Continuing on our world travels through BC Hockey League players past and present, our journey stops over in the wonderous continent of Asia. The BCHL has had at least nine players from three of Asia’s most prominent countries.
Some had long-lasting careers in both league and international play, while others played their junior career then went on to prosper in another field. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it with players with the starting four players from Asia.
Enchanting the Middle Kingdom
China has had three players enter the BCHL within the last decade, making it one of the last international countries to have a player join the BCHL. One of the three was active with the Victoria Grizzlies as recently as the 2020-21 season.
Starting things off for China is Zimeng Chen, who also goes by the name of Simon Chen. He first joined the league in the 2016-17 season with the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Playing defense for the Caps, Chen got into in 52 games and posted three points. He also played in all four of Cowichan’s playoff games.
Chen returned to the Capitals for the following season and once again played in 52 games. Chen improved his point production by netting two goals and helping out nine others. The Caps finished with an underwhelming 10-41-2 record in the Island Division and missed the playoffs. Chen continued his hockey-playing career until 2019-20, last suiting up for Tsen Tou Jilin of the Supreme Hockey League.
The next player to enter the league did so very momentarily. Julius (Dehan) Zhang dressed once for the Nanaimo Clippers before playing internationally for China’s hockey team.
Zhang has resided in China ever since, joining up with the Kontinental Hockey League’s Kunlun Red Stars organization. He played for their junior and Beijing teams before joining Zimeng Chen for Tsen Tou Jilin in 2019-20. Fun fact I also went to high school with Julius. He is a hilarious guy!
— Richmond News (@TheRichmondNews) November 24, 2020
The last player just wrapped up his career in the league. As I mentioned before, Juncheng Yan, better known as Eddie Yan, plays for the Victoria Grizzlies. Yan first joined the 2018-19 roster as a winger and netted five goals and five assists in 41 games in his rookie season.
In the 2019-20 season, Yan had 11 points in 27 games. He produced his best season yet in the Port Alberni pod this season, averaging nearly a point-per-game with 19 points in 20 games, fourth on the Grizzlies in scoring.
The Land of the Rising Sun
Japan has had another four players join the BCHL in its 59 years of activity. But, shockingly enough, Japan was the first Asian country of record to have a player skate in the BCHL.
Although there is not much info on his playing career online, Tsyoshi Adaika joined the 1983-84 Merritt Centennials for five games.
The next player from Japan to join the BCHL is quite possibly the most prominent goaltender from the nation to join the league. Dusty Imoo played five games in Summerland in 1985-86 before suiting up in 24 games for the Kelowna Packers during the 1986-87 season.
Imoo posted a 17-3 record with a .901 save percentage and a 3.10 goals-against-average during his time with Packers. He then went on to play four years in the Western Hockey League for the New Westminster Bruins, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Regina Pats.
Although never making it to the big leagues, Imoo played in three World Championships and one Olympic Games for Japan in the 1990s.
Dusty Imoo played pro hockey for 15 seasons at various levels and was in net for Japan at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics pic.twitter.com/hEB4k5Bvcc
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) October 22, 2016
He played 13 seasons of hockey in Japan, first suiting up for the Seibu Bears Tokyo of the Japanese Ice Hockey League. He played for the Bears from 1994 to 2002.
After that, Imoo joined the Oji Eagles of the Asia League for the last three seasons of his career. Today you may recognize Imoo as the Los Angeles Kings goalie development coach.
In the 1999-00 season, Kenji Miyazaki continued the Japanese tradition in the BCHL. He only played in one game for the Merritt Centennials as an affiliate that season. Miyazaki ended up playing two seasons from 1999-2001 for the Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior League
The last player of Japanese descent to join the BCHL was Simon Denis. He dawned the Burnaby Express jersey for 111 games between 2008 and 2010. Although not a standout offensively for the Express, Denis put up a respectable 42 points in his time with the club.
He left Canada to join the US Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm in the 2010-11 season. After his time in the USHL, he had a thriving university career with Ferris State of the NCAA.
Leaving the Morning Calm
The Land of the Morning Calm is the nickname for one of Asia’s most technologically advanced nations – South Korea. Like China, the two South Koreans who played in the league did so within the last ten years.
Chong Hyun Lee was the first to do so, he joined the 2015-16 Prince George Spruce Kings midway through the season as an affiliate player from the Port Moody Panthers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
He played in 14 games that year and produced five points for the Spruce Kings. In the 2016-17 season, Lee played in 45 games and posted 36 points as a 20-year-old.
Lee continues to represent South Korea in international play. The last season of club hockey Lee played was 2019-20 for the Daemyung Killer Whales of the Asia League.
The most recent player to rep the nation of South Korea is Chong Min Lee, Chong Hyun’s younger brother. Lee joined the league midway through the 2016-17 season, following in his brother’s footsteps as an affiliate player while skating for the Port Moody Panthers.
Unlike Chong Hyun, Chong Min thrived for four seasons in Prince George. He even donned the “A” patch, indicating he was one of the alternate captains for the 2019-20 Spruce Kings.
In 134 BCHL games, Lee produced 62 points making him one of the most prolific players from the continent of Asia to entertain the BCHL masses. Lee currently awaits his debut for the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the NCAA.
Our next stop in our world travels will bring us to Europe. Some of the league’s biggest names have come from European countries and the list of European countries that have played in the BCHL is gargantuan.