14 September 2021
Kunlun Red Star 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 5
After Saturday’s exciting win over Sochi, the Dragons found it hard to get out of first gear against Avtomobilist in the final game of our opening home stand. The visitor, which arrived on the back of three straight road wins, proved too clinical on the day and eased to a convincing victory.
The opening goal came from an unlikely source. Defenseman Alexander Shchemerov is noted as a stay-at-home type, but his long-range effort found its way through a crowd and past Alexander Lazushin midway through the opening period. Avtomobilist was in no sense motoring away with the game, though. After getting in front, our visitor soon found itself picking up penalties. And, given the green light, our power play stepped on the gas to tie the game. Luke Lockhart was the scorer, his third of the season, when he went top shelf to convert Josh Nicholls’ feed.
Tied at the intermission, Avtomobilist regained the lead early in the second with a power play goal of its own. Zach Yuen sat for interference, Ryan Spooner played a dot-to-dot feed and Stephane da Costa unleashed a venomous one-timer to post his fourth goal in as many games.
The Dragons came close to a swift riposte. Tyler Wong in full flight is never easy to stop, at least not within the rules. Today, Stanislav Bocharov was the latest opponent reduced to hauling down our creative winger in a desperate bid to halt his rush to the net. The officials gave a penalty shot, and Wong had another opportunity to show off his stick-handling. Unluckily for us, goalie Dmitry Shikin had plenty of chances to see Tyler’s work up close last season and our former netminder came up with the answer this time.
Indeed, Shikin was a regular thorn in our flesh today. He stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced in a performance that made the difference between the teams. Avtomobilist was hardly dominant in terms of goal attempts or territory, but Shikin’s ability to stop the puck ensured that the visitor took control of the game.
And, in the third period, that stranglehold was complete. Ryan Spooner engineered an odd-man rush early in the third, setting up Shane Prince to make it 3-1. Almost immediately, the Dragons found themselves on the PK, and hopes of an instant reply were quashed. Instead, after killing the penalty, we slipped to 1-4 after a point shot from Nikita Tryamkin bounced around the crease and into the net off Dmitry Zhukenov. The officials had a long look at whether the forward kicked the puck into the net before pointing to the center spot and awarding the 24-year-old his first of the season.
The game was gone, but that was no reason not to run through some systems and, with more than three minutes to play, Lazushin was called to the bench and we went 6-on-5. Unfortunately, it could not spark a late revival, with a warning shot hitting our post before Danil Romantsev finished it off.