Austin’s birthday bonanza

26 August 2023

Vityaz Moscow Region 4 Kunlun Red Star 3 SO

It was a mixed birthday for Austin Wong. Our young forward celebrated his 23rd playing on the same line as his big brother Tyler, and he finished the game with three assists. However, that wasn’t enough to escape a shoot-out defeat.

Despite Austin’s efforts, the Dragons slipped to a second loss at the Mayor of Moscow Cup. A week ago, Kunlun enjoyed a 4-0 victory against this opponent but found Vityaz a tougher nut to crack this time around.

After yesterday’s disappointment against Spartak, Viktors Ignatjevs reshuffled all our attacking trios, while leaving the defensive pairs untouched. However, it took some time for our new offensive combinations to gel – and that time proved costly. The first period saw Vityaz take a 2-0 lead on goals from Ivan Savchik and Igor Ugolnikov.

That left the Dragons staring at a third-place finish in our group, out of medal contention. Happily, the second period brought a big improvement, with birthday boy Austin Wong to the fore. He turned 23 today and celebrated with a hat-trick of assists as our guys battled back to tie the game.

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Today Austin played on a line with big brother Tyler, and the family partnership delivered. Tyler scored our first of the game, moments into the second period. Midway through the session, Austin was involved again as Zac Leslie tied it up. However, it wasn’t 2-2 for long: Vladislav Kara swiftly restored the Vityaz lead.

However, Austin wasn’t done. The third period saw Red Star knocking on the Vityaz door in search of a tying goal. Former Dragon Dmitry Shikin performed strongly to keep his team ahead until the closing minutes, but he was finally undone by a family affair: Tyler and Austin combined to create a shooting chance for Devin Brosseau, who tied the scores.

Perhaps it was a mistake not to trust Austin with an attempt in the shoot-out. Although Brandon Yip converted the first shot, it wasn’t enough to snaffle the win. Vitaly Popov tied the game, then won it in the first round of sudden death.

As a result of Saturday’s defeat, Kunlun finishes third in Group B. In Sunday’s classification games, the Dragons will be in action early to play a 5/6 place playoff against the loser of Saturday’s late game between Dynamo Moscow and Amur. That wraps up our pre-season games, with our first KHL action of the 2023/24 season on Sep. 2 against Spartak.

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