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Big Weekend for Asian, Pacific Islanders in the NHL

It was a big weekend in the NHL for players of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage thanks to strong performances from Nick Suzuki, Jason and Nick Robertson.
Nick Robertson

It was a big weekend in the National Hockey League for players of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. Nick and Jason Robertson, and Nick Suzuki all made big impacts on the scoresheet for their respective teams.

Toronto Maple Leafs youngster Nick Robertson scored his first goal of the NHL season on Saturday in a 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks while playing on a line with William Nylander and John Tavares who both assisted on the goal

“It was great, definitely relieved,” Robertson told media following the game. “I feel like I haven’t scored for so long in this league.

Robertson’s mother, Mercedes, was born in Manila, Philippines.

His brother, Jason Robertson, scored back-to-back hat tricks on the weekend for the Dallas Stars. After scoring the overtime winner to cap a hat trick Friday in a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, Robertson potted one into the empty net Sunday for his second straight three-goal performance, this time in a 6-3 decision against the Minnesota Wild.

Nick Suzuki, who is Japanese Canadian, had a goal and two assists in 22:22 of ice time to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers. He has played a key role in the resurgence of the Montreal Canadiens in recent weeks. It was his second straight three-point game after 5-4 overtime victory against Calgary on Thursday.

The on-ice success of players of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the NHL comes only weeks after China hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, rostering a men’s team at the Olympics for the first time. Japan’s women’s team finished sixth at the recent Olympics. As well the Asia-Pacific region has an all-time high of 13 men's World Championship teams this year among all levels.

The current IIHF Division IV World Championship, which is ongoing in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan features multiple first-time nations from the region including Iran, Malaysia and Singapore. Hong Kong was also scheduled to compete before withdrawing due to COVID-19 concerns.

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