29 August 2021
Dynamo Moscow 8 Kunlun Red Star 3
Three games in three days proved to be a challenge too far for the Dragons, who had to settle for second place in the Mayor of Moscow Cup. A campaign that began with an emphatic 9-3 win over Spartak finished with a defeat that was almost as heavy, but that outcome should not blur the positives from this tournament.
First and foremost, we’ve given more valuable experience to our home-grown players. Everybody understands that there is a difficult transition ahead for these guys as they learn to adapt to a higher level of hockey than they have experienced before. But each game, each shift is helping them to adjust to the pace of the elite game; that’s going to be crucial for club and country in this Olympic season.
Within the tournament in Moscow, the Dragons showed signs that they can compete in the KHL. Apart from the big win over Spartak, there were two solid periods against Vityaz before the game got away from us in the third. And even here, after a poor start saw us down by five, the guys dug in and showed great character to slow Dynamo’s goal rush and have an equal share of the scoring from the 19th minute to the end of the game.
We’ve seen goals from our regular scorers: Spencer Foo, Tyler Wong and Luke Lockhart who have been a consistent threat throughout the pre-season. We’ve also seen less familiar names on the scoresheet: Greg Squires looked good against Spartak, Alex Riche continues to demonstrate the skills that attracted us to him before injuries denied him a proper chance to shine.
Thus, with the exception of a first-period collapse that cost us five goals in 18 minutes, there is plenty to build on from our first appearance at the Mayor of Moscow Cup. And, if you subscribe to the belief that the most valuable lessons are those most painfully learned, there’s plenty to be drawn from a day that saw us give Dynamo four power play goals as the Blue-and-Whites delivered an impressive display that befits a potential Gagarin Cup contender.
Our aims for the coming season may not be quite as high as Gagarin’s orbit, but when the Dragons hit the ice in earnest on Thursday in Nizhnekamsk, the guys will be ready to battle not just for KHL points but also for a shot at playing in the Olympics. And they’ll be coming off the back of a proper pre-season, in stark contrast to last season’s chaotic opening to the campaign.
Head coach Ivano Zanatta
Dynamo is a good team, one of the strongest in the league. We’re happy that we got to play here. Three games in three days uses a lot of energy but that’s not an explanation for today’s loss. Apart from the first period, I thought we played OK. I like how we look on the power play, but we need to work on the penalty kill.
Games played: 11
Goals scored: 35
Powerplay goals: 11 (P. Foo 3, S. Foo 2, Lockhart 2, Kane 2, Wong, Squires)
Game-winning goals: Yip 2, S. Foo, Kane, Squires
Top scorers: 11 Nicholls (3+8), 10 S. Foo (4+6), 9 Lockhart (5+4) Wong (4+5)
Players with points: 18