League newcomer Admiral completed its first regular season by clinching a spot in the play-offs.
Going into the final day of games, the team from Vladivostok knew that victory at home to local rival Amur would be enough to clinch eighth-place in the Eastern Conference, pipping last season’s runner-up Traktor to the post-season position.
At home to the weakest performer in the league this season Admiral was full of hope, and after a nervous start the team delivered a convincing 4-1 victory to set up a play-off clash with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
The first period saw Amur have the better of the action, though, out-shooting the hosts 14-8 and sounding a few alarms on the bridge.
But the second session saw a fusillade sink the visitors. Justin Hodgman opened the scoring in the 28th minute, and two quickfire goals from Mikhail Naumenkov and Niclas Bergfors stretched the advantage to 3-0.
Alexander Yunkov, one of Amur’s leading scorers this season, reduced the deficit late in the second but the ever-reliable Felix Schutz set up Dmitry Vorobyov for a 58th minute goal to ignite the play-off party.
For Amur, the Nadezhda Cup awaits; for Admiral, the voyage continues into uncharted play-off waters.
Traktor beaten by Ak Bars
Traktor took to the ice against Ak Bars already knowing its play-off mission was hopeless – and ended up suffering a shoot-out defeat.
Donbass edges Dinamo
Donbass gained a psychological boost ahead of its play-off series against Dinamo Riga, picking up a 1-0 win in Latvia.
Around the league
Ugra sprang the surprise of the day with a 2-1 win at SKA. Veli-Matti Savinainen gave the visitor the lead on 29 seconds, and despite Kevin Dallman’s equalizer the points went to Khanty-Mansiysk thanks to a Nikita Gusev power play goal early in the second.
Matt Murley struck early in the third period to give Medvescak a 3-2 win at Slovan and confirm the Croatian team would take sixth place in its debut season. Medvescak now faces a play-off series against Lev.
Lev finished its regular season with a shoot-out defeat against Spartak. The Red-and-Whites have already opted out of this season’s Nadezhda Cup due to financial difficulties, but at least ended on a high note when Vyacheslav Kozlov settled the shoot-out after a 2-2 tie.
There were 4-2 wins for both conference leaders. In the East, Metallurg Magnitogorsk won at home to Torpedo, while Dynamo Moscow triumphed at Neftekhimik. Sergei Mozyakin led the way for Magnitka with 2+1, while Yury Babenko got Dynamo’s game-winner.
Torpedo’s loss opened the door for Salavat Yulaev to take fourth place with a narrow win over Vityaz. Tomas Zaborsky, Denis Khlystov and Ivan Vishnevsky put Salavat 3-0 up in 25 minutes, but Vityaz closed it to 3-2 before a scoreless final session.
Barys takes second place in the East, but its best-ever season has been marred by a stuttering finish. Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Lokomotiv was the Astana team’s fourth in a row as well as a fourth straight win for the hosts. Loko’s pair of Latvian internationals, Mikelis Redlihs and Janis Sprukts, both found the net.
The day’s highest-scoring game was in Novosibirsk, where a 6-5 success for Sibir over Metallurg Novokuznetsk confirmed sixth place in the Eastern Conference and a play-off series against Ak Bars. Jori Lehtera and Jonas Enlund both scored twice as the home side opened up a 6-1 lead; Kuznya’s attempted fightback fell just short.