Of lacrosse and linesmen

22 November 2022

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 4 Kunlun Red Star 1

Some days, fortune just isn’t with you. Today proved to be one of those days for the Dragons. Torpedo has been a tough enough opponent for us this season, so giving up an opening goal on an assist from one of the on-ice officials was the last thing our guys needed.

That goal arrived after five minutes, too early to say that either team had built a dominant position in the game. Denis Vengryzhanovsky produced a spectacular finish, scoring lacrosse-style on Jeremy Smith. At first sight, it may seem that Smitty was badly let down by his defense, with the Torpedo forward left alone behind our net. However, closer inspection shows that a freak deflection off the linesman’s skate presented the forward with a chance that nobody could have anticipated. While the flamboyant finish deserves credit, it was rough justice for Red Star.

Unsurprisingly, that blow left our guys a little flat. Against Torpedo, that’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen more than once this season how Igor Larionov’s team can deliver some devastating offense, and the home team continued to press hard throughout the first period. However, it took a power play to double the lead. Kirill Voronin made it 2-0 in the 17th minute.

Although the Dragons were not at their best in that opening session, it was to the team’s credit that the only goals came following interventions from the officials. In the middle frame, moreover, our guys produced some much better hockey. From the start, our intentions were clear. Alex Riche, who found himself in the KHL’s goal of the week round-up yesterday, was almost on target again early on but he couldn’t beat Adam Huska on the two-man rush.

Then came a goal: Devin Brosseau potted his eighth of the season, beating the Slovak goalie in some style. There wasn’t much on when Devin chased down a clearance from Doyle Somerby. However, he created his own opportunity, steering away from Kirill Steklov to bear down on Huska’s net and beat him with a backhand finish.

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Chances kept coming. Huska denied Brosseau a second and robbed Parker Foo of a goal to commemorate his 100-game milestone in the KHL as a Kunlun power play upped the pressure. Jason Fram also saw an opportunity go begging, while at the other end Smitty held his nerve to deny Andrei Belevich in a penalty shot.

Everything seemed to be shaping up for a grand battle in the third period, but late in the frame Torpedo restored its two-goal advantage. Former Dragon Alexei Kruchinin was among the assists as Maxim Fedotov found the net.

That two-goal cushion meant that Torpedo could close out the game with a minimum of fuss in the third. And the home team did exactly that. Red Star pushed as hard as it could to find a way back into the game, but a disciplined home defense was not about to give away any gifts. Ultimately, Nikolai Kovalenko’s empty net goal sealed the outcome. Kruchinin and another ex-Dragon, Larionov Jr, assisted on that one to bring the evening to a disappointing end.

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