No time like the first time

15 January 2023

Spartak Moscow 3 Kunlun Red Star 2

Colin Campbell, a deadline day signing last month, scored his first goal for the club. Unfortunately, though, we found ourselves on the receiving end of Spartak’s first home win in 2023.

Midway through the first period Ethan Werek brought play into the Spartak zone and fired the puck to the net. There, Yan Ruinan battled away with Timur Khairullin on the doorstep, freeing up the puck for Brosseau to score the opening goal of the game. Werek picked up a helper on his return to action after missing the past two months due to injury. Ethan’s last appearance before today was on Nov. 14 against Torpedo.

Given Red Star’s impressive recent form – back-to-back wins against Minsk and Vityaz, with 10 goals scored in that time – the opening goal was another big boost. There’s confidence in this team at the moment and that was apparent from the frequency with which our guys created chances in front of Dmitry Kulikov’s net. Among the most prominent figures in the opening frame was Campbell, who tested the home netminder on several occasions.

However, it all went wrong in the second period. We had a tough start, killing a penalty that held over from the first period then immediately finding ourselves shorthanded again. That handed Spartak the initiative and, in truth, our guys struggled to get back into the game. A breakdown on our offense handed a tying goal to the Red-and-Whites, with Andrei Loktionov profiting from the confusion to race clear and beat Jeremy Smith. Then came two goals in two minutes as Alexander Khokhlachyov and Semyon Ruchkin put Spartak in command. It all added up to perhaps our worst 10 minutes of hockey in 2023 and left us with a long road back in the final frame.

Armed with that growing sense of belief, the Dragons stormed out of the blocks in the third period. Within a minute, Red Star had a goal back. Campbell, who led the team in shots on goal today, got his reward with a power play marker 47 seconds in the session. Our recent signing from Kosice potted his first for the club with a delicate redirect on a thumping point shot from Jake Chelios.

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That ushered in a session where Kunlun dominated. We outshot Spartak 15-6 and had significantly more time in their zone. However, for all those efforts we could not find a way past Kulikov to tie the game. Even a late power play chance wasn’t enough to drag us over the line on this occasion.

The Dragons are back in action next week with a three-game home standing. We’re looking forward to welcoming Lokomotiv, Sochi and Vityaz to Mytishchi on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday respectively.

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