About the League
Seven regular season games took place in Junior Hockey League. Moscow teams faced each other in the West, while Eastern conference matchups were all about the race for the playoffs.
Second game of the back-to-back series turned out to be a low-scoring affair. JHC Spartak Moscow were looking to bounce back from the loss the day before and dominated in the opening period of play, while Krasnaya Armiya Moscow spent most of the time in their defensive end. With three minutes until the intermission Dmitry Lozebnikov let in Kirill Tagirov’s shot and the red-and-blue headed to the dressing-room trailing by a goal after 20 minutes.
Krasnaya Armiya won the second frame. The visitors had the momentum on their side and took almost three times as many shots as the opposition (21 against Spartak’s six) but managed to get just one past Andrei Skovronsky – with 35 seconds remaining to play in the frame Maxim Sorkin sniped one home.
It went to overtime and Mikhail Shalagin ended it as he redirected Nikita Sokolov’s feed into the back of the net to win it for Spartak on home ice. The red-and-white have another rivalry game ahead of them now as they will face JHC Dynamo Moscow at Park Legend auxiliary rink.
After losing the day before in Setun, Andrei Potaichuk shuffled his lines – aside from changes in the bottom-6, Krylia Sovetov Moscow also swapped their netminders. This time Danil Kadochnikov got the nod. However, JHC Dynamo Moscow also delegated a different goaltender to the cage – Vadim Zherenko replaced Dimitry Rayko between the pipes.
Home team dominated in the opening period and took more than twice as many shots as Dynamo (15 against Dynamo’s seven). As a result, they established a comfortable 2-goal lead by the end of the frame. Roman Shefer and Sergei Odinokov found the back of the net. Nevertheless, they had their downs as well. When Denis Tolpegin and Maxim Chuvilov scored for Dynamo to tie it up, it looked as if ‘Soviet Wings’ were in for a rough time. Instead, they regained the lead before the intermission – Vasily Ponomaryov put home team back in the lead as he converted on an odd-man rush.
The blue-and-white didn’t do well in the final stanza. Alexander Zhilin’s men took only seven shots on net, even though Krylia Sovetov took a few minors. Yegor Kurbatov and Nikita Kizikov further improved the lead for the ‘Wings’ and they enjoyed a 5-2 win on home ice.
Even though Reaktor Nizhnekamsk are in the playoff zone after 49 regular season games, they can’t be too certain they will maintain the position. As many as six teams are on their heels and they all have a decent chance to edge Reaktor from their spot. This is why it was extra important for Vyacheslav Kasatkin’s men to beat Sarmaty Orenburg, who will have a hard time gaining playoff position this season.
Nizhnekamsk scored a goal in every period. Reaktor’s top-scorer Arsen Khisamutdinov opened up the scoring, while Maxim Polkin and Timur Khafizov added a tally each as well. Goaltender Yaroslav Ozolin stopped 23 shots and had his shutout hopes shattered by Pavel Tkachkov, who scored a consolation goal. Sarmaty will have a full day to get ready for next game as they will hit the ice only on January 28th.
Sputnik Almetyevsk are just one point away from getting into a playoff position – the franchise has never competed in Kharlamov Cup Playoffs. However, Eduard Dmitriev’s men are in for a challenge. That was proved once again by Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk, as Sputnik lost it in blowout fashion.
Almetyevsk got off to a quick start – German Belyayev opened up the scoring just five minutes in. Nevertheless, the ‘Steel Foxes’ were the only ones filling the net after that. It took Zakhar Zakharov just two minutes to bring it back to even, which was followed by markers from Yuri Platonov, Dmitry Sheshin, Konstantin Dubin and Yegor Spiridonov, who scored twice.
“It’s difficult to explain the result,” said Sputnik forward Daniil Melnikov after the game. “We allowed two goals in the first period and we didn’t do well offensively. We have another game tomorrow and we’ll do our best to learn from our mistakes. We made too many of those tonight. Almost every goal we allowed was due to our own fault.”
Chayka Nizhny Novgorod came out with little tournament motivation as Toivo Suurso’s men had lost their last shred of hope of making the playoffs after the game against SKA-1946 St. Petersburg. While Atlanty Moscow Region have very dim chances of making the playoffs themselves, they certainly were motivated more than the opposition.
Mytsichi scored just once in the opening period of play – one of their youngest players Nikita Miller found the back of the net. Moscow Region team went on to score five more times in the following 40 minutes. Notably, Andrei Smirnov got a pair of tallies and one of them came shorthanded.
As a result, Chayka suffered their seventh consecutive loss. Nizhny Novgorod are still looking for their first win in 2019. The only consolation they had in this one was Nikita Shavin’s marker, who brought Chayka’s fans to their feet. The fans came to the game with a banner that said ‘Cheer Up”.
Both teams still have goals to achieve in the regular season. Snezhnye Barsy continue to battle for a playoff spit, while Mamonty Yugry have to gain points to keep their distance from Avto Yekaterinburg. If they can do that, Khanty-Mansiysk will finish on top of the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive year.
Interestingly, Astana and the ‘Mammoths’ have a good chance of facing each other in the first round of the playoffs. Today’s game in Astana, Kazakhstan was truly of a playoff caliber – both teams played with a lot of caution and there weren’t many scoring chances on either side. On top of that, the game went to overtime. The fans had to wait almost 48 minutes to see the first goal – Artur Gaityatov found the back of the net.
The visitors found the equalizer with just 15 second remaining to play in regulation. Dmitry Burlutsky yanked his goaltender for the extra-attacker and Sergei Golodnyuk converted in a 6-on-5 format. Nevertheless, the visitors ran out of gas in the extra period of play. Ilya Stupin couldn’t stop Artur Gatiyatov from getting his second of the game.
Mamonty Yugry continue to top the Eastern Conference, while Snezhnye Barsy got a little closer to the playoff zone as they got a point in this one.
The race for the playoffs is so tight in the East that even Tyumensky Legion, who are currently 12th in the conference, have a fair chance of making it. Legion’s head-coach Vladimir Gusev is very cautious in his comments regarding the issue but his team looks poised to compete for Kharlamov Cup for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Tyumen added another win to their total as they defeated Altay Ust-Kamenogorsk. Home team didn’t get off to a good start in this one – first period of play featured a lot of penalties (the teams combined for 16 penalty minutes) and on top of that Nikolai Mayorov scored off a quick rush to put Kazakhstan team in the lead.
Altay couldn’t stay out of the penalty box in the second period as well and the visitors used it to their advantage – Anton Tsibin and Sergei Arzamastsev got a powerplay tally each. Andrei Timofeyev and Mikhail Shabanov made it clear who was going to win the game by the end of the period. Ust-Kamenogorsk gave Tyumen a run for their money in the third period. The teams traded goals but it didn’t change anything in the sense of point distribution. Tyumensky Legion win their six games out of the past eight. They are now just one point away from the playoff zone.