The Far East team can call the 2017/2018 season successful as they got to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Amur fans were expecting to fight for the cup for many years as they lacked KHL playoffs actions for a few seasons. Everything changed when Andrei Martemyanov was hired as the team’s head coach. Amur not only got to the playoffs but also won its first postseason game.
Amur’s regular season started with a heavy eight-game away trip. The Khabarovsk team only got one big loss during the series against Avtomobilist (1:8) in the last game before getting back home. They won against Salavat Yulaev (5:4) and Metallurg (3:2). The team also got precious points in Togliatti (2:1 OT), Chelyabinsk (4:5 SO), and Sochi (1:2 SO). But the fans knew that it was early to celebrate and that it would have been a long fight to the playoffs.
Even more so considering that the Far East team didn’t have good results in the first home series. Four losses in four games was definitely not what players and coaches were expecting. Losing games against Slovan (2:3) and Vityaz left the team a particular sore taste. Both the teams had different problems, but Amur could not get the best of them. As a result, the losing streak reached nine games. From time to time, the team showed good hockey, but Amur couldn’t finalize their chances. Moreover, goalie Juha Metsola didn’t have the best start of the season.
All changed on September 29. Amur got to Moscow to face HC Dynamo and managed to defeat them. If that is not enough, Martemyanov’s team won in the regulation. After this huge win, the team won six games out of the next seven. Amur managed to defeat Avangard, Metallurg, and Barys, losing only to Traktor at home. This wasn’t the only good series in the season, as Amur managed to accumulate a number of winning streaks.
However, the team secured a playoffs spot only at the very end of the regular season. What happened in the last few days in the Eastern Conference hasn’t been simply a drama. It was a true thriller and Amur was its starring character. The Far East team only needed to defeat Admiral in the latest two regular-season games to safely secure themselves a playoffs spot. Unfortunately for the fans, Amur didn’t completely cope with the task. They won the game at home, but they lost the away game in the shootout. Amur’s fate was in other teams’ hands, but on March 1, luck was on Amur’s side. In the playoffs first round, Amur had to face Ak Bars Kazan.
Amur lost the series 1-4, but hardly the fans will blame the team. Martemyanov’s guys fought with a very strong opponent, who in the end won the Gagarin Cup. And most importantly, they managed to get their first playoffs win. It happened in the third game, which was a very hot clash (4:1). The Khabarovsk team had a chance to tie the series, but they didn’t manage to achieve that. Ak Bars won the fourth game, then in the fifth encounter, they ended the series.
Andrey Martemyanov has been one of the most talked-about coaches of the season. He managed to build a true battle team able to fight with any opponent. The coach not only unified the team around the season’s goal but did it while getting the players showing good hockey. And most importantly, he managed to get several players progressing: Alexei Byvaltsev, Oleg Li, and the Ushenin brothers rise to a brand-new level.
The 2017/2018 campaign was the last season for Martemyanov with Amur as he will coach Avtomobilist next year.
The first postseason win is always a special event. Even more so when the team shows high-quality hockey. On March 7, Amur made a huge gift to all its fans. The Khabarovsk team defeated Kazan (4:1) with a very convincing performance. Ak Bars had no chances for a positive result in the game. Vyacheslav Ushenin and Vladislav Ushenin scored one goal each, while Vyacheslav Litovchenko recorded a double. Vladimir Tkachyov scored for Ak Bars. The teams accumulated a total of 52 penalty minutes as the game has been truly eventful.
At the start of the season, on September 8, Amur visited Yekaterinburg. Amur’s fans were waiting to get points out of the game, but Avtomobilist coolly defeated the opponents. Byvaltsev opened the score, but at the end of the second period, the home team was up 4:1. The third period was a true nightmare for Amur and the final result of 8:1 was a big disappointment for the team.
Here it’s very simple: Alexei Byvaltsev was the team’s top scorer in the 2017/2018 season. In 56 regular season games, he scored 43 (19+24) points. Hardly anyone expected such a production from the forward. He was the true leader of the team. But to finish the season with am A+ grade, Byvaltsev lacked a good show during the playoffs. In the postseason, the forward didn’t get to the scoresheet. Next year, he will please SKA’s fans with his game.
Any Russian team has big expectations when a foreign player is signed. Marek Kvapil went to Amur to become a leader of the team. As a result, the 33-years-old forward played only 11 games for Amur, scoring only one goal. The game on October 4 was the last one in Amur and his contract was terminated.