16 December 2022
First ever international 3×3 sees Chinese team face Russia, Belarus
It might be time for an international break, but there’s no rest for Red Star. As well as preparing for our return to KHL action in Kazan on Monday, several of our players took part in the world’s first international 3×3 hockey tournament.
The games took place in Moscow, where China was invited to join a mini-tournament involving Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Fittingly, for the fast-paced 3×3 format, the whole event was done in an evening: the puck dropped at 1900 and the trophy was presented before 2230.
3×3 hockey is played on a full-size rink, but it has some different rules compared with the game we’re used to seeing. Apart from the obvious reduction in personnel, the action moves much faster. Each game consists of three seven-minute periods. In the event of a tie, it’s straight to a shoot-out. Instead of players going to the sin bin, any foul also results in a penalty shot. There are no icings, since players are encouraged to look for stretch passes to turn defense into offense. Hits are banned, because the emphasis is on technical skill rather than brute force.
China’s roster came entirely from the Red Star ranks. The team combined home-grown and heritage players, and there was a mix of Olympians and prospects. Sun Zehao took on the goaltending duties. Our defense comprised Chen Zimeng, Jason Fram, Liam Ross, Ryan Sproul and Yan Ruinan. On offense, captain Zhang Zesen was joined by Guo Jianing, Cliff Pu, Josh Nicholls, Alex Riche and Ethan Werek.
Game one pitted the Dragons against Belarus. In a hard-fought battle against the eventual champion, our guys suffered a 3-5 loss. The goals came from Zhang, Ross and Nicholls, with assists from Fram and Sproul.
That meant China went into a bronze-medal playoff and, somewhat surprisingly, faced Russia. In the second semi-final, Kazakhstan defeated the tournament host in a shoot-out. Now, a roster where eight out of 14 players came from SKA St. Petersburg would face our Dragons.
Unfortunately for us, the Russians used that semi-final to iron out any glitches in their 3-on-3 play. In the third-place playoff, the Red Machine motored to a 9-2 victory. Both Chinese goals came in the second period. Josh Nicholls pulled one back early in the session, assisted by Sproul and Pu. Then Nicholls turned provider as Sproully got our second of the game. However, it made little difference to the final outcome as Russia proved too strong.
The final saw Belarus play Kazakhstan and this game, too, was one-sided. Belarus powered to a 7-1 victory to lift the cup.