Stayin’ hot!

4 February 2024

Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Kunlun Red Star 4

The Dragons roared to a fourth win in five games, while forwards Luke Lockhart and Tyler Graovac continued their personal hot streaks during Sunday’s visit to Vityaz.

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Lockhart scored twice, moving him to six goals in the last five games. And Graovac added to his three-point performance against Admiral with the game-winning goal today.

There were just two changes to the roster from the previous outing, with Nolan Moyle replacing Teemu Pulkkinen on offense, and Matt Jurusik returning between the piping as we headed to Balashikha looking for our second victory of the week over the Western Conference’s basement team.

We got that result, but had to battle from behind to take the points in an entertaining encounter. Vityaz got the opening goal midway through the first period. Unfortunately, we rather helped them to it, with a defensive blunder paving the way for Scott Wilson to score his team’s first goal since Jan. 29.

However, it wasn’t long before the Dragons were back level. Lockhart scored the tying goal, racing to the near post in front of his marker. He got there just in time to steer Devin Brosseau’s feed from the corner beyond rookie goalie Daniil Chechelev. Despite being outshot 16-5 in the first period, we got to the intermission with the scores level.

Early in the second, Luke struck again, crashing the net to convert a feed from Tyler Wong. Brosseau was again among the assists, while Chechelev could contemplate the fact that every goal in his brief KHL career came from the same opposing player.

A power play chance in the middle of the second period gave the Vityaz youngster a taste of being beaten by another player. This time, Graovac did the damage, adding to the PP goals he scored on Admiral. Ryan Merkley dished the puck to the right-hand circle, Gemel Smith unleashed a blast and the rebound dropped perfectly for Gravy on the slot to restore our lead shortly after Igor Ugolnikov tied the game.

In front once again, our guys looked to calm the game down. After the first half of the game proved full of goals, the latter stages were much quieter. Game management was the key, and today the Dragons had it spot on. Chances were hard to come by. Even as Vityaz tried to force a way back into the game, the home team found its attacks foundered on our perimeter. As the clock ran down, Chechelev ran to the bench but the extra man did nothing to help his team. Instead, Wong potted an empty-netter to seal the win with his 50th KHL goal.

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