Winnipeg's Aydan Wang might only be 14 years old, but he is already blazing
a trail for the next generation of hockey players of Asian descent.
Wang (who turns 15 on June 29) is finishing up his Grade 10 year at St.
George's School in Vancouver, where he put up 15 goals and 16 assists in 31
games this season for its U15 prep team. He moved from Winnipeg (where he
was a student at St. John's Ravenscourt School) to attend St. George's
after his family heard about the academically prestigious school through
general word of mouth.
"We did some research and we thought it was a really great fit because it
combined both really good academics as well as a CSSHL (Canadian Sport
School Hockey League) team," Wang says. "Interestingly enough, one of my
close friends from California that I had played with before was also
thinking of applying to the school, so we got in touch and decided to both
apply. We contacted the head of hockey during this process, who talked to
his sources in Winnipeg and he offered me a spot on the team. We didn’t
have the best season performance-wise this year, but I felt like there was
a lot of growth with our team."
Wang, who plays all three forward positions, was recently back in his home
province to compete in the 2022 Hockey Manitoba Male Under-16 Program of
Excellence (POE) Top-40 Camp, which was held from May 6-8 at Stride Place
in Portage la Prairie. He earned himself a spot at the camp after competing
alongside over 100 players at the Hockey Manitoba Male U16 POE Spring
Selection Camp, which was held in Niverville in early April.
Even though he is an elite-level hockey player, Wang is laser-focused on
his education. He is an exceptional student who has a 4.0 unweighted GPA on
a 4.0 scale and a long, family lineage of academic excellence.
His mom Fang, a professor of marketing at the University of Manitoba, and
his dad Gang, a financial manager for IG Financial, are both
first-generation immigrants who left China in the late 1990s to pursue
higher education in North America. Fang was born in the city of Hanzhong in
Shanxi province, while Gang is from the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong
province. They met while both were students at the University of Minnesota.
"It's a bit stereotypical, but hard work, persistence and a really big
strive for excellence are traditional Chinese values that are really
exemplified by my parents. They are highly educated, really hard workers
and they commit that excellence in both their professional lives and in
parenthood," Wang says.
Chinese culture and values have always been a been an integral part of
Wang's life. Most of his family still live in China and he has visited many
times (although not recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He is fluent in
Mandarin and when he is at home with his parents, he speaks the language.
He is very connected to his Chinese community, both in Winnipeg and
As first-generation Chinese immigrants, Aydan’s parents were not that
familiar with hockey. They wanted Aydan to pursue athletics so they
encouraged him to play tennis and soccer.
"Aydan first started playing hockey when he was six years old. At that time
we knew nothing about hockey but as parents our philosophy was to try our
best to let Aydan try as many new things as possible when he was young.
Right from the beginning, we saw that Aydan loved being on the ice and no
matter how many times he fell down, he would always get back up." Gang Wang
Not long after Aydan started playing hockey, it was evident to his parents
that the game was his love and passion. At 10 years old, he played for Team
Manitoba at the prestigious Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament in
Edmonton, which features some of the best nine and 10-year-old hockey
players from across North America. When Aydan was 11 years old, Gang took
him to Toronto to try out for a spring team that was composed of
“We wanted him to get some exposure and know that there were many Asian
boys playing hockey, it’s not just you are the only Asian kid playing
hockey here. Most of the players on that team played AA or AAA hockey. He
really enjoyed the experience and played on the team for another year.”
Gang Wang said.
Even though he is still young himself, Wang is aware that there are younger
players of Asian descent who are already looking up to him and following
his career closely.
"I feel like as a Chinese-Canadian hockey player, every time I make it to
the next level, I am showing more kids that they can do what I did,” Wang
says. “Just how I look up to those who have made it in college hockey, the
Western League and the NHL, kids from younger generations, every time I
make it that next step, kids who are younger than me, who are similar, not
just Asian players, but kids in general, they can do that as well."
Wang will play for the St. George's School U17 prep team this fall and is
looking forward to taking the next step in his young hockey career.
"I feel like I want to just keep developing my skill, making sure I get
bigger and stronger,” he says. “The next few years, hitting is going to be
huge and I will be playing with older players that are stronger and faster,
so I need to get that size up. I need to keep working on my speed, shot
[and] stickhandling, just trying improve all facets of my game."