Captain strikes

10 October 2019

Kunlun Red Star 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 OT


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An overtime strike from captain Brandon Yip made it back-to-back wins for Red Star and continued the Dragons’ happy homecoming in Beijing. With 31 saves from Simon Hrubec at one end and goals from Yip and Tyler Wong at the other, Red Star produced a battling performance to produce a repeat of Wednesday’s 2-1 scoreline and collect its third victory of the season against Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team.

Red Star began the game at a high tempo, eager to complete a winning double header for the first time this season. In the early exchanges, Konstantin Barulin was by far the busier of the goalies and the opening goal duly arrived in the 13th minute. Andrej Sustr sent Wong into the visitor’s zone. Our forward surged inside from the left-hand boards, producing a determined rush that put defenseman Ryan Murphy in two minds and opened up a path towards a shooting lane from the top of the circle. That was Wong’s sixth goal of the season.

Subsequently, though, Neftekhimik raised its game and Hrubec – continuing after backstopping yesterday’s win – showed his mettle. First, he did well to stop a powerful one-timer from Pavel Poryadin, the visitor’s leading goalscorer this season. Then, late in the frame, Rafael Bikmullin got clean through on our net but the Czech halted his progress.

The second period brought more chances at both ends, but no further goals. David Bondra, back in the team in place of Garet Hunt, tested Barulin a couple of times; Victor Bartley’s shot from the blue line caused confusion in front of the Neftekhimik net. At the other end, Timur Khafizov was an energetic presence on the slot and arguably should have done better late in the frame when a power play chance went begging. There was another anxious moment when Andrei Sergeyev fired the puck into the danger zone and a deflection off Mathew Maione took it away from Hrubec but – happily – past the far post.

Neftekhimik began the third period on the power play and after Red Star killed that penalty the home team found itself shorthanded once again seconds later. Again, though the PK was solid; Stepan Zakharchuk got off one powerful shot but Hrubec was equal to it and the teams were soon back at equal strength. Neftekhimik continued to press and Hrubec continued to impress, making another smart stop to deny Timur Sharifyanov.

However, the pressure took its toll. Pavel Poryadin’s shot flashed through traffic and wrongfooted Hrubec. The goalie made the block but the rebound ended up in the net after the efforts of Maxim Groshev and Zack Mitchell.

The Dragons almost hit back immediately when Mathew Maione prevented Neftekhimik from vacating its zone and found Ethan Werek in the danger zone. Werek found Brandon DeFazio, but the forward could not apply the finishing touch. And Werek had another great chance to win the game with a couple of minutes left, but once again Barulin said no and the game went to overtime.

The extras did not last long. Trevor Murphy came charging into Neftekhimik territory and found Yip; our captain made no mistake to beat Barulin and secure the win after just 22 seconds of overtime.

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