Being a hockey fan in Japan is not an easy thing. Despite living in northern Japan and even playing hockey in Morioka, it is tough to find my hockey fix. However, with the introduction of a new local team, I think I may have just found what I am looking for. The Tohoku Free Blades.
Professional hockey in Japan has had its share of ups and downs over the years. All of the turbulence is due to the fact that hockey is just not a dominant player in Japanese sport. In a country dominate by baseball, sumo and soccer, sports such and volleyball and even handball routine drown ice hockey in the headlines. There is nothing wrong with that. To each their own I say. But there is a core group of fans and players and for the moment, they have the Asia League to turn to.
The AL is league made up of teams from China, Korea and Japan. they play a regular season followed by a brief playoff tournament. A northern team based out of Hachinohe joined the league last year. They are called the Tohoku Free blades, and they represent my area. I got the chance to see a game when they came to Morioka earlier this year. They played ‘Halla Korea’ the eventual season champions. They lost the game, but it was a fairly exciting game . I would compare it to tier 2 Junior hockey back in Canada, though it did have its Major junior moments. There was even a nice fight that broke out.
Given the instability of the league at moment, I am not going to hold my breathe on how long it was last, but I given some updates to the progress of the Free Blades and their 2010 season when the new becomes readily available. For now I am going to try and purchase a ‘season’ ticket and make sure I can see them when they are playing in their home rink and in Morioka.