League leader pushed all the way

20 September 2019

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 5 Kunlun Red Star 4 OT

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Two goals from Tyler Wong helped to earn Red Star a point at undefeated league leader Avtomobilist – and a battling performance might easily have halted the Motormen’s winning start to the season. No team so far managed to score four against Avto this season as the Dragons pushed one of the Eastern Conference powerhouses all the way before missing out to an overtime goal from Brooks Macek.

That strike, squeezed past Jeremy Smith from a tight angle in the first minute of overtime, ensured that the home team secured the verdict. But Kunlun can be greatly encouraged by a performance that suggests it is capable of giving all comers a game in this season’s KHL.

Red Star showed that it wasn’t going to be intimidated by reputations. In the first period it went toe-to-toe with its high-flying opponent and, had it not been for another rash of penalties, could have enjoyed even better than the 2-1 lead it took to the intermission.

Wong opened the scoring in the fourth minute, stuffing the puck home at the back door after Adam Cracknell fired across the face of the goal. Avto tied the game on the power play a few minutes later, but Wong got his second of the night to restore the Dragons’ advantage.

However, penalty trouble struck again at the end of the first and Macek took advantage early in the second to tie the game again. Artyom Gareyev’s one-timer gave Avto its first lead of the night in the 26th minute and many in the home crowd sat back to wait for the inevitable.

But it’s never wise to underestimate dragons. The scores were tied inside two minutes when Red Star needed just 17 second to convert its first power play of the game. Mathew Maione’s shot forced Jakub Kovar to give up a big rebound and as the Czech goalie scrambled to track the puck, Andrew Miller calmly slotted home his first ever KHL goal. Avto got back in front when Peter Holland converted the rebound after a Nigel Dawes shot cannoned back off the boards.

Still Red Star was not done. Early in the second period, Andrej Sustr took control in his own zone, Trevor Murphy’s diagonal feed went to Lockhart and the forward skated up from the point to smash home a shot that deceived Kovar and flew into the net. Lockhart’s effort forced overtime, but Macek’s double ultimately secured the win.

However, in a game against the KHL’s in-form leader, Kunlun can take great heart from its performance. Over 60 minutes, our guys matched Avto in all the key areas: goals scored, shots on goal, blocked shots and time on the attack. Performances of this caliber, over the course of the season, will surely result in more wins than losses.

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Kunlun Red Star