Junior Hockey League continues its series of the 2017 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs matchups previews. Russkie Vityazi Chekhov will face MHC Spartak Moscow in the opening round.
Led by Lev Berdichevsky Russkie Vityazi beat MHC Spartak Moscow in the last game of the regular season and finished one place higher than the red-and-white. Two old friends will begin the series in Chekhov, Moscow Region. Last time Russkie Vityazi made the playoffs was in the 2014-15 season. Back then in the opening round Chekhov met no other but Spartak and got swept in three games. As the matter of fact, Russkie Vityazi have never made it past the first round – moreover, they are yet to win a playoff game. Nevertheless, things have been looking up to them ever since Lev Berdichevsky got the coaching job.
Berdichevsky managed to build a solid team, who could take on any team in the Western Conference. Certainly, they had their downs in the regular season. For instance, Russkie Vityazi lost all four games to Loko Yaroslavl, didn’t look so great in the games against Krasnaya Armiya Moscow and encountered troubles getting points on their trip to Russia’s Far East…
However, they enjoyed a great winning streak late in 2016, when Russkie Vityazi won eight contests in a row – the streak was snapped by SKA-1946 St. Petersburg with a win in overtime. They also had a great game in Nizhny Novgorod beating Chayka 9-3.
Pavel Gorokhov led Russkie Vityazi in scoring with 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points in 53 games. Artyom Ivanyuzhenkov racked up 27 points, which he added to his league high 167 penalty minutes. Goaltenders Maxim Dorozhko and Bogdan Donenko split the games equally. It is possible that Russkie Vityazi coaching staff will continue swapping the netminders on a game-to-game basis in the playoffs as well.
MHC Spartak Moscow weren’t as consistent as their fans wanted but they still got another ticket to the playoffs. The red-and-white are notorious for being unpredictable and very dangerous in the post-season. As for the regular season, Vladimir Tyurikov’s men got off to good start and then really shone in October and November.
Excluding unfortunate loss to HC MVD Balashikha, Spartak won 12 games out of 13 and propelled to the top of the standings. The team hit a slump in December as they didn’t get any points from their road trip to Cherepovets and Yaroslavl. Spartak lost four games in a row with a total score of 12-2. The red-and-white got back on track late in the regular season, but lost the final two games to Russkie Vityazi, therefore forfeiting home ice advantage.
Just like their opponents, Spartak goaltenders split the regular season between each other more or less equally. Most likely, Nikita Lysenkov is going to get the nod for the playoffs, but Andrei Skovronsky also made a name for himself this year with 14 regulation wins. Lysenkov has 19 regulation wins, including two shutouts and 2.28 Goals Against Average. 2017 MHL Challenge Cup champion Anton Pervov led the team in scoring. He was followed closely by Mikhail Zholobov. The latter got 35 points, while Pervov topped Spartak with 39. Nevertheless, Zholobov led the team in goals. He has 24 tallies in 48 games.
Russkie Vityazi Moscow Region
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 31 regulation wins, 2 shootout wins, 1 overtime win, 19 regulation losses, 1 shootout loss, 2 overtimes losses. 102 points, 4th place in the Western Conference.
Goals For – 148
Goals Against – 132
Top-scorer: Pavel Gorokhov – 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Pavel Gorokhov – 18 goals
Top defenseman: Alexei Krasnov – 18 points (2 goals, 16 assists), plus-12
Starting goaltender: Maxim Dorozhko – 34 games, 15 wins, Goals Against Average – 2.28, Average Save Percentage - .916 per game.
MHC Spartak Moscow
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 30 regulation wins, 4 overtime wins, 18 regulation losses, 2 shootout losses, 2 overtime losses. 102 points, 5th place in the Western Conference.
Goals For – 162
Goals Against – 136
Top-scorer: Anton Pervov – 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Mikhail Zholobov – 24 goals
Top defenseman: Alexei Platonov – 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists), plus-15
Starting goaltender: Nikita Lysenkov – 30 games, 19 wins, Goals Against Average – 2.28, Average Save Percentage - .918 per game.
November 24th. 2016, Moscow, Russia. MHC Spartak - Russkie Vityazi - 6-3
November 25th, 2016. Moscow, Russia. MHC Spartak - Russkie Vityazi - 1-3
March 1st, 2017, Chekhov, Moscow Region, Russia. Russkie Vityazi – MHC Spartak – 1-5March 2nd, 2017, Chekhov, Moscow Region, Russia. Russkie Vityazi – MHC