07.03.2017 в 14:45
Junior Hockey League continues its series of the 2017 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs matchups previews. The opening round of the playoffs will see two 2015 finalists go up each other again – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg will face Chayka Nizhny Novgorod.

It’s been two years, but despite the fact there are still several players on SKA-1946 who vividly recall the loss in the 2015 Kharlamov Cup Finals. Back then Viktor Kovalyonok’s team unexpectedly lost to Nizhny Novgorod in five games and could not complete their quest for Kharlamov Cup. The next year ‘the army men’ spent tweaking their team and trying out new players. St. Petersburg did make the playoffs but they were swept in three games by Almaz Cherepovets.

And then this season came and Mikhail Milyokhin’s men showed all of their might. SKA-1946 got off to a great start as they put together five wins in a row. Interestingly, the first game they lost this season was in Nizhny Novgorod – Chayka enjoyed a blowout 8-3 win. As became evident later, that loss didn’t shake SKA-1946 much. They suffered another blowout loss only once later in the season as they Loko Yaroslavl beat them 5-0. SKA-1946 were in pursuit of Krasnaya Armiya Moscow for a long time and when the latter got into a slump, St. Petersburg used it to their advantage and finished on top of the Western Conference.

As for Chayka, who made Kharlamov Cup Finals for two consecutive years, they clinched the playoffs really late in the regular season. Many players, who were vital to Vyacheslav Ryanov’s success, left the team in the off-season. Chayka once again had to undergo some serious roster changes but their coaching staff made the most out of it. Chayka had a tough regular season as they were balancing on the cusp of playoff zone. However, lack of consistency and the young age of the players were preventing them from clinching the playoffs earlier.

Late in the regular season it looked like Chayka wouldn’t make the playoffs, especially after they lost home back-to-back series to Russkie Vityazi Moscow Region and MHC Spartak Moscow. Nevertheless, a solid win over Krylia Sovetov Moscow and in the key game against Krasnaya Armiya allowed Chayka to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year – this time as a Western Conference team.

SКА-1946 St. Petersburg
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 32 regulation wins, 3 shootout wins, 7 overtime wins, 9 regulation losses, 1 shootout loss, 4 overtime losses. 121 points, 1st place in the Western Conference.
Goals For: 178
Goals Against: 114
Top-scorer: Pavel Kukshtel – 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Vladislav Kurbatov – 23 goals
Top defenseman: Timur Sulteyev – 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists), plus-20
Starting goaltender: Konstantin Volkov – 36 games, 27 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.74, Average Save Percentage - .934 per game.

Chayka Nizhny Novgorod
In the 2016-17 season: 56 games, 25 regulation wins, 3 overtime wins, 2 shootout wins, 22 regulation losses, 3 overtime losses, 1 shootout loss. 89 points, 8th place in the Western Conference.
Goals For: 143
Goals Against: 136
Top-scorer: Mikhail Yesayan – 42 points (8 goals, 34 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Kirill Klopov – 17 goals
Top defenseman: Ivan Komarov – 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists)
Starting goaltender: Andrei Sukhanov – 49 games, 22 wins, Goals Against Average – 2.23, Average Save Percentage - .921 per game.

Season Series
September 14th. 2016, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Chayka - SКА-1946 – 0-1
September 15th, 2016, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Chayka - SКА-1946 – 8-3
December 12th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Russia SКА-1946 – Chayka – 0-1
December 13th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Russia. SКА-1946 – Chayka - 4-1