In-form forward Hunter Shinkaruk set a new club record as he extended his productive streak to eight games in Monday’s Moscow Region derby. His goal against Barys last time out equalled the streaks of his current line-mate Sean Collins and fellow first-season forward Chad Rau back in 2016/2017 and the similar scoring run from Wojtek Wolski a year later. Today, though, Hunter went past those luminous names in our club’s history when he helped Ethan Werek tie this game in the 27th minute.
Since joining our team last season from the Charlotte Checkers, Shinkaruk’s drive and power has been an outstanding feature of our offense. Both were in evidence here as he surged forward with the puck, sprinted around the back of the net and put it on the slot for Werek to force home from close range. And, more important than setting a club record, the play also cancelled out Avangard’s somewhat fortuitous power play goal a couple of minutes earlier when a ricochet off Vojtech Mozik’s skate gave Kirill Semyonov the chance to stuff the puck home from close range.
Mozik was making his Red Star debut in this game. The former Vityaz man joined us from Farjestad last week and slotted into our second defensive pairing alongside his fellow Czech Andrej Sustr. And there was another debutant on Monday’s roster as Anton Lazarev made his Dragons’ bow following his move from Traktor. He went straight onto the first line alongside Spencer Foo and Luke Lockhart.
The new look line-up made a bright start to the game. Helped by a couple of early penalties on Avangard, the Dragons outshot the visitor 12-6 in the opening frame. However, Avangard’s PK is the best in the league by some margin and our guys were unable to find a way through in the first period. In the second, we discovered that the Hawks are pretty good on the PP as well: after Semyonov’s power play opener, we allowed another goal late in the frame when Alexander Khokhlachyov scored just seven seconds after Ryan Sproul went to the box.
In between those goals, we saw Werek’s tally for our team, Andrei Bakanov hit the post and Dmitry Shikin make a big save to deny Sergei Tolchinsky’s solo rush. On the debit side, we also saw Jiri Sekac restore Avangard’s lead not long after we tied the game. Although Red Star was competing strongly, it found itself 1-3 down at the second break.
In the third period, the game took on the character of a real local derby. While it’s true that Omsk and Beijing are hardly neighbors, our clubs’ adopted homes of Mytishchi and Balashikha are not far from one another. Thus, what was once a Far East rivalry is now also a Moscow Region battle ground. And, as in any battle, nobody wants to yield an inch. Consequently, the third period saw several little spats breaking out all over the ice, following on from a proper second-period brawl involving Slava Leshchenko and Nikita Komarov. That ultimately cost Red Star. Late in the game Jake Chelios took a slashing call and the frustration on the home bench spilled over. Jake got an additional 10 minutes for misconduct and there was a bench minor for unsporting conduct. The two-minute 5-on-3 power play saw Avangard score twice more to make the final score a little more one-sided than the balance of the action suggested. In the end, it was the visitor’s special teams that swung the verdict: four out of five goals came on the power play, while the PK absorbed a total of 35 penalty minutes to secure the win.