Dragons end pre-season with a win

27 August 2023

Amur Khabarovsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 4 SO

Sunday’s Mayor of Moscow Cup action was all about the classification games. For Red Star, unlucky to lose in a shoot-out on Saturday, that meant a 5/6 place game against Amur. At the end of a busy pre-season schedule, it would have been tempting to dismiss this as a minor diversion. However, our Dragons are made of sterner stuff. Despite adversity, the team’s resilience shone through as they rallied for a shoot-out win.

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That wraps up a satisfactory summer by escaping last place in the Moscow tournament. Earlier, of course, the Dragons won silverware at the Lada Cup, while suffering just two regulation-time losses in eight games (and one of those in a dead rubber after securing the prize in Togliatti). So, there is plenty to build on in the final days of preparation for the new season.

One happy feature of our pre-season campaign has been Spencer Foo’s scoring form. After returning to the club this summer, Spencer has picked up points in each of our warm-up games. In today’s final action before the KHL season starts, he wasted no time in continuing that streak – after just 27 seconds, he had the puck in Janis Kalnins’ net.

That wasn’t good news for the Latvian goalie, who was pulled from his game yesterday after allowing two goals inside six minutes. Today, though, he was allowed to continue. And this time, his teammates gave him a bit more protection.

Indeed, it was the Dragons who found themselves struggling in the first period. Alex Broadhurst quickly tied the game, then he and Sergei Lapin scored two in the 16th minute to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead at the intermission.

There was a sense of deja vu about this. In our first game here, Red Star took an early lead on a Foo goal, only to fall behind. On that occasion, Spartak eased to a 4-1 victory but Amur would not have things so easy. Although the Tigers continued to have more goal attempts, they did not score again. Between them, Alexander Lazushin and Jeremy Smith made 50 saves – including 10 for Smitty in OT – to frustrate the opposition.

At the other end, it took some time for our offense to spark once more. Early in the third, though, the Dragons got the goals they needed. Devin Brosseau, another forward in fine form of late, assisted on both as Kyle Wood and Luke Lockhart scored a couple of power play efforts. Suddenly it was 3-3 and the game was very much alive.

It’s worth noting that Smith, who replaced Lazushin between the pipes in the 37th minute, played a big role in saving this game. It was another characteristically hard-working performance for our goalie, and never more so than in overtime. Red Star spent the extras under pressure: a penalty on Colin Campbell late in regulation carried into OT, and on the hooter Brosseau was handed a tripping minor. Once those were done, Doyle Somerby left the game with a major for kneeing. The Tigers flexed their claws, but could not rip through the defense.

Then came the shoot-out, with Smitty supreme once again. His four stops denied Kirill Kapustin, Broadhurst, Yegor Korshkov and Evgeny Grachkov. That goaltending display was bookended by successful efforts from Brandon Yip and, decisively, Lockhart, to end the Mayor of Moscow Cup on a winning note.

Now the preparations are almost complete. There’s less than a week to go before the season opener against Spartak on Saturday. KHL season #16 is upon us, and the Dragons are getting ready for lift-off.

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