10 May 2022
KRS alumni take titles around Europe
It’s been a big season for Chinese hockey, with two sets of international gold medals to celebrate. But it’s also been a big year for many KRS alumni, who played on various winning teams around Europe. Here’s a rundown of who’s been in the medals in 2021/22
The Leijonat’s Olympic gold in Beijing was fitting: throughout Red Star’s history, our club has had a strong Finnish accent. And that influence was felt in this year’s Liiga, with Tappara taking the title. The Tampere-based team celebrated the opening of the new Nokia Arena (soon to host the IIHF World Championship elite) by taking the crown – all under the guidance of Jussi Tapola. You remember him; he was our head coach for our third season in the KHL. That team had a strong Finnish influence both on the ice and behind the bench and it included forward Veli-Matti Savinainen, who joined up with Tapola once again Tappara this term. Now 36, Savinainen arrived in Tampere from Jokerit just in time for a powerful playoff campaign that yielded 10 (8+2) points in 15 games.
Ocelari Trinec won its second successive title, and a former team-mate of Savinainen’s was one of three ex-Dragons on the championship roster. Tomas Kundratek (25 games, three assists in 2018/19) was a regular on the blue line there. The KRS connections continue: forward Tomas Marcinko (18 points in our debut season) was fourth in regular season scoring for the champion, while Martin Bakos (22 points alongside Marcinko in 2016/17) arrived from HC Sochi in time for the playoffs.
Farjestad celebrated its 10th Swedish title after defeating Lulea in game seven. That meant gold for ex-Dragon Patrik Lundh, whose assist created the opening goal in Thursday night’s 3-0 victory in the Swedish north. That was Lundh’s third helper of the playoffs and steered him towards his third Swedish title. Patrik played for KRS in 2018/19, and scored 21 (5+15) points in 61 games.
Hunter Shinkaruk, owner of the record productive streak for a KRS player, spent the season with HV71 and the Canadian helped return one of the big names of Swedish hockey back to its rightful place in the top flight. Hunter had 11 (3+8) points in 15 playoff appearances in Jonkoping after arriving in Sweden from Dinamo Riga. Also in Sweden, Vojtech Mozik (10 points in 23 games for KRS last season) joined HK Rogle from Admiral Vladivostok in time to help his new team finish top of the regular season standings. In playoff action, though, Mozik’s Rogle lost out to Lundh’s Farjestad team.
It was a dominant season for Grenoble’s Bruleurs de Loup – and an emphatic championship triumph evoked some memories of the first year in the Dragons’ lair. Our first ever club captain, Finnish defenseman Janne Jalasvaara, wore the ‘A’ as he added a Ligue Magnus crown to the two Gagarin Cups he won in Moscow. Forward Damien Fleury, meanwhile, led the league in scoring with 69 regular season points and 19 more in the playoffs. He won the Albert Hassler trophy for the best French player in the league for the second time in three seasons.
The Belfast Giants hoped they had a coup when they secured the services of Griffin Reinhart (33 games, two assists in 2019/20) for the Elite League campaign – and the ex-Dragons D-man delivered. The Giants won the league title and the challenge cup, with the Belfast defense impressing throughout the campaign. Reinhart, who wore the ‘A’ during the season, contributed 32 (3+29) points in 53 regular season appearances and won the club’s defenseman of the year award after a hugely successful year in Northern Ireland.
As well as our golden alumni, the Dragons saw several more players reach the finals of their team’s competitions. In the KHL, Metallurg’s Swedish forward Linus Videll and Russian goalie Ivan Nalimov were on the roster that lost out in game seven of the Gagarin Cup final against CSKA. Videll had 28 (9+19) points in his time with the Dragons and made a handy contribution of four goals in 15 games from Magnitka’s fourth line. Nalimov, meanwhile, was limited to just four appearances in his time in the Dragons’ lair and was understudy to Vasily Koshechkin during his season in Magnitogorsk.
Nearby, two Belarusians also got to grand finals. Defenseman Roman Graborenko was on the Arlan Kokshetau team that lost out in a seven-game thriller to Saryarka Karaganda in Kazakhstan, while forward Alexander Kitarov was a runner-up in his homeland where Yunost Minsk lost out to Metallurg Zhlobin in the final series.
Further afield, Josh Nicholls helped Storhamer to second place in Norway behind the perennial powerhouse from Stavanger.