Baddeck's Jessica Wong playing for CWHL expansion team from China
Family and friends travelled from all over the country to watch Jessica Wong and her new team, the Kunlun Red Star, face off against Montreal's Les Canadiennes at the Bell Centre on November 11. Over 5,000 people attended the game, but the 30 or so with Baddeck connections were especially close to Wong’s heart.
"I've never been so happy and thankful to see family and friends. The last time I saw my family was August 23, and those that know me know my family and friends mean the world to me. I cannot thank them enough for coming to see me. I am very fortunate to have family that supports me in everything I do and will do anything for me," said Wong via text.
For her loved ones, the experience was equally meaningful. "It was amazing. The atmosphere, the music, even to see her name on the scoreboard. For her to be a part of that was so special" says Sam Wong, Jessica's sister. Marvin Cook, Wong's former high school hockey coach, travelled from Alberta to watch the game. Says Cook via email, "It was the largest crowd I've ever witnessed watching a Canadian Women's Hockey League game. The Bell Centre made it even more incredible."
With a final score of 3-1 for Kunlun, the players did not disappoint fans. Wong, number 49, scored a goal during Saturday's match and was named one of three stars of the game. The Red Star played again Sunday, this time falling to Montreal 5-3 but with Wong still coming out of the game with 2 assists.
The expansion of the Canadian Women's Hockey League to include two teams from China, The Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays, has been essential to the growth of the league. With the two extra teams there are more games, more sponsorship dollars, and more fans. CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress said in a CBC interview in June of this year that "China is a powerhouse and the CWHL wants to be part of the powerhouse."
Roughly 30 friends and family of Baddeck native Jessica Wong descended on the Bell Centre in Montreal to watch Wong’s debut game with the Chinese expansion team, Kunlun Red Star. Marvin Cook, Wong's former high school hockey coach, travelled from Alberta to watch the game.