About the League
Junior Hockey League media relations department continues the series of jubilee season reviews for every team. SKA-Varyagi St. Petersburg, who had joined Junior Hockey League instead of SKA-Serebryanye Lvy, managed to make the playoffs right away but had to face the top Western Conference team in the very first round.
SKA-Varyagi St. Petersburg
8th place in the Western Conference, 77 points in 64 games, 189 goals for, 136 goals against
SKA-Varyagi St. Petersburg, coached by Lev Berdichevsky, made the playoffs in the last second as they surpassed Krylia Sovetov Moscow in the standings just a day before the end of the regular season. Notably, Berdichevsky had coached Russkie Vityazi a year before and the team also clinched the playoffs with a buzzer-beater. SKA-Varyagi were in their rookie Junior Hockey League season. The united St. Petersburg team consisted of former SKA-Serebryanye Lvy players, who had JHL experience, along with several SKA-Varyagi players, who had competed in JHL-B a year ago. The team represented Leningrad Region. They got off to a good start and for some time were even among the top teams of the league. However, that was followed by a slump. SKA-Varyagi recovered from that with the help of Mikhail Milyokhin, who had to face his former team in the opening round of the playoffs – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg.
Ilya Altybarmakyan led SKA-Varyagi in points. He’s the younger brother of one of the most vivid players in Junior Hockey League history Andrei Altybarmakyan. ‘Barman’ Jr. keeps up with the pace of now HC Sochi forward as he led St. Petersburg in goals and points. Denis Kuyanov, who had made a name for himself in the previous season playing for SKA-Serebryanye Lvy, led the team in scoring for a long time. Grigory Gryaznov led the team’s defensemen in scoring and also competed for the 2019 JHL Challenge Cup. Dmitry Nikolayev and Yaroslav Askarov equally split the ice-time in goal. The latter went on to win silver at the 2019 U18 IIHF World Championship.
Top-scorer: Ilya Altybarmakyan – 40 (21 goals, 19 assists) points
Top goal-scorer: Ilya Altybarmakyan – 21 goals
Most assists: Anton Sharpanskikh – 21 assists
Top defenseman: Grigory Gryaznov – 15 (9 goals, 6 assists) points, plus-29
Starting goaltender: Dmitry Nikolayev – 35 games, 16 wins, Goals Against Average – 1.69, Save Percentage – 0.937 on average per game
It’s highly unlikely that regular season champions expected to be down 3-0 heading into the third period of Game 1. Home team managed to get a few goals towards the end of the game but they still couldn’t salvage it as SKA-Varyagi won their first ever playoff game 5-2 on the road (technically).
SKA-1946 were in for a rough ride in Game 2 as well. Varyagi didn’t let the opposition create anything on powerplay and established another 3-goal lead after the opening period of play. However, this time around Lev Berdichevsky’s men couldn’t hold on to it. Home team managed not only to tie the game up by midway through the third period but they won it as Evgeny Tsaryuk found the back of the net. There was no stopping SKA-1946 after that. They won hard-fought Game 3 3-1 and clinched the series the following day with a blowout 6-1 win.
Top-scorer: Grigory Gryaznov – 4 (1 goal, 3 assists) points
Top goal-scorer: Daniil Kalmykov – 2 goals
Most assists: Grigory Gryaznov – 3 assists
Top defenseman: Grigory Gryaznov – 4 (1 goal, 3 assists) points, minus-3
Starting goaltender: Yaroslav Askarov – 4 games, 1 win, Goals Against Average – 3.61, Save Percentage – 0.898 on average per game