2017 Kharlamov Cup Finals kicked off on April 17th. Reaktor Nizhnekamsk played hosts to Krasnaya Armiya Moscow and lost in a high-scoring game.
As the home team, Nizhnekamsk came out hard and tried to score a quick goal. ‘The army men’ were ready for that, even though goaltender Alexander Samoilov had to stand on his head a few times to keep the puck out of the net. Having survived the first few rushes, the visiting team created a few scoring chances as well but none of them led to goals – Boris Mironov’s men had some trouble putting a few passes together in the offensive end. The game featured very few stoppages but calmed down a little bit at the same time, too. Goaltenders had little works to do, while skaters spent most of the time battling for the puck in the neutral zone.
Turned out it was a calm before the storm. Danila Kvartalnov stripped defensemen off the puck at the boards and made a diagonal pass to Nikita Makeyev, who had sneaked to the slot. The latter ripped it just inside the crossbar and the visiting team got the lead. Reaktor stormed down the ice looking for equalizer and almost got it but Timur Khafizov, who stole the puck from Samoilov behind the net, missed the wide open cage. Although, Nizhnekamsk did score on the first powerplay opportunity of the night. They set camp in the offensive end, the puck got deflected a number of times and finally captain Rafael Bimkullin tucked it home to make it a 1-1 hockey game after 20 minutes of play.
Reaktor had an early man-advantage in the second frame as well – one of Reaktor top players Igor Ugolnikov took a shot from point blank range, but Samoilov absorbed it. However, what they couldn’t achieve with a man-advantage, they got when the teams went back to 5-on-5 hockey. Razat Timirov did everything himself – he won the puck at the boards in a battle with two Krasnaya Armiya players, put the puck on net and scored on his own rebound as the puck slid from under Samoilov – 2-1 Reaktor. The red-and-blue finally got their first powerplay opportunity of the game as Danila Voyevodin was sent off for a deuce, but that led to no changes on the scoreboard.
At 33-55 the game got tied up again – Mikhail Mescheryakov received the puck, met no adversary and sent it in with a nice clapper. In the very next shift Semyon Koshelev gave Krasnaya Armiya their second lead of the night as he tucked it home under the bar. Ten seconds after the ensuing face-off the visiting team got caught on a counter-attack and Danil Voyevodin beat Samoilov on a breakaway. Final tally of the period came in the dying seconds – Igor Myasischev threw a muffin on net but it somehow fooled Golovanov and the teams headed to the dressing-rooms with Krasnaya Armiya having a 1-goal lead.
Nizhnekamsk ran into a catastrophe early in the final stanza – Alexander Yenyushin, who had replaced Golovanov in net, allowed two goals in a row. First Koshelev scored his second of the game and then Andrei Kuzmenko, who currently tops the league in post-season scoring, got another tally to his name. Home team got nervous and received two minor penalties in a row. Halfway through the third period Reaktor scored their fourth goal of the game. Timirov, who had scored Nizhnekamsk’s second goal, shoved it into the net under Samoilov. Krasnaya Armiya were furious with the call, but the goal counted. That gave hope to Nizhnekamsk crowd and Neftekhim-Arena cheered their favorites on.
Unfortunately for Nizhnekamsk fans, it was ‘the army men’ who took the lead in the series. At 56-58 Krasnaya Armiya scored off a counter-attack – Semyon Koshelev completed his hat-trick and set the final score. Game 1 was rich in goals and Krasnaya Armiya prevailed 7-4. Tomorrow the teams will meet again in Game 2.
2017 Kharlamov Cup Finals. Game 1
Reaktor Nizhnekamsk – Krasnaya Armiya Moscow – 4-7 (1-1, 2-3, 1-3)
0-1 – Makeyev (Кvartalnov) – 13-48
1-1 – Bikmullin (Khairullin) – 18-42 PPG
2-1 – Тimirov (Unassisted) – 22-57
2-2 – Мescheryakov (Коzyrev, Filin) – 33-55
2-3 – Коshelev (Мiroshnichenko, Кvartalnov) – 34-40
3-3 – Voyevodin (Bikmullin) – 34-51
3-4 – Мyasischev (Podluboshnov, Silayev) – 39-36
3-5 – Коshelev (Кvartalnov) – 40-22
3-6 – Kuzmenko (Коshelev, Кvartalnov) – 42-28
4-6 – Тimirov (Unassisted) – 49-20
4-7 – Коshelev (Маkeyev) – 56-58
Goaltenders: Golovanov, Yenyushin - Samoilov
Shots on goal: 25-34
Penalty Minutes: 8-6
Krasnaya Armiya Moscow leads series 1-0
“The game was interesting and intense,” said Krasnaya Armiya head-coach Boris Mironov. “The boys did their best, pulled through and grabbed the momentum. Today the game ended with a win for us but it’s just the first game, the beginning of the series. We made some mistakes and we underestimated our opponent at first a little. Although, it was obvious that Game 1 was going to be nervous. It was expected and it’s completely normal. It was obvious in the first period that our boys were nervous but they even the game out and then we grabbed the momentum. We knew nothing about our opponents. They were the dark horse for us. Yes, we studied their game through video. But watching videos is one thing and seeing them in action is the other. This is why it took us a while to get going today. It got easier after we felt more comfortable.”
“It’s difficult to blame the boys,” said Reaktor head-coach Alexander Sokolov. “As we were coming back from Cherepovets last week, we thought we had time to rest and get ready. I think it was Genghis Khan who said – failure in preparation is a preparation for failure. After a day-off we went back to practice but some of the guys got the virus and had high body temperature. Thanks to our doctors and character, the boys came out to play today. But they weren’t in their optimal conditions, obviously. And it was our top players who came down with the virus, too, so I couldn’t play them against their top line. We had to play our kids against their top-line. They looked alright. They were fast, active and tried hard – up until they made two mistakes in the second period, both of which led to goals. And then we just didn’t do well in the third period of play. We allowed too many goals. The opponent have a great first line and we couldn’t contain them today.
“I want to thank our fans who came in numbers today to support our team. We are thrilled to have them behind us like that. Certainly, we gave them no reason to cheer today but I can assure them, we will do our best tomorrow.”