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Western giants slain

14.03.2010

Results of the day
Spartak - Dynamo Moscow 4-0. Dinamo Riga - SKA 4-2. Russian hockey is getting used to the phenomenon of a high finish in the regulation championship meaning nothing in the play-offs. Spartak and Dinamo Riga have ruthlessly eliminated two of the most successful clubs in the country. It is interesting that in this, the second Gagarin Cup, our two current troublemakers have swapped opponents. Spartak proved it makes no difference to them which team they face in the first round, whereas the Latvians, knocked out by Dynamo Moscow last year, have found their own victims this time round.

If we had been told the semi-final line-up back in the fall, it would have seemed pure fantasy: HC MVD vs Dinamo Riga, and Lokomotiv vs Spartak. Leaving aside the Yaroslavl men, who took the silver two seasons running, did any of you imagine that any of the other three would feature in the conference final, not to mention compete for the Gagarin Cup? We must not kid ourselves; absolutely no one could have foreseen this.

Disgrace
There was a very ugly incident at the Avtomobilist - Salavat Yulaev game. A spectator climbed over the barrier and attacked the visitors’ reserve goaltender, Vitaly Kolesnik, inflicting several blows to the head with a hockey stick. Such scenes are unprecedented in Russian hockey. We can assume the idiot responsible is not a supporter, because hockey supporters do not attack players. Hopefully, the culprit will be caught and detained, as this was certainly a criminal act. It seems the excitement of the play-offs had a bad effect on someone.

Seventh double
Salavat Yulaev attacker Patrick Thoresen is the seventh player to grab a brace of goals in this season’s Gagarin Cup. Patrick’s double strike is also the second fastest, his two goals separated by only 2 minutes 58 seconds, 20 seconds more than Tomas Rolinek’s.

First success
For the first in the club’s modern history, Traktor have finally secured a victory in a cup game. The Chelayabinsk men are in the play-offs for the third time, but had lost all their eight games before today, and suffered first round exits at 0:3 in the two previous seasons.

The Kazan sniper
Ak Bars forward Niko Kapanen currently leads the race to be top sniper in the play-offs, with four goals in three games. Two of Niko’s strikes came in powerplay, one at even strength, and one was scored into an empty net.

Recent memories of 0:3
The last time Avangard lost a series 0:3 was at the hands of Ak Bars in the final of the 2006 Russian championship. In that series, silver-medalists Avangard managed even fewer goals than now - scoring two goals in all.

Two in a row
Lokomotiv and Atlant exchanged goals in the space of just 25 seconds, but this is merely the fourth shortest interval between goals in the current Gagarin Cup. The record so far came in the match between Neftekhimik and Avangard, when the scoreline changed twice in just 10 seconds.

Figures of the day
60 shots at the Atlant goal by the Lokomotiv players.

10 of these were from Konstantin Rudenko.

36 minutes 10 seconds spent on the ice by Atlant defenseman Maxim Semenov.

72.7% of face-offs won by SKA attacker Konstantin Gorovikov.

Key players
Dimitrij Kotschnew (Spartak). Saved all 25 shots, helping his team to march into the semi-finals

Alexei Yemelin (Ak Bars). Spent more than 22 minutes on the ice and claimed two assists.

Sandis Ozolins (Dinamo Riga). Also spent more than 22 minutes in play and contributed two assists.

Alexei Simakov (Avtomobilist). Made the assist for one goal, then scored the goal which proved to be the game-winner.

Alexei Mikhnov (Lokomotiv). His overtime goal clinched a place in the conference semi-final for Lokomotiv.

Maxim Yakutsenya (Neftekhimik). Scored the winning goal.

Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru