5 November 2023
Kunlun Red Star 1 Severstal Cherepovets 3 (0-2, 1-0, 0-1)
Two periods of this game had plenty to recommend them from a KRS perspective. Unfortunately, the first did not. As we’ve seen more than once this term, a slow start proved costly in the first of our back-to-back games against Severstal.
While our previous game against Torpedo brought a good start and a two-goal lead in the first period, this one reverted to an unwelcome archetype. The Dragons started slowly and struggled to make an impact in the opening frame. Just five shots at Konstantin Shostak in the first period tells its own story.
At the other end, the Steelmen had a better time of it. Ruslan Abrosimov scored early, Nikta Setdikov scored late and our guys were down by two.
On the bright side, this isn’t a new situation for us. We’d prefer to be defending leads, but at least we’re more than aware of how to retrieve a deficit. The second period brought better things all over the ice. Our guys were firmly in the game, creating more opportunities and given Severstal more to think about at both ends. It took some time, but reward came in the 35th minute when Brandon McMillan pulled a goal back. Ryan Sproul dished off the puck to Teemu Pulkkinen on the blue line; the Finn thumped in a shot and McMillan showed great agility to get the tip and put the puck beyond Shostak. Now we had a one-goal game, and the entire third period to look at saving it.
There was more incident before the intermission, though. Late in the frame, Ilya Ivantsov took issue with a hit from Devin Brosseau and squared up to our forward. The result was an impressive bout, with the two players slugging each other to a standstill. Devin took a cut to the face and retreated to the locker room to get patched up while both combatants sat out a fighting major.
The incident did its job from our point of view, firing up the guys for a huge effort to save the game in the third period. Sproul, Pulkkinen and Spencer Foo kept Shostak busy. And that conclusion set the tone for the finale. At times, this was almost an offense-vs-defense training drill, with Red Star enjoying almost total control of the game. Matt Jurusik was a virtual spectator as Severstal managed just three shots on goal.
Unfortunately, we found Shostak in great form as he denied us the breakthrough we needed. And, to rub salt into the wound, when Jurusik went to the sidelines to allow sixth skater, Kirill Pilipenko scored an empty net goal to settle the outcome.
However, despite today’s result there were signs in the latter half of the game that we can halt Severstal’s current winning streak when we meet again in Mytishchi tomorrow. It’s a quick turnaround, but if the Dragons can start with the momentum they generated in the closing stages today there’s every chance of reversing the final outcome.