The KHL went retro to mark the 70th anniversary of the inaugural games in the Soviet championship back in December 1946. Torpedo and Spartak staged historic themed evenings, while the day’s play brought a victory for Dynamo Moscow, the country’s oldest hockey club. Elsewhere, Vityaz earned a vital win at playoff rival HC Sochi.
When Dynamo first took to the ice with a 5-1 victory over Vodnik Arkhangelsk, hockey was a rather different sport. Dynamo won back then, and did so again today – but this latest success came in a new format.
The decision to settle games in 3-on-3 overtime was only confirmed last week, and after a 1-1 tie in regulation the Blue-and-Whites were experiencing it for the first time in their long history. Dynamo adapted quickly, with Martins Karsums getting the game-winner after collecting a Juusso Hietenan pass and outwitting goalie Ilya Proskuryakov. And there was another little piece of history: Karsums’ goal was the first power play winner in the new format, with Dynamo invited to add an extra player after Alexei Potapov was sin-binned.
Earlier, the key action came in the first period. Alexei Tsvetkov opened the scoring in the third minute, damping the enthusiasm of a Torpedo crowd that came ready to enjoy the evening’s retro-themed entertainment. Carter Ashton tied it up for the host, a deserved goal given the pressure that Torpedo brought to bear on Alexander Yeryomenko’s net in the opening stanza.
There was no further scoring though until Dynamo got that power play chance in overtime and secured two points to
Spartak also embraced the day’s historic theme, transforming Moscow’s shiny 21st-century VTB Arena into a Soviet-era theme park for its game with Lokomotiv. The teams donned retro uniforms, even the officials eschewed their familiar zebra stripes in favor of an all-black outfit with striped sleeves. A fleet of vintage buses and cars lined up outside the stadium, children dressed in old-style Pioneer uniforms and the food concessions took on a 1940s look with bulky tea urns replacing today’s hot dogs and burgers. A Stalin lookalike came along to keep an eye on proceedings, although there was little sign of Leonid Brezhnev, a later Soviet leader who was an enthusiastic Spartak fan.
Recent history was not really on Spartak’s side going into the game, though. Loko rebounded from two defeats to beat HC Sochi last time out, while the Red-and-Whites languished some way off the playoff places on a run of four defeats in six games. When Petri Kontiola’s power play goal gave the visitor the lead in the 17th minute, it didn’t look good for the host.
The second period turned that around. Igor Mirnov tied it up on a power play in the 24th minute before Ryan Stoa grabbed the winner 48 seconds before the intermission. As play went behind Alexei Murygin’s net, Lukas Radil flicked a backhand pass into the danger zone and Stoa went over the goalie’s glove from a tight angle to win the game.
There wasn’t much retro about this clash between two of Russia’s newest clubs, played in the state-of-the-art Olympic arena in Sochi. But there was plenty riding on the outcome as Vityaz sought a win that would help it pursue its own dream of making history this season and reaching its first-ever KHL playoff.
A first-period blitz saw four unanswered goals set the visitor on the way to victory, and back into the all-important top eight as Sochi slips below the dotted line. Roman Horak set things in motion with a second-minute power play goal before Maxim Afinogenov got his first of the night. Next came Alexander Pankov, who marked his first game for Vityaz with a goal to celebrate his arrival from Ak Bars before a fine first period finished with another power play goal, this time from Mario Kempe.
Sochi improved – it could hardly get worse for the host – and Andrei Kostitsyn pulled a goal back in the second period. But by the time Renat Mamashev made it 2-4 the game was already deep into the final stanza and Afinogenov fired into the empty net to wrap up a vital win for Vityaz.
The history books show that CSKA was overwhelmingly the most successful team in Soviet hockey and on a day dominated by the game’s past it was little surprise that the class of 2016 showed once again that it is a serious contender to lift the country’s top title once again.
Geoff Platt, recently returned to Moscow after a spell with Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden, got things started here with a fourth-minute goal. Platt now has two in two on his return to the KHL.
The home team, under the guidance of Andrei Nazarov, is battling to get into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and it showed plenty of character to create the bulk of the chances in the rest of the opening session before finally tying the game in the 29th minute. Youngster Pavel Poryadin got the goal as the play settled down following a niggly opening to the middle stanza that saw Grigory Panin ejected from the game for a high hit.
But CSKA was not to be denied. Two power plays in the latter stages of the second period led to two more goals for Kirill Petrov, taking his tally to 16 for this season. CSKA closes to within a single point of league leader SKA, but has played four games more than its Petersburg rival.