12 September 2021
Kunlun Red Star 3 HC Sochi 2 SO
Saturday is comeback day. For the second weekend running, your Dragons found themselves behind … and battled back to grab the win. This time, HC Sochi was the victim after former Red Star goalie Magnus Hellberg was unable to withstand the pressure in a shoot-out. Tyler Wong and Josh Nicholls found the net, and our guys took both points from the game.
There was a new name on the team-sheet, with Han Pengfei named as understudy goalie for the first time this season. Other changes saw Rudi Ying come in, while Chris Seto and Yan Ruinan sat this one out.
There wasn’t much between the teams in the first period. Spencer Foo had an early chance, but steer his redirect narrowly wide of Hellberg’s net after a tempting feed into the danger zone. Sochi also struggled to create clear chances but got the lead late in the session when Yegor Babenko fired home a one-timer from between the hash marks.
At the start of the second, though, the action picked up – but initially it seemed that the game was getting away from Kunlun. In the first minute an odd-man rush left Alexander Lazushin horribly exposed. Igor Rudenkov picked out Nikita Feoktistov, who had far too much time and space to pick his spot and fire into a wideopen net. Moments later, it was almost 3-0. Kirill Pilipenko burst into the danger zone and squeezed his shot narrowly wide as he fell under Lazushin’s challenge. Lazer saved the goal, but took a minor tripping penalty and the pressure was still on.
At least, it was until Cory Kane got involved. He forced a turnover to the right of our zone and raced down the ice. When he got to the edge of the right-hand circle at the other end, he found David Rundblad perfectly placed to screen his shot and fired home our third short-handed goal of the season. That’s a league-leading statistic and, more importantly, we were back in the game.
If the PK is productive this season, it turns out the PP isn’t too shabby either. And that was what tied the scores in the 35th minute. We’d seen big chances at both ends in equal-strength play, with Martin Bakos testing Lazushin and Kane going close to his second. But when Pilipenko sat for hooking, Brandon Yip tied it up when he glided to the far post to put the finishing touch to a cross-ice feed that started with Wong and was touched on by Greg Squires on the slot.
The third period was a cagey affair, but overtime saw Lazushin at his best again. A penalty on Kane put us under intense pressure and Lazar made six stops to keep us in the game. When he was beaten, JC Lipon’s effort clipped the outside of the post and bounced to safety. Was destiny smiling on us? Wong might have answered that question conclusively 10 seconds before the hooter when he had a great look at Hellberg but could not beat the Swede. It was shoot-out time.
This was the second shoot-out of the day at Arena Mytishchi and the first ended in heartache as the KRS Vanke Rays missed out on the Women’s Hockey League title after going down to Agidel. But the men stayed on target, with Wong and Nicholls beating Hellberg to bring up a second victory of the campaign and our first on home ice.