Sibir off to flying start
The Arena in Riga was the venue for an exhibition game between Dinamo Riga and Sibir. Both teams are in the middle of preseason training and far from being fully fit, but on this showing the Siberians are in the better shape. The visitors triumphed 6-2, and among their ranks two players particularly shined. Vladimir Tarasenko made four assists, while Jonas Enlund (pictured) hit four goals. Also hitting the target for Andrei Tarasenko’s side were Alexander Kutuzov and Vyacheslav Belov with a goal each. For the Latvians, Gints Meja struck a double, one of which was short-handed. As for the goalies, Sibir’s Bernd Bruckler and Yury Klyuchnikov allowed one each, while in the Dinamo goal Chris Holt allowed two and Nauris Enkuzens was beaten four times.

Hard-fought game
It is a great shame the game in Slovakia between Dukla and Spartak was not broadcast on TV. It had everything – eight goals, several fights, crunching challenges, a penalty saved… The Red-and-Whites’ head coach Viktor Pachkalin promised his men would play attacking hockey, and he was not joking. The game finished 4-4, and as early as the first period Ivan Kasutin had saved a penalty shot. Twice Spartak handed the opposition a two-goal advantage, trailing 0-2 and then 2-4, and twice they clawed their way back to level the score. Marcel Hossa got his first goal for Spartak, and there was a goal each from Oleg Piganovich, Ivan Baranka and Ilya Pavlov. We must also mention that Piganovich was handed a game penalty and Sergei Belokon was injured right at the end. Spartak proved the stronger in the shootout: Ivan Kasutin saved five shots, and the sole successful strike came from Hossa.

Army Men victorious
Petersburg’s Army Men claimed their second victory of their preseason training in the Czech Republic. The opponent this time was the Czech Extraliga champion Trincem. SKA sent on their strongest line-up, but despite this no-one was given a rest from training and they played a fully-competitive game. There was just a single goal in the game, and it came at the end of the first period when Maxim Afinogenov’s pass set up Petr Prucha to finish. Thirty seconds before the final siren the Czechs pulled the goalie, and were lucky not to allow a second goal. Jakub Stepanek achieved the first shutout of the season and was named the MVP by the game organizers.

Spartak’s Juraj Mikus has spoken several times about being the most likely of the club’s six foreigners to have to leave the team, but several sources in the media believe it is Branko Radivojevic who will be packing his bags. Possibly this is down to Branko being the subject of offers from a number of Russian clubs. Radivojevic has been at Spartak for three years and is one of the team’s top attackers. In 178 games in the regular championship and play-offs he has amassed no less than 141 points.

New coach
Following Alexander Smirnov’s move to Neftekhimik, Severstal did not fill the gap left by his departure. Only now, while the team is away on preseason training, has it been announced that Dmitry Kvartalnov’s assistant will be Vladimir Tsyplakov. The famous Belarusian player has coaching experience with the national team and also with Dinamo Minsk. In 2008 Tsyplakov was hired by Avangard, but his spell in Omsk lasted just eight days. Vladimir finished his playing career in 2005, after 40 outings for CSKA.

Torpedo has decided on the club’s mascot – it will be a stag from the local zoo. Now the club website is conducting a poll to choose a name for the lucky creature. There has been no official word about whether the animal will attend the games in person or have the results announced to him at his home in the zoo.

Foreign legion
Latvian defenseman Maris Jass has left Neftekhimik for Slovak club Slovan. Jass arrived in Nizhnekamsk midway through last season and played 18 games, in which his biggest contribution was a single assist, and he averaged a little over 14 minutes on the ice. In season 2005-06 Maris played for Lada, but failed to score any points in 14 outings. Jass seems to have a liking for Slovakia – he played for two Slovak clubs before his move to Neftekhimik.

Defender’s second chance
Now that Johan Fransson has decided to return to Sweden, the SKA leadership has offered a new contract to Alexei Semenov. He played for the Petersburg men last season, but had not received an offer to stay until now. The giant defenseman (height: 6’6” – weight 244lb) has also played in Russia for Dynamo Moscow. His figures for SKA last season were 24 games, no goals, four assists and an efficiency rating of -2.

Quote of the day
“It seems to me that this year we have to train a bit more and, it follows, a bit harder. But I’m glad we’re working four days and then getting a day off,” Dynamo Moscow forward Leo Komarov on the preseason training in Pinsk, Belarus.

Alexei Shevchenko, special to

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