Dragons left to rue cruel bounce

26 October 2022

Vityaz Moscow Region 5 Kunlun Red Star 3

A freakish bounce of the puck cost the Dragons dear on our visit to Balashikha. A hard-fought game was settled by a bizarre goal for the home team midway through the first period.

When Yegor Voronkov banged in a hopeful point shot there seemed little danger, even allowing for an on-going delayed penalty. Unfortunately for us, the home defenseman lucked out: his effort came crazily back off the glass, deceiving everyone as it returned to the slot. Jeremy Smith, for once, failed to take control of the situation and watched in horror as the puck slipped from his grasp and into the net. That snapped a 3-3 tie at a crucial time in the game, and ultimately decided the outcome.

There were two players back on the KRS roster for this game. Ethan Werek, who missed our trip to Torpedo, returned as Garet Hunt missed out. On defense, Liam Ross made a welcome return for the first time since Sep. 13.

In addition, there were personnel changes to report. Forward Matteo Gennaro left the club after making 12 appearances this season. Meanwhile, veteran goalie Alexei Murygin is joining the team to provide cover during Matt Jurusik’s injury. Sun Zehao backed up Jeremy Smith today, but Murygin is likely to be available for our next home stand.

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In the early stages, Red Star looked good. Indeed, our first period performance was worth two goals in a 30-second burst around the quarter-hour mark.

The opening goal was a beauty. Brandon Yip rifled home the finish, but this play was all about Jack Rodewald. His no-look pass from behind the net left the Vityaz defense hopelessly exposed; his instinctive combination with Yipper deserved no less than a 1-0 lead.

Maybe it was good enough to deserve two goals. Certainly, 30 seconds later the Dragons had a second. Cory Kane and Ethan Werek hunted down Jeremy Roy behind the home net and set up Devin Brosseau for the second.

Things were going well, but Vityaz managed to turn the game around – and fast. Our two-goal lead lasted barely a minute before Stanislav Yarovoi halved the deficit. Then, at the start of the second period, Alexander Yaremchuk tied the scores. Worse was to come. The first penalty of the game went to Cliff Pu, and Vityaz took advantage when Roy fired a point shot through traffic and the screen in front of Smitty gave our goalie no chance.

From 2-0 up to 2-3 down, the game became a psychological examination. We’ve mentioned ‘zero quit’ before this season, and today was another fine example of precisely that. At time, the Dragons had to roll with the punches, but late in the middle stanza, we came up trumps with a tying goal. Starting with an attacking face-off, the play went back to Zac Leslie on the point. He fired the puck in low towards Luke Lockhart and it skittered out invitingly for Pu in the left-hand circle. An instant, unstoppable shot left Maxim Dorozhko stranded and set up a third period with everything to play for.

That final stanza saw Red Star enjoy more time on the attack, even if there was little to choose between them in terms of shots on goal. However, that freakish Voronkov effort decided the game, and Yaremchuk’s late empty netter merely added insult to injury. The latest road trip ends with no points added to our tally, but raw results hardly tell the full story of some competitive and encouraging performances ahead of our return to Mytishchi on Friday against Neftekhimik.

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