8 January 2023
Severstal Cherepovets 6 Kunlun Red Star 5
One of the most exciting games of the season brought a first KHL goal for one of our youngsters amid a flurry of goal action. Unfortunately, though, at the end of this 11-goal thriller, the Dragons were left on the wrong end of a 5-6 scoreline. While we enjoyed all the excitement, we’ll settle for some ‘dull’ wins next week.
Greg Ireland made no changes to his skaters for this game, but brought Jeremy Smith back to the starting line-up in place of Matt Jurusik.
The action got off to an explosive start. Severstal opened the scoring in the first minute, but almost immediately Red Star tied it up thanks to a spectacular effort from German Tochilkin. The 19-year-old, who joined us on loan from Spartak last month, got his first KHL goal in fine style: there seemed little on for him when he jumped on a loose puck in the Severstal zone, but Tochilkin possesses the skills and touch to create chances for himself. Quality stick-handling took him through the defense, around the back of the net and back to the doorstep to stuff the puck past Dmitry Shugayev.
After that highlight, the rest of the first period was a disappointment. Severstal dominated the game and added two goals to enjoy a solid lead at the first intermission. However, the second period saw Red Star hit back in impressive style, playing some of our best hockey of the season to turn the game around.
It started in the 24th minute, when Brandon Yip and Jack Rodewald combined to set up Tomas Jurco for a power play goal. Then came two goals inside a minute, midway through the session. Parker Foo tied it up off a neat feed from Jurco, then Cliff Pu put the Dragons ahead on a close-range finish after good work from Jake Chelios and Tyler Wong. In between those goals, Alexander Samonov replaced Shugayev in the home net.
There was more to come. At the start of the third period, Luke Lockhart made it 5-3. Doyle Somerby, owner of a club record for blocked shots this season, made the interception in our zone and sent Luke galloping down the ice. With Jurco in support, there were plenty of options and that kept the home defense paralyzed with indecision. Lockhart needing no further prompting, seeing his path to goal and firing past Samonov.
However, it is often said that a two-goal lead is the most dangerous score in hockey. Severstal could attest to that from this very game, and the Steelmen set about proving the truth of that adage once again. It took just 23 seconds for Daniil Vovchenko to pull one back, and Alexander Petunin’s second of the game had us back at 5-5 on 42:42.
Then came controversy. Adam Liska fired a shot at Smitty’s near post and insisted the puck had crossed the line. That incident prompted a two-part video review. Stage one was to determine whether the puck did, indeed, make it over the goalline. After a long look, the officials concluded that it had and awarded the goal. That forced a bench challenge from our team, asking to confirm whether Severstal had six skaters on the ice during the play. After further consideration, the video review upheld the initial call and the home team led 6-5. Worse still, an unsuccessful challenge meant a two-minute delay of game penalty for our guys to kill.
There was still time to salvage the game, and even as Severstal sought to eat up the clock our guys still created opportunities to tie it up. The best of them came to Rodewald, but he could not find the target after a good feed from Jurco. Severstal held on for a nerve-jangling win, but there are many positives for our guys to take from this game on offense, as well as some lessons about defending.
The action continues next week with three more games. Red Star has trips to Dinamo Minsk and Spartak either side of a home encounter with Vityaz.