Second-period surge sinks the Dragons

12 August 2021

Barys Nur-Sultan 6 Kunlun Red Star 2

Day two of the President of Kazakhstan Cup saw a dress rehearsal for what is likely to be the gold-medal game in this competition. The Dragons faced Barys, the other KHL team involved in this four-way battle, and came into the game with the advantage over its opponent. Wednesday’s action saw our guys get a win over opposition from the local championship, while Barys suffered a narrow loss against Saryarka Karaganda, the second local team competing here.

In response, Barys restored Jakub Lilja to the team and gave a start to Nikita Boyarkin, the young goalie who impressed for Kazakhstan during the recent World Championship in Riga. Red Star, meanwhile, continued with the team that beat Torpedo.

Unfortunately, sticking with a settled line-up did not bring the results we were hoping for. The first period was competitive enough, with only an early Matt Frattin goal separating the teams. Up until the midway point in the game, that was the only score. But then it all went wrong, with Barys scoring four times in three minutes. Triallist Kirill Savitsky extended the lead, Cody Kunyk struck on the power play, Nikita Mikhailis followed suit and Frattin got his second to conclude the goal blitz.

Battered but unbowed, the Dragons showed some resilience to get on the scoreboard in the final seconds of that middle frame. On the power play, our guys carved out a shooting chance for Parker Foo from his ‘office’ in the right-hand circle. Not for the first time in this tournament, it proved to be a profitable spot for our forward and he beat Nikita Boyarkin to get us, belatedly, off the mark.

There was more to cheer in the third. Play was more even once again, albeit with the scoreline showing that the outcome was almost beyond doubt. And a good counter-attack late in the frame brought a second Red Star goal. Tyler Wong brought play out of our zone and sent Colin Joe forward. The defenseman had Greg Squires in support and a square pass opened up a shooting lane for Squires to beat Boyarkin. However, the final word went to Barys, with veteran Roman Starchenko wrapping up a 6-2 win.

In Thursday’s earlier game, Saryarka maintained its winning start to the tournament with a 2-1 success against Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk. After a rest day on Friday, Red Star concludes its group phase play against Saryarka, seeking a win to earn the right to play for the trophy on Sunday.

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