A double dose of history

Source: Club Press-Office

03.10.2016

SPARTAK MOSCOW 0 KUNLUN RED STAR 1

The start of a new month opened up a new chapter in Kunlun’s history … and despite the lack of goal action in Moscow the minimalist scoreline of Red Star’s latest triumph cemented two further ‘firsts’ in the annals of the club.

The only goal of the game came off an assist from Zach Yuen, our versatile young Chinese-Canadian prospect. Not only was it the 23-year-old’s first point of the season, not only did it create the game-winner, but it was also the first ever point by a Chinese-eligible player in KHL action. Our club was established with an explicit aim to promote hockey in China and nurture local talent to switch on a vast new audience for the game, but many greeted the idea that Chinese players would contribute from the start with polite scepticism at best.

Yuen, though, is quietly proving the nay-sayers wrong. He has demonstrated a willingness to play as a blue-liner, or to contribute his bulk to the offense as a stand-in center when required. It’s a flexibility that is helping him to gain plenty of ice time: in this game, he had 25 shifts for a total of 16:39 in action – hardly the stats of a makeweight player. And, crucially, he found the key to unlock Spartak’s defense midway through the second period, releasing Damien Fleury on a raid that ended with Max Warn firing home the only goal.

Warn’s strike ended an unhappy sequence for our forwards. After Anssi Salmela scored on Ak Bars back on Sep. 22, three full games went by without anything much for us to celebrate. The total blank run stretched to 246 minutes, 22 seconds. It was ironic that Spartak was the victim as that run came to an end: the Red-and-Whites hold the KHL record for minutes without a goal, suffering 317 minutes, two seconds of misfiring forwards in 2012.

The home offense was blunted here as well, enabling goalie Andrei Makarov to join Yuen in the history books. The goalie, also 23 years old, made an incredible 46 saves in a flawless display to preserve our lead to the last and claim Kunlun’s first ever shut-out.

It won’t be long before we get to see Spartak again – the Moscow team is heading to Shanghai on October 6. Before that we entertain HC Sochi on October 4, with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod concluding our latest run of home games.