The South China Ice Hockey League (SCIHL) held its 6th annual draft since the league’s reformation in 2015. Paired with the China Hockey League (CIHL) draft and hosted by the China Hockey Group in their Central showroom with beer provided by sponsor Sapporo, it was a lively and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone involved. The CIHL draft preceded the SCIHL draft, and is Hong Kong’s premier ice hockey league.
Team sponsors for the SCIHL this year include the ever present Sam Wai and Bravo, managed by Keith Fong and Scott Yang respectively. Sponsors China Hockey Group (Jackie Chan), InetAsia (Allan Yee) and Sapporo (Paul Chai) also return to the league for upcoming 2020/21 season, while new sponsor JOG Sports managed by rookie GM Jason Klotz join the league. Outgoing GM and world traveler Don Ho has been appointed as a league consultant.
Hosted by SCIHL Commissioner Art Tam and Deputy Commissioner Grant Phillips, the draft kicked off with no surprises as CHG selected Michael Yoshino first overall. This is the third year in a row that Yoshino has been taken first overall in his three seasons of playing in the league. Ex-South Africa national team player Francois Esterhuizen was selected 2nd overall by InetAsia, followed by league newcomer Brad Wilson who joins Bravo after playing in Singapore the previous season. GM Klotz is JOG Sports first round pick and 4th overall. Another league newcomer in Swede Jonas Gullstrand was taken 5th overall by Sapporo, while speedy Hong Kong legend Terence Chim completed the first round by being taken by Sam Wai with the 6th overall pick.
The second round consisted of a bunch of what would be considered “safe” picks as Jim Wong (7th overall, Sam Wai), Justin Kuok (8th overall, Sapporo), Doug Lightbound (9th overall, JOG Sports) and Leon Mo (11th overall) all returned to GMs that they have played with before. Stalwarts and ex-teammates Gabe Fairbrother (10th overall, Bravo) and Dennis Toews (12th overall, CHG) completed the second round.
With the deep goalie pool this year, the first goaltender was not chosen until the 6th round where perennial top goalie selection Grant “G-Force” Phillips was snapped up by Sam Wai. Brick wall Kevin Rushton was the next goalie selected and will experience a team other than Sapporo for the first time in 4 years, the longest run for a goalie with the same team in the modern day SCIHL; as JOG Sports snapped him up in 6th round.
Overall an exciting and memorable draft day, which concluded with 6 evenly matched teams ready to battle it out for the next SCIHL title. Back-to-back champions Sam Wai will be looking to make it an unprecedented 3 championships in a row, while CHG GM Jackie Chan will be looking to avenge last year’s finals loss. We look forward to the upcoming season played at Elements ice rink and would like to thank all the sponsors for their continued support, especially in these tough times.
A special thank you to hosts China Hockey Group for hosting the draft and your continued support of the league.
To follow the SCIHL and CIHL, you can visit their websites or download their respective league apps on iOS and Android.