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Andong “Misha” Song, the first Chinese-born player drafted by a National Hockey League team and one of the faces of China’s 2022 Winter Olympics ice hockey effort, will play for Cornell University for the 2018-19 season.

China's Andong Song at 2015 NHL Draft (Photo/William Douglas/Color of Hockey).

China’s Andong Song at 2015 NHL Draft (Photo/William Douglas/Color of Hockey).

Song, a defenseman for Wisconsin’s Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League, committed to the Ithica, New York, Ivy League university late last week. The Big Red skate in the ECAC which includes hockey powerhouses like Union College, Quinnipiac University, Harvard University.

“I’m so happy to commit to Cornell,” Song said in a Madison Capitols statement. “It’s a great academic school and they have a great hockey program that will help me in the future so I couldn’t be more excited to go there.”

Song made history in 2015 when the New York Islanders chose the Beijing-born player in the sixth round of the NHL Draft with the 172nd overall pick.

Capitols Head Coach and General Manager Garrett Suter said Song has “done a lot of hard work on and off the ice this season to get where he’s at.”

“He’ll do great at Cornell, and I’m glad he’ll have one more year here (in Madison),” Suter said. “(We) still have a few things to work on, but still couldn’t be happier for the kid.”

Song has appeared in exhibition games for the Islanders and he hopes to crack the NHL team’s regular season roster someday. But but right now his focus is on getting better in the USHL, his upcoming collegiate career, and leading China’s national team at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

China isn’t an international hockey power and is quickly building its men’s and women’s hockey program in preparation of hosting the Winter Games. The impact of the Islanders drafting Song has been compared to the effect that former National Basketball Association center  Yao Ming had in making basketball popular in the world’s most populous country.

A number of young hockey players have ventured from China to the United States and Canada to play high school or junior hockey since Song was drafted.

Song captained China’s 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Junior Championship Division II B team. He’s played 39 games for Madison this season and hasn’t registered a point. He played for Massachusetts’ Phillips Andover in 2015-16 and tallied 1 goal and 7 assists.