14 October 2022
Two home games in three days could see the Dragons match a club record. Red Star returns to Mytichshi on a three-game winning streak. Two more victories would equal the five-in-a-row sequence we enjoyed in Oct. 2019. Meanwhile, we’ve taken at least a point from each of our last six games with franchise record currently standing at eight.
It’s a run that has lifted Red Star to within touching distance of the playoff places: we just a point behind eighth-placed Dinamo Minsk. After six weeks of the season, coach Ireland’s gameplan is settling down well and we look like an effective defensive unit with a genuine offensive threat. Times are good, and there could well be more to come.
Severstal Cherepovets (Oct. 14, 1930 Moscow Time)
Last time out: The Steelmen visited during our last home stand and flipped the trend of that series. Amid a string of stirring fightbacks, the Dragons let a two-goal lead slip to lose in a shoot-out. Brandon Yip and Zac Leslie were our goalscorers at the start of the month.
Familiar faces: Ex-Dragon Nikita Khlystov lined up against us earlier this month, with just over 14 minutes on the ice and four shots on goal.
Background: A cursory glance at the standings might suggest that Severstal is in trouble. Lying in 10th position in the West, outside the playoff places, represents a sharp drop-off from the standards set by Andrei Razin’s team in recent seasons. Throw in a sticky run of just three wins in 11 games, and you could understand why alarm bells might ring in Cherepovets.
However, that would be a superficial reading of the situation. The Western Conference is incredibly tight this season. Although Severstal is 10th, it is in a three-way tie with us and Dinamo Minsk. Our group is in 8-10th, but concedes just four points to Torpedo in fourth. With the exception of SKA’s seemingly serene progress at the top, every team in this section is struggling to find consistent results.
Moreover, Razin’s roster is constantly evolving. In recent games, 19-year-old Belarusian forward Alexander Suvorov has suddenly emerged to play a leading role. His 7 (5+2) points in eight games have him closing on the team’s more established leaders.
Spartak Moscow (Oct. 16, 1400 Moscow Time)
Last time out: In the pre-season Mayor of Moscow Cup, Red Star enjoyed a shoot-out win over Spartak. However, you have to go back to 2019 for our last victory in a competitive game against the Muscovites.
Familiar faces: Young defenseman Dmitry Kostenko is on loan to us from Spartak this season. The 20-year-old has featured in 12 games so far, scoring one goal and averaging 8:49 in ice time.
Background: Spartak comes to us on the back of a run of poor form. Prior to its overtime win against Dinamo Minsk, the Red-and-Whites lost four of the previous five. Oddly, three of those games were against Vityaz, and two of them went to overtime. The only victory for Boris Mironov’s men in that sequence was a road success at Severstal.
Overall, though, the start of the season has been encouraging for Spartak. Prior to that skid, the Muscovites picked up points regularly enough and, for a time, contested third place in the Western Conference. There are familiar names among the scoring leaders, with Alexander Khokhlachyov and Ilya Talaluyev featuring prominently again. However, Matvei Zaseda has made an impact after stepping up from the VHL with 4 (3+1) points in his first five games. With the section as tightly-packed as it is at present, a couple of good results could see the Red-and-Whites back up there. However, at the time of writing Red Star is just four points behind and closing fast.