Andy Potts,
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Day two of the KHL’s 10th season brought debut wins for five head coaches taking charge of their teams for the first time in a competitive game. Mike Keenan started out with a road win at HC Sochi, Pavel Zubov, Erkka Westerlund and Andrei Skabelka had 3-1 home victories for Kunlun Red Star, Sibir, Avangard and Salavat Yulaev respectively, while Igor Zakharkin’s Ugra edged Severstal in a shoot-out.

Iron Mike begins with a win for Kunlun

HC Sochi 2 Kunlun Red Star 4 (0-1, 1-2, 1-1)

Mike Keenan has made a career out of being a winner – and on his first competitive engagement for Kunlun Red Star he delivered yet another victory.

Taking charge of an almost entirely new roster, Iron Mike could be forgiven for wondering exactly how his team would cope with its first KHL action. But it didn’t take long to see that the Chinese franchise has what it takes.

Kunlun’s first power play brought its opening goal: Brandon Yip, just one of many new faces, was the scorer after just five minutes. There was a blip at the midway point when Sochi snaffled a power play goal. Ryan Garbutt, one of many players to cross the Atlantic and come to the KHL this summer, showed his predatory instincts to tie the game.

But Keenan’s Kunlun responded in kind. Matias Myttynen, another summer signing, produced a piece of grand larceny to steal the puck on his own blue line and skate off to beat Konstanin Barulin in a one-on-one. Kyle Chipchura, well-known to Slovan fans, made it 3-1 with the first even-strength goal of the evening.

Myttynen, a Tampere native, showed that the step up to the KHL held no fears for him with a second goal early in the third. He collected Greg Squires feed to the deep slot and had a clear look at the net; his finish sent Barulin back to the bench.

Sochi got some consolation with a late goal from Casey Wellman, but it was too late to change the course of the game.

Photo: 22.08.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. HC Sochi (Sochi) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Everberg makes a flying start in Omsk

Avangard Omsk 3 Dinamo Riga 1 (0-0, 0-1, 3-0)

World Champion Dennis Everberg scored twice as Avangard blitzed Dinamo with three goals in two third-period minutes. But this was no easy victory for the home team, as Sandis Ozolins’ team played a full part in an evenly-matched game and even took the lead late in the second period.

That goal came from Miks Indrasis, a long-serving Dinamo man who admitted that his form last season had suffered. He stuffed home the rebound from Danny Cristo’s shot as the Latvians converted a 5-on-3 power play.

But then Everberg came out to play. The Swede was part of his country’s gold medal roster in Cologne back in May, and he showed some indications of why there are big expectations for him in Omsk this year. His opener, a power play goal in the 45th minute, was made in Sweden: Erik Gustafsson’s pass, Johan Sundstrom firing the puck to the net and Everberg taking control on the slot to force it home.

A minute later, Avangard was in front: Valentin Pyanov smashed one straight in from a face-off. Then, on 46:43, Everberg got his second after Ansel Galimov sent him one-on-one with Dinamo’s Justin Peters.

Photo: 22.08.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Avangard (Omsk region) - Dinamo (Riga)

Zubov opens with a win

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Spartak Moscow 1 (0-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Incoming Sibir head coach Pavel Zubov saw his team begin the season with a home victory over Spartak.

Zubov, promoted to the top job after Andrei Skabelka’s departure at the end of last season, saw his team open up a two-goal lead with quick strikes early in the second period. Sergei Konkov celebrated his arrival in Novosibirsk with an unassisted effort for the first, and just 79 seconds later Alexander Bergstrom and Patrik Zakrisson led a superb counter-attack that ended with a goal for Andrei Sigaryov. But the game had been even up to that point, and Spartak wasted little time in getting back into contention through Vyacheslav Leshchenko’s goal on 22:51.

The Red-and-Whites pressed hard to tie the game, with Alexander Salak having a busy time in the Sibir net, but the result was settled in the 57th minute when Stepan Sannikov made it 3-1. Jonas Enlund created the goal, going around the world before firing in a shot from the point that squirmed through the defenses of Markus Svensson and dribbled towards the target. Sannikov was first to react, tapping the disk over the line from close range to seal the win.

Photo: 22.08.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Spartak (Moscow)

Debut joy in Ufa

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Admiral Vladivostok 1 (0-1, 1-0, 2-0)

Erkka Westerlund marked his first competitive game behind the Ufa bench with a victory … assisted by three other debutants.

Goalie Ben Scrivens, newly arrived from Dinamo Minsk, had 35 saves to backstop his team to a comeback win after Alexander Gorshkov gave Admiral a fifth-minute lead.

Evgeny Korotkov tied the scores in the middle stanza, then came two goals from debutants to give the home team the verdict. Vyacheslav Solodukhin, a long-term servant of Vityaz, opened his account for his new club in style in the 46th minute. He raced off on a break-out from his own blue line and, ignoring his team-mates, steamed around Shaone Morrisonn and fired a shot inside the near post for the finest goal of game studded with quality markers.

Danish defenseman Philip Larsen, back in the KHL after a season with Vancouver, completed the scoring in the closing minutes with a power play goal.

Photo: 22.08.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Admiral (Vladivostok)

Around the league

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (0-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Neftekhimik had one of the best records in pre-season, and maintained that form for the opening game of the season. Goalie Ilya Ezhov got the first shut-out of the campaign, making 27 saves to deny Amur as Andrei Nazarov’s team eased to victory.

Pavel Poryadin opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, scoring off an Alexander Avtsin assist. Then Dan Sexton, the leader scorer in the summer warm-up games, got his first point in competitive action with an assist on Oleg Piganovich’s power play goal early in the third.

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2 Severstal Cherepovets 1 (OT) (0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Anton Korolyov was Ugra’s game-winner as incoming head coach Zakharkin had a successful start to his stint in Khanty-Mansiysk. The forward, who managed just two goals in 25 games after joining Ugra from Vityaz part-way through last season, matched that tally in a single outing here.

His first came on the power play in the 26th minute, and cancelled out Dmitry Kagarlitsky’s early opener for Severstal. Then the winning goal came 12 seconds into overtime, with Ugra again enjoying a man advantage. Nikolai Stasenko’s misplaced clearance went straight to Korolyov, who exchanged passes with Veli-Mati Savinainen before firing past Julius Hudacek.

Andy Potts,
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Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
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Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
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Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk) Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk)
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