BEIJING -- Tim Pearson traveled 7,000-plus miles from his home in Kitchener, Ontario, to see the first NHL game in China on Thursday, when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played a preseason game in Shanghai.
He also was on hand to explore the enormous possibilities for the sport in China with a litany of business meetings and a visit to a local private school. The hope was that the Kings and Canucks would provide a positive first impression at the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging, a way to hook newcomers to the sport.
An early highlight-reel moment didn't hurt the effort.
Los Angeles led 1-0 in the first period at Mercedes-Benz Arena and was killing a penalty when a Kings forward picked off an errant pass, showed off his trademark speed and scored on an unassisted breakaway at 15:18.
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The forward was Tanner Pearson …. Tim's son.
Right on cue.
Dad ordered his son to score, right?
"Absolutely," Tim said, laughing. "It never gets old seeing him score. It's just exciting any time I get the opportunity to watch him play live.
"It's beyond my dreams that I ever thought I would come to China and actually watch him play hockey."
Pearson scored again late in the third period of the Kings' 5-2 win and said playing in front of his dad is always special, no matter the venue. The Kings and Canucks play again at Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Saturday (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
Pearson and the Kings and Canucks had a day off the ice on Friday; the teams went to the Great Wall of China, followed by a dinner at the luxury property of Madame Zhou Yan, the chairwoman of Bloomage International.
"We're trying to grow the game and being the first ones here is something special," Tanner Pearson said at the dinner. "To be part of this is a cool experience."
Video: Kings, Canucks tour Great Wall of China
Tanner had previous experience playing in Asia. He traveled to Japan for two games when he was in middle school, a time when playing in the NHL was a distant dream. Earlier this week, he laughed about it and recalled they were blown out in both games, adding, "I visited a school in Japan, and they almost looked at you like you were rock star."
Tim Pearson said he has worked in the hockey business for 27 years and although he is here with a group, some of which are from Bauer Hockey, on the trip, Pearson described himself a "free agent."
They had dinner Wednesday with Chinese billionaire Zhou Yunjie, the chairman of O.R.G. Packaging.
"He's excited about the opportunity [to grow hockey in China]," Tim Pearson said. "He has some great thoughts. They have to be thought out to really see what is going to work.
"It's going to be a slow process but there's definitely some opportunity and the game will grow in China. It's the only way to do it.
"We visited a private school that uses a British Columbia curriculum. These kids are Chinese. They eventually will go to school at a Canadian college or U.S. university. They're trying to embed some Canadian culture into their system, so they introduced ball hockey, an intramural program that plays at lunch time. … To me, it's a great opportunity for kids to get the hockey stick in their hand and experience what it is like."
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The kids from the private school in Shanghai attended the Kings-Canucks game.
"One of the kids is a diehard Boston Bruins fan and we asked him why," Tim Pearson said. "He said it stems from when his dad went to Boston and bought him a Boston Celtics jersey. He said, 'I love hockey so now I want to cheer for the Boston Bruins.'
"I told him, 'You should be cheering for the L.A. Kings.'"