Yaroslav Askarov is hotly tipped as the next great Russian goaltending talent – and the 17-year-old lived up to his potential with a game-winning performance on his KHL debut for SKA. Only Ilya Sorokin has started a KHL game between the piping at a younger age, and that by just eight days. The Omsk native also became the first netminder born in the 21st century to get a start in the big league. However, followers of the international game already knew about the big goalie. He gained international prominence with a game-winning performance in the World U18 semi-final against the USA last season. The Americans, with the prodigious Jack Hughes leading the roster, were red-hot favorites for gold; Askarov’s 40 saves in the game, plus five more in the shoot-out, ended that dream. In the summer he was back on the international scene, backstopping Russia to victory at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament
FONBET All-Star Game – Gretsky #99 in line for an appearance
Gretzky #99 made 18 NHL All-Star appearances in his glittering career – plus one in the WHA All-Star Series against Dynamo Moscow back in 1979. Now, Gretsky #99 is poised to make his KHL All-Star debut – and like his celebrated near-namesake, there is a Dynamo connection for the Dinamo Minsk forward. The little-known 22-year-old has swept to the top of the fan poll in the Tarasov Division despite making the first of his seven KHL appearances this season. So far, he’s outvoting CSKA star Kirill Kaprizov thanks to a Belarusian flashmob eager to celebrate a famous name. And while the original Gretzky All-Star outing involved action against Dynamo, Vyacheslav Gretsky is set to take his FONBET All-Star bow at Dynamo’s VTB Arena in Moscow next month. The Gretzky / Gretsky connection may not be pure coincidence, either: Wayne’s grandfather, Anton, left his native Grodno in Belarus shortly before the Russian Revolution and moved to Canada.
Photo courtesy of photo.khl.ru