Junior Hockey League continues its series of the 2017 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs matchups previews. Top team of the Eastern Conference, Reaktor Nihnekamsk, will face Avto Yekaterinburg in the opening round.
Nizhnekamsk had a great regular season and they are poised for a long post-season run. Alexander Sokolov’s men began their impressive year with hosting the 2016 Junior Club World Cup. Reaktor made it to the final game of the tourney only to lose reigning Kharlamov Cup champions Loko Yaroslavl. However, the tournament helped Nizhnekamsk to came together as a team and show what they’re capable of in the regular season.
Last season’s leaders Rafael Bikmullin and Igor Ugolnikov spent most of their time in the VHL but they were replaced by new heroes. Razat Timirov, Anton Pachin and captain Bulat Nabiullin combined for 59 goals this season. Alexander Yenyushin became Reaktor’s starting goaltender. Nizhnekamsk is a well-balanced team and they can rely on all of their four lines. They finished on top of the Eastern Conference and considered to be one of the main cup contenders this year.
As for Avto Yekaterinburg, they’ve had a troublesome season. The team made the playoffs in the last moment due to Omskie Yastreby loss. Vener Safin’s side have never made it past second round in the playoffs and they’re not getting any luck this year right from the get-go as they will have to face the top team of the Eastern Conference. If they want to go deep, they’re going to find keys to them. Incidentally, the teams began the season with a back-to-back series, getting one win each.
Andrei Obidin scored 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) this year, which was more than enough to lead his team in this department. Defenseman Vladislav Shishkov proved himself as a decent playmaker as he notched 19 assists. With the departure of Nikita Tsirkul, it was up to Vladislav Gross and Leonid Fomin to guard the net. The latter was getting the nod more often but it is very well possible that Yekaterinburg coaching staff will swap their goaltenders throughout the series to keep both of them on their toes.
In the 2016-17 season: 60 games, 36 regulation wins, 2 shootout wins, 2 overtime wins, 13 regulation losses, 5 shootout losses, 2 overtime losses. 123 points, 1st place in the Eastern Conference.
Goals For - 187
Goals Against – 132
Top-scorer: Razat Timirov – 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Anton Pachin – 23 goals
Top defenseman: Yegor Sorokin – 24 points (4 goals, 20 assists), plus-14
Starting goaltender: Roman Golovanov – 25 games, 13 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.93, Average Save Percentage - .913 per game.
In the 2016-17 season: 60 games, 30 regulation wins, 2 overtime wins, 3 shootout wins, 23 regulation losses, 1 overtime loss, 1 shootout loss. 102 points, 8th place in the Eastern Conference.
Goals For – 182
Goals Against – 140
Top-scorer: Andrei Obidin – 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists)
Top goal-scorer: Andrei Obidin – 25 goals
Top defenseman: Vladislav Shishkov – 23 points (4 goals, 19 assists)
Starting goaltender: Leonid Fomin – 32 games, 13 wins, Goals Against Average – 2.42, Average Save Percentage - .919 per game.
September 5th, 2016, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Avto - Reaktor – 4-1
September 6th. 2016, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Avto - Reaktor - 3-5
December 4th, 2016, Nizhnekamsk, Russia. Reaktor – Avto – 3-1
December 5th, 2016, Nizhnekamsk, Russia. Reaktor – Avto - 1-0