When the Chinese Ice Hockey League (CIHL) began five years ago, 80 percent of the players were expats.
“Taiwanese players make up about 35 or 40 percent now,” said Dave Campbell, the league’s vice commissioner.
“The new kids coming up are in shape and fast and they keep their heads up. It’s kind of a shift from the previous generation,” he said, adding that a larger local fan base has accompanied the increase in the number and quality of local players.
“For the foreigners, it’s generally the expat, English-teaching and beer-swigging crowd. But for the Taiwanese, especially with the kids, they will bring their families out,” he said.
Spectators will get to see both expats and Taiwanese take to the ice this weekend as four teams compete in the league’s semifinals. The first game begins tonight at 9:15pm when the top-seeded Taipei Rhinos face off against the Taipei Wolves, which finished sixth place in regular season play. Immediately following the one-hour game, the second-ranked Hsinchu Raptors play Taichung Lions, seeded fourth. That game begins at 10:45pm.
All games will be played at Taipei Arena and admission is free.
Tomorrow night’s games begin when the Lions face off against the Raptors at 9:15pm, followed by the Rhinos playing the Wolves. If teams tie tomorrow with a victory apiece, the action will continue on Sunday, beginning at 7:15pm.
The teams that prove their mettle on the ice this weekend will move on to the championships, which begin on May 1.
More local players means more teams, Campbell said. This year there were nine teams compared to eight last year. The league began five years ago with four.
WHAT: Chinese Ice Hockey League (CIHL), semifinal series
WHERE: Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋), 2, Nanjing E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市南京東路四段2號)
WHEN: Tonight and tomorrow from 9:15pm. In the event of a tie, games will be played on Sunday beginning
ON THE NET: www.cihl.com.tw/international
Campbell said that Sababa Pita Bar will serve snacks tomorrow night.