The New Generation. KRS Junior starts preseason training

Source: Club Press-Office


In the forthcoming season, our club will have a presence in every tier of the KHL system. This means that the hockey world’s favorite noun phrase of the summer, “preseason training,” now applies to more than one Kunlun Red Star roster, and life is no less interesting and exciting in the newer departments at the club. We now have MHL and VHL teams gearing up to make their debuts, and today we will devote our attention to the juniors’ side, called – appropriately enough - Kunlun Red Star Juniors.

The young dragons began their preparations for the first season in their history in a less-than-fascinating fashion, admittedly, by undergoing the mandatory medicals and physicals. These were conducted from the 3rd to the 5th of July, but, on Wednesday, the very first training session took place.

It was decided the youngsters’ first camp should be in Latvia, at the famous resort of Jurmala on the Baltic Sea. Here, on golden, sandy beaches in the shade of maritime pines, the players got down to the important business of building up their strength and fitness for what promises to be a highly challenging season. On Thursday, the team had their first session on the ice, and henceforth the training will be split between the Volvo Arena, the great outdoors, and the indoor gymnasiums – in other words, the same as for the seniors.

KRS Junior will be based in Jurmala until the 16th of July, and then move along the coast to another Latvian resort, Liepaja, where they will remain until the end of the month. From the 1st to the 12th of August, they will camp a little further north, at Imatra in Finland, before heading to Saint Petersburg, where the team will be able to sample the delights of the MHL with five games in five days, from the 14th to the 18th, in the New Generation tournament. The scheduled opposition are Dynamo Saint Petersburg, HC Riga, HC MVD Balashikha (Moscow Region), Almaz Cherepovets and the Amur Tigers Khabarovsk.

Having filled up on valuable tournament experience, the players and coaches will head for home, to Beijing, which will be their HQ for the final stage of the preseason. The Chinese capital will also host KRS Junior’s home games in the MHL Championship.

Thus, the young group will prepare for its maiden voyage in the 2017-18 season, during which they will be expected to put China on the MHL map - the same task the senior side achieved with such aplomb in the KHL.

The team which has been entrusted with this top-level mission is a genuine International Brigade. More than half of the thirty who began preseason training are Chinese, but there are also players from Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Canada.

The management and coaching staff is similarly multinational. Representing Latvia are Arnis Ritenieks, the fitness coach, and Raitis Pilsetnieks, general manager and a master of multi-tasking, as he is also general manager of Team China U18 and U20 teams, and is coordinating the preseason preparations of the club’s Canadian-based U18 team. Among the Russian contingent we find head coach Alexander Barkov and his assistants, Mikhail Sarmatin and Igor Gorbenko (son of Oleg Gorbenko, who last season assisted Vladimir Yurzinov in coaching the KHL team), while the goaltending coach is Pekka Korhonen of Finland. There are also, of course, a number of specialists from China on the staff.

Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and surely few would argue that having several teams represent our club (given that last year we only had one) makes the Kunlun Red Star story even more interesting. We will be casting the occasional glance toward the others, in due course, to make sure that your finger stays on the pulse.