One of the four major professional sports in North America, the National Hockey League (NHL) has yet to feature a Korean athlete.
HL Anyang coach Baek Ji-sun, who made his debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and won the Stanley Cup, was a Canadian national, 스포츠토토 while Park Yong-soo, who briefly played alongside Baek in 1994, was a U.S. national.
These are the only two “Korean” players to ever play in the NHL.
Shin Sang-hoon, a 29-year-old goalie representing South Korea’s men’s ice hockey team, is currently in the United States trying to become the first Korean-born NHLer.
“My goal is to play in the NHL,” he said in an interview with the NHL’s official website on March 23 (KST). I want to set an example for younger players in Korea to look toward a bigger stage.”
A graduate of Jungbu High School and Yonsei University, Shin joined Anyang Halla (now HL Anyang) in 2014 before joining the Atlanta Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), the third tier of North American professional ice hockey, last September.
[Photo courtesy of Anyang Halla Ice Hockey Club. Resale and DB prohibited].
After playing in Atlanta during the 2021-2022 season, when the Ice Hockey Asia League was suspended due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Shin briefly returned to the HL’s Anyang before taking on the challenge of playing in the United States.
He made his presence felt in the ECHL this season with 30 goals and 22 assists.
Atlanta head coach Jeff Pyle said, “He doesn’t miss the little things, he skates well, and he’s a great teammate. He had a great second half.”
The North American professional ice hockey league consists of the National Hockey League (NHL), followed by the America Hockey League (AHL) and the ECHL.
The top team in the ECHL, Atlanta, is the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL, and the top team in the NHL is the Arizona Coyotes.
Baek Ji-sun, the first Korean to play in the NHL, supported Shin’s dream of making it to the ECHL last year, even though the Asian League was in full swing.
“He’s a talented player,” Baek said. There’s a DNA in Koreans to never give up,” Baek said. “He had a great year with the goal of playing in the NHL one day. We don’t know if it’s going to happen, but it’s real in his heart.”
“The young Korean players will be watching him play. I would advise him to work hard, but also to enjoy the experience of life at this moment.”