About the League
2019 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs resumed on March 13th with 8 games. JHC Dynamo St. Petersburg and Loko Yaroslavl became the first two teams to clinch the playoffs in the Western Conference, SKA-1946 got in the lead in their series against rivals, while Almaz avoided elimination from Krasnaya Armiya.
JHC Spartak Moscow played hosts to JHC Dynamo St. Petersburg. The visitors won both games in St. Petersburg and needed just one more victory to proceed to next round. However, they were up against a daunting task. Spartak had no room for mistake and got reinforcements from their KHL squad. As Igor Ulanov’s men got eliminated from Gagarin Cup Playoff, the red-and-white delegated Akim Trishin and Ilya Talaluyev back to junior. Nevertheless, it was the visitors who opened up the scoring on a counter-attack. Kristian Afanasyev went end-to-end and sniped one top-shelf surrounded by five Spartak players. Anton Vasiliev took the floor late in the period. He received the puck from Maxim Mikhailov and wired it home on the far side. Goaltender Kirill Ustimenko picked up assists on both plays.
Spartak failed to convert on several good scoring chances in the opening period of play but managed to finally get on the board early in the second. Zakhar Shablovsky carried the puck to a good shooting spot from the corner and fired it past Ustimenko. Dennis Miller thought he got the equalizer soon after that and went to celebrate, but since the play had been blown dead a few moments earlier, it led to a huge brawl and as many as three Moscow players ended up in the penalty box. The fans didn’t get to see any goals after that in the stanza. The red-and-white had 20 minutes to salvage the series.
It looked they would manage to do that eight minutes into the third period. Anton Vasiliev was still just getting comfortable in the penalty box when Zakhar Shavlovsky scored his second of the game to bring it back to even. Vasiliev responded in similar fashion as he converted on a powerplay as well with eight and a half minutes till the final buzzer. Spartak picked up the pace and forced St. Petersburg take a very untimely penalty. However, Ustimenko had his fill of allowed goals for the night and Dynamo survived. With this narrow win they have guaranteed themselves a spot in the next round of the 2019 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs.
Home team came our hard for this one. Mark Verba, who rejoined Russkie Vityazi from Dynamo St. Petersburg, was in the spotlight. However, there weren’t many scoring chances on either end of the ice. Whenever there was a shot on net Vladislav Okoryak, who started in Loko’s goal again, and Kirill Cherepanov had no trouble stopping them.
Russkie Vityazi forward Leon Zambakhidze was the color commentator of the game as he got injured in Yaroslavl and wasn’t dressed. He didn’t bring luck to his teammates. Dmitry Krasotkin’s men got in the lead late in the second frame – Ilya Nikolayev buried the rebound past Cherepanov.
That goal was the only one scored in the game. Despite the great support of their fans, Russkie Vityazi couldn’t get a single tally against the ‘railway men’ in the series. Maxim Bets’ side end the season with three shutout losses, while Loko proceed to next round with a great goal differential.
Cherepovets went all out in terms of organizing the game as it was prefaced with a laser show, while the fans were offered clappers for support and local junior hockey school players were in the stands as well. Severstal head-coach Andrei Razin attended the game as well.
Almaz didn’t frustrate their fans. Evgeny Stavrovsky’s men opened up the scoring just three minutes in. ‘Army men’ forgot Dmitry Zaitsev in the slot and he poked the puck in between the wickets of Dmitry Lozebnikov. Cherepovets improved their lead to 3-0 in the second frame as Yegor Chizhikov converted on a powerplay and Nikita Kolesnikov chipped in an even strength tally.
The visitors weren’t going to go down without a fight. They showed their fighting spirit already in the opening period of play when Artyom Pugachyov and Denis Nedilko dropped the gloves with Cherepovets leaders German Grachyov and Igor Geraskin. However, all Krasnaya Armiya could get in this on was a single goal past Konstantin Shostak – Nikita Dolgopyatov found his target midway through the third stanza.
Final push ended with yet another massive brawl – Artur Shepelkov jumped Kolesnikov, while Vladimir Miroshnichenko fought Igor Geraskin again. That changed nothing on the scoreboard. Krasnaya Armiya missed their chance for the sweep but will have another chance to finish the series tomorrow.
Knowing full well that Game 3 would be pivotal in the series, both teams came out hard for this one but there were very scoring chances early on as the players engaged mostly in physical battles, which turned into brawls from time to time.
SKA-1946 were missing one of their leaders Ivan Morozov as he was called up to KHL team for the game against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in Gagarin Cup Playoffs. Kirill Petkov, who joined the 46’s from SKA-Neva, was dressed by Alexander Savchenkov in his stead.
Several VIP guests were among 1,500 fans at the game – HC Sochi forward Andrei Altybarmkayan came to support his brother Ilya. He was also joined by Alexei Polodyan, who began the 2018-19 season on SKA-Varyagi. Nikita Milyokhin had a tough choice as on one hand he supported his former SKA-1946 teammates, but on the other hand his father Mikhail Milyokhin is on SKA-Varyagi coaching staff.
SKA-1946 opened up the scoring early in the second period of play – defenseman Danila Arefyev took a hard shot from the blue line and it whistled past Yaroslav Askarov. Five minutes later Oleg Kholodenin doubled the lead for the visitors as he converted on a powerplay.
SKA-Varyagi managed to respond quickly – Denis Kuyanov beat Nikita Cherepanov off Ilya Altybarmakyan’s assist. Home team had 25 minutes to find the equalizer but the sole goal was all Lev Berdichevsky’s men could eke out in this one. Dmitry Ovechkin bagged it with an empty-netter.
SKA-1946 take their first lead in the series and can clinch conference semifinals tomorrow.