The first time he skated was on a shopping mall ice rink in the middle of Beijing. Now, Andong Song is set to call one of college hockey’s most famous rinks home.
Better known as Misha, Song has already had a pioneering bullet on his resume when he became the first Chinese-born NHL draft pick in 2015. He can add another accomplishment to that resume, as he will become the first Chinese-born Division I NCAA hockey player now that he has announced his commitment to join the Cornell men’s hockey program.
The United States Hockey League announced on Twitter Wednesday that the Madison Capitols left-handed defenseman has decided to take his talents to Ithaca.
— USHL (@USHL) March 1, 2017
Song was selected by the New York Islanders in the sixth round, 172nd overall pick, of the 2015 draft — a monumental occasion for those in his home country that have already been inspired by his story. But it was when he came across an ice rink in the middle of a Beijing mall at the age of six that he learned what hockey actually was.
“Being the first Chinese player [drafted] is a lot of pressure from the people back home,” he said to the media after his selection. “I hope that will motivate me to become a better player and make them proud.”
“What I want to do, is really rag up the people behind me,” he continued. “I’m really not focused on myself. I really want to do something good for Chinese hockey.”
Sparse opportunity in China drove Song, and his family, to move to Ontario at the age of 10. A few years later, he enrolled at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey at the age of 15.
Since then, he has captained the Chinese national team at the 2015 IIHF World Under-18 Championships, spending his last year with the Capitols, where he has appeared in 37 games.
Despite not yet playing a game the NHL, let alone NCAA, the spotlight is shining brightly on Song. He models his game after Nicklas Lidstrom — one of the all-time greats — his draft selection was broadcast live on a Chinese television station and he has a nation of over 1.3 billion behind him.
“Feels like I’m a star already, but, long way to go,” he said.
Soon, Song will trade in that mall skating rink for one of college hockey’s most hallowed arenas in Lynah Rink, and that ‘long way to go’ will get a little shorter on East Hill.