17 October 2018
A few weeks ago Red Star recorded its first ever win over Ak Bars, the current Gagarin Cup holder. Today it added a victory against last season’s runner-up, CSKA, by the same 4-3 scoreline.
Wednesday’s game in Moscow marked a winning debut for newly-signed goalie Barry Brust. The experienced former Medvescak, Ugra and Slovan netminder made 34 saves as the Army Men launched a barrage at our goal late in the game. And there were notable contributions from Olli Palola, with two goals, and Taylor Beck with a goal and an assist. Ville Lajunen picked up his 10th helper of the season to continue his own productive streak.
Against opposition of this calibre, it’s vital to get off to a solid start. Red Star more than fulfilled that task. Palola’s first of the game arrived after just 65 seconds. Patrik Lundh made the interception to launch our first attack of the game; his pass was perfectly weighted for Palola to race through and beat Sorokin to the stick side. Then it got even better. CSKA picked up the first penalty of the game and Beck duly took the chance on the power play. Our forward has now picked up points in his last five appearances and moves on to 17 (7+10) for the season.
That made it 2-0 at the first intermission, and who could say the lead was not deserved? There was little to choose between the teams in terms of balance of play, but Red Star had taken its chances – and there were relatively few at either end – to claim the early initiative.
Earlier in the season, though, CSKA opened a 2-0 first period lead in Shanghai and went on to a comfortable victory. The Army Men’s first goal that day went to Kirill Kaprizov off a Mikhail Grigorenko assist. This time the pair combined again to reduce the deficit in the second period. Given the firepower at host’s disposal, it was easy to fear that Kunlun would struggle to hold its lead. Instead, though, our guys not only maintained the advantage but extended it. Victor Bartley’s emphatic slap shot made it 3-1 in the 33rd minute – Beck with the feed for to the point where our defenseman was poised. That was Bartley’s first goal since that win at Ak Bars and it paid a big role in ensuring that our belief in victory never wavered.
Early in the third, another Red Star power play resulted in another goal. Palola got it, finishing off a neat passing move that brought the play from one end of the ice to the other. Lajunen and Michael Latta claimed the assists, but this was a true team goal. It also ensured a 100% power play conversion rate on the night – a vital part of securing the win.
At 4-1, things were comfortable. But CSKA hadn’t won its last 12 games without showing plenty of spirit. Konstantin Okulov pulled one back. An offside decision denied the home team another. Sorokin headed to the bench and Okulov struck again during a 6-on-5 passage. Sorokin briefly returned to the ice before disappearing for the rest of the game, CSKA pushed the third-period shot count to 18-4. But Brust came up with the saves, our players put their bodies on the line and despite the relentless pressure, Red Star held on for another famous victory.