Freak show

14 November 2020

Kunlun Red Star 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 5

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A freak goal in Dmitry Shikin’s net and two short-handed tallies for Traktor sent the Dragons spinning to a fifth successive loss – and a third defeat of the season at the hands of this opponent.

After a difficult two-game road trip, Red Star briefly touched base in Mytishchi for one night only. But against an in-form opponent – today’s win make it 10 from 12 for Traktor – not even home ice advantage could help despite a battling performance.

Traktor seized the initiative almost from the first whistle and dominated the first period. Three Red Star penalties helped our visitor to an 18-8 lead on the shot count as it spent more than three times as long on the attack in the opening frame. But the only goal of the session was one that could legitimately be put down to misfortune. Sergei Telegin, last seen chipping the puck into Dinamo Riga’s net from deep in his own zone, enjoyed another slice of outrageous good fortune to open the scoring in the 13th minute of play. There was little danger when he looked to fire in the puck from the left channel. However, a wicked deflection off a Red Star stick saw the disk loop crazily into the air and drop behind the luckless Shikin in our net.

Telegin’s goal against Riga was a short-handed effort and that’s been something of a calling card for Traktor this season. Coming into today’s game, Anvar Gatiyatullin’s men led the league with six tallies when playing a man short. In the second period today, they took it to eight. First, a defensive error ended up with Alexander Avtsin scoring on us in the 23rd minute. Avtsin later got an unexpected ‘transfer’, dumped onto our bench after a booming hit from Danny Kristo. Then, late in the frame, Yaroslav Kosov got the second short-handed goal of the game, storming up the ice after another turnover and winning his duel with Shikin to make it 3-0.

This time, though, there was a quick response. Barely had Pontus Aberg returned to the game then Red Star pulled a goal back. Wong was the architect, turning into space at the top of the circle and firing in a shot before Luke Lockhart won his battle on the slot to force home the rebound. After firing blanks in Nizhny Novgorod last time out, finding the target at last was a big boost for the team.

There was more to come. At the start of the third period the Dragons got a power play goal and started to compensate for the goals that Traktor grabbed on the PK in the middle session. Hunter Shinkaruk, whose perceptive play caused problems for the opposition all night, made a drop pass for Kristo and our American forward stepped up to wire his wrist shot through traffic and make it 2-3. Game on, despite our earlier problems.

There was a setback, though, when Kosov got his second of the game, a simple finish after a neat combination involving Avtsin and Ruslan Karlin. Subsequently, Traktor had to work hard to subdue our forwards as Red Star continued to look for a way back into the game. With 18 seconds left, at last, we prized the door open an inch when Sam Lofquist’s point shot enabled Ethan Werek to grab his fourth of the season from close range. One goal to find, a time out, and back into action with an extra attacker in a bid to save the game.

However, it didn’t work out. Traktor regained possession and even though Alexei Byvaltsev’s shot at an empty net was blocked by a defenseman, the officials awarded the goal for handling the puck. Once again, our visitor enjoyed an unusual route to goal; that was the story of this game.

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