Point of persistence. Kunlun Red Star 2 Dinamo Minsk 3 SO

13 December 2020 , , , , , ,

The Dragons keep picking up points despite a shoot-out loss against Minsk. A 2-2 tie in regulation means Red Star is on a five-game run of getting at least one point for its troubles. And it might easily have been a third straight victory here, with only a late goal from Artyom Demkov saving the Belarusians at the end of regulation.

This was a hard-fought battle from the start. There was an early test for the Dragons defense after two early penalties allowed Dinamo to start with almost two full minutes of 5-on-3 hockey. Brennan Menell hit the crossbar in that time, and after surviving the scare we were indebted to the piping twice more as Ryan Murphy and Ivan Lodnya both rang the iron. At the other end, there were power play chances for us, but visiting goalie Alexei Kolosov was up to the task and denied Andrej Sustr and Tyler Wong from close range.

The pattern of the game didn’t change much in the second period – chances at both ends countered by impressive goaltending. The deadlock was finally broken late in the second period with a goal that owed much to persistence. The play started in Red Star’s zone but, after winning a face-off next to Jeremy Smith’s net, the Dragons moved straight onto the attack. Slava Leshchenko galloped up the ice before feeding the puck back to Jake Chelios. His point shot got caught up in a crowd scene on the crease and, with sticks and skates flying, Leshchenko managed to stuff the puck over the line. The Dinamo bench challenged the play, citing interference on Kolosov, but a video review spotted nothing untoward in Kunlun’s determination to put the puck in the net.

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However, Dinamo could point to the second-period shot count as evidence that it did not deserve to be behind in this game. Early in the third, the visitor got back on level terms after Casey Wellman’s foul gave Minsk its fourth power play of the afternoon. Ryan Spooner, who was held scoreless in Dinamo’s two recent defeats, got the goal at the second attempt, putting his team right back in the game.

The response came from in-form Hunter Shinkaruk midway through the second period … and it’s a goal that deserves a place on any highlight reel. Hunter burned past Dmitry Zhakharenko on the blue line, powered down the left-hand channel and cut inside to outwit Kolosov and restore our lead. That’s a six-game productive streak worth three goals and four assists for our Canadian forward – a big part of our team’s recent upturn in form.

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Shinkaruk’s goal was good enough to win any game, but unfortunately, we came up 90 seconds short of victory. A penalty on Viktor Baldayev opened the door for Minsk and Dinamo went 6-on-4 in a bid to save the game. The gamble paid off when Artyom Demkov rifled home from between the hash marks to tie it up.

Overtime could not separate the teams, and the shoot-out – only our second this season – went to the visitor thanks to a decisive attempt from Alexander Kogalev.

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