Off the mark

19 September 2020

Kunlun Red Star 2 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 SO

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The Dragons have their first point of the season! A battling display at home to Salavat Yulaev saw our guys take one of the early season pace-setters the full distance before finally succumbing in the post-game shoot-out.

Once again, we had new players on the roster. Luke Lockhart and Spencer Foo, signed up again, need no introduction to Red Star fans. Spencer brought younger brother Parker, a 22-year-old left winger graduating into senior hockey after three years of NCAA action with Union College. And Mikhail Sidorov, a promising young Russian defenseman made his debut for the club on a try-out. The 23-year-old was part of Ak Bars’ 2018 Gagarin Cup winning roster and also helped Russia to World Junior bronze. He joins us from Lokomotiv.

Despite the new faces, the team was still short of numbers on defense. Igor Ulanov, continuing to stand in for Alexei Kovalev, named six blue-liners, but two of them – Lockhart and Viktor Shakhvorostov – are normally deployed as forwards. Against one of the most potent offenses in the league, it promised to be a tough examination.

And Ufa certainly gave it everything. Over the 65 minutes, Dmitry Shikin faced 54 shots – and stopped 52 of them. Another brave performance from our summer signing from HC Sochi went a long way towards securing our first point of the season. At the other end, Spencer Foo wasted little time in reminding us what he can do. Late in the first period, Foo bamboozled Belarusian international defenseman Dmitry Korobov, turning him inside out before shooting home the opening goal. That’s some way to re-introduce yourself to the KHL, Spencer!

He wasn’t done there, either. Midway through the second, with Ufa up 2-1, his opportunist shot from the circle forced Juha Metsola to pad the puck into the danger zone and Ivan Nikolishin gobbled up the rebound to tie the game. That moves Nikolishin onto three goals for the season, level with German Shaporev.

Despite the visitor’s regular attempts on Shikin’s net, Red Star might have scored more. Salavat’s first penalty saw Ethan Werek lead a breakaway that ended with a shot against Metsola’s post, then in overtime Hunter Shinkaruk twice had one-on-one looks at the Finnish goalie, only to be denied a game-winner. At the other end, Shikin oozed composure, resisting the fusillade that rained in on him and taking the game all the way to a shoot-out.

That was where the story ended: Metsola proved equal to all our attempts, while Alexander Kadeikin and Dmitry Kugryshev found the net at the other end. The victory went to Ufa, but in the context of the difficulties faced by KRS, this was a performance to be proud of.

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