By Anthony Matrisciano
If you were to look at one player’s scoring statistics at the ACHA Division 2 level and saw that he has scored 14 points in 17 games, you would be impressed. You would be even more impressed if you were to come to the realization that this player is a defenseman. Finally you might be blown out of the water to realize that Jaewoo Kim, a freshman for the Northern Michigan University Wildcats, hails from from Incheon, South Korea and is only making his American hockey debut this year.
Now reading this you might be surprised to see a young man from South Korea doing so well in his first season on U.S. soil, however Northern Michigan head coach Carl Trosien is not as shocked as others might be.
“Jae [woo Kim] is one of the most intelligent hockey players I have ever seen,” Trosien said. “He sees the ice really well and is an excellent skater. One of the things I’ve noticed this year is that he really knows how and when to use the opponents as screens to get off quality passes and shots.”
Although this is first year playing in the states, this is not his first year playing hockey in North America. Kim most recently was a member of the Bradford Bulls Tier II Junior A hockey club playing in the Greater Metro Hockey League located just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Kim came to Northern Michigan with his former roommate in Bradford, Austin Cline, a native of Chicago.
“When I recruited Austin from Bradford to come here I was very excited about his skill,” Coach Trosien raved. “I made one more call to the coach of the Bulls saying, ‘Hey I need a defenseman who do you got?’”
When the Bulls Coach informed him of Kim and Coach Trosien got a chance to see Kim play, he was sold immediately.
“One of the things I admire of Jae is his work ethic,” Trosien said. “The kid is in the gym constantly, at least 6 days a week trying to get bigger and stronger, trying to make himself more of a presence on the ice.”
At five-foot-seven and 190 pounds, it might be said that Kim is one of the strongest players for his size at Northern Michigan. However his work does not just consist of getting better on the ice but in the classroom. Kim’s freshman year consists of being a part of an English Language Learning program, which will allow him to take mainstream classes in English during his sophomore year.
When it comes to adjusting, Kim has his roommate Austin Cline to thank once again for helping him learn the American culture.
“Something that is really positive about having a player like Austin is that Jae knows him and has him as a roommate again this year. He’s really been a big help since he’s been able to make the move with Jae and get him accustomed to college life,” Trosien said.
Trosien continued by saying that Kim’s sense of humor has been well accepted by the boys in the locker room and he is one of the high points of locker room talk amongst the boys this season.
You can catch Kim, Cline and the rest of the Northern Michigan University Wildcats as they take on the St. Mary’s University Cardinals in a two-game set November 22 and 23 at St. Mary’s University Ice Arena in Winona, Minn.
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s website and was syndicated with permission. The original can be found HERE.