It’s De-lightful, it’s De-lirious, it’s DeFazio!

Source: Club Press-Office


Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 Kunlun Red Star 2

Brandon DeFazio was Kunlun’s hero with a late, late winner in Ufa. His strike, with just two seconds remaining on the clock, secured a 2-1 margin. That was enough to halt a two-game losing streak and pick up a second road victory on this epic early-season expedition around the KHL.

The winning goal, DeFazio’s second in successive games, might not win many beauty contests. But it was a fine example of never say day spirit. The clash was heading for overtime when a sloppy pass from Linus Omark presented the puck to DeFazio in his own zone. Under little pressure, the Canadian could have been forgiven for simply running down the clock and collecting at least a point from the evening. Instead, he sought to carve out one last scoring chance.

Red Star surged forward, pushing players in front of Andrei Kareyev’s net and slipping the puck back to Jesse Blacker for a shot. That effort got caught up in the crowd, Matias Myttynen had a second attempt and the puck was deflected back to DeFazio who had a clear sight of an open corner of the goal. 2-1, and delirium for the traveling Kunlun support. Red hot for Red Star; the host left feeling blue.

Kunlun’s dramatic late victory was well deserved after a performance that matched Salavat Yulaev throughout the game. The first two periods were goalless, although there was plenty to enjoy in a fast-paced game where Kunlun fully matched its opponent. But early in the third, the home team took the lead on the power play when Philip Larsen smashed home a slapshot from the blue line to beat Magnus Hellberg.

Falling behind was a tough blow to take. Our goalie was convinced that he had been impeded by Teemu Hartikainen as the forward skated across the front of the net and screened Larsen’s shot. The officials looked long and hard at the video, but concluded that the Salavat man neither crossed onto the paint, nor interfered with the goalie’s glove during the play.

Further frustration: it ended our perfect PK for the season. Defensive discipline is a big part of what Mike Keenan expects from his teams, and the quality of Red Star’s box play was evident here. At times, it seemed, Salavat Yulaev was unable to create any kind of shooting chance even with a man advantage.

But adversity can inspire, and Kunlun soon drew level. Marek Daloga thundered in a shot from the point and, amid plenty of traffic in front of Kareyev, Alexei Ponikarovsky got his stick in place and diverted the puck into the bottom corner.

The tying goal was no less than deserved: for much of the game Kunlun had enjoyed the better of proceedings. Very early Cory Kane had the puck in the Salavat Yulaev net, only for his effort to be ruled out following a video review. The opportunities continued to come: Andrei Kostitsyn hit the post from the right-hand face-off spot.

The home team gradually grew into the game, but Red Star was still creating chances in the second period. Myttynen got clear of the defense and Kareyev – making his first start for Salavat Yulaev – made a double save to stop his shot and block Andreas Thuresson’s attempt on the rebound.

Having completed four games of this opening road trip – and won two of them – Kunlun has three more engagements away from home before returning to Beijing on September 9. Next up, on Friday, we face a visit to Avtomobilist, then it’s Traktor (Sunday) and Lada (Tuesday).