1 Сен, Чт

Москва (19:00)

2 Сен, Пт

Екатеринбург (17:00)

2 Сен, Пт

Челябинск (17:00)

2 Сен, Пт

Мытищи (19:00)

2 Сен, Пт

Москва (19:30)

2 Сен, Пт

Сочи (19:30)

3 Сен, Сб

Москва (13:00)

3 Сен, Сб

Балашиха (14:00)

3 Сен, Сб

Минск (16:30)

3 Сен, Сб

Санкт-Петербург (17:00)

3 Сен, Сб

Москва (17:00)

3 Сен, Сб

Нижний Новгород (18:00)

4 Сен, Вс

Екатеринбург (14:30)

4 Сен, Вс

Челябинск (14:30)

4 Сен, Вс

Мытищи (17:00)

4 Сен, Вс

Москва (17:00)

4 Сен, Вс

Сочи (17:00)

5 Сен, Пн

Балашиха (19:00)

5 Сен, Пн

Москва (19:00)

5 Сен, Пн

Минск (19:10)

5 Сен, Пн

Москва (19:30)

5 Сен, Пн

Санкт-Петербург (19:30)

News
“You cannot lose concentration for a second”

We will start with the most important question. How are you? Early in the third period, you took a heavy hit while making a break from defense.

Zach Yuen: I’m fine. I took a hit to the elbow, yes, but it looked worse than it was. It’s the playoffs.

You did what most teams have failed to do: you stopped Mozyakin, Zaripov, and Kovar from scoring, but you still found yourself on the losing side. Is that very frustrating?

Zach Yuen: They are the champions. They have that depth of talent, and that is why they have won the Gagarin Cup twice in three years. They have a core of good players who have been together for a while. That is what we have to aim for.

“The confidence was there right from the beginning.”

In August, Red Star Kunlun was seen as a novelty, and now, just six months later you are a serious contender, one which qualified for the playoffs and has shown it can cause the Gagarin Cup holder problems on the champion’s own ice. Few could deny this a tremendous achievement. How did you do it?

Zach Yuen: We have a great coaching staff and there has always been a great team spirit. Even despite the language barrier - there are seven different languages spoken in the locker room. It’s true some of the team already knew each other, like the guys from Finland, for example. But there is a great team spirit.

Was there a moment during the season – maybe a victory or a series of good results - when the team realized that it had a real chance of reaching the playoffs and the confidence grew?

Zach Yuen: The confidence was there right from the beginning. We started the season with a win over Amur in Khabarovsk followed by another over Admiral in Shanghai, so it’s not as if we had to climb up the standings. We spent most of the season hovering around 6th to 8th place. Others might have doubted us at the start of the season, but we were always confident that we could qualify for the playoffs.

You are still only 23. Do you think you have become a better player over the course of this season?

Zach Yuen: Yes, it is the KHL, the second strongest league in the world after the NHL, so of course I am a better player after spending a season here.

“I’m still not used to the traveling, but it’s no problem”

Was it easy to adapt after crossing the ocean? How do you find the larger playing surface?

Zach Yuen: I prefer the bigger rink. It suits my style more. I’m not one of the big guys – well, I’m average size, but my game is more based on skill and speed, and the extra space gives me more freedom to play to my strengths.

How about the long distances?

Zach Yuen: The travel is something else, especially coming from North America, where it is usually on buses and it might take two or three hours. It’s not so much the time but the time difference, with some road trips crossing seven time zones. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it, but it’s not a problem.

“There are no days off during the playoffs”

You said you have family in Hong Kong. It is still a long way from Beijing, of course, but have any of them travelled to see you play?

Zach Yuen: It’s not really that far, so yes, my relations in Hong Kong came to see me play, and my parents also came over from Vancouver to visit.

Obviously, hockey players must focus on the next game, but may I ask about your long-term goal, and the goal of the government of China? The task is to put together a national team to compete for medals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Zach Yuen: Five years is not a very long time, in hockey terms, and there is a long way to go before the system matches that in North America. Hockey schools are a new thing in a country where everything is traditionally academic-based, but there are plenty of youngsters coming through. The government wants hockey to be popular across China, not just in Beijing, and they are building hundreds of hockey rinks all around the country.

Back to the immediate future. Tomorrow you face Magnitka again. Is it possible to relax and switch off on days between playoff games?

Zach Yuen: The playoffs are pretty intense. There are moments when I can relax, but I don’t really want to switch off. You don’t have any days off during the playoffs. And I want to focus on getting the job done.