Another day of firsts

9 October 2023

SKA St. Petersburg 6 Kunlun Red Star 2

There’s a new Dragon in the lair. Teemu Pulkkinen made his first appearance for our guys in Monday’s trip to St. Petersburg. The Finn joined up with Jack Rodewald and Nolan Moyle on our third line as we went to face one of the most enigmatic teams in the league.

Enigmatic? Yes. SKA has all the potential to dominate the Western Conference, but has started the season plagued by inconsistency. Today’s game saw the Petersburg powerhouse outside the playoff spots after a season that brought victory over defending champion CSKA but also surprise losses to the likes of Dinamo Minsk.

The Dragons, meanwhile, have problems of their own. Six successive losses represent a painful reality check after a bright start to the season. Things might be improving slightly on the personnel side, but a good result would make a huge difference to the confidence around the team right now.

Unfortunately, today’s game offered little hope of that after SKA made a fast start. Mikhail Pashnin opened the scoring in the second minute, and Maxim Fedotov doubled the lead on the power play. Despite Pulkkinen’s presence adding a renewed attacking threat for our guys, this game was in danger of being done inside 10 minutes.

By the midway stage it was 4-0 – Mikhail Vorobyov tormenting with three assists – and damage limitation was the order of the day.

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However, despite our difficulties, there was something to build on in the closing stages. The second half of the game was tied 2-2. While the haters might insist that was an inevitable slowdown on behalf of the home team, it’s hard to deny that this again shows there’s a level of pride and character among our guys that will bring better days soon.

We also saw two forwards get their first goals of the season. Not Pulkkinen, at least not yet. But Colin Campbell, whose campaign has been hampered by injury, made it 1-4 in the 36th minute. Soupy got the faintest of touches on a Doyle Somerby point shot to take the puck away from Nikita Serebryakov in the home net.

Then, in the third, Parker Foo potted his first after an injury-wrecked September. This was very much an individual effort, with Parker bringing play into the SKA zone and wrongfooting Ivan Vydrenkov in the home defense before rifling a shot past Serebryakov.

Unfortunately, both those efforts drew immediate responses from the home team, ensuring that we were unable to make much of an indentation on SKA’s commanding lead and ultimately slipped to a heavy loss. Nonetheless, we can look at the positives from the closing stages as we return home to face Dinamo Minsk on Wednesday.

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