Lockhart’s landmark

2 February 2021 , , , , ,

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Kunlun Red Star 0   

Luke Lockhart wrote a new chapter in the history of the Dragons today. Our captain made his 200th appearance for the team, the first man to reach that milestone.

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Luke was one of the Chinese heritage players recruited under Mike Keenan back in the summer of 2017. It was a bold move for the British Columbia native, who was just 24 years old at the time. Previously, his entire career had played out on the Pacific Coast, learning the game in his native Burnaby, playing major juniors in Seattle then spending four seasons with the University of BC. After that, China represented a wildly different hockey environment.

It’s fair to say that it took a bit of time to settle. Lockhart’s first season saw him regularly on the team, but normally in a bottom six role. The second year was interrupted by injuries and a brief spell in the VHL – one game, one goal, then back to the first team – but saw more production despite fewer games.

Then came the breakthrough. Last season, Luke cemented his status as a key part of our offense, plundering 13 goals, third on the team behind Brandon Yip and Tyler Wong. And that progress continues: this season, Luke wears the ‘C’ and leads by example. With 18 (10+8) points already, it’s his most productive campaign in adult hockey and he’s established himself as a real favorite on and off the ice. He also overtook Yipper’s 160 games for the team early in the season (Cory Kane, another from the 2017 intake, also moved ahead of Brandon and is now on 163 games, second in the club’s history) and is now breaking new ground for the Dragons.

Unfortunately, the landmark game was not a memorable one for any forward. Both goalies – Dmitry Shikin for us, Andrei Tikhomirov for Torpedo – were in fine form and the minutes ticked by without any scoring at either end. Sure, we had chances. Lockhart fashioned one of the best of them, sending Spencer Foo clean through on Tikhomirov only for the shot to hit the crossbar. Foo also created a big chance for Gleb Shashkov late in the second period, but the home goalie was equal to it.

However, both of those chances came on the Dragons’ PK and staying out of the box was a challenge that we struggled with all evening. In the end, that cost us. Five successive Torpedo power plays were stifled, but the sixth opportunity led to the home team making the breakthrough. Chris Wideman’s thumping shot opened the scoring and, a couple of minutes later, another power play goal from Chris Terry effectively ended the contest. Late on, Jordan Szwarz made it 3-0 and the remaining minutes played out quietly as Torpedo claimed the win.

And so our four-game road trip comes to an end with a fourth successive defeat. As the regular season enters its final month, the action continues without a break: the Dragons head back to Mytishchi to begin the next home stand with a game on Wednesday against Spartak Moscow.

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