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Japanese Star Yuri Terao Impresses at Mini Camp

Saturday, 07.12.2014 / 1:55 PM
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2014 Islanders Mini Camp
Japanese Star Yuri Terao Impresses at Mini Camp

Tochigi, Japan isn’t exactly a hockey hotbed. There are rarely live games on TV, save for events like the Olympics, meaning NHL.com is the primary gateway into the hockey world. Due to the time change, Islanders games start at 8 a.m.

But that hasn’t stopped Tochigi native Yuri Terao from playing his favorite sport of hockey. Terao scored 11 points (3G, 8A) in five games at the U-18 World Championship Division 1 Tournament two years ago and was named the Best Forward of the tournament that same year. Terao earned an invite to the Islanders Mini Camp this week on Long Island and made the 6,700 mile (as the crow flies) journey, because there are just some invitations you can’t turn down.

“It’s been so much fun (being here),” Terao said through translator Taka Shirai. “I’ve been learning a lot from the coaches.”

With so many hockey resources at his disposal during camp, Terao has soaked up the opportunity on Long Island. Here, he’s been developing his game with NHL coaches and top junior prospects like Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock.

“He has played extremely well this week,” Islanders Head of Player Development Eric Cairns said. “He’s got some nice skill. It was a really good opportunity for him to come over here and take this experience as a measuring stick – to see what he can and can’t do against really good competition – and take that knowledge back to his game wherever he goes next.”

This kind of instruction is not readily available in Japan. Terao’s father put him in skates at age two, but there are just few rinks in his homeland and only one Japanese player – former LA Kings goalie Yutaka Fukufjui – who has ever made the NHL. Terao’s brother Hiromichi skated at the Isles Mini Camp two years ago, but there is not a lot of public exposure to the game and a less-developed apparatus for sending players to the North American leagues.

“Compared to the United States, there are not many hockey rinks or much public support for hockey,” Terao’s translator Taka Shirai, said. “It’s not the best environment, but Terao is trying to play as much as possible.”

The language barrier is the biggest obstacle for Terao at this week’s camp. He has Shirai to translate for him off the ice, but on the ice and in the gym, he has to rely on what he sees and communicate through body language.

“We get him to watch the other players and emulate what they do,” Eric Cairns said. “He seemed to have a positive response back and really good body language. He has come to work every day and his effort level is great.”

Terao’s family and friends were able to watch him during the Blue and White Scrimmage via a live stream on NewYorkIslanders.com. There’s a long road ahead to grow the game in Japan, but an emerging local star could start warming the embers in Tochigi.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 46 21 24 -2 45
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 46 8 25 16 33
B. Nelson 46 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 46 9 16 4 25
J. Boychuk 36 4 18 15 22
J. Bailey 34 8 13 8 21
N. Leddy 46 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 46 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 40 13 5 7 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 25 9 0 .910 2.41
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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