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Sun Zehao answers call from Canucks

By MURRAY GREIG | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-22 10:50

Sun Zehao answers call from Canucks

China's Sun Zehao makes a save during the men's ice hockey round-robin game at the 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, Feb 22, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's national team goalie Sun Zehao is getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, thanks to a good word from one of the toughest defensemen in NHL history.

Sun, 21, was signed to an amateur tryout contract by the Vancouver Canucks on Monday in Shanghai and was the second back-up goaltender on their roster for last night's 5-2 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

The two teams will wrap up the inaugural NHL China Games with a rematch at Beijing's Wukesong Arena on Saturday.

Sun came to the Canucks' attention via Barry Beck, who had 355 points and 1,014 penalty minutes in 10 NHL seasons (1980-90) and now runs the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey.

Beck told former teammate and now Canucks executive Stan Smyl about Sun, who assisted at the academy's youth tournament in Beijing earlier this year.

Vancouver signed the 5-foot-10, 155-pounder in order to have a third goalie available for the China Games.

"We're kind of taking it day by day with Sun," Canucks coach Travis Green told a media conference on Tuesday.

"We went back and forth on bringing a third goalie over here with us. It's a long way for a guy to come and not play.

"I don't know a whole lot about him, but it's a great experience for him to be around an NHL team to see how guys prepare. We'd like to get him working with (goalie coach) Dan Cloutier at some point. He seems like a fine young man."

Green said it was very unlikely Sun would see any game action.

"This is an experience for him and, like I said, we contemplated bringing a third goalie over. Even if we brought a third goalie over, he was not going to play in the games. If someone gets hurt, he would definitely be the back-up."

Sun told NHL.com he first strapped on the pads at the age of 9-and that he's a big fan of Jonathan Quick, who has backstopped the Kings to two Stanley Cup championships.

"The reason I became a goaltender was because I'm not afraid of the puck," Sun said.

"When I was very young, my coach asked me, 'You're not afraid of that?' I said, 'No, because I'm the last protection for the team.' I always want to make a contribution."

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