Dinamo entered the game straight off of a victory over Vityaz to finally snap their losing streak. Kunlun however, arrived in Riga to begin their two-road trip following a loss against Minsk on their home soil while also having lost the previous eight games. When both sides met earlier this season in a high-scoring affair today’s hosts came on top with a score of 6:5. Both sides sat in the 12th spot in their respective conferences. That promised an exciting battle in Arena Riga that many awaited.
Vladimir Krikunov stayed with his goalie Julius Hudacek as was expected. A full line blender was deployed - not a single line stayed intact from the previous game as the new first line was now a combination of Lorito, Darzins, and Nikolajs Jelisejevs. Defensively only rotation wise things changed as the pairs appeared to be identical.
An important game in front of 300 loud fans brought a Christmas present with a 3:2 shootout win adding another W to open up a winning streak for Dinamo Riga.
‘’The game was tough. We allowed to goals although the game went on in their end. We had 54 shots! It was a lot. We have to improve and take the chance on our opportunities. The guys are amazing, they fought until the very end. Maybe we were unlucky but we managed to win because we fought till the very end’’ Vladimir Krikunov said after the game.
Straight from the start Dinamo Riga came in charging trying to prove that they are the better team. Hunter Shinkaruk however, quickly removed the dominant tag from his teams’ status taking a two minute holding call. Defense had to do the work and it seemed like things would be okay as the penalty time was over and as Riga’s player stepped on the ice the things took a turn.
Parker Foo attempted to dump the puck ahead and towards the corner of the offensive zone but it hit Brandon Yip who directed the puck for Tyler Wong who managed to get the go-ahead goal in the game. Following the goal Shinkaruk was shortly sat down in order to learn a lesson from Krikunov.
As the end of the period approaches Riga’s dominance once again was clear - Martins Karsums with an awesome chance but Jeremy Smith stoned him cold. A few more chances were had but after twenty a minimal lead for Kunlun.
Riga once again came as the main team to be granting themselves a lead, Jere Karjalainen early on had his opportunity to score but Smith worked well there. Kunlun’s defense came in handy on many occasions blocking things that were thrown at them. Lauris Darzins received a two minute minor but Dinamo team was able to kill it off.
While shorthanded Nikolajs Jelisejevs had a superb attempt that was denied. At the end of the period Kunlun extended their lead further - Ryan Sproul sent Ethen Werek alone towards the net and he simply beat Hudacek short side for a two goal lead. A commanding lead in shots didn’t appear to give much of a hope for the home team.
Dinamo began the third period with a power-play when two opposing players got a seat on the penalty box. Nikolajs Jelisejevs took matters in his hands to score a goal right off of the face-off after a pass from Lorito. The-five-on-three was taken care of but during the remainder of five-on-four didn’t bring a goal, meaning that the tension remained.
During the 48th minute of the game Arsen Khisamutdinov got called for tripping. The guest side spent much of the time in the offensive zone while Riga played careful game while shorthanded and the goal against didn’t come. Nearing the final five of the period Jere Karjalainen beat the opponents from a close distance to pull back within a goal.
With 53 seconds left until the end of the game Hudacek was pulled for the sixth player that gave Reece Scarlett an opportunity to tie the game which led to a 2:2 and overtime was assured.
The OT began on a high note for the home team spending most of the time attacking, yet in the third minute of extra time Karjalainen was sent to the penalty box to give Kunlun a hope for an extra point. The guest side didn’t managed to score and things ended tied meaning that a shootout would be played.
The winning side in the face of Dinamo was led by Lauris Darzins and Nikolajs Jelisejevs scoring to clinch back-to-back victories for the Riga side to begin a new winning streak with a score of 3:2.
‘’For us it was a hard game. We put pucks on the net but we weren’t so lucky. They scored the first goal and then the second but we got into the grove during the third period. We have to go to the net more and create more traffic. We were lucky to get a five-on-three penalty to score a goal and after that we dominated. It’s a really huge victory for us to give the fans a Christmas present.’’ Julius Hudacek said after the game.
‘’We spoke with goalie coach Edgars (Lusins) and he said that we need to win this game because we had lost at least eight after regulation and we had to change the narrative. I’m happy that I could help the guys and we needed this win as a team and also for the fans.’’ he added.