Warm welcome for Warn as Kunlun goes to Sochi

Source: Club Press-Office

13.09.2016

HC SOCHI 3 KUNLUN RED STAR 1

Monday’s trip to the Black Sea coast was no holiday, but our game at Sochi was a homecoming of sorts for two of our Finnish players. Max Warn and Janne Jalasvaara both played on the Olympic ice of the Bolshoi arena before switching to Beijing and a future Olympic venue. And, judging by their reception before today’s game, both made a good impression beside the seaside.

Warn, in particular, seems to have found fans. During the pre-game warm-up one girl unfurled a banner reading ‘Max, Sochi loves you, we miss you!’ As the teams left the ice she caught up with the hero of this love story and handed him her creation, prompting a broad smile on the forward’s face.

Warn had further cause to smile in the 12th minute when he claimed an assist on Chad Rau’s goal. As an exercise in converting a power play, it could hardly be bettered: Miika Lahti won the face-off, the puck came to Warn and Max fed Rau who was wide open to score his second goal in successive games. His previous effort, in the last seconds at Torpedo, was a consolation goal in a 1-3 reverse; here the American tied the game, cancelling out Alexander Delnov’s strike.

In the end, the second period cost us once again. Two goals conceded, none scored – despite outshooting the host 15-13, and Kunlun was heading for defeat again. A power play goal from Ilya Krikunov and an individual effort from Ivan Zakharchuk proved too much for Red Star to overcome. Once again, the final score was 1-3 against us – but there were more encouraging signs to build on.

“We played much better than in Nizhny Novgorod,” stated head coach Vladimir Yurzinov after the game. And the reasons for his optimism were clear enough. More shots on goal, fewer penalties and a more competitive performance all round. There’s still plenty to work on: Sochi got a power play goal from one of those three penalties, while Kunlun failed to capitalize on enough of its own opportunities when it had the weight of numbers in its favour. But efforts to get our special teams to click will take time – it’s unrealistic to expect fluent play in all circumstances from a team with just four competitive games under its belt.