B-Mac 1, Ak-B 0!

23 November 2023

Kunlun Red Star 1 Ak Bars Kazan 0

Even before this game, things felt differently. Usually, when we play Ak Bars, the opponent is in better form. Today, though, that wasn’t the case. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team arrived with just one win in six games, and suffered a 1-4 loss at Dynamo on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Dragons had three wins in their last six and enjoyed a rare break between games after seeing off Sibir in overtime. Whether it was the confidence of a winning team, or the added freshness of a four-day break, it all added up to a memorable victory against one of the league’s traditional power houses.


This was our first win over Ak Bars in our adopted Mytishchi home. Considering our two previous match-ups ended in 1-5 losses, this is big progress. And the result was entirely deserved.

In the build-up to the game, there was talk about Vadim Shipachyov. The visiting forward got his 900th point in the KHL not long ago and is gunning for the league’s all-time scoring record. Today, though, the center was largely anonymous. He had just one shot on goal in 21 minutes of ice time and was well-handled throughout by the Dragons’ D.

Indeed, strong defense was key to this win. A dangerous opposition offense was limited to 29 shots at Jeremy Smith. He stopped them all, and it’s hard to lose hockey games when you don’t allow any goals. Special mention has to go to our special teams, who performed superbly in the first period to wipe out a five-on-three power play.

That was pretty much the only time Ak Bars noticeably got on top. Once back to equal strength, Red Star played an equal part in the game. Moreover, discipline improved: our guys learned from that penalty scare and managed to stay out of the box for much of the rest of the game. That’s another big step forward for a team that has often been punished by opposing PPs this season.

Instead, the key moment of the game saw Ak Bars’ Kirill Adamchuk go to the box just before the second intermission. As a result, we got to start the third period with an attacking face-off, and took full advantage. Brendon Yip won the draw to McMillan who sent the puck to Ryan Merkley who circulated it for Spencer Foo to bang in a shot. Timur Bilyalov blocked it, but gave up a huge rebound and B-Mac pounced on the rebound to open the scoring.

It was the opening goal, and also the last. With something to cling onto, our defense dug in. The third period saw Ak Bars limited to just six shots at Smitty, who stopped them all to claim his second shut-out of the season. For long periods in the third our pressing game kept the opposition far from our net. In the closing stages, that added a new dimension and Bilyalov was unable to stay off the ice as his team tried and failed to launch a final storm. Instead, he was on and off the bench in the last couple of minutes and the clock ticked down to give Red Star a memorable win.

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Kunlun Red Star