In a Nutshell...
The Shanghai Hockey Club (SHC) is run by "ice hockey addict" volunteers. They play shinnies (casual pick-up games) two to three times a week at the Feiyang Skating Center, and at one official league game on weekends. The league is made of an A and B Division, each comprised of six teams with names like "Team Bu Dong" or "Always Picked Last."
They play year-round, and participate in international tournaments throughout Asia, including North Korea. They also host "Hockey Night in Shanghai." You might remember Canada vs. The World games from previous years, where a bunch of Canadians took on a team of international players. Now, they have enough local players to create a Shanghai team for this Sunday's Hockey Night, Shanghai vs. The World. This year, The World is represented by players from the U.S.A., Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan, Norway, and "a guy that was born on a ship in the middle of nowhere".
The SHC started in 2004, when a Swiss DJ placed an ad looking for friends who wanted to play hockey. Their first rink was on a tent, on top of an outdoor swimming pool with no boards, glass, curved corners, or a roof.
Brian Wallace, Team Captain of The World at this weekend's event, has been there since the beginning. He said it was a very casual start, just trying to get enough players for a game. Within a year, they had enough members to develop a four-team league. Now, they have over 160 regular players in a 12 team league, who get to play in a nice arena.
Executive committee member Cal Wong says, "The SHC encourages everyone to be a part of our community, male or female, old and young, locals and laowais, regardless of skill level". Members really do come from around the world, are between the ages of 17-65, and can be complete beginners or former professionals. Wallace approximates that the expat to local ratio is about 5:1.
One member, Hans von Meister, said he likes the league for its great feeling of camaraderie. "There is a very diverse group of players representing all corners of the globe, and to be able to get together every week to play some hockey and share some good times and laughs after the games has been very rewarding to me. The SHC executive committee goes out of their way to organize great events and foster a friendly environment that has led to many a late night at the rink".
How To Join
To become a player, Wong tells us, "It's so easy a caveman could do it. Simply get in contact with us at email@example.com". At a shinny, anyone is welcome to drop in and play. To become a league member, show up at a few shinnies, then wait for a draft and get picked up by a team. The seasonal draft is in September, with a mid-season draft in January. That's to account for the transient nature of Shanghai, filling in where members may have moved out of town.
They are currently revamping their website, but that should be more member friendly with scheduling and sign ups soon. So if you need to find out exactly when they're playing, it's best to email.
The commitment seems casual, and a large part of the league is the social aspect. Wong says practice is "as intense as you want it to be, some guys sweat like Mike Tyson at a spelling bee and others just come for the beer... Ideally, everyone should attend as many games as possible since hockey is a team sport, but it is very casual and there is no punishment for missing games, although your teammates may stop inviting you out for drinks..."
Shinny fees are around 3000rmb from September to May, for a full season, or 180rmb per game to drop in. Joining the league costs around 3400rmb for a 24–game season including a jersey, hydration, transportation and the playoffs.
Hockey Night in Shanghai: Shanghai vs. The World is this Sunday, June 21, at the Feiyang Skating Center in Pudong. You can get pre-sale tickets for 60rmb, or pay 100rmb at the door. The winning teams gets a trophy, medals, and respect. Brian Wallace says he just hopes that the fans get a good game. They take their competition seriously, but remember they're all friends too. Fights are probably not going to break out on the ice.
The SHC does year round events, parties, fundraisers, and sometimes branches out into other sports for one-off events like golfing. The players say they're an inclusive and fun group, and all of them really like to use the phrase "good times".