KOC to ask gov’t to naturalize two more Canadian-born hockey players

January 21, 2016
Canadian ice hockey players Michael Swift, left, and Brian Young smile as they hold up Korean citizenship papers earlier this year. (Yonhap)

South Korea has granted citizenship to other ice hockey players before to strengthen their national team. This file photo shows Canadian ice hockey players Michael Swift, left, and Brian Young smiling as they hold up Korean citizenship papers in January of 2014.

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The country’s top sports body said Thursday it will ask the government to naturalize two Canadian-born hockey players, with an eye on improving the national team for the next Winter Olympics.

The Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) said it will recommend goalie Matt Dalton and defenseman Eric Regan to the Justice Ministry for special naturalization.

A few other North American-born hockey players were naturalized in recent years, as South Korea looks to bolster their national team roster in its Winter Games debut on home ice at PyeongChang in 2018.

Dalton and Regan are teammates on the South Korean club Anyang Halla in the Asia League Ice Hockey.

Dalton, 29, signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2009 but never played for the NHL club. He has instead played in minor pro leagues in North America and in Russia. If naturalized, Dalton will be the first foreign-born goalie to obtain South Korean citizenship.

Regan, 27, is also a well-traveled player, with stops in Canada, the United States, Germany and Japan before arriving in South Korea. Regan played for another South Korean club, High1, last season before joining Anyang Halla for this season. The KOC said Regan could add a new, physical dimension to South Korean defense should he be allowed to represent the country.