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China's 2022 Olympic men's hockey debut to feature pair of Coquitlam connections

Paris O'Brien and Brandon Yip once called the Tri-Cities home before moving to China in hopes of growing the game of hockey. Now, they're off to the Olympics.

Tri-Cities born or raised athletes won't just be representing Canada on the ice in Beijing.

In fact, two will be playing for the host country.

Paris O'Brien and Brandon Yip were selected to China's roster last week for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will also be the nation's début in men's hockey.

Per tradition, China is set to have a team or athlete compete in nearly every event at the games, which begin Friday (Feb. 4).

The majority of its men's hockey squad compete in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia — and most have already been playing the 2021–22 season together with Kunlun Red Star, Beijing's first-ever professional club.

Both O'Brien and Yip have never played on the international stage before their announcement to the Olympics.

O'Brien was born in Coquitlam, spent his growing years with the city's minor hockey association and played at Delta Hockey Academy in his Grade 11 year.

The goaltender then moved overseas to China to play with Kunlun's junior-affiliated programs, which helped work his way up to the KHL with the big-league signing in July 2021.

In his first professional season, the 21-year-old product has started in eight games and has amassed a record of 1-6 thus far.

O'Brien currently has an .891 save percentage, stopping 262 of 294 shots, and a 4.54 goals-against average (GAA).

Meanwhile, Yip was born in Maple Ridge, but closed out his junior career with the Coquitlam Express.

Playing two seasons from 2003 to 2005, the winger combined for 131 points in 99 BCHL regular season games including 51 goals and 80 assists.

He added 10 points in 11 playoff matches, but Coquitlam was knocked out in the first round both years.

Yip's skills caught eye of NHL scouts as he was picked by the Colorado Avalanche in the eighth round of the 2004 draft.

The now 36-year-old player then headed off to Boston University for four years, which compiled a résumé that included an NCAA Div. I Championship in 2009 and two Hockey East conference titles with the Terriers.

He's earned 174 NHL games under his belt with Colorado, Nashville and Arizona before heading off to Germany for two seasons in its top pro-level of hockey.

Yip is in his fourth full campaign with Kunlun Red Star and currently serves as captain of the KHL franchise.

As of this publication (Jan. 31), he's tallied 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 46 games.

O'Brien and Yip will suit up for China's first Olympic men's hockey contest on Feb. 10 against the United States.

China will face the Canadians on Feb. 13 after a tilt with Germany on Feb. 12.

You can click here to see the full scheduled of men's and women's hockey at Beijing 2022.

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