23 November 2021
Dynamo Moscow 4 Kunlun Red Star 1
The Dragons found themselves at a birthday party last night. Our opponent, Dynamo Moscow, was marking its 75th anniversary. Since the Blue-and-Whites are the oldest Russian hockey club, Nov. 22 also serves as the starting point for the whole proud history of the sport in this country. The Soviets, of course, swiftly entered into sporting legend: within a decade of those first games in the national championship, the national team was celebrating Olympic gold in Cortina d’Ampezzo. As China looks to accelerate to progress of its own fledgling national program, this is both an inspiration and a reminder of how much the sporting world has changed. Today’s top-level athletes benefit from greater professionalism and analytics than ever before, making it that much harder for a new challenger to emerge relatively unnoticed.
In terms of action, the principle threat from Dynamo could hardly go unnoticed. Vadim Shipachyov was making his 800th KHL appearance. Last week he scored his 250th goal in the competition, a mark reached by just three men before him. Today, he could not find a way past former Dynamo goalie Alexander Lazushin in the Dragons’ net, but he did deliver two more assists to maintain his place at the front of the league’s scoring race.
Shipachyov’s effectiveness has driven Dynamo’s deadly power play this season, and that proved to be the difference between the teams. Ethan Werek took the first penalty of the night, and 10 seconds later we were behind when Anton Wedin directed a fierce Stanislav Galiyev feed past Lazer. Wedin has some previous for this: he started the season with Sibir, where his only goal came against us.
Nothing daunted, Red Star responded almost immediately with a fine goal from Parker Foo. It started behind our own net with Tyler Wong, whose surging rush put Dynamo on the back foot. A pass to Parker set up our forward between the hash marks and he roasted a shot past Ivan Bocharov to make it 1-1. That’s goals in successive games for Parker, who also potted the winner in overtime at Vityaz on Saturday.
However, it wasn’t the trigger for a change in fortune. Late in the opening frame Stas Galiyev grabbed a power play goal to add to his earlier assist then, at the start of the second period, he did it again. Meanwhile, our defense was working overtime. By the end of the game, the Dragons would tot up 30 blocked shots: that adds up to huge protection for Lazushin’s net, and a lot of bumps and bruises to keep the physio busy after the game.
What it didn’t add up to was a lot of scoring chances for our guys. There was no lack of spirit and willingness to attack, but against a powerful opponent on top of its game, it was never going to be easy to find a way back into contest. There were some opportunities, most notably an odd-man rush involving Ryan Sproul and Spencer Foo which opened up the home defense but ended with a shot off target from Foozie. Even short-handed, Red Star produced some threats, but the only further scoring came late on from the home team. Dynamo cashed in after Vic Bartley broke his stick attempting a slap shot, and the two-man breakaway ended with Eric O’Dell knocking in the fourth.
After this trip to Moscow, we continue the capital theme on our return home on Thursday, when Spartak is the visitor to Mytishchi. That starts a run of four home games, with Metallurg, Neftekhimik and Sibir also heading our way as November moves into December.