The Week of Hockey Stars reached its dramatic conclusion in Astana with the highlight of the whole show – the All-Star games. Four glittering rosters, representing the four divisions of the KHL, duked it out for the prize of All-Star Champion 2018. And the win went to last season’s beaten finalist, Team Tarasov, after a revenge win over the 2017 champ, Team Chernyshev.
A quartet of special Ks did the business for Team Tarasov in the gold-medal game. Two goals apiece for Kagarlitsky and Kovalenko, one for Kirill Kaprizov (plus three assists for the CSKA man) and further helpers from Kronwall and Kozun saw the Western Conference team to a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Team Chernyshev. The league’s Easternmost Division did everything it could to retain its title, but goals from local hero Kevin Dallman, Avangard duo Yegor Martynov and Evgeny Medvedev and Salavat forward Linus Omark were not enough to save the game.
The bronze-medal game went to Team Kharlamov, adding a medal to their Master Show victory yesterday with an emphatic 8-4 victory over Team Bobrov. Sergei Mozyakin, the most prolific scorer in KHL All-Star history, added two more goals to his tally to lead Kharlamov to the win; Ilya Kovalchuk’s double for Team Bobrov could not change the outcome of the game.
Exhibition hockey? Not much at stake? Yeah, right! It’s only the second year of this four-team, Division vs Division format, but it’s clearly captured the imagination of the players. And nothing showed that more powerfully than the two semi-finals – with both games going to shoot-outs.
Nikita Gusev (SKA), might count himself the unluckiest player of the competition. He got a hat-trick for Team Bobrov, but still finished on the losing side. Regulation finished in a frantic 5-5 tie with the Chernyshev Division, and shoot-out goals from Astana’s own Nigel Dawes and Admiral’s Vladimir Tkachyov sealed the win for the defending champion.
But the real sensation was the goaltending from Ilya Sorokin (CSKA, team Tarasov). He blanked Team Kharlamov in the shoot-out, while goals from Brandon Kozun (Lokomotiv) and Dmitry Kagarlitsky (Severstal) gave Tarasov the verdict after a 3-3 tie. Kozun, a high scorer in last year’s event, grabbed two goals in the 20-minute game, including the crucial tying goal 17 seconds before the end.