China's Hockey 'Ringers' Lose 8-0 in Olympic Debut

15 of 25 players were born overseas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 12:04 PM CST
China's Hockey 'Ringers' Lose 8-0 in Olympic Debut
China goalkeeper Jieruimi Shimisi (Jeremy Smith) reaches for a goal by United States' Brian O'Neill during a preliminary round game at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

China's unusual Olympic men's hockey team had a rendezvous with reality in Beijing Thursday night. The team, described by the Guardian as a "squad of ringers" China put together when the country automatically qualified for the Olympic hockey tournament as host nation but didn't have a team, lost 8-0 to the US. The 25-man team includes 15 foreign-born players: 11 from Canada, three from the US, and one from Russia, per Reuters. Four of them have no Chinese heritage, including former Detriot Red Wings player Jake Chelios, son Hall of Famer Chris Chelios.

On the team sheet, Chelois' name is listed as "Jieke Kailiaosi," while goalie Jeremy Smith, a former Colorado Avalanche player, is listed as "Jieruimi Shimisi." China doesn't normally permit dual citizenship, but Smith told reporters before the Games that he hadn't renounced his US citizenship and nobody had asked him to. The International Ice Hockey Federation says players can represent a country if they have lived there and played in a league for two years. China has no national hockey league, but players were signed to HC Kunlun Red Star, a team created in 2016 that plays in the Russia-dominated Kontinental Hockey League, reports the Guardian.

It took 11 minutes for the US to score against China Thursday. The score would probably have been even more lopsided if the NHL had allowed its players to compete in Beijing. "If it was those kids against the NHL all-stars, it was going to be a total, total massacre," Mark Dreyer, founder of China Sports Insider, tells the New York Times. "It’s hard to overstate that." Some players say they were glad just to have a chance to play Olympic hockey. "I knew I wasn’t making Team Canada, that’s for sure," says 36-year-old NHL veteran Brandon Yip, whose great-grandfather came to Canada from China in the 19th century. The team's next opponents will be Germany on Saturday and Canada on Sunday. (Read more 2002 Winter Olympics stories.)

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