-2017 season. Kim won the league scoring title with 14 goals and 54 assists for 68 points while playing in all 48 games, making him the first Korean to top the ALIH in points.

Kunlun Red Star joined the KHL in the 2016-2017 season. In 2018-2019, they finished 11th among 13 Eastern Conference teams and missed the playoffs.

Though based in China, Red Star is made up almost entirely of non-Chinese players. Of the 40 players who dressed for the 2018-2019 season, only two were Chinese, and they combined for just two games.

The KIHA said if Kim fails to make Red Star, he’ll then try to join the Czech Extraliga, the top competition in the Czech Republic.