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The Army’s day. Western semifinals, Day 2


 International Women’s Day was marked by a double success for the KHL’s Army Men – perhaps confirming that the ladies always smile on a man in uniform. SKA comfortably overcame Severstal to take a firm grip on that series, while in Moscow CSKA tied its battle with Dynamo after a tense 2-1 win.

All-square in Moscow
(2) CKSA Moscow 2
(3) Dynamo Moscow 1
Series tied at 1-1

The Battle for Moscow is hanging in the balance after CSKA shrugged off its game one disappointment to tie the series with a hard-fought 2-1 win on home ice. The Army Men had youngster Dmitry Kugryshev to thank for the victory – his game-winning goal was a piece of individual magic early in the second period as he skated around Alexander Yeryomenko’s goal before squeezing a rising shot inside the near post.

That was the high point of a second session where CSKA produced its best hockey of the series to date, and might easily have extended its lead when Patrick Davis embarked on a similar move and sent the puck sliding tantalizingly across the slot with nobody available to apply the finishing touch.

All of which meant there was a nervous finale in prospect as Dynamo grew more adventurous in the closing stages. Kirill Knyazev went close after good work from Jakub Petruzalek, and during a last-gasp 6v5 storm the Czech – who had starred in the previous series – flashed a shot just across the face of goal in a desperate bid for an equalizer.

The first period picked up where the previous game had left off, with CSKA enjoying slightly more possession, but Dynamo creating genuine menace on the counter-attack. The opener eventually went to CSKA, when a break down the left found Igor Grigorenko unattended in front of goal to fire over the shoulder of Alexander Yeryomenko. With a goal to cheer at last, the home crowd raised the volume, only to be left dumbstruck by a thunderbolt from Andrei Mironov. The 18-year-old defenseman got his first ever play-off goal to tie it up in the 19 th minute, stepping in from the blue line to power an unstoppable effort past Rostislav Stana.

Tikhonov torments Sevestal
(1) SKA St. Petersburg 4
(5) Severstal Cherepovets 1
SKA leads the series 2-0

Viktor Tikhonov added two more goals to his hat-trick on Thursday as SKA eased to a 2-0 series lead. And, if the home side had struggled to assert itself in game one, there was to be no looking back this time after the forward had opened the scoring at the end of an evenly-matched first period.

Earlier, Severstal had come close to opening the scoring when Vadim Shipachyov released Evgeny Ketov on goal. The captain’s shot was hooked away with difficulty, but the video official confirmed that Ilya Ezhov had indeed stopped it from crossing the line.

In the second session the home side took complete control, adding two more unanswered goals. Teemu Ramstedt made it 2-0 before Tikhonov got his second of the game – and fifth of the series. Once again Koshechkin was beaten under his pads at the near post, with SKA seemingly finding a key weakness in the goalie’s game and exploiting it to the full.

In the third, Severstal got on the scoresheet, with Alexander Ryazantsev finding the net from the blue line. But there was to be no way back: Alexander Kucheryavenko made it 4-1 within two minutes, and when the action resumes in Cherepovets on Monday Severstal has it all to do to gain a foothold in the series.

See also

18.04.2014 Lev claims early advantage. Gagarin Cup Final, Game 1

16.04.2014 Lev – a dangerous underdog. Gagarin Cup Final preview, Part 1

10.04.2014 Lev roars into the Big Final. Western final, Game 5

08.04.2014 Loko keeps its hopes alive. Western final, Game 4