Penalty trouble hurts Dragons

24 September 2022

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 Kunlun Red Star 0

A razor-sharp power play from Metallurg proved decisive as a battling Kunlun performance gained no reward in Magnitogorsk.

The Dragons were without Tyler Wong as he recovers from the injury he sustained against SKA. To replace him, we were helped out by Lokomotiv. The Railwaymen loaned us young forward Alexander Perevalov, drafted by the Hurricanes in the third round back in the summer.

Perevalov, 18, enjoyed a breakout campaign in junior hockey last season. He gained plenty of positive attention during the Hlinka/Gretsky tournament back in the summer, then went on to score 50 points in 42 regular season games for Loko’s juniors. To put that into some context, one of his team-mates, Yaroslav Likhachyov, is already making an impact at Amur in this season’s KHL. Perevalov also had a handful of appearances in the big league before joining us.

Perevalov wasn’t the only new face on today’s team. Qiqihar native Yan Ruinan made his first appearance of the season. The 21-year-old defenseman featured in 29 games last term and was also part of China’s Olympic roster. Now he’s back on a one-year deal, looking to build on his experience to date.

Of course, a trip to Magnitogorsk is never going to be an easy task for young player slotting into a team. That’s not to say there were no positives to take from Saturday’s game. The first period, in particular, showed once again that Kunlun is closing the gap to the KHL’s biggest hitters. For 20 minutes, we matched Magnitka all over the ice. Jeremy Smith was at his best in goal, but we also saw chances at the other end. Ryan Sproul’s willingness to join the offense was a consistent worry for the home team, and our defenseman was close to opening the scoring when he popped up at the near post to collect the rebound from Zac Leslie’s shot. Home goalie Eddie Pasquale had to leap across his crease to make that save with the Metallurg defense in disarray.

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Our host was also relieved at the start of the second period when the post came to Pasquale’s rescue after Doyle Somerby’s point shot took a deflection on its way to the net. That incident came at the end of Red Star’s third power play of the game. Metallurg’s solid PK would have a big impact on the final outcome, as would the home PP.

Magnitka got its first man advantage early in the second period. The Dragons survived the two minutes, but just five seconds after Ethan Werek left the box, Metallurg opened the scoring through Nikita Korostelyov. Two further penalties on our guys saw Andrei Chibisov add two more tallies to leave us with an uphill struggle in the final frame.

Unfortunately, in that third period we found it hard to make an impression. The Dragons were limited to just four shots at Pasquale as he completed his second shut-out of the season. At the other end, Metallurg added a fourth when it scored the prettiest goal of the evening. Yegor Yakovlev was the beneficiary of a fine team move that sent the puck spinning around our zone at dizzying speed before the home captain applied the finish.

Metallurg’s win moves Ilya Vorobyov’s team to the top of the Eastern Conference. Red Star’s next game takes us to Yekaterinburg to face the team that led the way prior to Saturday’s action.

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