About the League
Two last games of the opening round of the 2019 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs took place in Junior Hockey League on March 16th. Krasnaya Armiya faced Almaz Cherepovets in Moscow.
Moscow got off to a great start of the series, winning both games at home. However, everything turned upside down in Cherepovets. Almaz looked a totally different team and enjoyed two consecutive wins over 2-time Kharlamov Cup champions. The series was to be decided in Game 5. The red-and-blue couldn’t have asked for a better start. Mikhail Mescheryakov found himself in the right place at the right time and tapped it home from the slot off a through-pass by Nikita Makeyev. Cherepovets rushed down the ice looking for a quick equalizer and got caught on a counter-attack. It looked as if they dodged a bullet but then Nikita Rtischev took a shoot from a negative angle and the puck ricocheted into the net off Konstantin Shostak. Krasnaya Armiya improved their lead to 3-0 as Airat Zamaliev scored on his former team, surrounded by four opponents.
Cherepovets leader Igor Geraskin finally stepped into the spotlight six minutes into the second period of play. He scored a goal that looked similar to one of Krasnaya Armiya’s. German Grachyov put the puck on net off the boards and Geraskin tipped it home over the pad of Dmitry Lozebnikov to make it a 3-1 hockey game. However, the teams headed to dressing-rooms for the second intermission with home team leading by three goals again. Yegor Filin skated to the area in front of the net, Almaz defensemen unreasonably dropped too low to their net and Krasnaya Armiya forward hit the target with a backhand shot – 4-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Third stanza began with Vladimir Sychushkin getting a minor penalty but that didn’t faze the visitors. German Grachyov pulled his team back to within two as he received the puck in the slot and put it past Lozebnikov meeting no adversity. Midway through the period Makar Khabarov sniped one home from mid-range to make it a 1-goal game. With a minute remaining to play in regulation Cherepovets shoved the puck into the net but the goal was waved off after video review as there was goaltender interference on the play. It seemed that Krasnaya Armiya would hold on to the lead but Almaz found the equalizer on their final push. Lozebnikov parried Maxim Nevolin’s shot but Artyom Markov grinded his way through defensemen and tucked it home on the rebound. 4-4 and the game went to overtime.
Extra period of play began with Krasnaya Armiya creating several scoring chances, trying to make up for the coughed up 3-goal lead. Cherepovets played well defensively and waited for their chance to strike. They failed to capitalize on Leonid Klimov’s penalty but when Maxim Sorkin was sent to the box for delay of game, they completed their amazing story. Just as Sorkin was getting out of the box, the visitors scored the game-winning goal – German Grachyov hit the bottom corner and clinched the series for Almaz. With this 5-4 overtime win Cherepovets proceed to next round.