(Reuters) - Andong Song made history on Saturday when he became the first Chinese-born player chosen in a National Hockey League draft.
The New York Islanders took the defenseman in the sixth round, with the 172nd overall pick.
“I am the first,” said the 18-year-old Song. “Hopefully, what I want to do is rally people behind me, not focus on myself but do something good for Chinese hockey.”
Born in Beijing, Song began playing hockey in China before his family moved to Canada at age 10 to continue his development in Oakville, Ontario in the Rangers minor hockey system.
Song captained the varsity team at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey last season. He plans to play at Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in the fall in the hopes of earning a hockey scholarship to an NCAA school.
Song, who most admires future Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, also captained China at the IHF Division II-B World Under-18 Championship in March, in which his country’s lone win in five games was over Australia.
Over the two-day NHL draft, which concluded in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday, 211 players were selected. Canada had the most picks selected at 79, followed by United States (55), Sweden (19), Russia (17), Finland (13), Czech Republic (11), Slovakia (5), Switzerland (4), Latvia (3) and one each for Belarus, China, Germany, Netherlands and Ukraine.
Reporting by Tim Wharmby in Toronto. Editing by Andrew Both