17 November 2020
Dinamo Riga 5 Kunlun Red Star 3
You knew Spencer Foo as our reliable goalscorer, didn't you? Now meet his younger brother Parker who also has a KHL goal under his belt since yesterday.
When the two teams at the foot of their respective conferences went head-to-head in Latvia, something had to give. And it was Gleb Zyryanov who gave it out on this occasion, scoring twice against his former club to give Dinamo the win and condemn Red Star to a first ever loss in Riga. The home team snapped a 12-game losing streak, while our skid now extends to six outings.
First periods have been a problem for the Dragons this season. Going into yesterday’s game, the stats showed just eight goals from our guys in the opening frames of games, compared with 28 allowed. So, when Lauris Darzins put Dinamo ahead in the third minute – a power play goal just 10 seconds after Trevor Murphy was sent to the box – there was a certain unhappy sense of déjà vu.
This time, though, the story unfolded very differently. Three minutes went by, and Parker Foo scored his first goal for Red Star – and his first in pro hockey – to tie the scores. Sam Lofquist thumped a point shot into the boards and Sergei Monakhov got to the puck and sent a no-look pass back to the slot where Parker was perfectly placed in front of debutant goalie Zane McIntyre to open the scoring. Then, after a further three minutes, Ivan Nikolishin potted his sixth goal of the campaign – in similar fashion. Monakhov was involved again, feeding the puck back to Ryan Sproul. The defenseman saw his shot cannon off the boards and fall for Nikolishin to give the Dragons the lead. This is already the most productive season of Niko’s career, with the 24-year-old forward at last demonstrating what he can do when he has a coach who trusts him with game time.
The second period began with a fight. Viktor Baldayev took exception to a cheap shot on Casey Wellman and made his feelings known, prompting a tussle with JC Lipon. Baldayev finished the brawl on top, but got 2+5 for his troubles while Lipon also received a major for his part in the clash.
Backing up your teammates, of course, is a noble thing. However, we’d already seen the danger posed by the Dinamo power play and once again it wasted little time in finding the net. Darzins made a nuisance of himself in front of our net and this time Jordan Murray’s shot flew in without the home captain getting a touch.
The Dragons responded by taking the play to Riga for much of the second period. Parker hit the post, Danny Kristo – against his former club – forced understudy goalie Stanislav Galimov into the save of the day and Dinamo was pegged back in its own zone. That effort got its reward in the 36th minute when Casey Wellman made it 3-2 – and his jubilant shout echoed strangely around the empty arena. Lofquist’s shot was redirected by Hunter Shinkaruk and his intervention put the puck onto Wellman’s stick to restore our lead.
Joy was short-lived though. An unfortunate tying goal saw Miks Indrasis poke check the puck into the net as Alexei Toropchenko tried to skate away from danger after charging down a Darzins shot. Shikin banged his stick against the piping in frustration; once again, there was something of the bizarre about a goal that went against us. And the frustration would only get worse in the last minute of the middle session when Riga took the lead. Gleb Zyryanov chased the puck down the right-hand channel and cut inside to slide it past Shikin. Zyryanov, of course, began the season in the Dragons’ Lair but joined Dinamo during the international break.
And our old-boy was determined to prove a point against his former colleagues. At the start of the second he delivered a virtual facsimile of that play to make it 5-3. It should have been familiar enough for our guys – back in October he scored a similar goal for us at Dynamo Moscow.
As usual, the team battled to the end in search of a way back into the game. However, it was not to be; Kunlun moves on to Helsinki next and after losing for the first time in Latvia, a first ever win at Jokerit would be a fittingly symmetrical response.