For China's national hockey program, the road to the 2022 Winter Olympics starts on Long Island.
The Beijing Hockey Association has teamed up with the New York Islanders in an effort to develop the country's national program, with a goal of icing a Chinese team in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
How are they doing it? A group of junior players from Beijing are spending eight months under the tutelage of Islanders Skills Development Coach Bernie Cassell and Jr. Islanders coaches Eric Conway and Rudy Sulmonte.
These players are making a full commitment to their hockey careers, uprooting themselves from home for the entire season. They'll practice four times per week, work out off the ice three times per week and play 44 games in the USPHL (United States Premier Hockey League) at the Elite Level.
"They pay attention, they're hungry, they want to get better," Cassell said. "Since they got here, since I've been working with them for two weeks I've seen a huge improvement and the reason is that they listen, they pay attention and they are open to new things and they apply it right away."