Junior Hockey League continues its series of the 2017 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs matchups previews. In the opening round of the playoffs Krasnaya Armiya Moscow will take on MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg, who made it as far as to the semifinal round last year.
Traditionally, Krasnaya Armiya is among top-teams in the Western Conference. This year the team is led by Boris Mironov and the red-and-blue follow the trend. They were on top of the Western Conference for a while, before yielding the top spot to SKA-1946 St. Petersburg. Incidentally, in the first round of the playoffs Krasnaya Armiya will face the team they began the regular season against.
In the first game of the regular season the blue-and-white managed to pull a 3-2 upset. Boris Mironov’s side looked great in the fall. With 13 consecutive wins they propelled themselves to the top of the conference. Only SKA-1946 managed to snap that winning streak. And even they had to do it in the shootout. As for the finish of the regular season, Krasnaya Armiya didn’t do so well. They unexpectedly lost to HC MVD Balashikha two times in a row and then lost another game in Nizhny Novgorod. Nevertheless, despite all of that Krasnaya Armiya will begin its playoff run as one of the main cup contenders.
Mikhail Byakin topped Krasnaya Armiya in scoring with 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists). He’s followed closely by Nikita Popugayev and Ivan Silayev, who respectively have 46 and 44 points. Forward Pavel Podluboshnov not only won the 2017 MHL Challenge Cup with Team West, but he also got invited to KHL All-Star Game where he played on the same team with Sergei Mozyakin, Danis Zaripov, Jan Kovar and many other Kharlamov Division stars. Podluboshnov was joined at the MHL Challenge Cup by Yegor Ogiyenko, who led all Krasnaya Armiya defensemen in scoring, the team’s starting goaltender Alexander Samoilov and head-coach Boris Mironov.
MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg enjoyed the best season in franchise history last year. Leonids Tambijevs’ side made it to the conference finals, where they lost a close series to Chayka Nizhny Novgorod. The blue-and-white had been eliminated in the first round for two consecutive seasons before that. Making it to the semifinal round was a huge leap forward for them. To improve that result Nikolai Akimov’s team will now have to beat a mighty foe – Krasnaya Armiya. Dinamo beat the red-and-blue twice in the regular season, so they know what it takes to take down one of the top Western Conference teams.
Midway through the season Dinamo made a coaching change that proved to be good for them. After two consecutive losses in Riga, Latvia Nikolai Akimov replaced Evgeny Filinov and Dinamo went on to win three games in a row – one of them against Krasnaya Armiya. St. Petersburg looked great in January as they got eight consecutive wins and clinched the playoffs. Anton Nazareivch, who led Dinamo in goals and points, scored 49 points. Defenseman Pavel Yelshansky notched 23 assists, while Kirill Ustimenko and Nikita Maslennikov gave the blue-and-white some solid goaltending throughout the season.
Krasnaya Armiya Moscow
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 35 regulation wins, 3 shootout wins, 2 overtime wins, 14 regulation losses, 2 shootout losses. 117 points, 2nd place in the Western Conference.
Goals For - 182
Goals Against - 110
Top-scorer: Mikhail Byakin - 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Nikita Popugayev - 25 goals
Top defenseman: Yegor Ogiyenko – 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists), plus-27
Starting goaltender: Alexander Samoilov – 33 games, 23 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.84, Average Save Percentage - .928 per game.
MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 28 regulation wins, 2 overtime wins, 4 shootout wins, 19 regulation losses, 1 overtime loss, 2 shootout losses. 99 points, 7th place in the Western Conference.
Goals For - 177
Goals Against – 143
Top-scorer: Anton Nazarevich – 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Anton Nazarevich – 21 goals
Top defenseman: Pavel Yelshansky – 29 points (6 goals, 23 assists)
Starting goaltender: Kirill Ustimenko – 27 games, 17 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.74, Average Save Percentage - .938 per game.
September 5th, 2016, Moscow, Russia. Krasnaya Armiya – MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg – 2-3
September 6th, 2016, Moscow, Russia. Krasnaya Armiya – MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg – 4-2
December 6th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Russia. MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg – Krasnaya Armiya - 3-1
December 7th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Russia. MHC Dinamo St. Petersburg – Krasnaya Armiya - 2-4