Anyang Halla defeated Japan’s Oji Eagles 3-1 at the Anyang Sports Complex on Saturday. This led to wining its third consecutive Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) championship.  Anyang beat Oji with three wins and a loss in the best-of-five series to win the ALIH 2017-2018 title. The Oji Eagles were established in 1925 and are Japan’s oldest ice hockey team.

In 1996, Anyang Halla requested a game with the Oji Eagles, but the Japanese team quickly refused due to the “big gap in the two team’s skill levels.” At that time, Anyang Halla was an amateur ice hockey team. The Korean men’s national ice hockey team wasn’t very good until recently, either, once losing 0-25 to Japan in 1982.

“Japan didn’t approve of the existence of ice hockey in Korea 22 years ago”. said Yang Seung-jun, a Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) executive.

Anyang Halla and Their Success

Behind Halla’s success is Chung Mong-won, president of Halla Group and head of KIHA. Chung established Mando Winia, now the Anyang Halla, in 1994. Also, they fought to keep it afloat during the 1997 financial crisis.

Once he was appointed president of KIHA in 2013, Chung donated 5 to 6 billion won ($4.7 to 5.6 million) each year to the Anyang Halla. In addition, 1.5 billion won to the KIHA. Chung showed his passion for the team by traveling along with the team to its first two away games during the championship.

Now that the season is over, the Korean national team will head to Denmark in May. This is to compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey World Championship.