Loko’s fast start derails Dragons

16 September 2023

Kunlun Red Star 0 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4

The Dragons reached the end of a gruelling eight-game sequence, welcoming Lokomotiv to Mytishchi. Playing every other day since the start of the season has been challenging for our guys, and it’s no surprise that Viktors Ignatjevs rotated the team a little after losses on the road in Nizhny Novgorod and Yaroslavl.

The big news was a KRS debut for Daniil Tarasov. The 32-year-old forward spent most of last season with Avtomobilist, but the Muscovite is better known in the KHL as a Dynamo player. He spent six seasons in Blue-and-White after returning from San Jose in 2015. During his time across the Atlantic, Daniil made five NHL appearances, while he has 143 (82+61) points in 343 regular season KHL games.

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Tarasov’s arrival was timely, given that Spencer Foo had to leave Thursday’s game at Torpedo with an injury. In addition, Ivan Lisin and Ryan Sproul returned to the side, replacing Mikhail Abramov and Kyle Wood respectively.

While Kunlun travelled home from Yaroslavl via Nizhny Novgorod, facing the Western Conference leader on the way, Lokomotiv had not played since beating us 2-1 at Arena 2000. The rest did our visitor some good and the Railwaymen made a fast start. Veteran Sergei Andronov opened the scoring on his team’s first attack, then Yaroslav Likhachyov doubled the lead with a fine goal in the fourth minute.

Clearly feeling the effects of that busy start to the season, the Dragons had allowed five goals in less than 10 minutes, counting the end of the previous game at Torpedo. Despite fatigue, though, our guys dug in and tried to make a game of it. Lokomotiv continued to press, but could not add to its lead. At the other end, Jack Rodewald was close to grabbing a short-handed goal but could not get his close-range shot on target midway through the first. Had that gone in, we might have seen a different game. Instead, Loko was able to maintain a comfortable lead.

Our PK continued to play well, neutralizing two more Lokomotiv power plays in the middle frame. However, late in the second Georgy Ivanov’s redirect made it 3-0. Given the balance of play, it was hard to see any realistic way back from here.

Just to make sure, Ivanov scored again early in the third. After that, the visitor was able to close the game down and protect a shut-out for goalie Daniil Isayev.

After that fast-paced start to the season, the Dragons have two days without a game – our longest rest this month. However, there’s still the small matter of a big trip out east for games at Amur (Sep. 19), Admiral (Sep. 21) and Lada (Sep. 23). This season’s schedule is more relentless than ever, due to Team China’s Olympic Qualification commitments in the New Year.

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