Arizona State Hockey Player Peter Zhong Makes Winter Olympics History

Peter Zhong is building a tradition for Arizona State hockey while returning to his roots at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Zhong, a redshirt junior forward at ASU who is studying finance, made history in late January when he became the first Sun Devils player to make the Olympic hockey roster. Zhong will represent China.

When Beijing was named the host city of the Winter Olympics in 2015, Zhong wanted to represent his native country, but first he had to get noticed by the national team.

“It was more of a goal than a real plan because I wasn’t sure about it,” Zhong said Monday from Beijing. “The plan was to go to Arizona State and let the hockey side grow through the great coach we have and all the great teammates I had in the three years I was there. .”

Since moving from Beijing to Chicago at the age of seven to advance his educational and athletic opportunities, Zhong has grown through the ranks of the American hockey system. He spent two years of his junior career in the North American Hockey League before heading to Arizona State in 2018. Zhong spent his first season in a redshirt and made his memorable debut when ASU traveled to Beijing for exhibition games in 2019.

Zhong played 15 career games with ASU over two seasons and took an Olympic break this season. The 23-year-old has represented China internationally on three occasions, proving himself worthy of a spot on the Olympic roster. But he still wasn’t fully betting on fitting into the team until he got the call.

“Finally this year I got a call to go train and try out with the Chinese team and that’s when I knew. We’ve come all this way from ASU and now I have a return ticket to compete in the Winter Olympics representing my country. When it all came together, it was just crazy. It was a lot of emotions,” Zhong said.

Rewind: Chinese native Peter Zhong will make his ASU hockey debut during the team’s two-week trip to China

Since arriving at the Olympic Village a week ago, Zhong has slowly begun to settle in with each Olympic sign he passes. The euphoric experience culminated a few days earlier when Zhong entered Bird’s Nest Stadium for the opening ceremony.

“It was just something I couldn’t put into words. Representing my whole country in front of all these fans that were there was overwhelming,” Zhong said.

Zhong’s first game will be memorable, especially with China facing the United States to start the preliminary round on Thursday. Zhong, who spent two summers training in Arizona, skated with Phoenix native and fellow Olympian Matthew Knies, who plays for Team USA.

Although Zhong considers China his homeland, he is grateful for the opportunities he received in the United States to develop his game.

“They don’t necessarily have the resources in China, so I think coming here has really gone a long way in developing my hockey skills,” Zhong said.

Zhong certainly didn’t lack support in Arizona either. Zhong’s teammates at Arizona State stayed in close contact with him throughout his absence from the program and sent him many messages of support. A few teammates even made an appearance on Zhong’s conference call to ask about his Olympic experience so far.

“It was unbelievable, I haven’t seen the guys all year, but I followed for sure. I miss all the boys so much. It’s great that they follow every step of the process and I try to provide as much content as possible,” Zhong said.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.

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