17 October 2021
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4 Kunlun Red Star 3
After picking up points in our last three games, the Dragons came up narrowly short of making it four in Yaroslavl. A poor first period cost our team dear, but there was much to take from a strong fightback in the remaining 40 minutes.
It was a first period to forget. Despite a bright start, with Spencer Foo’s early shot testing Lokomotiv’s understudy goalie Daniil Isayev, the Dragons struggled to get a foothold on the early play. The home team dominated the stats, outshooting us 21-4 in the opening frame. However, for all that possession, the Railwaymen struggled to cut through our defenses until a defensive error presented the first big chance of the game. Two of our players got in a tangle trying to bring the puck out of the D-zone, and that enabled Artur Kayumov to pounce for the opening goal. Then came back-to-back penalties and, seconds short of killing them both, we conceded a goal to Yegor Korshkov. Finally, a miserable 20 minutes was wrapped up when Alexander Polunin kept the puck in play on the blue line and turned the action around to shoot home the 3-0 goal.
So that was the bad news, and there was plenty of it. Subsequently, though, Red Star produced plenty of good things and only just fell short of saving the game. A greatly improved second period was dominated by a fight between Alexander Yelesin and Brandon Yip, a real heavyweight clash that saw both sent to cool their heels for five minutes. More importantly, though, Kunlun got back into contention with a power play goal in the final minute. Our guys kept Lokomotiv on the move around their zone before Cliff Pu picked out Ryan Sproul for the big finish from the deep slot.
The third period began with a setback when Yegor Averin got a fourth goal for Loko. There looked to be a hint of a kicking motion as Maxim Shalunov’s feed bounced into the net off Averin’s skate, but the officials weren’t interested in a review and the goal was given.
But the Dragons’ character shone through once again as Luke Lockhart whipped home a wrister from the left-hand circle to keep us in the game. Jake Chelios had an assist on the play, taking his productive run to three games.
Finally, we caught a break when a Lokomotiv power play ‘goal’ was chalked off due to a high stick from Pavel Kraskovsky and the closing stages saw a steady increase in pressure on Isayev’s net. The young goalie made a big stop to deny Spencer, but was powerless in the final minute as our big late storm produced a third goal. Josh Nicholls dished a perfect feed to Tyler Wong at the back door and, with 31 seconds to play, it was 3-4. In the end, the siren saved Lokomotiv from a trip to overtime, but it’s worth noting that Wong scored for the second game running and has three points in his last four games, while Nicholls is going on something of a tear with five points in his last four.
So, while it wasn’t enough to keep our point-gathering run going, there were still positives to plunder from Sunday’s game.