Signs of hope at the end of a long road

Source: Club Press-Office



Our team set off on the first of many long, long road trips this season, heading to Nizhny Novgorod and Kunlun’s first game against a Western Conference opponent. Novgorod, one of Russia’s most ancient cities, provided a fitting backdrop for another chapter in our history, while our team amply demonstrated the kind of fighting spirit that will serve it well through the months to come.

Even after a bitterly disappointing second period, which saw Torpedo open up a 3-0 lead and finish with a power play that would extend more than three minutes into the final stanza, spirits remained high. As the second intermission came to an end, defiant voices were heard in the Red Star locker room. Max Warn was calling on his colleagues to deliver a strong finish; Tobias Viklund urged a solid penalty kill before battling to turn the game around. Nobody was writing it off as a lost cause.

That faith brought its reward. Damien Fleury returned from his double-minor with Torpedo frustrated by its inability to carve our chances against us. Back to full strength, Kunlun pressed hard, taking the game to the host. In the end, with eight seconds left, Chad Rau finally got us a deserved reward – a last-gasp goal and a ‘win’ of sorts in that final session. There was also a bright finish for goalie Andrei Makarov, who saved a last-second penalty shot from John Norman after the Swedish forward was tripped by Anssi Salmela.

Of course, it wasn’t enough to affect the result. Not this time. But there’s a bigger picture involved. Across the whole game, Kunlun was more than a match for two of the three periods. The opening stanza was evenly-contested, and Torpedo’s power play goal in the ninth minute hardly looked like a decisive intervention. The third period, as we’ve seen, saw Red Star on top, taking the fight to the opposition until the last seconds. Only the second period saw things drift beyond our guys’ control as a string of penalties against us put Torpedo in command. Carter Ashton bagged a power play goal, helping the host to a 3-0 lead, as we were reminded once again that there’s still work to do on our PK. However, the evidence of the third period and that long, successful kill suggests that here, too, progress is happening fast.

Our tour of the West continues with a trip to Sochi on Monday. Despite today’s defeat, there are plenty of positives to take from the way we finished the game. Maintaining that level of performance over a full 60 minutes will surely bring more victories than losses.