Fighting spirit, family combinations, and historic wins

1 March 2024

Top 5 Dragons’ games of 2023/24

Once again, the Dragons enjoyed some great days during a sometimes challenging season. In the end, it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to five of the best. When a shut-out win over Ak Bars or a (now traditional) overtime verdict against defending champion CSKA doesn’t make the shortlist, you know good things are happening. Here’s our favorite five – let us know where we got it wrong!

Number 5 – Dinamo Minsk 3 KRS 4 SO (Oct. 19, 2023)


There wasn’t much optimism around the club as we headed to Minsk. A horrendously overcrowded schedule left our guys exhausted and injury-hit, and that added up to a 10-game skid. Three days earlier, things hit the lowest point of the season with a hammering at CSKA. And, after 40 minutes’ play in Belarus, there wasn’t much light at the end of the tunnel as we trailed 1-3.

On the basis that it’s always darkest before the dawn, we started the final frame on the PK. But once back at full strength, our guys produced some of their best hockey of the season to turn things around. Newcomers Teemu Pulkkinen and Brandon McMillan made the most of a menacing rush from our Merkley, peppering Kolosov with shots from close range until the Belarusian surrendered and the Canadian scored in the 44th minute. Then Parker Foo tied it up midway through the session, taking advantage after a defenseman dropped his stick. We survived one last scare in OT when Vitaly Pinchuk hit the post, but kept our nerve to snatch a shoot-out win thanks to Luke Lockhart’s decider.

Number 4 – KRS 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 SO (Sep. 27, 2023)


Fightbacks and wins in the extras were something of a theme of the season, especially in the early stages. Metallurg is one of the opponents that has historically given us trouble, while Andrei Razin rarely allowed us points when he was head coach at Severstal. This game, our first meeting with Razin’s Magnitka, looked like it might be another struggle until that comeback kicked in.

Down 0-2 after the first period, our guys improved as the game went on. Even so, with 10 to play that two-goal deficit looked daunting. Metallurg made the mistake of thinking the game was done, especially after killing a double minor penalty, but as the teams returned to equal strength, Brandon Yip showed a captain’s class to halve the deficit. The play also saw ex-Metallurg man Anton Shenfeld pick up his only point in his short spell as a Dragon. Game on, and a needless penalty gave us a vital PP, paving the way for Zac Leslie to blast home the tying goal with 2:40 left. Late goals give momentum, and not even a Magnitka power play in OT could deny us. Jurusik did his job in the shoot-out and Luke Lockhart once again potted the decider.

Number 3 – KRS 5 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 (Dec. 2, 2023)


At times this season, Red Star was able to ice two pairs of brothers. In this game, both the Wongs and the Foos found themselves among the points. That laid the foundations for a rare win over Avtomobilist, going some way to banishing memories of some heavy losses against the Motormen in recent seasons.

Two Wongs absolutely got it right in the first period: Barely a minute apart, Tyler opened the scoring and younger brother Austin added a second. We were in pole position, with the opposition stuck in first gear. Halfway through the middle frame, Parker Foo made it 3-0 and we could engage cruise control. Avto hit back, getting the game back to 2-3, but another pair of quick goals made the game safe in the last five minutes. And the second of them, our fifth of the night, brought an assist from Spencer Foo to complete the family celebrations.

Number 2 – Dynamo Moscow 2 KRS 3 OT (Nov. 8, 2023)


Few gave us much of a chance in this one. Dynamo, on the way to winning the Continental Cup, was powering through a nine-game hot streak. The Dragons were decidedly tepid after five straight losses. A historical perspective didn’t much help either – prior to this trip to Moscow we’d never beaten the Blue-and-Whites in KHL play.

The game itself was all about guts. Dynamo, as expected, dominated for long spells. Our defense dug in, and Matt Jurusik stood on his head to keep the home offense at bay. When the Muscovites did score – both times on the league’s most potent power play – the Dragons found another level to hit back and quickly tie the game. Getting to overtime was already an achievement, but there was more to come. A penalty for Nikita Gusev opened the door and Brandon McMillan’s power play goal stormed through it to claim a famous win.

Number 1 – SKA St. Petersburg 2 KRS 3 (Feb. 25, 2024)

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Technically, this was a record home crowd to see the Dragons. Although the game took place at the huge new SKA Arena, it was officially a home game for our guys. And they channeled that home team energy to grab a sensational victory that decided the destiny of the regular season title. SKA had to win this one to deny Dynamo the prize; KRS said no and sent the cup to Moscow.

As expected, defensive resilience was crucial. Alexander Lazushin’s 48 saves illustrate how badly SKA wanted to win this one. Yet the Dragons survived the onslaught. Survived, and thrived. Goalless at the first intermission, up 2-0 at the second on goals from Colin Campbell and Devin Brosseau. Spencer Foo grabbed a vital third 13 seconds into the final frame and that proved to be enough – just. SKA threw everything at us in the closing stages and managed to claw back two goals. But only two; not enough to deny us the win.

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