Day to forget for Dragons

26 January 2023

Kunlun Red Star 1 Dinamo Minsk 5

This one did not really go to plan. In fairness, the Dragons’ preparations were disrupted by suspensions to Brandon Yip. In addition, Thursday brought news that long-serving Chinese international Ethan Werek was leaving the club after 187 games and 76 (34+42) points in our colors.

That all contributed to one of the more disappointing performances of the season as the Bison got revenge for the 6-2 drubbing we handed out in Minsk earlier in the month.

On the plus side, we saw goalie Sun Zehao gain more minutes in the KHL. He played the last seven minutes of the game and kept his goal intact. That contributed to an encouraging finish to the game that culminated in a consolation tally from Devin Brosseau in the last minute.

Overall, though, this was a disappointing day. Dinamo arrived with ample motivation, seeking a victory that would lift it back into the playoff places in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Dragons knew that a win was vital to close the gap on the teams pushing for the top eight. Inevitably, the opening goal would go a long way to shaping the outcome of the game and, possibly, the whole season.

Unfortunately, that goal went against us. Shawn Lalonde’s feed released Vitaly Pinchuk into our zone. He deked his way past Kyle Wood and beat Jeremy Smith from close range. The Dragons did not roll over, and created some promising chances in the first period. However, the other incident of note involved Garet Hunt, peacemaking once again. Our enforcer was quick to show Vladimir Alistrov the error of his ways; the subsequent power play saw Smitty make a huge stretching save to get his pad behind a Brandon Kozun shot.

The start of the second period brought more bright moments for Red Star, with Tyler Wong often at the heart of our better play. However, a shorthanded goal from Igor Martynov doubled Dinamo’s lead and left our guys reeling. Soon afterwards, debutant Daniil Sotishvili marked his first KHL game with a goal and the game was drifting out of our grasp.

Two further Dinamo goals midway through the third drew a line under the contest. That meant Sun got a chance in the closing stages. He let nobody down, keeping Minsk at bay until the end. And there was further consolation 10 seconds before the hooter when Jake Chelios fed Brosseau in the right-hand circle and Devin potted his 12th goal of the season.

Next up, Kunlun entertains Spartak on Saturday looking for a response to today’s disappointment.

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