20 July 2022
It’s all change for the KRS women’s team. Brian Idalski, head coach of the Lady Dragons, is moving on after three trophy-laden seasons, and the team is adopting a new name ahead of the 2022/23 Russian WHL season.
In future, the club will be known as Shenzhen Kunlun Red Star, a name that reinforces the connection between our organization’s seniors men’s and women’s programs. It also references KRS’s commitment to developing ice hockey in the southern city of Shenzhen, where we recently opened a new rink as the centerpiece of our program to recruit young talent.
At the top end of the program, Shenzhen KRS welcomes a new management team ahead of the coming season. Nursultan Otarbayev takes on the GM role, having served in that capacity for Team China men and women in their promotion-winning World Championship campaigns last season. Earlier, Nursultan held several management posts with Kunlun Red Star, including two seasons as club vice president.
Scott Spencer will be the new head coach. Scott has extensive experience behind the bench in the Women’s NCAA, where he had five seasons in charge of Lindenwood University. Scott arrived in Missouri shortly after the program stepped up to the NCAA and set records for the most wins in a season at that level. He also led the team to a CHA Conference semi-final in 2017. More recently, Spencer was assistant coach at Mercyhurst University last season.
This will be Spencer’s first role outside of North America – but he has KRS connections. Melanie Jue, our new assistant coach, credits Scott with giving her an entrance into pro coaching. The two worked together at Lindenwood before Melanie took the chance to return to the ice and join the fledgling KRS women’s program as a player back in 2017/18. Her versatile contributions across four seasons on the team brought her a Russian championship medal in 2020. Last season, Jue was an assistant coach on China’s golden World Championship Division IB team.
In recent seasons, Melanie has also worked with KRS team-mates Kimberly Newell and Rachel Llanes at Empower Hockey. Empower is a highly successful development program for female players, nurturing the skills of a new generation of talented women hockey stars.
Outgoing head coach Brian Idalski is returning to work in the NCAA. He’s going back to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota where he will work as head coach of the women’s program. Previously, Idalski was assistant coach on the St. Cloud women’s team, working under Jeff Giesen in 2006/07.