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2019 Kharlamov Cup Finals kicked off on April 12th – the Cosmonautics Day. Yekaterinburg fans got to see six goals as reigning champions enjoyed a win on the road.
Historic game for Avto Yekaterinburg drew a sold-out crowd to CEC Uralets – 5,500 fans came to support their team in Game 1 of the 2019 Kharlamov Cup Finals. Loko Yaroslavl made their second consecutive appearance in the final series and they looked more confident in the opening few minutes of play. Vladimir Galkin had to make several great saves on individual rushes by ‘railway men’.
Vitaly Solovyov’s men managed to balance out the game only midway through the period. Avto players were taking shots on Vladislav Okoryak every time they had a chance to do so (even from face-off dots) and it worked. Eight minutes into the game Yaroslavl netminder stopped Alexander Sevostyanov’s powerful drive from the blue line but couldn’t parry Denis Yerkin’s shot on the follow-up chance, who buried it from the slot as he was abandoned by Anton Malyshev.
Having found the back of the net, Yekaterinburg grabbed the momentum, began spending a lot of time in the offensive zone and made their opponents make mistakes – mostly on the breakout. With two minutes until the first intermission Konstantin Suslov found himself right in front of Loko’s net but without speed. All he could do was turn and shoot – he hit Yaroslavl netminder Vladislav Okoryak right in the crest.
The game followed a similar scenario in the second frame. Galkin had very little work to do, while his counterpart Okoryak had to stand on his head to keep it a 1-0 hockey game. Midway through the period Kirill Tyutyayev picked up the puck in the corner on the passing play and made a cutting delivery to Alexander Fyodorov. Yekaterinburg defenseman took a weak shot from the blue line but Ilya Zakharov tipped it from the slot and the puck ended up in the back of the net.
Loko have been good in the second periods in this playoff run (‘railway men’ won nine out of ten second periods in 2019 Kharlamov Cup Playoffs). Yaroslavl top-line took the reins with six minutes remaining to play in the period. Maxim Denezhkin entered the zone and fired it on net, then corralled the puck behind the cage and centered it for Grigory Denisenko who sent it. Despite registering an assist on the play, Denezhkin got an earful from furious head-coach Dmitry Krasotkin just as he returned to the bench. A few minutes later Nikolai Kovalenko made a stretch pass to Denisenko, who skated in on a breakaway and beat Galkin on the glove-side to level the game.
Second intermission did nothing to the inspiration of Yaroslavl top-guns. Just 22 seconds after the play resumed, Artur Kayumov scored his first goal of the post-season to put Loko in the lead. Home team didn’t recover from the blow. Denisenko essentially put it out of reach as he completed his hat-trick. Yekaterinburg fans followed the tradition and threw a few caps on the ice.
Avto begin their third consecutive series with a loss, while reigning champs make a step towards defending their title and winning their third Kharlamov Cup in franchise history. Game 2 will take place tomorrow, April 13th.