23 September 2023
Lada Togliatti 5 Kunlun Red Star 1
Traditionally, the Dragons have enjoyed their meetings with Lada. True, our teams have not been frequent opponents: the Motormen left the KHL just two seasons after we joined. Nonetheless, KRS won all four head-to-head encounters in those seasons, and also left Togliatti as winners of the Lada Cup last month.
However, it would be foolish to underestimate the progress Oleg Bratash’s team has made since then. Lada came into today’s game hoping to climb to second in the Eastern Conference table after a run of five wins and an OT loss in its last six games. In addition, our host introduced Slovak defenseman Mislav Rosandic for the first time today, strengthening a team that beat defending champion CSKA last time out.
KRS also had a new face on display. Forward Anton Shenfeld, who joined the club yesterday, was straight into action. He joined Jason Fram and Kyle Wood on a somewhat makeshift third line: Wood is better known as a defenseman, but was pushed into attacking duties here as the Dragons continue to grapple with injuries among our forwards.
Shenfeld’s debut came against one of his former clubs: after helping Metallurg win the Gagarin Cup in 2014, Anton moved on to Lada before spells with Torpedo and Sibir. This was his 479th regular season game in the KHL, and he had 192 points in that time.
Unfortunately, there was no happy return to Togliatti for Shenfeld. Although he enjoyed his most productive KHL season here with Lada, there was no joy for him today. Indeed, this was another game where our forwards found life tough and, for the sixth time in eight games, we were limited to no more than one goal in regulation.
Nolan Moyle was our scorer today. He struck midway through the first period, converting the rebound from Luke Lockhart’s shot on the breakaway. It was an important goal at the time, coming barely a minute after Lada opened a 2-0 lead, and it ensured that the stats from the first period showed an even game with the home team holding a slight, but hardly insurmountable advantage.
In the second period, the Dragons began with a couple of power plays that might have changed the whole complexion of the game. Instead, a bizarre bounce off the boards presented Pavel Kolygin with a shorthanded goal. After that, Lada took the initiative and had the better of the play in the second period. However, Jeremy Smith kept us in the game with another raft of big saves.
With a fast start in the third, KRS could salvage something. And with the teams starting at four-on-four, there was extra space for the offense to flex. Unfortunately, a penalty on Brandon Yip stalled our progress, and after both teams returned to full strength Lada scored two more quick goals. In-form home forwards Troys Josephs assisted as Scott Kosmachuk potted the fifth, extending his hot streak to seven games. That put the game out of reach and saw our road trip end with a disappointing 1-5 loss.