Incoming Post-Graduate Misha Song ’16 made waves in the hockey world on Saturday when he became the first ever Chinese-born player to be drafted into the National Hockey League (N.H.L). The 18-year-old was selected by the New York Islanders as the 172nd overall pick in the sixth round of the draft.
During his Andover season, Song hopes to find a collegiate team to play for after graduation, and he will continue to represent China at the international level. He recently captained China’s Under-18 team at the International Ice Hockey Federation (I.I.H.F.) Division II-B World Under-18 Championship.
Song is no stranger to the prep school scene, as he attended Lawrenceville School and captained its hockey team in his senior year in 2015. He tallied three goals and seven assists in 26 games while patrolling Lawrenceville’s backline as a defenseman.
Despite his recent rise to prominence in North American hockey leagues, Song’s hockey career has roots that can be traced back to his hometown of Beijing, China.
“When I was six years old, I kept getting sick as a child, and my mom tried finding a sport for me, and hockey came up,” Song said in an interview with NHL.com. “I tried it out and fell in love with it.”
Despite his early passion for the sport, China didn’t have a great capacity to groom Song as a hockey star. He struggled to find rinks for him to hone his talent and was forced to practice on a speed skating rink at times. According to Song, there were only two rinks in Beijing at the time, and even those rinks did not meet N.H.L. standards.
With Song and his family looking for greater hockey-related opportunities, Song left Beijing when he was ten years old and moved to Ontario, Canada, where he could find not only the facilities he needed for improvement, but also tougher competition.
Song’s selection in the N.H.L. draft will open many doors for China’s developing hockey program and inspire other young Chinese athletes. He has noticed a rapid increase in the interest in hockey in China, a country seeking to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, and is proud to be the trailblazer for hockey in his home country.
“Being the first Chinese player, it’s a lot of pressure from people back home, but good pressure,” Song said in an interview with ESPN. “I hope that will motivate me to become a better player, and hopefully I’ll make them proud.”