Late blow robs Dragons of a win

6 November 2023

Kunlun Red Star 3 Severstal Cherepovets 4 SO

Remember how we concluded yesterday’s write-up? There was nothing fanciful about the suggestion that we could improve on Sunday’s loss when we faced Severstal again today. This time, the Dragons were within a couple of minutes of grabbing the win in regulation. Although we couldn’t quite get this one over the line, taking a point from a team on a four-game winning streak is another promising sign.

With a tight turnaround, it was inevitable that Viktors Ignatjevs would want to freshen up the roster. Jeremy Smith took over from Matt Jurusik in goal, making his first start since Oct. 25. In addition, Doyle Somerby returned to the first defensive pair and Jason Fram slotted in alongside Colin Campbell and Nolan Moyle on the fourth line.

After giving up an early goal in our first encounter with the Steelmen, today we hit our opponent with the same trick. With just two minutes played, Teemu Pulkkinen got to the slot to convert Brandon McMillan’s feed after Jack Rodewald won an attacking face-off. It’s always good to see a plan come together. There were chances to build on that lead, with Parker Foo’s one-on-one chance providing the toughest test for Konstantin Shostak in the visitor’s net. However, late in the opening frame, Severstal hit back during a passage of four-on-four play with Mikhail Ilyin tying the game.


That goal was a disappointment, but overall the first period was encouraging. After going in behind at the first intermission in so many previous games, getting to the locker room with the scores level was something to build on. And build we did. Two goals in less than 90 seconds opened a 3-1 lead in the second period.

Pulkkinen struck first, converting a power play to log his second of the game. Then Spencer Foo showed off his predatory instincts to grab a goal out of nothing. Ryan Merkley’s point shot should have been meat and drink for Shostak, but the visiting goalie allowed a wild rebound and Spencer jumped on the play to force the puck home before anyone could react. After 10 games without a goal, that was a big moment for our man and he celebrated accordingly.

In the final minutes of the second period, Pulkkinen had a chance to complete his hat-trick but fired wide when well-placed. Then things began to wobble. Luke Lockhart took a penalty for roughing and, one second before the hooter, Yegor Stepanov grabbed a power play goal.

That changed the complexion of the game, giving Severstal a lift going into the third. In that stanza, our visitor showed some phenomenal accuracy in front of goal: of 19 attempts, 18 were on target. Even though the balance of play was fairly even, it added up to a lot of work for Smitty. Finally, he was beaten in the 58th minute, Kirill Pilipenko grabbing a late goal for the second time in 24 hours.

Overtime was a cautious affair, with neither side keen to gamble on creating a game-winning play. As a result, both teams had to roll the dice in a shoot-out, that ultimate sporting lottery. On this occasion, our number did not come up: Shostak denied our forwards while Severstal converted two attempts to take the win.

We’re back in action Wednesday with a short trip to table-topping Dynamo Moscow at the start of a four-game voyage to Yaroslavl via Astana and Omsk.

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