22 March 2020
Kunlun Red Star’s fourth season is in the books. And, as part of our summary of the facts and figures from 2019/20 campaign, we can start to put some of the numbers into a historical context. Sure, it’s not the longest history of any club in hockey, but every story starts somewhere and ours starts with some of these guys – the first to assemble significant numbers for our team.
It’s fair to say that some of the figures could be even higher. But let’s not forget that the team has undergone extensive year-on-year changes every summer since it was formed. Only one player, Zach Yuen, has been with the organization since day one and his progress suffered last season when serious injury limited him to just 13 games in the VHL.
There aren’t many who can be regarded as veterans at a club as young as ours, but there’s no question that Brandon Yip fits that bill. He arrived as part of the first wave of Chinese heritage guys ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and a year later he was proud to start wearing the ‘C’. Today, after three seasons with the club – two of them as captain – he leads the way in all three key categories.
Games: Brandon Yip – 160; Luke Lockhart – 157; Cory Kane – 146; Joonas Jarvinen – 139; Zach Yuen – 121.
Points: Yip – 85; Gilbert Brule – 55; Wojtek Wolski – 45; Chad Rau, Sean Collins – 42.
Goals: Yip – 45; Brule, Olli Palola – 24; Rau – 21; Kane – 20.
Over the past four years, many of our players have enjoyed successful games in which they have collected three points. On four occasions, we’ve seen players score hat-tricks. It took two years for the first one to arrive, but in 2018/19 we celebrated two in two days. First came Olli Palola on Nov. 28, 2018. The Finn scored three on Sibir as the Dragons made a spectacular fightback after trailing by four. Olli’s late heroics weren’t quite enough for the win; Sibir snatched a 5-6 verdict in overtime. One day later, we got our revenge and this time Brandon Yip scored three in a 4-2 win.
A few weeks later, on Jan. 13, Drew Shore hit a treble against Jokerit but, once again, the Dragons were defeated 3-5. Last season this elite band gained a new member on Oct. 27 when Andrew Miller joined the triple goal club in Podolsk in a 4-2 win over Vityaz.
Right from the start we’ve been blessed with goaltending talent and have helped to launch the careers of two talented shotstoppers. Like Artyom Zagidulin, a young graduate of the Magnitogorsk system who got his first real taste of the KHL while on loan at Red Star. Inspired by that opportunity, Zag has since gone on to gain international recognition with Russia ‘B’ before joining the Calgary Flames organization last summer.
Magnus Hellberg proved an even bigger revelation. The giant Swede made a big impression with his performances here in 2017/18, and earned a move SKA. He helped his country win the World Championship in 2018 and has maintained his accustomed high standards in Petersburg over the last two years. His legacy in the Dragons’ lair is still strong: Hellberg leads the way among the goalies we’ve had.
Games: Magnus Hellberg, Tomi Karhunen – 51; Alexander Lazushin – 39; Simon Hrubec, Jeremy Smith – 32.
Wins: Hellberg – 16; Karhunen – 14; Andrei Makarov, Lazushin, Hrubec – 12.
Shut-outs: Hellberg – 6; Lazushin 5; Karhunen – 4; Smith, Makarov – 2.
From year to year we’ve changed not only our players, but also the coaching staff. Over the course of four seasons, five men have stood behind the bench. Current incumbent Curt Fraser is the first to have the job for more than one season. And, with Fraser set to stay at the club for the coming year, we anticipate that he will ascend to the top of the rankings in all these categories.
Games: Curt Fraser – 74; Vladimir Yurzinov – 65; Jussi Tapola – 50; Mike Keenan – 35; Bobby Carpenter – 21.
Wins: Yurzinov – 29; Fraser – 28; Tapola – 18; Keenan – 12; Carpenter – 7.
Win percentage: Yurzinov – 44.6%; Fraser – 37.8%; Tapola – 36%; Keenan – 34.3%; Carpenter – 33.3%.