10 January 2023
The New Year has brought plenty of excitement so far. The Dragons came closer than ever to getting a first ever win over Dynamo Moscow, then played out an 11-goal thriller at Severstal. However, excitement has yet to turn into wins in 2023. This week brings three more games as our guys look to put that right.
Dinamo Minsk (road, Jan. 11, 1910 Moscow time)
Last time out: Our previous meeting with the Bison ended in one of our toughest losses of the season. A shorthanded goal from Igor Martynov in the final second cost us a 2-3 verdict, despite leading 2-0 on tallies from Zac Leslie and Parker Foo in the first period.
Familiar faces: None.
Background: The Bison had a horrible end to 2022, suffering eight successive losses in December. Maybe the Belarusians were distracted by the Channel 1 Cup, where Dinamo head coach Craig Woodcroft led Team Belarus to a surprise victory over Russia in Moscow. Whatever the reasons, Woodcroft and his players seem to be sticking to their New Year’s resolutions: in 2023, they have taken five points from a possible six on a Far East tour, defeating Admiral (4-1) and Amur (2-1) before losing in overtime at Sibir. That wasn’t quite enough to lift Minsk back into the top eight, though. Dinamo remain ninth, one point behind Severstal. To improve on that, the team will need to tighten up defensively. At present, Dinamo has the fourth worst record in the KHL after allowing 150 goals this season.
Vityaz Moscow Region (home, Jan. 13, 1900 Moscow time)
Last time out: We’ve struggled with Vityaz this season, and last week’s 1-2 loss at Balashikha was our third defeat against this opponent. Cliff Pu’s power play goal early in the third period gave our guys hope, but the home team held on for a narrow victory.
Familiar faces: Former Red Star goalie Dmitry Shikin is likely to be in competition with Maxim Dorozhko for the starting role in this game.
Background: Vityaz looks to be hitting form at the right time. Under Vyacheslav Butsayev, the team has been inconsistent this season. However, with the battle for a playoff place getting ever tighter, Vityaz is looking promising. Four wins in the last five, including a notable overtime success against SKA, has the Balashikha-based team in sixth place in the West. The gap to Dinamo Minsk in ninth is only four points, but with recent form on an upward trend, there’s plenty of optimism on this team. However, its games against the Dragons have been getting close each time. After losing the last three, it’s high time our guys put the record straight.
Spartak Moscow (road, Jan. 15, 1300 Moscow time)
Last time out: Kunlun won both its previous games against Spartak. In October, Matt Jurusik posted his second shut-out in a Dragons jersey to help us to a 3-0 home win. A month later, third-period goals from Jason Fram, Ty Schultz and Brandon Yip overturned a 0-1 deficit as we won 3-1 on the road.
Familiar faces: We currently have two players on loan from Spartak. Defenseman Dmitry Kostenko has been with us all season, making 39 appearances and contributing two goals and two assists. Then, in December, we acquired young forward German Tochilkin. He grabbed his first KHL goal in that 5-6 loss at Severstal.
Background: The new coach bounce that Igor Grishin brought to Spartak seems to be fading. After Boris Mironov’s departure, the Red-and-Whites reeled off an impressive run of nine wins in 10 games. Since then, however, the Muscovites reverted to their early season form with just two victories in their last 10 outings. However, an encouraging 5-3 success at high-flying Lokomotiv last time out offers some evidence that Grishin’s team can dig in and secure a playoff place. It might also be worth keeping an eye on Spartak’s Mark Verba. Earlier in the season, while playing for Admiral, the power forward got into a fight with our own Garet Hunt. Will we see a rematch this time?