Traktor vs. HC Sochi: 5-1 (2-1, 0-0, 3-0)
Traktor Chelyabinsk and HC Sochi, both at camp in the the Pajulahti Sports Complex in Finland, are already experiencing a preseason of wild ups-and-downs after a mere two games each. On the previous Tuesday, Traktor saw a 1-0 lead turn into a 1-5 defeat at the hands of Neftekhimik, but last Saturday the men from Nizhnekamsk in turn suffered a convincing 2-5 loss to HC Sochi. In the Traktor–Sochi match-up on the Tuesday of this week, however, it was the men from the Black Sea who were brought down to earth with a bump when Traktor recovered from going 0-1 down to triumph 5-1.
Yury Alexandrov opened the scoring for Sergei Zubov's side, before a double from Igor Polygalov followed by third-period strikes from Nick Bailen, Andrei Yerofeyev and Artyom Penkovsky gave Anvar Gatiyatulin's team a convincing win.
Traktor's joy was tempered by a knock sustained by Canadian forward Paul Szczechura, who failed to finish the match after a collision with an opponent.
Slovan vs. Spartak: 3-2 SO (0-1, 1-1, 1-0, 0-0)
In the day's second match, Slovan welcomed Spartak to Bratislava. It was the first preseason outing for the Muscovites, under new head coach Vadim Yepanchintsev, and the third for Milos Riha's Slovaks, who last week lost two games in successive days at Dynamo Pardubice in the neighboring Czech Republic.
A total of 4,346 spectators turned up to see the home team edge a close contest, with Slovan eventually securing a 3-2 win via the shootout. Moscow's “Gladiators” drew first blood with a 14th-minute strike from Ryan Stoa, but Bratislava's “Eagles” leveled in the 23rd minute via Pavol Skalicky. The visitors were back in front a little over five minutes later, thanks to Vyacheslav Leshchenko, but the lead only lasted until the 46th minute, when Slovan's Tommi Taimi tied the game at 2-2. In the shootout, Milos Riha's men successfully converted all three attempts.
The Minsk Cup, the 2017 preseason's first official tournament to feature KHL clubs (five in total: Dinamo Minsk, Dynamo Moscow, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Dinamo Riga and Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk, with local youth side Yunost Minsk completing the list of participants) got underway on Wednesday, and will run until Saturday.
Lokomotiv vs. Dinamo Riga: 3-1 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1)
Having beaten Severstal behind closed doors on Sunday, the men from Yaroslavl continued their winning start to the preseason with another modest victory, this time against Sandis Ozolins's Dinamo Riga. The Railwaymen went in front in the 18th minute through Denis Alexeyev, and that is how it stayed for more than twenty minutes until Denis Mosalyov, who assisted on Alexeyev's goal, scored in powerplay just four seconds before the second interval. Ninety seconds after the restart, Gunars Skvorcovs struck for the Latvians to ensure a tense final period, and the result stayed in doubt until Yegor Korshkov's empty netter settled the affair seven seconds before the siren.
Games in this tournament also feature a shootout, regardless of the final score in regulation time, and the results in yesterday's encounter were as follows:
Kozun (saved), Kraskovsky (saved), Cherepanov (saved), Kayumov (missed), Apalkov (goal) - Kristo (goal), Jelisejevs (saved), Lessio (goal), Galoha (saved), Jevpalovs (saved).
Dinamo Minsk vs. Dynamo Moscow: 3-6 (0-1, 2-3, 1-2)
For several weeks, Dynamo Moscow's off-ice problems have been dominating the sporting headlines, but at last Vladimir Vorobyov was able to assemble a roster of 33 players to take to Belarus for the Minsk Cup. This was doubtless a relief for the head coach, and his players gave him plenty of cause for optimism with their performance as they stormed to an exhilarating 6-3 win over the hosts.
The Minsk Men played their part, dominating in the opening period and taking a deserved 19th-minute lead with a powerplay goal from Evgeny Lisovets. The tables turned dramatically in the second period when experienced Minsk defenseman Vladimir Denisov was sitting out a 10-minute penalty. The Muscovites hit the back of Mikhail Karnaukhov's net no fewer than four times in that spell, from the 26th to the 35th minute, thanks to strikes from Mikhail Varnakov, Andrei Alexeyev, Ivan Igumnov and Yakov Rylov, although between the third and fourth goals Rob Klinkhammer hit back with a goal for Minsk to keep the result in doubt. The score stayed at 4-2 until the teams entered the final ten minutes, when two goals in quick succession - Daniil Tarasov for the visitors, and less that 30 seconds later, Evgeny Kovyrshin for the hosts – were followed by another from Tarasov 70 seconds from the end.
The results of the post-match shootout were as follows:
Shootout: Pavlovich (saved), Sharangovich (goal), Vasilchuk (saved), Materukhin (missed), Stepanov (goal) - Tarasov (goal), Sidlyarov (saved), Komarov (saved), Varnakov (saved), Igumnov (saved)
Away from the Minsk Cup, Ak Bars, Lada, Salavat Yulaev and Traktor were also in action.
Neftyanik vs. Ak Bars: 2-3 (0-0, 0-1, 1-2, 0-1)
Ak Bars, with its ranks reinforced by several new arrivals from Metallurg Novokuznetsk, were in the town of Almetyevsk for a mach against local side Neftyanik. Defenses were on top for most of the game, with only Albert Yarullin's 34th-minute goal for Ak Bars troubling the scoreboard operator until Nasybullin for the hosts leveled the score with under 6 minutes left on the clock. Rafael Batyrshin restored the Kazan Men's one-goal advantage a minute later, but the Almetyevsk Men refused to lie down. A goal by Adamchuk with 31 seconds of regulation remaining was enough to take the game to overtime, but Justin Azevedo has a habit of grabbing goals at crucial moments, and he scored in the first minute of added time to give the Kazan Men a 3-2 victory.
Lada vs. Toros: 3-1 (0-0, 0-0, 3-1)
Lada Togliatti had its first dress rehearsal for the new season with a match against VHL team Toros. The game took place in Ozolnieki, Latvia, where both teams are at camp, and the result was a 3-1 win for the KHL side. All the goals arrived in the third period, with Daniil Zharkov, Charles Genoway, and Kirill Dyakov scoring for the Togliatti Men.
Traktor vs. Salavat Yulaev: 0-1
Finally, returning to Pajulahti, Finland, where we began, there was another all-KHL encounter. Traktor Chelyabinsk, playing its third match of the preseason and its second in successive days, faced off against a Salavat Yulaev team playing its first game of the preseason. In stark contrast to the goal feasts of the previous practice games in Finland, this match turned out to be exceptionally close. The score remained at 0-0 until the final period, when Salavat defenseman Denis Kulyash settled the game with a powerful shot to give new Finnish coach Erkka Westerlund a winning start on his home soil.