Not this time

23 February 2024

HC Sochi 6 Kunlun Red Star 3

After five successive victories over Sochi, our sixth and final meeting of the season ended in a rare loss to the Leopards. On this occasion, we never quite recovered from allowing two early goals, despite efforts from Tyler Wong and Parker Foo keeping the Dragons in the game.

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On Tuesday, Red Star romped to a 4-0 victory over today’s opponent, setting a club record for the fastest four goals we’ve scored in the KHL. That five-minute goal rush also saw Devin Brosseau score a club record 22nd goal of the season. Despite that, there were changes to the roster for our visit to the Black Sea coast. Teemu Pulkkinen sat this one out, making way for Austin Wong. Matt Jurusik continued in goal, with Alexander Lazushin as understudy.

Sochi clearly had a point to prove, and made a fast start to the game. Michal Kristof opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and after seven it was 2-0 to the home team thanks to Gleb Koryagin.

However, Red Star did not give up. Our guys more than matched Sochi for long spells in the first period and finished with more time on offense and more shots on goal. However, it wasn’t until the last minute of the opening stanza that we saw some reward for that effort. Turner Ottenbreit’s shot was blocked, but Tyler Wong was wide awake on the slot to bang in the rebound.

At that point, the game was very much alive. Unfortunately, we were about to see another third period that took it away – and this time, not in our favor. Right after the intermission, Sochi added a third goal, and in controversial circumstances. Ottenbreit lay injured behind our net after a hit from Marat Khusnutdinov, but rather than stop the game, Matvei Michkov kept playing and potted a third goal for his team. While he may have acted within the letter of the law, most impartial observers would feel that the youngster did not respect the spirit of the game with that play.

Adding insult to injury, Sochi then potted a couple of quick goals as the midway point approached. Nikolai Chebykin and Artur Tyanulin took the scoreline out to 5-1 and moved the game away from our guys. However, there was still the matter of young master Michkov. Late in the second period, he took a slashing minor and, while he sat in the box, Parker Foo pulled a goal back. Not, on this occasion, enough to change the game; enough to offer a small sense of karma.

Karma also proved short-lived. Michkov struck again right at the start of the third period, albeit less controversially this time. That wasn’t quite the final work: late in the game Colin Campbell grabbed a consolation goal, credit to work ethic if nothing else as we go into our final two games of the regular season.

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