BY John Connolly
THE BOSTON HERALD
"Unbelievable,'' said Todesca, a Westwood native and former Catholic Memorial star. "It was at a captains practice and the first time he touched the puck he went end to end and scored a goal. So, right from the get-go you could see that he had tremendous speed.''
Recently, Skyhawks coach Garry Hebert sought to utilize the South Korean's special skills by converting the 5-foot-11 skater from defenseman to forward. The strategy paid immediate dividends, as Kim scored in a 4-1 loss to Wentworth.
"He's a very fluid skater,'' Hebert said. "He has jet-like speed in his first few strides. He's like a Paul Coffey (the former Edmonton Oilers star defenseman) once he gets going.''
The story of the 21-year-old's arrival at Stonehill's North Easton campus begins with his lacing up a pair of speed skates at the Mokdong rink in downtown Seoul, South Korea. A group of hockey players were finishing practice and came under the gaze of the wide-eyed fourth-grader who quickly became enamored with the new sport.
"I used to be a short-track speed skater and I saw some hockey players practicing,'' Kim said. "It looked like fun and I fell in love with it.''
With few rinks and virtually no youth hockey development leagues to speak of, Kim knew his best chance to succeed in his new interest lay elsewhere. His father, Daeyoung, a banker, and his mother, Kyoung Sook Jeong, a government employee, began to research academic and hockey opportunities in North America. A subsequent year spent playing with the Notre Dame Hounds, a co-educational Catholic prep school located in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, provided a path toward assimilating into a new culture.
"I was a shy person,'' Kim said. "I didn't know how to approach new persons. When hockey practice started, everything opened up for me. Hockey taught me I could make new friends.''
Next, Kim spent three seasons flourishing at the renown Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. When it came time to choose a college, the final place on his visit list turned out to be the first in his heart.
"I was looking for a place where I could focus on academics and also play hockey. Then I saw the campus,'' said Kim, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry in hopes of becoming a dentist. "When I first saw Stonehill it was sort of my 'safety' school but I loved the place. Everyone I met was so caring and coach Hebert has given me a chance. My teammates really care and we're like a brotherhood. They're great.''
As much as Kim embraced the new surroundings, the college community welcomed him with open arms.
"Whether he's on or off the ice, I can't say enough about the kid," Todesca said. "He's just a good all-around guy.''
Hebert is also an unabashed booster of Kim.
"Everyone loves him on campus,'' Hebert said. "He leads by example. He's authoritative but he has a humble personality. . . . He's one of the nicest players that I've ever coached.''