Penalty trouble undermines Dragons

25 August 2023

Spartak Moscow 4 Kunlun Red Star 1

Last season, the Dragons got to the final of the Mayor of Moscow Cup. This summer, with one trophy already secured, there were hopes that more success might be on the way in our last warm-up action.

However, the campaign began against one of the strongest teams in pre-season: Spartak had five wins from five games ahead of Friday’s meeting, including victory over Vityaz in its tournament opener. That meant the Red-and-Whites could guarantee a place in Sunday’s gold medal game with another win today.

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There were some changes to the KRS roster. Parker Foo was back on the time and slotted into the top line alongside captain Brandon Yip and Jack Rodewald. As yet, though, there’s no reprise of his partnership with brother Spencer. Nolan Moyle, who has done well in his first taste of pro action, missed out. That disrupted his productive connection with Devin Brosseau, who dropped to the third line with Luke Lockhart and Austin Wong. Jeremy Smith started in goal.

Kunlun had a tough start, with Kyle Wood taking a penalty in the first minute. However, the defense stood firm, and once back to equal strength our guys were soon celebrating the opening goal. That one was initially credited to Ryan Sproul, but his shot was subtly deflected into the net by Spencer Foo. That stretches Spencer’s summer hot streak to six games – let’s hope this form continues long into the serious stuff next month.

However, there were few chances to build on that lead in the opening frame. A couple more penalties meant that Spartak had the better of the play, with Smitty making 15 saves to preserve that one-goal advantage.

With the PK looking strong, it was ironic that our first power play of the night led to Spartak tying the game. Alexander Burmistrov got the goal early in the middle frame, and that ushered in a disappointing passage for our guys. Limited to just three shots at Andrei Kareyev, the second period was below the standards we’re setting for ourselves. Burmistrov turned provider as Spartak went ahead on a power play goal scored by Shane Prince.

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The third period began with a fight. Brosseau took exception to the attitude of Spartak defenseman Yegor Zaitsev and the gloves were off. Devin schooled his opponent in the noble arts, but as the duo sat out their major penalties, Spartak extended its lead through Maxim Tsyplakov.

There was a chance of a lifeline for Red Star when Tsyplakov went to the box and was swiftly joined by German Rubtsev. However, not even a 5-on-3 power play could unlock Spartak’s defense and once the teams were back to full strength there was little realistic hope of a fightback. When Michal Cajkovsky took a penalty on 57:15, head coach Viktors Ignatjevs rolled the dice, withdrawing Smith to go 6-on-4 in the closing stages. However, this was not Red Star’s lucky day; the puck went to Tsyplakov, who put his second into an empty net.

Kunlun returns to action tomorrow against Vityaz, looking to repeat a recent 4-0 victory over our Moscow Region neighbor. The winner of Saturday’s game will play for bronze against the Group A runner-up on Sunday.

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