Winning start for Dragons’ preseason

13 August 2022

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 Kunlun Red Star 4

The Dragons first pre-season game of the summer involved a short trip to Balashikha. It’s a familiar venue for us following recent meetings with Avangard. This time, though, we were taking on Vityaz, which is moving to a different corner of Moscow Region this season.

Saturday’s roster offered the first clues about how Greg Ireland’s team might look in the coming campaign. Fans got a first look at Jurusik Puck, our new goalie Matt Jurusik. He started the game ahead of Paris O’Brien.

On defense, Vince LoVerde made his debut on the first line alongside Jake Chelios. Liam Ross and Doyle Somerby, announced last week, combined on the third pair. Familiar faces Jason Fram and Denis Osipov also featured, the latter on a try-out contract.

Our new import forward Jack Rodewald slotted into the first line alongside Cliff Pu and Ethan Werek. The latter two signed up for another season with the Dragons during the week. Fellow returnees Parker Foo and Luke Lockhart were joined by triallist Vladimir Mikhasyonok, once of our VHL team ORG Beijing and later with Torpedo and Amur. Cory Kane, one of the Dragons’ longest-serving players, was put in charge of two more prospects hoping to secure contracts: Ivan Lisin (Buran Voronezh) and Kris Afanasyev (Nove Zamky, Slovakia).

In addition, three youngsters from Atlant Mytishchi skated for the Dragons this afternoon, with Danila Sachkov, Arseny Kritsyn and Alexander Shcherbatov getting the chance to experience a higher level of hockey thanks to a new partnership between KRS and our Junior Hockey League neighbor.

That partnership made an immediate impact. The Atlant juniors were placed on the fourth line, but it was Kritsyn who got the opening goal of the game. The fast start continued, and Parker Foo scored on the wraparound to make it 2-0 inside five minutes. For Red Star fans, this was well worth the wait, even though it should be noted that Vityaz played without its imports following a game against Ak Bars 24 hours earlier.

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The home team needed a 5-on-3 power play to get it into the game, and Yaroslav Busygin duly reduced the deficit. However, Red Star was well on top in the first period and added further tallies from Lockhart and Sachkov as team leaders and rising stars combined to pile up the points.

Red Star’s strong performance in the first period prompted changes from Vityaz. Starting goalie Igor Saprykin – briefly a Dragon – was replaced by Dmitry Shikin, a player with greater experience for KRS.

That switch seemed to stabilize the home defense and there was no further scoring in the remaining two periods. That outcome had much to do with Jurusik’s impressive debut, denying Vityaz a way back into the game even as its offense tried to force the pace.

After 60 minutes’ play, the teams continued for a period of 3-on-3 overtime, with Cliff Pu close to grabbing a second ‘win’ of the day for our guys. Shikin made a big save to deny him on that occasion, but in the shoot-out Cliff had the beating of the Vityaz goalie. However, the home team claimed some pride by recovering to win that shoot-out.

The teams will meet again at the end of the month in the Mayor of Moscow Cup.

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