7 June 2021
Two important announcements came from the club over the weekend. First, and with great regret, it became clear that the Dragons are not yet able to fly back home to Beijing. The current restrictions in force in China make it impractical to base ourselves there for a full KHL season.
However, as GM Nikolai Feoktistov explained, an early decision to remain at Arena Mytishchi, our temporary home last season, is not without its benefits as we await a return to the Shougang Arena.
“Over the past year, we’ve enjoyed a good, productive relationship with the management and staff at the arena, who have made us feel at home in Mytishchi,” he said. “We grateful to them all, especially General Director Alexander Semykin, who always finds a way to give us what we want.”
And one of the things the Dragons want this season is a calm, well-planned pre-season. After the uncertainties of last summer – where, at times, it was far from clear whether the club would continue to exist at all – the helter-skelter assembly of a team at the last minute put us a long way behind the competition in the opening weeks of the season.
This year, happily, everything is in hand. Like our KHL rivals, we’ll be reconvening in mid-July, with the traditional medical checks scheduled for July 13-15. Then summer camp gets going in Mytishchi – why look anywhere else, when our adopted home provides everything we need in an impressive, modern arena?
That camp runs until Aug. 9, and in the final days we have two warm-up games lined up against our Moscow Region neighbor Vityaz. Red Star hosts the game in Mytishchi on Aug. 5 before going to Podolsk on Aug. 7.
The next engagement takes us on the road for the President of Kazakhstan Cup in Nur-Sultan on Aug. 11-15. Back in 2016, when the Kazakh capital was still known as Astana, the President’s Cup was the first tournament we contested, and those memories will remain for years to come.
After Kazakhstan, the next stop is Tatarstan and two games in Nizhnekamsk on Aug. 20 and 22. In the past two seasons we’ve played Neftekhimik eight times and now, having moved into the Kharlamov Division, we’ll be seeing more of each other in the coming campaign.
But we’re particularly excited by the friendship we’ve seen from the Moscow clubs. Our roots might lie far from the Russian capital, but since our unavoidable move to the northern fringes of the big city, we’ve established warm links with our new neighbors. And there’s no doubt that we’re part of that hockey family – we’re entering the Mayor of Moscow Cup this year!
Traditionally, this tournament involved the capital’s top teams – CSKA, Dynamo, Spartak and first Krylya Sovietov, then in recent years Vityaz – but the 2021 edition has been expanded. Six teams will take part, split into two groups of three before the classification games on Saturday, Aug. 28. The Dragons are in a group with Spartak and Vityaz; CSKA, Dynamo and Amur compete on the other side of the draw.
Thus, with the help of so many good friends around us, we are able to put together a great plan for pre-season. And, this time around, there’s nothing to fear from any pandemic – the Dragons will be ready.