Dragons’ hoodoo over defending champ comes to an end

19 October 2022

CSKA Moscow 5 Kunlun Red Star 1

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Back-to-back wins over CSKA earlier this season provided some memorable moments for the Dragons. However, the current Gagarin Cup holder was out to prove that while form is temporary, class is permanent. Sergei Fedorov’s men clearly felt they had a point to prove – and its worth noting that recent form was pretty classy, with five straight wins going into today’s game – and they did so with an emphatic scoreline.

However, it’s worth noting that the game was not as lopsided as the result. For long spells, the Dragons matched the Muscovites and, with better finishing early on, could have had a very different outcome.

Kunlun welcomed back Luke Lockhart after injury. Our warrior was last seen in Yekaterinburg on Sep. 26, where he suffered an injury in a heavy loss against the Eastern Conference leader. Today he dropped into the second line alongside Cliff Pu and Parker Foo.

In the early exchanges, Red Star held its own. There was an early chance for our first line, with Brett Pollock shooting narrowly wide from a dangerous position. Our guys killed the first penalty of the game and were well in contention until the last five minutes of the opening stanza. Then a penalty on Ethan Werek led to a power play goal for Anton Slepyshev. Inspired, the home team upped the tempo and we found it hard to hang in there until the intermission.


Yet it was still a one-goal game, and the Dragons had produced enough to suggest they could do something about it. Even a 3-on-5 penalty kill early in the second period did not stop our guys. CSKA was held at bay and sheer hard work ensured that the opposition’s pressure in our zone did not generate good looks at Matt Jurusik’s net.

At the other end, Kunlun had a 5-on-3 advantage of its own. Alex Perevalov set up a good chance for Jack Rodewald, and both Zac Leslie and Kyle Wood went close, but CSKA survived.

Then we saw a repeat of the end of the first period. With five minutes to play, CSKA got on the power play and took control of the game. In those final minutes of frame, we saw the home team dominate and claim another power play goal, this time from Darren Dietz.

A two-goal deficit was a tall order, and allowing two goals in 23 seconds at the start of the third period put today’s game beyond our reach. Despite that disappointment, the guys battled to the last. Devin Brosseau got a deserved consolation goal, tipping a Cliff Pu point shot beyond young CSKA netminder Dmitry Gamzin. That’s a fifth goal of the season for Devin, who moves to 6 (4+2) points from his last five games. However, there was no extension to Brandon Yip’s productive streak, which came to an end after eight games and 10 (6+4) points. CSKA added a late power play goal through Vladislav Kamenev to finish the evening.

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