No end to the Severstal hoodoo

20 October 2021

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Kunlun Red Star 1

It’s fair to say that Cherepovets won’t be high on the list of preferred vacation destinations for anyone associated with Red Star. Not that there’s anything wrong with this Northern city, not far from Veliky Ustyug, the home of Ded Moroz, the Russian Santa Claus. But history shows that there are few gifts to be found here – at least not for our team. Today represented our sixth visit and, for the sixth time, we came away defeated.

Ivano Zanatta named an unchanged line-up from the one that pushed Lokomotiv all the way before losing out 3-4 on Sunday in Yaroslavl. That meant Jeremy Smith continued in goal for the fifth game. Alexander Lazushin returned as understudy ahead of young Paris O’Brien. Once again, we were limited to six defensemen, with utility man Zach Yuen primed to play at either end as required from his place on the fourth line.

In the first period, Severstal appeared to be looking to relive the offensive thrills and spills that earned it a 6-5 overtime win over Neftekhimik at the weekend. That was the Steelmen’s highest scoring performance of the season by some margin: generally, Andrei Razin’s team has defended stoutly but struggled to find a cutting edge. That proved to be the case in the opening exchanges here: Severstal led the shot count 13-3 but could not beat Jeremy Smith in our net.

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The second period was very different. Now the teams were trading chances … and we were getting a look at how effective the home D could be. An early rush from Cory Kane set the tone for our offense, but Konstantin Shostak shut the door. Then Luke Lockhart had a good chance as a dangerous attack caused chaos on the home slot but there was no way through. In the 28th minute, though, the Dragons got the lead their second-period efforts deserved. Mikael Tam, who returned to the team in Yaroslavl on Sunday after missing a little over three weeks, celebrated with his first assist in the KHL. His pass along the blue line set up Jason Fram for a point shot that deceived Shostak and floated into the net. Was that Severstal hoodoo coming to an end?

Not this time, unfortunately. Late in the second frame we ran into penalty trouble. Despite successively killing 33 seconds of a 3-on-5 situation, our luck ran out as the home power play continued. Daniil Vovchenko fired home a tying goal, collecting his 10th point of the season. And, early in the third, David Dumbadze forced in a second goal from close range, ultimately giving his team the verdict.

Next time, maybe we’ll visit Veliky Ustyug instead.

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