Going for gold

27 August 2022

Kunlun Red Star 6 Vityaz Moscow Region 5

The Dragons are heading to the gold medal game at the Mayor of Moscow Cup after a thrilling victory over Vityaz. Brandon Yip’s goal with two seconds remaining completed a dramatic fightback in a barn-burner of a game in the Russian capital.

Kunlun jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period, only to see Vityaz tie it up by the middle of the third. A fine Cliff Pu goal restored the Dragons’ lead, but not for long. Vityaz hit back with two goals in three minutes and looked to have stolen the game.

But two of our old warriors had other ideas. KRS pressed, and forced Vityaz into penalty trouble. Luke Lockhart’s second of the game tied it up at 5-5 with 1:36 left to play. Then, as the pressure mounted, two penalties in nine seconds handed us a 5-on-3 power play for the closing seconds.

It was a great chance to win the game in regulation, and Yip delivered the decisive goal on 59:58. That made it two victories in two days, top spot in the group and a battle with the winner of Group A tomorrow to determine the tournament champion.

1000 02 20220827 VIT KNL KUZ 10

New-look defense impresses

The rebuild of the Dragons’ D this summer was primarily aimed at reducing the workload on our goalies. And, so far, that’s working pretty well. The big bonus comes at the other end, where our blue liners are making a big contribution on offense as well.

Exhibit A: 78 seconds played against Vityaz, and Kyle Wood unleashes another rocket from the point. This one takes a redirect from Lockhart, and we’re up 1-0. Wood, you may remember, scored on Spartak yesterday.

Exhibit B: Denis Osipov, AKA Dannisi Aoxibofu, strengthens his negotiating position on his current try-out contract. First, there’s an assist as Jian An (Cory Kane) doubles the lead, then there’s a blast from the blue line to make it 3-0.

Exhibit C: Midway through the third period, check out Vincent LoVerde’s no-look feed from the right, setting up Cliff Pu for Red Star’s fourth.

That fourth goal also underlined another key component of Greg Ireland’s team this season – a zero-quit mentality all over the ice. Vityaz rallied strongly to tie the game, and two goals early in the third period had Red Star wobbling.

In the past, it’s easy to imagine that the guys would have struggled to regain composure and get back into the game. The current edition of KRS is a bit different, though. We saw evidence of our never-say-die mindset against Spartak, rolling with the punches after a last-minute equalizer and claiming the verdict in a shoot-out. Today, we saw more of the same. Nobody was feeling sorry for himself, and the team went out again with the same determination we saw at the opening face-off. The reward soon followed, and with 10 to play, the Dragons led 4-3.

Chances continued to flow. A terrific stretch pass sent Ethan Werek beyond the Vityaz defense on a rendezvous with Dmitry Shikin in the opposition net. Shikin and Werek, of course, know each other well from their time together at Kunlun. This time, the goalie won the duel, perhaps drawing on memories of past practice sessions.

For a time, it looked like Shikin might backstop a win against his former colleagues as goals from Kirill Rasskazov and Stepan Starkov put Vityaz in front for the first time in the game. However, that zero quit mentality was going nowhere: the Dragons dug deep and snatched victory in a spectacular finish.

1000 03 20220827 VIT KNL KUZ 13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...

Kunlun Red Star