Briefly to Siberia and back home

26 November 2023

After an impressive win over Ak Bars last time out, the Dragons make the long trip to Novosibirsk looking to claim a second success of the season against Sibir. Jet-lag might be a factor – this is a one-off road trip sandwiched by home engagements. Once back in familiar surroundings, we welcome high-flying Spartak and an unpredictable Avtomobilist to Mytishchi.


Sibir (a), Nov. 27, 1530 Moscow time

Last time out: It’s a quick rematch with Sibir as the Dragons look to build on our OT win on Nov. 18. On that occasion, Kyle Wood and Tyler Wong were on target as we tied 2-2 in regulation, then Brandon Yip potted the winner a minute into the extras.

Familiar faces: Sibir’s scoring leader Taylor Beck (7+20 points from 33 games) had a two spells with the Dragons in 2017/18 after arriving from Avtomobilist, then again in 2018/19 before leaving for Avangard. Another former Kunlun man, defenseman Trevor Murphy, remains on the injured list.

Background: Sibir tightened its grip on a playoff spot in the East with an important 3-1 win over ninth-placed Neftekhimik on Saturday. Import Andy Andreoff scored twice in that game to help his team record back-to-back wins for the first time since Oct. 26. However, this has been a season of inconsistent form under new head coach David Nemirovsky. Sibir has not always bought in quickly to his ideas, and the team’s position in the standings is perhaps a little lower than might be expected.

Monday’s game might also see veteran goalie Anton Khudobin make his Sibir debut. The 37-year-old returned to the KHL after playing in the second tier with Sokol Krasnoyarsk this season and was named as back-up to Anton Krasotkin in the Neftekhimik game. A World Champion with Team Russia, Khudobin last played in the league during the 2012/13 NHL lockout, when he  signed for Atlant.

Spartak (h), Nov. 30, 1930 Moscow time

Last time out: We travelled to Spartak for our first game of the season and came home with a 4-3 win. Later, the teams met again in Mytishchi and produced the same scoreline. On that occasion, though, Spartak came out on top.

Familiar faces: There are some old friends behind the Red-and-White bench, with Alexei Kovalev and Igor Ulanov working as assistants to head coach Alexei Zhamnov. Kovalev was head coach of the Dragons in 2020/21, with Ulanov among his assistants.

Background: The league’s top scoring team, Spartak has surprised many by remaining at the top of the standings this season. The Muscovites have been up there almost from the start and, at the time of writing, are just ahead of Dynamo at the Western Conference summit.

However, recent form has shown signs that the Red-and-Whites can be stopped. The last three outings brought defeats, albeit against traditional powerhouses in the shape of Lokomotiv, SKA and Metallurg. In those games, an offense that plundered 124 goals in 33 games was held to just four from three. Nonetheless, this is potent attacking force, led by Nikolai Goldobin. The 28-year-old forward raced to 50 (24+26) points in 35 games, setting club records along the way, and currently leads the KHL in scoring.

Avtomobilist (h), Dec. 2, 1730 Moscow time

Last time out: Our Hallowe’en visit to Yekaterinburg was more of a trick than a treat. The Motormen claimed a 3-0 victory, with Vladimir Galkin spooking our forwards to record a shut-out.

Familiar faces: Defenseman Jesse Blacker, who began his KHL career with KRS, is the only ex-Dragon involved with Avto.

Background: Avtomobilist is another team that has struggled for consistency this season. Indeed, Saturday’s overtime win over Lada was the first time Nikolai Zavarukhin’s men defeated an opponent in a playoff spot since Oct. 13. Much of that time has seen Avto affected by injuries, with Zavarukhin constantly reshuffling his line-up to try to find the magic combination.

It may not be coincidence that the weekend success came with a return to some established partnerships. Stephane da Costa, who potted the winner, was reunited with Anatoly Golyshev. The Makeyev-Valk-Macek line also reformed, and there was a welcome return for Denis Barantsev, a long-term injury absentee on the blue line. The win over Lada also halted a two-game losing run. However, in a season that has seen Kunlun record some streak-shattering results, now might be the time to start avenging a long series of heavy losses against the Motormen in recent years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...

Kunlun Red Star