29 January 2024
HC Sochi 2 Kunlun Red Star 4
Back-to-back wins, 20 goals for Devin Brosseau this season, and two more goals for Luke Lockhart against his favorite opponent of the year. This was another good day beside the Black Sea for the Dragons.
There were no changes to the Red Star roster, save for Jeremy Smith taking over from Alexander Lazushin in goal. And there were no changes in the guys’ first-period dominance over Sochi. Yesterday we jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame, today it was three at the first intermission.
The opener came in the fourth minute. Ryan Merkley’s first set-up had the Sochi defense at full stretch to get the puck clear. His second found Spencer Foo all alone inside the circle to rifle home our first of the night. Then came a power play and a shot from Brandon Yip that clipped the post.
Devin Brosseau’s 20th goal of the season doubled the lead in the 16th minute, but this one was all about Jake Chelios. Mostly, we know Jake as an uncompromising defenseman but today he allowed his creative instincts full rein: collecting a loose puck in center ice, he spun away from two opponents and brought the puck into the Sochi zone before setting up Brosseau. Twenty-goal seasons are not all that common: only Chad Rau (2016/17) and Yip (2018/19 and 2022/23) have got there before; Devin could set a new club record if he can better Yipper’s 21-goal haul.
The next spectacle was the rarely-seen goalie fight. Brosseau barrelled into Mikhail Berdin, collecting an interference call for his trouble. That didn’t much impress a frustrated home goalie, who steamed into battle with our Canadian forward and ended up with 17 PIMs for instigating, fighting, and misconduct. Nikolai Chebykin served Berdin’s time, which meant that Luke Lockhart was able to continue punishing the netminder.
You may recall Luke scored twice on Sochi yesterday and has found the net every time we’ve played the Leopards this season. So, it really shouldn’t have surprised anyone that he potted our third goal barely a minute after the Berdin-Brosseau bout. Tyler Wong’s breakaway, Lockhart’s finish, 3-0 KRS.
Of course, we didn’t have the happiest memories of leading 3-0 here. Yesterday, Sochi battled back to tie the game at 3-3. That wasn’t going to happen again. Also yesterday, Luke scored twice. That would happen again, right at the start of the second period. This time Parker Foo got our in-form forward off to the races and his finish was another blow to Berdin.
Sochi managed to get a goal back midway through the game thanks to Michal Kristof. But there would never be a repeat of yesterday’s anxious finish. The home team got a second goal on the power play when Daniil Seroukh struck in the 47th minute, but that was as close as it got.