Fleury in bloom

Source: Club Press-Office



Damien Fleury was one of the more exotic additions to Kunlun’s roster this season – his arrival from the DEL’s Schwenninger Wild Wings made him only the second Frenchman to play in the KHL (CSKA’s Stephane da Costa is the other one). The 30-year-old Caen native brings a wealth of experience to the team, having played in several top European leagues and represented Les Bleus at seven World Championships. Along the way he helped his country to historic victories over Canada and Russia as the French established themselves as an Elite-level hockey nation.

That’s a career path that’s seen him cross paths with Kazakhstan on the international stage, and perhaps some of that experience paid off for him in Astana as he scored his fifth goal of the season. Brett Bellemore’s beautifully-weighted pass turned defense into offense and sent Yaroslav Alshevsky off to the races. Alshevsky’s play into the danger zone was perfectly placed for Fleury, who met it on the face-off spot with a one-timer that beat Henrik Karlsson at his near post. The goal put Kunlun back into the game after a difficult start, but unfortunately it could not herald another fightback. The disappointment of giving up two goals in the first five minutes – Nikita Ivanov and Cam Barker did the damage – was ultimately too much to overcome.

Like Fleury, Kunlun also has plenty of history with teams from Kazakhstan, although not all of it has been very positive. It was here in Astana that our team became embroiled in a scandalous pre-season game that ended in a life-time ban for Barys forward Damir Ryspaev. An earlier exhibition encounter ended equally unfortunately, with Barys attacker Dustin Boyd suffering a serious injury. Boyd, happily, has completed his recovery and made his first appearance of the season in today’s game.

This time around, despite a disappointing result for our guys against a team that has only lost to SKA and CSKA in its last nine games, there was no scandal from the game. Barys earned its victory in a good, clean game (the teams shared six minor penalties between them, hardly an occasion to overwork the officials) and wrapped up the win with third period goals from Nigel Dawes and Roman Starchenko. For Kunlun it was a forgettable day, but between now and Saturday’s road game at Avtomobilst Yekaterinburg there’s time for Vladimir Yurzinov and his team to reflect and what went wrong and get back to the more resilient performances we’ve been accustomed to throughout the season so far.