Junior Hockey League continues its series of the 2017 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs matchups previews. MHL inaugural season finalists Kuznetskie Medvedi Novokunetsk will face Sarmaty Orenburg, who made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Kuznetskie Medvedi can’t go further than the opening round of the playoffs for two consecutive years. This time Alexander Kitov’s side have every reason to believe they’re going to go deep into the post-season. The team now features bright stars and they’re facing Kharlamov Cup Playoffs debutants.
Certainly, Sarmaty is not an easy team to beat. In franchise’s second season the team draws big crowds night in and night out and became a foe to beat. Novokuznetsk finished the regular season 4th in the Eastern Conference much thanks to their excellent performance in December and early January. They won 10 consecutive games over the stretch and had a solid second half of the regular season. Kuznetskie Medvedi top guns showed astonishing productivity, which gives their team optimism looking into the future.
Speaking of excellent performance by Novokuznetsk top players, it’s impossible to miss the team’s top-scorer Andrei Karavayev and top goal-scorer Konstantin Parkhomenko. Karavayev scored 79 points (28 goals, 51 assists), while Parkhomenko enjoyed 31 goals and 39 helpers for 70 points.
Both forwards finished 2nd and 3rd in points in the league this season. Parkhomenko also led the Junior Hockey League in plus/minus category as he was plus-42. Novokunetsk got Andrei Katyukhin, who competed at the 2017 MHL Challenge Cup, Ivan Starostin and Vladislav Yugov, who were getting the nod more often late in the season. Defenseman Mark Petrov notched 16 assists.
Sarmaty, coached by Dmitry Stulov, made the playoffs in franchise’s second season. There’s no doubt their home games are going to be soldout, as hockey fans tend to pack the rink in Orenburg. The team got a few rookies this off-season, many of which proved to be worthy this regular season. Orenburg won three games out of four against Reaktor Nizhnekamsk, who finished on top of the Eastern Conference. In late September and early October they put together a 7-game winning streak and their wins against Tolpar left Ufa out of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
20-year-old Yaroslavl junior hockey school alumnus Danil Kudashev became Orenburg’s starting goaltender this season. He enjoyed five shutouts and posted an average .937 save percentage per game. Defenseman Evgeny Borisov got impressive 32 points (7 goals, 25 assists) and got called up to compete at the MHL Challenge Cup. Alexei Fakirov, who used to play for Atlanty Moscow Region, led the team in points with 37 (13 goals, 24 assists) in 58 contests.
Kuznetskie Medvedi Novokuznetsk
In the 2016-17 season: 60 games, 31 regulation wins, 4 overtime wins, 4 shootout wins, 17 regulation losses, 3 overtime losses, 1 shootout loss. 113 points, 4th palce in the Eastern Conference.
Goals For – 224
Goals Against – 176
Top-scorer: Andrei Karavayev – 79 points (28 goals, 51 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Konstantin Parkhomenko – 31 goals
Top defenseman: Mark Petrov – 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists), plus-31
Starting goaltender: Andrei Katyukhin – 32 games, 9 wins, Goals Against Average – 3.13, Average Save Percentage - .894 per game.
In the 2016-17 season: 60 games, 31 regulation wins, 3 overtime wins, 4 shootout wins, 16 regulation losses, 3 shootout losses, 3 overtime losses. 113 points, 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
Goals For – 159
Goals Against – 117
Top-scorer: Alexei Fakirov – 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Roman Bagin – 16 goals
Top defenseman: Evgeny Borisov – 32 points (7 goals, 25 assists), plus-13
Starting goaltender: Danil Kudashev – 39 games, 21 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.80, Average Save Percentage - .937 per game.
October 18th, 2016, Orenburg, Russia. Sarmaty – Kuznetskie Medvedi – 4-0
October 19th, 2016, Orenburg, Russia. Sarmaty - Kuznetskie Medvedi - 3-1
January 19th, 2017, Novokuznetsk, Russia. Kuznetskie Medvedi – Sarmaty – 3-2 SO
January 20th, 2017, Novokuznetsk, Russia. Kuznetskie Medvedi – Sarmaty – 2-3 SO