On Saturday Magnitogorsk hosted the third Challenge Cup, contested by the finest players in the MHL (Youth Hockey League). As in the previous two games in Saint Petersburg and Ufa, the event followed an East vs. West format, with the East captained by Evgeny Grigorenko (Steel Foxes, Magnitogorsk) and Roman Lyubimov (Red Army, Moscow) chosen to captain the West. At a colorful opening ceremony KHL President Alexander Medvedev presented Metallurg Magnitogorsk President Viktor Rashnikov with the MHL’s highest order of merit, the Golden Kharlamov, in recognition of his achievements in the development of youth hockey.
The game itself proved to be a lively encounter, with the West team trailing 0-2 at the halfway mark before fighting back to hit four unanswered goals, including a double from captain Roman Lyubimov on his way to earning the MVP award. The win gave the Western Conference men revenge for last year’s Challenge Cup loss, and it is the second time they have lifted the trophy.
Magnitogorsk’s evening of hockey began with a veterans’ friendly game between Metallurg Legends and GazpromExport USSR Legends, which finished as a 6-4 triumph for the Soviet veterans. The goals for the victorious team came from Andrei Yakhanov, Dmitry Teplyakov, Stanislav Romanov, Igor Varitsky, Andrei Kovalenko and Evgeny Chizhmin. The Metallurg men replied with a double each from Dmitry Popov and Evgeny Koreshkov.
Alexander Medvedev, KHL President:
”Today in Magnitogorsk we were treated to a real festival of hockey. A marvelous arena, as superb for the spectators as it is for the players, and a Challenge Cup organized to the highest standard – this is the main factor in an event such as this. We had a sell-out crowd, and that is wonderful. These fans got to see a genuinely uncompromising contest, one which rattled the boards and the bones. For hockey players, an eternal debate rages about which is the stronger – East or West. All the players take the Challenge Cup very seriously, and strive to get their hands on the coveted trophy, and for those few who have raised it above their heads it is a source of immense pride.”
East 2-4 West (1-0, 1-2, 0-2)
1:0 Anton Kapotov (Vyacheslav Kozub, Artyom Gareyev), 16:45 PPG
2:0 Ansel Galimov. 31:31 Penalty
2:1 Roman Lyubimov (Pavel Chernov, Nikita Gusev), 32:29 PPG
2:2 Maxim Kvitchenko (Yury Skvortsov), 38:00
2:3 Roman Lyubimov (Pavel Chernov, Nikita Gusev), 45:15
2:4 Nikolai Bogomolov 59:33 ENG
Goaltenders: Eduard Reizvikh (Denis Perevozchikov) – Evgeny Ivannikov (Roman Smiryagin)