7 September 2021
Kunlun Red Star 5 Dinamo Riga 6
They say that technology makes our lives better – but Spencer Foo might not agree with that sentiment this evening. Foozy was twice denied goals by the video referee as the Dragons endured a frustrating evening at home to Dinamo Riga. Both decisions were close calls, and either could have transformed the outcome of a high-scoring roller coaster of a game.
All that came after Red Star made a perfect start to the game, opening the scoring after 29 seconds. Foo’s feed set up Jake Chelios for a mighty slap shot that gave Johan Mattsson no chance in the Dinamo net. Who could ask for a more satisfying start to our home program?
But then came the frustration. First, in the 13th minute, Tyler Wong burst forward and, while being scythed down by Alexander Protapovich, managed to slip a pass to Foo. Spencer calmly held the puck and waited for the tangled bodies of the two players to go sliding past before shooting the puck into an unguarded net. Unfortunately, the net was also on the flightpath of that flurry of limbs and the video review ruled that it was already off its moorings before the shot and, thus, the goal could not stand.
There was consolation in the form of a penalty shot. Wong took responsibility but lost control of the puck at the crucial moment and enabled Matej Machovsky to make the save. The Czech goalie came off the bench specifically for the penalty shot, and his first contribution to KHL action was a successful one. Moreover, it shifted the momentum of the game. The Dragons took a penalty and our old buddy Hunter Shinkaruk set up Brandon Gormley for a power play goal.
Foo’s frustration was only increased late in the frame when he put the puck into the net for a second time, only for the refs to whistle it off. This time there was no question about the position of the net, but in the final second of the frame the puck lost its race against time to cross the goalline before the hooter sounded.
Again, though, there was a consolation prize: during the move, which stemmed from a mishit pass behind the net by Dinamo’s Lauris Darzins, one of our guys was fouled and we began the second stanza on the power play. That meant another quick goal: face-off won, Jason Fram moving down the right and Foo picking out Luke Lockhart at the back door 13 seconds into the frame. No arguments this time, 2-1 to Red Star.
Another Riga penalty needed even less time to convert. Five seconds after Shinkaruk was sent to the box, Ethan Werek crashed his way to the crease to stuff home the puck off a Greg Squires feed. Then came a successful Dinamo penalty kill as the Dragons ramped up the pressure on the Latvians.
However, our first visitor of the season had plenty to say about the situation. Midway through the second session, Rudolf Cerveny made it 3-2 with a shot from the right-hand dot. And that prompted a big fightback as Dinamo ended the middle frame with a 4-3 advantage thanks to goals from Patriks Ozols and, on the power play, Emile Poirier.
Trailing for the first time in the game did little to lift the mood around the team and it was hard to find a way back in the third. An uphill task became mountainous when Riga scored two quick goals midway through the session – Cerveny getting his second before Nikolajs Jelivsejevs grabbed an opportunistic goal on the PK to take the game away.
However, we saw on Saturday that no comeback is too big for our Dragons to attempt. There wasn’t much time to complete another three-goal recovery, but that didn’t stop us from making a courageous attempt. With three minutes left, we had a route back into contention when Cory Kane set up Brandon Yip for a close-range finish. Then, playing 6-on-5, Yipper’s perfectly weighted diagonal feed was met by Josh Nicholls at the back door, and he produced golfer’s swing to shoot past Machovsky for 5-6. There were 62 anxious seconds for Dinamo to navigate, and Lazushin was soon scampering back to the bench for one last home surge. But this time, narrowly, Kunlun came up frustratingly short.