Goaltender Alexei Murygin played the first 30 minutes of Torpedo’s friendly against Dynamo on Saturday — marking a return to the ice after two years of battling against serious illness. The 34-year-old is on a try-out in Nizhny Novgorod as he looks to prove his fitness after overcoming a carcinoma of the amygdala. He was diagnosed in Feb. 2019 and underwent treatment in Germany before getting the all-clear last September. Since then, the Khabarovsk native has been steadily recovering his fitness. Murygin holds the KHL record for most shut-outs in one season after producing 13 blanks in 2015-2016. In the same campaign, he set a league record of 302 minutes without allowing a goal as he backstopped Lokomotiv to third place in the Western Conference.
Kunlun Red Star appointed Ivano Zanatta as head coach for the coming season. The 60-year-old will also lead Team China at the Beijing Olympics in February. Zanatta replaces Alexei Kovalev, who returns to his assistant coaching role on the team after serving behind the bench last season. Zanatta, an Ontario native who also holds Italian citizenship, is no stranger to the KHL. He had a short spell as head coach of SKA in 2010-2011 and held several other roles within the Petersburg organization. He was also an assistant on the Lev Prague team that got to the 2014 Gagarin Cup final and had a similar role with HC Sochi. In international hockey, he was Team Italy’s GM in 2014-2015. Most recently, Zanatta worked as assistant coach at Dynamo St. Petersburg of the VHL.
The KRS organization also confirmed that Brian Idalski will return to Women’s Hockey League high-flyers KRS Vanke Rays and will also take charge of China’s Olympic team.
Czech defenseman Jakub Jerabek is continuing in the KHL. The 30-year-old from Plzen first played in our league in 2016-2017, producing 34 points in 59 games to help Vityaz make the playoffs. After two seasons in North America he returned to Podolsk in 2019 and played two more seasons with the Moscow Region team. He joins Spartak on a one-year deal.
Tuesday brings the first pre-season tournament action of the summer when the Sochi Hockey Open gets underway beside the Black Sea. The six-team event involves Gagarin Cup winner Avangard, Russia ‘B’, Avtomobilist, SKA, Traktor and host club HC Sochi. Each team will play four games and the winners will be determined on Saturday.
The postponed Women’s Hockey League final will be played on September 7, 10 and 11. Defending champion KRS Vanke Rays faces Agidel Ufa for the prize in a repeat of last year’s final. The first game will take place in Ufa before the action moves to Mytishchi for the remainder of the best-of-three series. The teams were initially due to play in March but the games had to be cancelled when several members of the Agidel camp tested positive for COVID-19. In the regular season, the Vanke Rays topped the table with Agidel level on points with SKIF. KRS swept Biryusa in the first round of the playoffs, while Agidel edged SKIF 2-1 with every game going to overtime.
Women’s hockey continues to grow and, as Russia’s World Championship squad assembles ahead of the tournament in Calgary later this month, the Women’s Hockey League announced the addition of two new clubs for the 2021-2022 season. From Chelyabinsk, the Beliye Medveditsy (Polar Bears) form part of the Traktor organization and will be coached by Igor Znarok, brother of three-time Gagarin Cup winner Oleg. Meanwhile, in Yaroslavl, the Ledyaniye Krylya (Ice Wings) team was also welcomed into the league, taking it up to 10 competitors for the new season. Unlike their Chelyabinsk counterparts, the Ice Wings have no connection with the local KHL team, Lokomotiv.