Wonger’s 200th game

11 February 2023

HC Sochi 7 Kunlun Red Star 2

Tyler Wong played his 200th game for the Dragons becoming the fourth player in franchise history – after Luke Lockhart, Brandon Yip and Cory Kane – to reach this milestone. But overall, this was a day to forget. After a good first period, everything went wrong and the Dragons finished up on the wrong side of a heavy defeat. For Sochi, a team we had beaten four times this season, it was a rare day to celebrate; for Red Star the good news was hard to come by.

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That said, there were some positives. Jack Rodewald returned to the team after injury and immediately contributed an assist to our opening goal. Brandon Yip scored that one, improving his club record tally for the season to 42 (21+21) points. Harbin-born goalie Sun Zehao got another 20 minutes of game time under his belt to help his preparations for April’s World Championship.

Things started well enough. Kunlun got a power play early in the game and quickly organized an opening goal. Rodewald, playing his first game in over a month after picking up an injury in our 5-6 loss at Severstal, played the puck back to Jake Chelios at the point. His shot was saved, but Yipper was right on the spot to open the scoring on 3:41.

There was more to come in the first period, with Tomas Jurco doubling our lead in the 18th minute. Alex Riche played the puck in from the boards and Colin Campbell retained possession on the slot, steering the play towards Jurco. Our Slovak forward was perfectly placed to make it 2-0, extending his productive streak to three games in the process.

Sadly, that was as good as it got. Things began to go sideways at the start of the second period when Kirill Petkov grabbed a shorthanded goal to put Sochi back in contention. Artur Tyanullin then scored twice to give the home team the lead and Petkov struck again just before the intermission to pile on the pressure. That fourth goal needed a video review to confirm that it crossed the line before the hooter; a fraction of a second might have kept us at 2-3 and made the third period very different.

In response, Greg Ireland replaced Matt Jurusik with Sun Zehao. In the past, Sun has come into games when the result was already beyond doubt. Here, though, he faced a different challenge as we went into the final frame with hopes of saving the game.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Sun battled hard but could do little to blunt a home offense inspired by a rare taste of victory. Two goals in barely a minute from Alexander Gordin and Matvei Michkov put the game out of reach, and Donat Stalnov added a seventh late on to complete the Leopards’ biggest win of a difficult season. For Red Star, there’s a short break on the way before returning to action with games against Vityaz and Barys next week.

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