21 November 2021
Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Kunlun Red Star 3 OT
For the second time this season, the Foo family flattened Vityaz. Back in September, Parker and Spencer shared three goals in our 4-2 home win over this opponent. Today, they potted one apiece as the Dragons roared back from 0-2 to grab a morale-boosting overtime verdict.
There was an enforced change to the Dragons’ line-up on Saturday with Cliff Pu coming in for suspended captain Brandon Yip. Luke Lockhart rejoined the Foo brothers on our first line, looking to recreate the combination that delivered all four of our goals when we played Vityaz earlier in the season. That, in turn, prompted Tyler Wong’s move to the second line alongside Pu and Ethan Werek.
The initial signs were not good. Twice in the space of a minute, Vityaz scored on Alexander Lazushin. First, Ivan Volodin surged clear and went through the five-hole after Kirill Rasskazov was allowed far too long in the center circle to pivot and pick out his pass. Then, 49 seconds later, Nikita Goncharov stuffed home a second.
It would be easy for that sinking feeling to take hold, but the Dragons are made of resilient stuff. And that Foo firepower has proven effective against this opposition in the recent past and proved to be potent once again. It took a mere 12 seconds to get our guys on the scoreboard, with Spencer potting his ninth goal of the season. Jake Chelios played a pass from deep, Spencer raced onto it and shot into Maxim Kloberdanets’ pads. The rebound narrowly evaded the on-rushing Lockhart, but dropped perfectly for Spencer to beat the rookie goalie at the second attempt. Kloberdanets came off the bench to make his KHL debut earlier this season; today was his first ever start at this level.
After a whirlwind start – three goals in six minutes – the tempo dropped a little. And then a little further. Defenses tightened up and the free-scoring frolics of the opening minutes began to fade into memory as two teams at the wrong end of the table battled hard for a much-needed win. Vityaz got progressively more nervous the longer it remained a one-goal game and that helped us to get on top. A spell of sustained possession in home territory ultimately led to a tying goal with 10 minutes left: Alex Riche fired the puck out of the corner and Josh Nicholls was waiting on the doorstep to turn it past Kloberdanets. It was a deserved goal and a well-merited point: for the second time in three games, Red Star successfully retrieved a multi-goal deficit to force overtime.
Those extras brought an unexpected novelty from the home team: goalie Kloberdanets was called to the bench for 90 seconds – no delayed penalty indicated and, of course, no last-ditch effort to salvage something in regulation. It’s not the first time this trick has been used in the KHL this season, but it’s surely a first in a game involving Red Star. However, it did not pay off. Vityaz was unable to profit from its pseudo-power play and Kloberdanets returned to the game in the 64th minute. That was just in time for the youngster to allow the winning goal: Ryan Sproul’s defense-splitting pass sent Parker speeding into Vityaz territory and, after holding off Yegor Voronkov, he produced a skilful finish to win the game.