East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
It’s hot outside, everyone’s on vacation and there’s the FIFA World Cup going on. But even in the down season, there’s still a bit of KHL news to keep up with.
Russia is at the center of the sporting world this week following the big kick off in the FIFA World Cup. Not surprisingly, our hockey stars are also keeping up with the action. Sergei Mozyakin was among those lucky enough to get a ticket for the opening ceremony – and his scoring skills might have rubbed off on a Russian team that romped to a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in the first game. Ilya Kovalchuk, meanwhile, met up with Evgeny Malkin on vacation to watch Brazil’s game against Switzerland – and two men with multiple World Championship wins were rooting for the world’s most-titled soccer nation in its 1-1 draw.
Alexei Kruchinin, recently moved from Traktor to SKA, is returning to the club where he began his career as a youngster. However, after tearing up the playoffs with Traktor last season, the 27-year-old admits that the trade was a bit of a surprise. “I can’t say what I would have decided if it had been down to me,” he said. “It’s true to say that at Traktor I’m sure I would have more playing time. But SKA? That’s another level altogether.”
Kruchinin’s move is something of a home-coming: the forward recalls a gruelling schedule of up to five games a week there when he was combining MHL, VHL and occasional KHL call-ups back in 2011-12. And it’s also a reunion with Ilya Vorobyov, who was on the coaching staff at Lokomotiv when Kruchinin played there before joining Traktor in 2014.
It’s been a quiet week on the trading front – perhaps all our GMs are watching the soccer! – but a few notable deals were signed. Barys acquired the services of Swedish forward Andre Petersson after he left Avangard at the end of the season. Petersson previously played for HC Sochi, and the Black Sea team signed Lokomotiv’s Alexander Polunin last week. The 21-year-old’s progress at his home-town club stalled last season – a change of environment could be the spark to reignite a young talent.