Klein makes history with the Dragons

13 November 2020

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 Kunlun Red Star 0

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This was a special day. For the first time in hockey history, a team in a top-level men’s league had a female equipment manager on the bench. Stephanie Klein, who has fulfilled the role for our women’s team since the club was formed three years ago, stepped up in the absence of Dmitry Safonov, who is currently unwell.

This was no outbreak of politically correct tokenism. Stephanie has been a consummate professional throughout her time with the organization, coping admirably with the stresses of finishing last season far from home and ensuring that the KRS Vanke Rays were always perfectly prepared as they went for the Women’s Hockey League championship. Inviting her to do the job in the KHL was a seamless transition.

But it also fits in with the club’s desire to promote hockey for women as well as men – especially important as we look to crack the Chinese market in the build-up to the fast-approaching 2022 Winter Olympics. And that wasn’t lost on Steph herself when she spoke to Gillian Kemmerer ahead of the game in Nizhny Novgorod.

“Obviously, knowing what this game means for women in hockey, and sports in general really, it’s pretty special to be a part of,” she said. “Kunlun Red Star and Claire [Lui] always seem to be on the cutting edge for giving women in sport opportunities – whether it be the ability to make a living playing hockey or giving someone like myself the chance to work games in the KHL. It’s pretty amazing.”

Off the ice, it was a big day. On it, however, the Dragons were destined for a frustrating evening. An evenly-matched first period pivoted on a penalty for Ethan Werek in the 13th minute. Torpedo seized its chance, with Damir Zhafyarov converting the opportunity after just 16 seconds to open the scoring.

In the second, both teams adopted a shoot-on-sight policy, sharing 37 goalbound efforts between them. Both netminders did a good job, with Nikita Serebryakov stopping 13 Red Star attempts while our own Dmitry Shikin got behind 23 shots from Torpedo. Unfortunately, though, we fell further behind when Kirill Urakov got one beyond our defenses to double the lead.

Red Star did get the puck in the net during a third-period power play. Trevor Murphy’s point shot was batted down and into the net by Tyler Wong on the slot. Unfortunately, though, a video review confirmed that his stick was high and the goal could not be awarded.

It was part of a dominant third-period display from Red Star, outshooting Torpedo 14-4 and giving the home team plenty to think about as it tried to hold on to its lead. But there was no way past Serebryanikov in the home net. The goalie made 37 saves, condemning our guys to a fourth successive loss.

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