The Latvian capital's traditional preseason tournament runs from the 13th to the 17th of August, and this year will be contested by four teams, all of whom are regulars. Koing hosts Dinamo Riga are Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, who has participated in this event every year since the tournament began in 2009, Dinamo Minsk, who has featured five times, and Ak Bars Kazan, making its fourthappearance.
Ak Bars vs. Lokomotiv: 2-1 (0-0, 1-1, 1-0)
The tournament began with a match-up between Kazan and Yaroslavl, which ended in the Railwaymen's first defeat of the 2017 preseason.
Loko boss Alexei Kudashov decided to put out a very strong side for this opening game, although a minor injury ruled out Stanley Cup winner Max Talbot, while another NHL legend, Andrei Markov, was given his first outing for Ak Bars.
The men from Yaroslavl dominated the first period. They enjoyed more possession and created several scoring chances, but crucially, failed to find the target. Less than twenty seconds into the second period, they were made to pay for their profligacy when Justin Azevedo put the Kazan team in front. To their credit, Alexei Kudashov's men reacted admirably to the setback and within five minutes the score was 1-1, thanks to the formidable Loo power play unit. Staffan Kronwall fired the puck goalwards and Petri Kontiola directed it past Emil Garipov. The game was settled by another power play goal in the third period, this time scored by Kazan's Fyodor Malykhin, who had been a persistent threat to the Loko net.
Ak Bars head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov:
“This was a very useful match for both teams. We are now at that stage of the preseason when you need to produce top quality hockey. Although, I accept that not everything we tried came off, and I wasn't too impressed by our performance in power play.” (courtesy of R-Sport)
Goals: 1-0 Azevedo (Sekac, Malykhin, 20-17), 1-1 Kontiola (Kozun, Kronwall, 25-24, PPG), 2-1 Malykhin (Tokranov, Tkachyov, 47-57, PPG)
Goaltenders: Garipov – Sudnitsin
Dinamo (Riga) vs. Dinamo (Minsk): 3-2 (0-2, 3-0, 0-0)
In the second match of the day, Dinamo Minsk's former Minnesota Wild forward Justin Fontaine hit a first-period double to give his new club a 2-0 lead over their Riga hosts, but the Latvians replied with a valiant second-period comeback, in which goals from Oskars Batna, Danny Kristo and Gunars Skvorcovs sealed a thrilling victory on home ice.
Dinamo Minsk head coach Gordie Dwyer:
“Congratulations to Sandis on this victory. I thought the match turned out to be a hard-fought contest, with both teams playing a very active and physical game. But for us it was like two games in one. In the first period our offense played with speed and created chances, but we saw the opposite in the second when we struggled to keep hold of the puck, while our opponents counter-attacked really well, scored goals and got back into the game. The third period was even, but by that time we were 2-3 down and we failed to level the score. We still have a lot of work to do and we're focusing on the next game.”
Dinamo Riga head coach Sandis Ozolins:
“There was a bit too much adrenalin, but it was our first home match. For most of the game we managed to play the way the coaches and players had agreed, and we stuck to our strategic and tactical plan. We were aggressive when we needed to be, and when things needed changing we adjusted and stayed patient. There are still a few parts of our game we have to improve, both as a team and as individuals.” (courtesy of Dinamo Minsk press service)
Goals: 0-1 Fontaine (Kovyrshin, 08-04), 0-2 Fontaine (Klinkhammer, Khenkel, 16-28), 1-2 Batna (Meija, Gillies, 27-40), 2-2 Kristo (Galvins, 37-08), 3-2 Skvorcovs (Lessio, 38-13)
Goaltenders: Peters – Enroth