Beaten by the bounce

4 October 2023

Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Kunlun Red Star 1

Beware the new coach bounce. After a poor start to the season culminated in a 1-9 thrashing at CSKA, Vityaz made the first coaching change of the season. Alexander Zavyalov, in his first season as a KHL head coach, stepped down barely a month after his first game and Alexei Tertyshny took interim charge of the KHL’s basement team.

Alexei is no stranger to the Dragons. In our rookie season, he was one of Vladimir Yurzinov’s assistants, and he later had a short stint as head coach of our VHL affiliate Heilongjiang. After that, he returned to his native Chelyabinsk to work with Traktor before moving to Vityaz in the summer.

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His first period behind the Vityaz bench was a success: the home team came out hard and created chances from the off. The opening goal arrived on a delayed penalty midway through the frame, the new coach bounce getting a lucky bounce as Vladimir Galuzin unwittingly deflected the puck past the luckless Matt Jurusik. Then Alexander Yaremchuk took advantage of a fluffed line change to blast home #2 late in the stanza. Changes were clearly having an impact on Vityaz.

There were also changes in place for our guys, with the welcome sight of Parker Foo on the ice for the first time this season. He slotted into the first line alongside Brandon Yip and Jack Rodewald and his presence provided some light at the end of a long tunnel of injury worries. There are six more on the sidelines, plus our new signings Teemu Pulkkinen and Brandon McMillan ready to enter the fray in the near future.

Although our offense didn’t get too many chances to shine in the first period, there were a couple of opportunities. Luke Lockhart had perhaps the best of them, going close to tying the game after Ryan Merkley’s defense-splitting pass sent him one-on-one with Maxim Dorozhko.

Dorozhko, preferred to ex-Dragon Dmitry Shikin, proved a stubborn obstacle. As the game progressed, he came under increasing pressure from our forwards. However, he was only beaten once. Devin Brosseau kept up his fine form, scoring for the third game in a row late in the middle frame. Zac Leslie kept the puck in the home zone and found Brosseau in the left-hand channel. Devin stepped up to the top of the circle and fired a low shot through traffic to catch Dorozhko flat-footed and put us right back in the game. With eight goals and 10 points, Brosseau also consolidated his position as the team’s scoring leader so far.

But that was as close as the Dragons could get. The final frame saw both goalies in fine form – and both earned the player of the game awards for their respective teams. Unfortunately, that left Kunlun coming up just short on the wrong end of a 1-2 verdict.

There’s an immediate return to action on Thursday when we welcome high-flying Torpedo to Mytishchi.

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