Dream debut

Source: Club Press-Office

19.12.2017

Kunlun Red Star 3 Dinamo Riga 1

It’s a busy time of year for old Saint Nick, preparing to deliver all those presents. But for Red Star, the festivities started early – and our new Nick wasted no time in delivering the first gift of the season.

Nick Schaus, a 31-year-old American defenseman, arrived in China last week as part of the deal that saw Wojtek Wolski return to Metallurg Magnitogorsk. His spell in the Urals, his first experience of KHL hockey, began brightly with a flurry of points, only to fade a little as Metallurg ran into difficulties and had to chop and change on defense. Now, ready to take on a new challenge and help Red Star revive its playoff hopes, Schaus made a perfect start to life at his new club. The game was barely five minutes old when he produced his first goal for Kunlun. It was a classic play from a true two-way D-man, charging forward as defense turned to offense and giving Lucas Lockhart an outlet before converting an inviting opportunity.

Five minutes later, it was 2-0, and Janis Kalnins was leaving the Riga goal. Cory Kane got his 10th of the season when he evaded the attentions of Lauris Darzins and tucked away Lucas Lessio’s feed. The play began with Taylor Beck, who made a successful return from Channel 1 Cup duty in Moscow on Saturday to compete in Shanghai less than 48 hours later.

It proved to be a day for firsts. Aside from Schaus’s debut goal, we also saw Lockhart get his first goal of the season to follow up that earlier assist. Among the helpers on that tally was Kirill Lebedev, playing his first game for the team after spending the bulk of this season in the VHL with our Heilongjiang farm club and racking up 25 points from 35 games. Lebedev released Kyle Chipchura down the right, and the Canadian forward produced a lovely feed for Lockhart to flip a wrister over Mantas Armalis’ shoulder from the left-hand face-off circle. That made it 3-1 with 14 minutes to play, calming home nerves after Miks Indrasis reduced the deficit and ultimately setting the seal on a much-needed victory.

Speaking of firsts, we must also mention Alexander Skrynnik. Our Russian backup goalie got his first ever full KHL game and first win. He was tantalizingly close to first shutout having successfully dealt with 22 shots but eventually had to surrender to Indrasis's power play close-range effort.

As for the playoff race, that’s still one for the optimists to assess. At the end of this game, Kunlun was 12 points adrift of eighth-placed Barys and lay in 11th in the Eastern Conference. But, with two wins in four games under the guidance of Bobby Carpenter, there are at last signs that our guys are getting back to their competitive best as the season reaches the business end. Next up, it’s the visit of Torpedo on Wednesday.

Official game sheet