13 December 2021
Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 2 OT
A last second goal from Tyler Wong saw Red Star complete its latest road trip with another point. Wonger’s 12th of the season completed a third-period fightback from 0-2 as the Dragons forced overtime and stayed in front of Admiral despite the basement club’s win over Amur earlier in the day.
Sunday’s game brought a KHL debut for goalie Han Pengfei. This 30-year-old Harbin native joined the KRS system back in 2017 when he was on the books at Heilongjiang, our VHL team at that time. Previously, Han played for China Dragon in the Asia League, and he went on to feature on the China Golden Dragon team that competed in the Czech third division in 2019/20.
Pengfei’s debut wasn’t the only change from the Kazakh rollercoaster we endured on Friday. Apart from the starting five, all the other lines were reshuffled, with Cliff Pu and Josh Nicholls scratched for this one. In their place came Zhang Zesen – promoted to the second line alongside Ethan Werek and Alex Riche – and Zhong Wei on the third with Brandon Yip and Tyler Wong. Guo Jianing was back on the fourth line. On defense, Ty Schultz returned in place of Mikael Tam, who ended our game in Nur-Sultan dumped over the boards at Barys.
Both teams had to contend with fatigue coming into this game. For Red Star, it was the fourth action of a long road trip that took in Chelyabinsk, Magnitogorsk and Nur-Sultan before arriving in Novosibirsk. Our host, meanwhile, was playing its second game in two days, having slipped to a 2-4 loss against Traktor on Saturday. On that occasion, the visitor got on top in the third period, suggesting that Andrei Martemyanov’s men might struggle to play their best hockey for a full 60 minutes.
Perhaps mindful of that, Sibir made an energetic start to proceedings. For Han, who had not faced competitive action in goal for close to two years, this was an immediate call to arms. And our rookie goalie stood up well, making 14 saves in the opening frame. He was beaten just once, when Nikita Setdikov opened the scoring midway through the session, but looked in no way out of place at this level. Meanwhile, ex-Dragon Trevor Murphy got an assist on that goal, moving him to three points against his old club this season.
The middle frame was tougher: the Dragons were limited to just two shots on goal in 20 minutes, despite enjoying a 5-on-3 power play for 49 seconds midway through the session. Jason Fram and Tyler Wong were the players who tested Anton Krasotkin. By that time, our guys had already killed a longer two-man penalty, but also gave up a goal to Nikita Korotkov.
So, what about the third, and the prospect of a tiring opponent giving Red Star a way back into the game? At 0-2 after 40 minutes, it was entirely possible to save the situation and the final stanza was the most evenly contested of the afternoon. Midway through, the Dragons’ efforts were rewarded: Ryan Sproul fired a diagonal towards Spencer Foo at the back door, Denis Bodrov attempted an interception but instead steered the puck onto Parker Foo’s stick. Eight minutes to play, one goal to recover.
In the event, we used almost every available second to force the tie. The guys continued to press, but it all came down to one last face-off. Han had already gone to the bench when we called a time-out with eight seconds on the clock. Sibir won the draw, but Denis Golubev’s decision to shoot wildly at the empty net from deep in his own zone proved costly for the home team. Another face-off in front of Krasotkin’s net brought a clean win for the Dragons and Tyler Wong rifled home the tying goal on 59:59.
In overtime, Yip had a chance to win it for us. However, the play was end-to-end and the decisive blow came when Setdikov’s stickhandling took him through our defenses before deking Han and slipping the puck through the five-hole to steal the win.
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