The KHL has officially expanded into China this year – and as of this week, the KHL has officially seen its Chinese franchise take home a win.
HC Kunlun Red Star, the newly created expansion club in Beijing, took home a 3-1 victory against Barys Astana in a preseason friendly match against the Kazakhstan-based club.
Although it was just a warm-up match, it served as the first time that Red Star had managed to walk away from a game victorious, after losing three straight games at preseason camp in Finland already. It was also the first game played in front of a significant crowd; after facing Spartak Moscow, Traktor Chelyabinsk, and Amur Khabarovsk in a practice arena, Beijing’s club took home its first win while playing at Barys Arena (which seats 12,000).
The game didn’t start out in Kunlun’s favor, with Barys scoring on the power play in the first period. Three consecutive goals in the final two periods, though – including two goals for American-born forward Chad Rau and the first-ever game winning goal in franchise history by Finnish forward Tuukka Mantyla – helped Kunlun seal their victory.
The game wasn’t just about scoring, either.
With a collective 196 penalty minutes racked up between the two clubs, China’s new franchise came out with a bang. The end of the game saw three players per team take home fighting majors (which dish out 5+20 sentences in the KHL) during a brawl, which certainly cements an early rivalry being established between the founding KHL club in Barys and the newest franchise.
For those who missed this, though, there will be another opportunity to see the two teams clash again in just a few days. The President of Kazakhstan’s Cup, which serves as Astana’s opening events of the year, will see Kunlun and Astana go head-to-head once again this coming Monday.