Day two of All-Star Week put youth to the fore as the Junior Hockey League played its Challenge Cup game in Tula. Once again, there was a full house at the arena to see some of the brightest prospects in Russian hockey take to the ice.
Some names leapt right off the roster. Vladimir Mikhalyov’s stellar form with Sibirsky Snaipery has earned him a shot at the KHL, and the 18-year-old made a flying start with Sibir. He’s picked up 3 (2+1) points in four games so far, missing this weekend’s action to join the fun in Tula. Mikhalyov faced a battle with Loko’s goaltending prospect Sergei Murashov, who got his first KHL shut-out on Friday when he backstopped Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s win at Sochi.
Mikhalyov made a fast start to Sunday’s game, scoring a power play goal on Murashov after three minutes to give Team East an early lead. Sergei Kolesnikov added two more for the East in the first period, but Igor Chernyshov and Matvei Polyakov kept the West in contact. Chernyshov is another player with KHL experience: he’s played 15 times for Dynamo Moscow, and got his first goal in the league last season. His opener today came off a feed from Emil Pyanov, now at Almaz but previously a team-mate of Chernyshov’s in Moscow.
The East had the lead, but history favors the West in this rivalry. After a goalless second period, things changed in the final 10 minutes. Matvei Bryntsev, who plays for Tula’s own Mikhailov Academy, tied the game in the 51st minute, with an assist from Chernyshov. Then came the go-ahead goal. Igor Rodionov fired in a shot from the blue line, and Matvei Maltsev tangled with a defenseman on the slot. That obscured Ruslan Khazheyev’s view of proceedings and the puck dropped into the net. It wasn’t quite that simple, though. First the officials reviewed the play, concerned about a high stick from Maltsev. Then Team East challenged the play, citing goalie interference. Rodionov’s shot survived both checks, and the defenseman was eventually credited with the goal, which had previously gone to Maltsev.
That wasn’t the end: Chernyshov wrapped up a great day with a second goal into the empty net. His three-point performance earned him one of four coveted tickets to next weekend’s KHL All-Star Game in Petersburg.
It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Chernyshov said. “We put together a great team. I think that’s how we managed to win. “I was really happy to be on a line with [Pyanov]. We have a good chemistry and that’s why it all worked out. Overall, I think it was really cool for everyone to change roles and try something new. The atmosphere was unbelievable. “Of course, [going to the KHL All-Star Game] crossed my mind but first and foremost we wanted to play well and win today’s game.
Igor Chernyshov will play for Team Chernyshev at the All-Star Game. The other youngsters to get a chance to play next weekend are Sergei Kolesnikov (Team Kharlamov), Vladimir Mikhalyov (Team Tarasov) and Matvei Polyakov (Team Bobrov).
Team West’s victory moves it to 9-4 in the series, and halts a run of two wins for the East.