One of the Madison Capitols' defensemen is also an international superstar.
Andong "Misha" Song became the first Chinese player ever to be taken in the NHL draft back in 2015. Since then, China has really put its hopes for the sport's growth, on Song's back.
"He's like what Yao Ming was for basketball, back then," said Capitols head coach Garrett Suter.
Since the 20-year-old was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Islanders, Song has lived somewhat of a double life. In America, he's a junior ice league hockey player, trying to hone his skills before college. In China, he's a hockey superstar. Song is the face of a growing sport in a country that's hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.
"When I started playing back in Beijing, there wasn't a lot of attention around hockey," said Song. "There were maybe fewer than 100 kids playing at the time. And two years ago after we won the bid for the 2022 Olympics, hockey really started to grow. Winter sports in general also started to grow and started growing rapidly."
Song has become somewhat of an ambassador for the sport in China. Last year, he was summoned to the country by the Minister of Sport and got to meet the Chinese president at an event touting the 2022 Olympics. While his celebrity comes with some pressure, Song says he likes being someone kids can look up to.
"Just being able to be one players who can be a role model for the younger kids, I think is a big deal for me," said Song. "And I'm really honored in having that role."
Despite his high profile in China , the NHL and the Olympics aren't really things that are on his radar right now. Instead, Song is focused on learning with the Capitols before he heads to Cornell next year to play college hockey.
"A lot of people ask, especially back in China, 'When are you going to be playing for the Islanders? Why are you not on the team now?' They don't really understand the process of getting there," said Song. "How hard [the process] is and kind of how long of a road it is to try and get to that spot. So I kind of have to explain to them about college and the USHL and the path I have to take the next few years. So I'm just focused on one step at a time to make sure I get my goals and eventually try to make it."
The Capitols will be back on the ice on Friday night, hosting Green Bay.