Now I have been very good not to bore you with my international hockey fascination this season, even though I might be keeping track more this year than ever. But something happened today that I just have to share, because it could be another 5 years or so before it happens again.
The perennial basement dweller in the Asia Hockey League is China Dragon out of Shanghai, China. How bad are they? Last year, they lost all 42 games. Never even took one to OT. In eight previous seasons, they ran up a record of 8-237-12. And this year, they started out with 9 straight losses. Then, the game before last, on the 23rd, they went to OT, then to the shootout, and THEY WON.
But that's not the Hell froze over moment.
Today, they beat Sang Mu from Korea 9-1. NINE to fricking one! Put this in context:
- last season, they AVERAGED 1.3 goals a game through 42 games.
- The last time they won a non-OT game was 1,769 days ago, on November 28, 2009. One hundred seventy four games ago.
How did they manage to do it? Take advantage of an inferior opponent? Sang Mu was a playoff team last year, and was 2-3-2 this year (which isn't whoppingly good, but better than 0-9-1). No, the secret to their success is their improved goal scoring. They have 33 goals in 11 games; they had 55 in 42 games last year. The heart of this improvement lies with three players- who, amazingly, are 1-2-3 in league scoring.
Number one after the onslaught is Brett Parnham, a 25-y-o Canadian who scored 50 goals in his last year in Canadian juniors, and had a cup of joe in the AHL with Rochester. He had two goals plus the game winner in the shootout, and two scores and 4 assists in the win, to put him at 7-11-18. Second is a 30-y-o Japan native named Masahito Suzuki. He's an 8 year vet of the league, the last five with my Tohoku team, with 75 career goals coming in. He had 3 assists in the first game, and 4 goals in the 9-1 win to put him at 6-7-13. The third member- and second in scoring- is Bin Ishioka, another 30-y-o Japanese with 71 league goals and stints at Seibu, Tohoku, and the last two years with High 1 (BTW, the last team to lose to Dragon.) He had a goal and 2 assists in the 2 games and is now at 5-10-15.
Does this mean a new rebirth for the Dragon? Time will tell. Next goal- to beat their best ever record of 5-25-6 in their first year.