27 June 2021
As a part of our 5th anniversary celebrations, let’s talk about age. Kunlun Red Star has never iced the youngest rosters in the KHL, despite being the youngest club in the tournament. But that doesn’t mean the Dragons are short of talented prospects. During the 2020/2021 season we twice saw a club record broken as first German Shaporev then Andrei Bakanov became our youngest ever goalscorer. Indeed, four of the top 10 youngest scorers for the club opened their account with us during the campaign. Here’s the current top 10.
Number 10 – Zach Yuen vs Amur, Oct. 27, 2016. Age 23 years, 7 months, 24 days
This was a significant milestone for the club. Zach didn’t set a new age record for the team with this game-winner in Khabarovsk, but he did become the first Chinese-eligible player to score in the KHL. That followed his earlier entry into the history books with an assist in a 1-0 win at Spartak, making him the first Chinese player to get a point in the league. A versatile contributor, happy on offense or defense, Yuen played three seasons with the first team, making 121 appearances (five in the playoffs) and contributing 17 (7+10) points.
Number 9 – Tyler Wong vs Traktor, Sep. 15, 2019. Age 23 years, 6 months, 18 days
Wong has been such a big contributor to our team in his two seasons to date that it’s easy to forget he’s still a young player. He came to our team as a 23-year-old with a point to prove: a devastating scorer in junior hockey with Lethbridge Hurricanes, Tyler had struggled to display the same productivity in two seasons of adult hockey in the AHL and ECHL. But with the Dragons, he found his home. His first goal came in his sixth game for the club, helping us to a 2-1 win over Traktor in front of a bumper crowd in Shenzhen. And it was only the start: Tyler finished his first season tied with Brandon Yip as our top scorer with 31 (15+16) points.
Number 8 – Vadim Pereskokov vs Admiral, Sep. 5, 2016. Age 23 years, 0 months, 9 days
It was the Dragons’ first game in Beijing and, in front of a 7,832 crowd at the Le Sports Center, Red Star started in style with a 6-3 win. For Pereskokov, it was a successful debut for the team. The former CSKA prospect celebrated his 23rd birthday just before the start of the season and gave himself the perfect gift with his first goal in the KHL. He scored late in the first period to put us up 2-1 as big-league hockey arrived in China.
Number 7 – Parker Foo vs Dinamo Riga, Nov. 16, 2020. Age 22 years, 1 month, 25 days
Parker followed his older brother Spencer into the Dragons’ Lair after graduating Union College in 2020. It wasn’t the easiest introduction to the pro game, but Parker let nobody down with a hard-working campaign. Among the highlights, his first goal came in Latvia during a 3-5 loss to Dinamo Riga when he cancelled out an early opener from Andris Dzerins. Parker made 32 appearances last season, contributing two goals and one assist.
Number 6 – Chris Seto vs Salavat Yulaev, Jan. 8, 2019. Age 21 years, 6 months, 29 days.
Chris spent much of his time with our club playing in the VHL and only made 19 appearances in the KHL. But he still found time to grab a goal and, when he beat Juha Metsola after just two minutes in Ufa, he became our second youngest goalscorer ever. It wasn’t enough to prevent a 4-7 loss, however. Seto, another player with Chinese heritage, continued to score consistently in the VHL in 2019/20, but was unable to find a team after we were forced to withdraw from the second-tier competition during the current pandemic. He’s due back on the ice next season with Neuilly-sur-Marne in France.
Number 5 – Alexei Toropchenko vs Torpedo, Oct. 19, 2020. Age 21 years, 3 months, 24 days
Amid the uncertainty that shrouded the 2020/21 season, many players found themselves making unexpected moves to get themselves game time. Alexei Toropchenko, drafted by St. Louis Blues, was one of them. After a season in the AHL, he was hoping to stake his claim for a bigger role within the organization, but with little clarity about how the season would pan out in North America, a loan move back to Europe was the sensible option for all concerned. And the Dragons reaped the benefit, recruiting a promising young forward with a hugely competitive streak. Despite a tough start – playing one game, then having to quarantine – Alexei scored in his third appearance, helping us to a 3-1 win over Torpedo. He finished the season with 11 (7+4) points.
Number 4 – Rudi Ying vs Admiral, Feb. 20, 2019. Age 20 years, 6 months, 4 days
Ying fired himself into second place on the list of the Dragons’ youngest goalscorers when he potted the game-winner against Admiral. But that wasn’t the most notable thing about the goal, nor the game. This was a special occasion for our team, marking a return to Beijing after a long spell in ‘exile’ in Shanghai. The brand-new, purpose-built Shougang Arena was almost full to capacity and, as coincidence would have it, the first opponent was the same Admiral team that played in our first ever home game. On both occasions we got a 6-3 win. This time, Beijing-born Ying also achieved a memorable record: his was the first goal scored in the KHL by a Chinese-born player.
Number 3 – Pavel Vorobei vs Jokerit, Sep. 9, 2017. Age 19 years, 11 months, 30 days
The first teenager to score for KRS was Belarusian defenseman Pavel Vorobei. He scored on the power play during a 1-4 loss at home to Jokerit during his first season on the team. Vorobei was a regular on our blue line in that 2017/18 campaign, scoring 12 (4+8) points in 52 games. He then added two more goals for Belarus at the World Championship. However, the following season saw his form take a downturn and he moved to Sibir. Last season he had a spell with Vityaz.
Number 2 – German Shaporev vs Barys, Sep. 10, 2020. Age 19 years, 11 months, 18 days
Vorobei’s record was broken by Shaporev at the start of the 2020/21 season. This young forward made a name for himself during the 2020 All-Star week, when he was called into the KHL All-Star Game as one of the four top youngsters from the Junior Hockey League showcase earlier in the week. At that time, he was in the Avangard system but didn’t get a chance with the Hawks and came to us. During the chaotic start to the season, Shaporev stood out. He got his first goal against Barys, then added two more in the next game against Sibir. However, he was unable to sustain that form and after 10 appearances dropped back into the VHL before eventually leaving the club to join Vityaz.
Number 1 – Andrei Bakanov vs Traktor, Oct. 7, 2020. Age 18 years, 4 months, 9 days
Like Toropchenko, Bakanov opted to return to Europe amid the uncertainty of the summer. And, like Toropchenko, it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Andrei scored in his second game for the club, overtaking Shaporev’s record within a month. Often used as the 13th forward, Bakanov often had to bide his time and wait for chances to impress. However, he finished the season with four goals and one assist in 32 games, despite averaging less than five minutes on the ice. After leaving the club at the end of the season, he is expected to continue in the KHL next term with Sochi.