11 July 2019
The schedule is out and it’s time to announce a special start to the 2019/20 KHL season. For the first time, Red Star will take the action to Shenzhen – staging half a dozen games in the city’s impressive 18,000-seater ice arena.
It’s the largest enclosed arena ever to stage KHL hockey (the league’s all-time record attendances were set at open-air arenas such as St. Petersburg’s World Cup soccer stadium) and it forms part of the high-tech sports cluster in the north-eastern suburbs of one of China’s fastest-growing cities. Shenzhen, which lies in the south of the country, close to Hong Kong, is a world-renowned center for technology and has become a beacon for investors in the rapidly developing Chinese economy. In recent years it has been home to the KRS women’s team, the Vanke Rays, which played in the CWHL for the last two seasons and has confirmed that it will take part in Russia’s Women’s Hockey League in the coming campaign.
Before that gets underway, though, the KHL is coming to town for the first time. Kunlun Red Star has three double-headers lined up in Shenzhen to get the season underway. On Sep. 3 and 4, Salavat Yulaev will visit. Next it’s Barys on Sep. 8 and 9, then Traktor (Sep. 14 and 15). A fast-growing city and a well-established window to the wider economic world, Shenzhen is a great fit for the KRS mission to grow Chinese hockey and take our place on a wider sporting stage; these early-season games promise to be a great occasion for the team and the city alike.
After that start, it’s off on the first of our long road trips. Tour number one includes eight games against our Eastern Conference rivals, taking in Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Avangard’s temporary home in Balashikha, Nizhnekamsk, Kazan, Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana), Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. From Russia’s Pacific Coast we return to Beijing, where the Shougang Arena will be home for the remainder of the season. Our first games in the capital are scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10 against Neftekhimik.
Once again, there are 62 games in the regular season. Red Star faces four match-ups against its Chernyshev Division rivals, Admiral, Amur, Avangard, Barys and Salavat Yulaev. In addition, there are four games against three other Eastern Conference opponents: Traktor, Neftekhimik and Sibir. The remaining 15 teams will play home and away. There will be one change from last season’s opponents, with Slovan Bratislava leaving the KHL and reducing the overall number of teams to 24.
Red Star’s regular season concludes on Feb. 24 with a home game against Dinamo Riga. That allows a full week to prepare for the start of the playoffs on March 1. It’s a long road to post-season, but we’re already looking forward to taking our first steps on that journey in Shenzhen on September 3.