Dragons edged out in Loko battle

12 September 2023

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Kunlun Red Star 1

There was a danger that today’s game would be decided by energy levels. For the visiting Kunlun players, this was the sixth instalment of a run of eight games on successive days. While hockey is always full of quick turnarounds, it’s rare to have two weeks of such relentless action in a championship schedule.

Lokomotiv, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from Monday night, when the Railwaymen suffered a humbling 0-5 loss at home to Sochi. Meanwhile, our draining schedule at least brought the boost of a win over CSKA on Sunday and recognition for Jeremy Smith as the top goalie of the first full week of the KHL season. He continued between the piping here, and once again demonstrated his class in a strong first-period performance. Lokomotiv huffed and puffed in the early exchanges, but the opening action finished goalless.

In the second period, Red Star had a great chance to take the lead when Nolan Moyle got a solo run at Daniil Isayev’s net. However, Loko gradually began to build a territorial advantage and that led to Andrei Sergeyev breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute. In the immediate aftermath of the opening goal, Smitty went to the bench for a few moments to resolve a minor problem. Matt Jurusik played 2:36 before our starting goalie could return.


And once Smitty was back in his accustomed place, Red Star welcomed him back to the game with an equalizing goal. There’s been a lot to like about our power play this season, and even Igor Nikitin’s notoriously structured defense could not keep it at bay forever. This was the Dragons’ third attempt with an extra man, and it ended with a goal. Spencer Foo was the scorer, converting the rebound after Zac Leslie’s point shot rebounded off the boards. Parker Foo, currently injured, celebrates his 25th birthday today, and got an extra gift from his big brother.

Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the birthday party. Although Lokomotiv was playing its second game in as many days, there was no sign of any fatigue from the home team. Instead, the Railwaymen produced some of their best hockey of the night, shutting down much of the Dragons’ offensive options and starting to dominate. Yaroslav Likhachyov was the prime beneficiary: the youngster’s return to Lokomotiv after a successful loan at Amur was much anticipated, and he continues to deliver. Today he smoked the game-winner, collecting his third goal in five games to make it 2-1. Coincidentally, he found the net in each of Loko’s three victories to date but was silent in his team’s losses.

That wasn’t the end of the story for Red Star. Although Igor Nikitin’s team worked hard to stifle the game, there was still a big chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, Jack Rodewald could not make the most of his last-minute opportunity and the hooter sounded to deny even a chance to test the host in overtime.

Despite Tuesday’s loss, Red Star remains high in the Western Conference standings, tied on eight points with Torpedo in top spot. And there’s a chance for swift revenge on Lokomotiv when today’s opponent comes to Mytishchi for a rematch on Saturday.

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Kunlun Red Star