21 September 2023
Admiral Vladivostok 3 Kunlun Red Star 1
Game two in the Far East took the Dragons to the shores of the Pacific. In Vladivostok, Jeremy Smith got a well-earned rest after his heroics in the shoot-out win over Amur, while Matt Jurusik took over between the piping. In front of him, Ryan Sproul returned to the D in place of Kyle Wood, nursing his bruises after leading the team in blocked shots in Khabarovsk. Otherwise, the changes were structural, with Daniil Tarasov moving to the second line alongside Jack Rodewald and Brandon Yip.
Like Amur, Admiral was playing its home opener. Six games on the road yielded just one win for the Sailors, but that was an impressive 6-2 success at Spartak. Inspired by familiar surroundings, our host leapt into a two-goal lead in the first five minutes. For the second game in a row, the opener went to Shevchenko – Alexander this time, rather than Amur’s Dmitry. On the bright side, there are no further members of the wider Shevchenko clan awaiting us this season. A couple of minutes later, Daniil Gutik doubled the advantage and stretched his current streak to four goals in five games.
After that slow start, the Dragons managed to stem the flow. There wasn’t much happening for our offense in the first period, but at least there was no danger of being overrun at the other end. Then the middle frame saw the start of a fightback. Our defense was in its accustomed role of frustrating the opposition, while our counters got increasingly dangerous. Midway through the session, we won a defensive face-off, Turner Ottenbreit moved the puck clear and Rodewald’s stretch pass sent Yipper on his way to beat Nikita Serebryakov. Captain China produced another emphatic finish, and the game was firmly on.
The start of the third brought a glorious chance to tie the scores. Tyler Wong got a fantastic look at Serebryakov but the home goalie – who was KHL goalie of the year last season – pulled off another brilliant save to protect Admiral’s slender lead.
Unfortunately, that was as close as we got. Midway through the final frame, Tyler Graovac added a third for the host and put the game out of reach. There were still chances – late in the game, with Jurusik making way for an extra attacker, Devin Brosseau was agonizingly close to pulling one back. Then, at the other end, Graovac batted the puck into the empty net, but the officials checked the footage and confirmed that the Canadian’s stick was high. The goal was whistled off and the game finished 3-1.
After Thursday’s loss, the Dragons are back in action right away. Tomorrow, we fly to Togliatti and on Saturday we take on Lada looking to preserve our 100% KHL record against the Motormen.