The VHL and PVHL in 2018-19


Where we left off in the VHL: Dynamo St. Petersburg players celebrate winning the Petrov Cup earlier this spring.  (Image Source)

A couple of weeks ago we got the KHL schedule for 2018-19, and now we know the specifics of the upcoming season in Russia’s second- and third-tier men’s professional hockey leagues, the VHL and PVHL.  Both of the lower leagues have seen some shuffling of teams, so read on for those details and others…

The first big note of Friday’s VHL announcement was that Russia’s second-highest men’s professional league will be re-named for 2018-19, playing as the “VHL — Silk Road Cup.”  We talked a bit here about the planned Silk Road Cup a year ago, and while Friday’s announcement fell short of what was being discussed in 2017, it does indicate that the VHL is still thinking about the project at least at some level.  We will see if further expansion to central and eastern Asia (and elsewhere) occurs in coming seasons.  For now, the Silk Road Cup itself will be awarded to the league’s regular-season champions.  The playoff championship trophy will remain the Vladimir Petrov Cup, which was inaugurated this past season.

As far as the format of the VHL season is concerned, it will remain very similar to last year’s.  In 2018-19, the league will include 29 teams, up two from 2017-18’s 27 clubs.  As before, each team will play each other team twice during the regular season (once at home and once away), making 56 games for each team.  The top 16 teams will make the playoffs, paired up for the first playoff round using the 1 versus 16, 2 versus 15, 3 versus 14 etc. system.  One change from last year: the first round of the Petrov Cup playoffs will be best-of-five, followed by three best-of-seven rounds (in previous seasons, all playoff series were best-of-seven).

Three new teams are joining the VHL in 2018-19, and two of them longtime readers of the blog know quite well.  Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk and Lada Togliatti were contracted by the KHL after the 2017-18 season, but — as with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the summer of 2017 — have been accepted to play in the VHL.  Both Ugra and Lada have previous experience in Russia’s second league; Lada played played four seasons in the VHL between 2010 and 2014, while Ugra were there for a pair of campaigns from 2008-2010.  Of note: Ugra won the VHL championship in both their previous seasons in the league.  The two former KHL sides will be joined by HK Tambov, who were last seen winning the PVHL title (that’s Russia’s third-tier men’s professional league) just a few months ago.

There will also be one VHL team relocating, and one team dropping out.  KHL club Kunlun Red Star Beijing have decided to move their farm team from Harbin, and so Kunlun Red Star Heilongjiang, who finished 24th out of 27 last season and missed the playoffs, will become KRS ORG (many thanks to @fsjacktweets and @vorkywh24 for clearing up the transliteration of that name) and play out of China’s capital city.   And Sputnik Nizhny Tagil, who ended up in 26th place last season, will unfortunately fold; there had been talk of the team joining the third-tier PVHL, but that, it seems, is no longer a possibility (on the bright side, the children’s hockey programs of the club will apparently live on).


Yermak Angarsk (in orange) lay siege to the Zauralye Kurgan goal during a 2017-18 VHL game. (Image Source)

So it will be a net gain of two teams for the 2018-19 VHL season, with 25 based in Russia and two each from Kazakhstan and China.  The teams will be:

  • Bars Kazan
  • Buran Voronezh
  • Chelmet Chelyabinsk
  • Cheng Tou Jilin City
  • CSK VVS Samara
  • Dizel Penza
  • Gornyak Uchaly
  • Dynamo St. Petersburg
  • Izhstal Izhevsk
  • Khimik Voskresensk
  • Kunlun Red Star ORG Beijing
  • Lada Togliatti
  • Metallurg Novokuznetsk
  • Molot-Prikamye Perm
  • Neftyanik Almetyevsk
  • Rubin Tyumen
  • HK Ryazan
  • HK Sarov
  • Saryarka Karaganda
  • SKA-Neva St. Petersburg
  • Sokol Krasnoyarsk
  • HK Tambov
  • Toros Neftekamsk
  • Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
  • Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk
  • Yermak Angarsk
  • Yuzhny Ural Orsk
  • Zauralye Kurgan
  • Zvezda Chekhov

The 2018-19 VHL – Silk Road Cup regular season will begin on September 5th (link is a PDF, in Russian), with a re-match of last year’s finalists; defending Petrov Cup champions Dynamo St. Petersburg will host SKA-Neva St. Petersburg to get 2018-19 underway.  The regular season will wrap up on February 24th.


The afore-mentioned PVHL is operated by the VHL, so no surprise that Russia’s third-level men’s pro league also announced its 2018-19 schedule and roster of teams on Friday.  As already discussed, the PVHL sees its reigning champions, HK Tambov, depart for the VHL, while Yunior-Sputnik Nizhny Tagil, junior team of the above-mentioned Sputnik Nizhny Tagil are folding along with their parent team.

The PVHL will also have two new arrivals from the NMHL, which is Russia’s second-level men’s junior league:  Yuzhny Ural-Metallurg Orsk (youth team of VHL club Yuzhny Ural Orsk) and Krasnoyarskie Rysi (junior side of VHL club Sokol Krasnoyarsk).  Technically, both of those will be junior teams in an adult league, but that is not unprecedented for the PVHL; indeed, the departing Yunior-Sputnik were another recent example (a cautionary one, perhaps, as they finished dead last in 2017-18 with a record of 10-28, although the club was suffering severe financial problems).


Kristall Saratov (in blue) versus Mordoviya Saransk during the 2017-18 PVHL season. (Image Source)

So once all the comings and goings are sorted out, the PVHL will once again be a nine-team league in 2018-19, with the roster of teams as follows (all clubs are based in Russia):

  • Altai Barnaul
  • HK Cheboksary
  • HK Chelny
  • Krasnoyarskie Rysi (Krasnoyarsk)
  • Kristall Saratov
  • Mordoviya Saransk
  • HK Rostov
  • Yunior Kurgan
  • Yuzhny Ural-Metallurg Orsk

The league format will be as before, and it is a bit of an odd one.  In the first phase of the regular season, from September 14th to December 27th (link is a PDF, in Russian), the teams will play each other four times each, twice home and twice away.  The second phase (January 8th to March 3rd) will see each squad play four teams twice at home, and the other four twice on the road.  The exact schedule and matchups for that stage will be determined by the standings from the first phase.  When all is said and done, the top eight teams make the three-round playoffs.  The first round of the post-season will be best-of-five, while the semifinals and final will be best-of-seven.  Unlike in previous seasons, it does appear that the PVHL will hold a best-of-three third-place series in 2018-19.


Thank you for reading!  KHL team previews will continue this week, while we await scheduling news from Russia’s junior leagues (the MHL and NMHL) and from the Women’s Hockey League.  Those stories will appear as soon as we have them!


Posted on July 24, 2018, in 2018-19, Pervenstvo VHL, VHL. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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