6 September 2023
Kunlun Red Star 4 Dinamo Minsk 3
In a week when much of the world is returning to school, two of the Dragons’ college graduates took the chance to show off the benefits of their sporting education. Nolan Moyle and Austin Wong potted their first KHL goals. In doing so, our young prospects secured a third win of the season – our best-ever start to a KHL campaign – and defeated Dinamo head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov, one of the most experienced tacticians in the league.
This was a clash between two undefeated teams. While Red Star beat Spartak and Amur, Dinamo produced a remarkable fightback at Neftekhimik before thrashing Vityaz. It was clear that the visitor carried a potent goal threat – 12 tallies in two games tell their own story. But there was also evidence from Nizhnekamsk that the Belarusians have some defensive vulnerabilities.
In the first period, we saw evidence of both. Dinamo took the lead through a Vitaly Pinchuk powerplay goal but quickly gave up an equalizer. Sam Anas could do nothing to stop Ryan Merkley’s advance down the right and our defenseman fired the puck to the net, where it dropped for Devin Brosseau to fire home his third goal in three games.
That marker introduced two of the day’s key themes: Merkley got his first KHL point, anticipating the debut goals to come, and Brosseau was in the thick of the action.
In the second period, Red Star took control. A five-on-three power play in the first period did not deliver. However, a regular PP midway through the second saw Tyler Wong combine with Brosseau to set up Kyle Wood at the back door. 2-1 Kunlun.
Late in the frame, Moyle got his first KHL goal. Alex Riche hassled and harried the Minsk defense, driving play deep into Dinamo territory. When he could go no further, he dropped the puck back for our young center to join the play and sweep it past Dylan Ferguson in the visitor’s net.
By now, tempers were starting to fray. Late in the middle frame, we saw a minor scuffle and early in the third, Austin Wong took a penalty that led to Nick Merkley pulling one back for Dinamo. But there was far more to come.
First, Wong atoned for his foul by grabbing the game-winner. Brosseau backhanded the puck out of the corner, nobody picked up Austin in front of the net and he fired home. Tyler’s younger brother headed towards the net to celebrate, much to Ferguson’s displeasure, and a fight quickly flared. Brosseau stepped in to protect his team-mate and completed a Gordie Howe hat-trick when he and Kodie Curran got fighting majors. Four more players, two from each side, sat for roughing after an incident that kept the officials busy.
Fired up, Dinamo tried to force a way back into the game. However, Matt Jurusik stood firm in our net. In front of him, the guys blocked 15 shots in the third period to protect the lead. Anas grabbed a late goal to keep it tense, but the Dragons would not be denied. First goals, first points, and a Gordie Howe hat-trick – this one was a game to remember for all sorts of reasons.