Wood impresses in winning start for Dragons

3 September 2022

Kunlun Red Star 3 Admiral Vladivostok 1

Kyle Wood will surely remember his KHL debut for a long time to come. As Greg Ireland’s team began its new era with a substantially reshaped roster, the 26-year-old Canadian defenseman was a stand-out performer in our home opener.

Wood had a hand in all three goals as the Dragons made a winning start to the season for the first time since 2019. Back then, Curt Fraser’s team edged Salavat Yulaev in a shoot-out as we made a visit to Shenzhen for the start of our fourth campaign in the KHL.

Kyle formed part of a reshaped defense and was one of five new signings on the blue line. He slotted in alongside Jake Chelios on the second line, while Vincent LoVerde and Zac Leslie formed the first defensive pairing. Young Dmitry Kostenko played alongside Doyle Somerby, and Liam Ross was dressed for the game but did not get on the ice.

The offense had fewer new faces, but there were debuts for Jack Rodewald and Brett Pollock. Garet Hunt’s fearsome presence was there on the fourth line following his return to the team. Our enforcer marked his first game back with an interference penalty in the second period.

By that time, though, the Dragons were up 3-0. After a goalless first period, albeit one where we had much the better of the game, all three tallies came on the power play in the middle stanza. And all three of them involved Wood.


First, he had a secondary assist as Parker Foo broke the deadlock 26 seconds after the intermission. Then he scored his first goal in the KHL within three minutes, moving in from the blue line to smash home a one-timer off Leslie’s cross-ice feed. Already, there are signs of a strong power play unit developing.

The third goal, in the 34th minute, was the pick of the bunch. Rapid interplay between Wood and Brandon Yip sliced open the Admiral defense and Cliff Pu was on hand to apply the finish.

Down by three, the Sailors were effectively sunk. However, after all the focus on the offensive contribution from our D, there was time to have a look at how effectively our new-look rearguard could protect Jeremy Smith’s net.

Once again, the signs were promising. For much of the game, Admiral struggled to impose its game at all, and the visitor was heavily outshot in the first two periods. The final frame brought something of a revival and put our revised defensive combinations to the test. For the most part, we dealt with the challenge in fine style. It wasn’t until the final seconds, and a brief spell on 3-on-5 hockey, that our net was breached. Rudolf Cerveny’s power play marker robbed Smith of a deserved shut-out but could do nothing to change the outcome.

Thus, KRS took the positives from preseason and carried them into a winning start to the 2022/23 campaign. The guys continue at home on Sunday with a visit from Amur. The Tigers suffered a 2-3 loss at Spartak in their opening game, with former Dragon Ivan Nikolishin assisting on both goals.

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