Just like Atlant a day before, Metallurg won the series decider on the road.
(1) Avangard Omsk 0
(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2
Metallurg win the series 4-3
The seventh and decisive clash in this gripping series was preceded by some unexpected news: the Omsk men would be without their boss, Raimo Summanen. “Owing to a sudden deterioration of the health of Avangard head coach Raimo Summanen, Igor Nikitin has been appointed acting head coach for the Gagarin Cup game with Metallurg Magnitogorsk,” announced the hosts’ press office.
It seemed the coach’s absence could play a major or even decisive role, although his players were reluctant to acknowledge it as such: “When we arrived here to the arena they gathered us all together to tell us the coach had been taken ill and wouldn’t be on the bench for this game. We probably all missed his shouting,” defenseman Denis Kulyash admitted with a smile. “But I don’t see his absence tonight as a disaster; we still had the same duties and played the way he’d asked us.”
In the opening minutes both protagonists were especially cautious, understandably favoring cat-and-mouse tactics. Eventually, as the midway stage in the second period approached, the hosts failed to keep track of Gleb Klimenko, and his shot was too good for Karri Ramo.
The Avangard men were clearly rattled by the goal, and more and more aggression went into the challenges, mostly on the side of the hosts.
By the halfway point of the final period Metallurg were visibly tiring, as the absence of Denis Abdullin and Mikhail Lyubushin – both injured during the game – began to take its toll. To add to their troubles, Oleg Kvasha was still struggling with the knocks he picked up in previous games and he scarcely featured in the closing stages, while Evgeny Varlamov had to sit out nearly half his shifts…
“Of course it was tough for us, we had so many injuries we were playing with ten attackers,” said Magnitogorsk boss Kari Heikkila.
While the visitors flagged, the Omsk men took fresh heart and created numerous decent chances to level the score, but the goal simply would not come. Finally, the goaltender was sacrificed for an extra skater and the game had its second goal, scored into Avangard’s unguarded net.
Stanislav Mukhin, Omsk