FILE - Russia hockey club Amur Khabarovsk's Danil Faizullin, left, tries to score against Kunlun Red Star's goalie Jeremy Smith, center, on Nov. 15, 2021. Host China has finalized its roster for the men's hockey tournament at the Beijing Olympics. American Jeremy Smith is expected to be China's starting goaltender. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
BEIJING – Host nation China has finalized its roster for the men’s hockey tournament at the Beijing Olympics, which includes a dozen players from North America, including Greek-American Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios’ son Jake.
American Jeremy Smith is expected to be China’s starter in goal. Fellow U.S. players on the roster include defenseman Jake Chelios and forward Cory Kane.
Canadian Brandon Yip, who has Chinese ancestry, was also named to the team after being captain of Kunlun Red Star in the Russia-based KHL that served as a proxy for China’s national team. Defensemen Ryan Sproul, Ty Schultz, and Jason Fram, forwards Spencer Foo, Parker Foo, Ethan Werek, Tyler Wong, and Luke Lockhart, and goaltender Paris O’Brien are the other Canadians on the roster.
Arizona State University’s Peter Zhong, who was born in Beijing and began playing hockey in the U.S., is one of the youngest players on the team. Eddie Yan was born in Toronto and played for China in under-20 tournaments in recent years.
There are eight homegrown Chinese players on the 25-man roster: forwards Jianing Guo, Xudong Xiang, Rudy Ying and Zesen Zhang, defensemen Zimeng Chen, Ruinan Yan, Pengfei Zhang and goaltender Pengfei Han.
“Chelios, who played in college at Michigan State and appeared in 61 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins and five games for the Detroit Red Wings in 2018-19, has been playing for Kunlun Red Star, a Beijing-based team in Europe’s Kontinental Hockey League,” MLive reported on January 27, adding that “every member of China’s team has played for Kunlun Red Star since it made it easier for players with no Chinese heritage, such as Chelios, to become eligible to represent China at the 2022 games.”
“China, ranked 32nd in the world, was given a spot in the 12-nation Beijing Olympic tournament as host nation without having to qualify,” MLive reported, noting that “China is grouped with the U.S., Canada, and 2018 Olympic silver medalist Germany, and even with NHL players out of the competition due to COVID-19, China will be an extreme long shot to earn any points.”
Kunlun Red Star posted about the team roster on Twitter: “25 #KRS players are about to make history by representing #TeamChina at #Beijing2022 Winter Olympic Games!”
China’s first Olympic hockey team will make its debut on February 10 against the United States.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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