Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Amur Khabarovsk 2 (0-2, 0-0, 1-0)
The first game of the day in Astana was destined to determine the victor in this tournament. Neftekhimik held the initiative with six points from two games, but Amur was still in contention after a victory and an overtime loss.
Neftekhimik outshot its opponent by a big margin – 41-11 – but struggled to find a way past Amur’s new Czech goalie Libor Kasik. The 26-year-old, once a Czech champion with Zlin, made 40 saves before he was beaten in the last minute by Alexei Mikhnov. But that was too late for Neftekhimik, which had allowed first period goals for Igor Velichkin and Ilya Berestennikov. Those were the only shots on Ilya Ezhov’s net in the first period, and he was duly replaced by Andrei Makarov at the first intermission.
“Today was a good test of our guys’ courage and commitment, their willingness to block shots,” said Amur’s head coach Nikolai Borshchevsky. “Neftekhimik is a tough opponent playing tough, aggressive hockey. We knew that, and we were ready for it. I was pleased to see that our team really wanted to win and worked the full 60 minutes to get that victory.”
Barys Astana 3 Kazakhstan 4 OT (1-3, 1-0, 1-0, 0-1)
The final game of the tournament pitted Kazakhstan’s top club side against the national team – and ended in victory for the representative selection.
Goaltending troubles in the first period put Barys in difficulty here: understudy goalie Dmitry Malgin got his chance but allowed three goals in the first 12 minutes as Kazakhstan built a commanding lead. The disappointment for Barys was compounded by the fact that a third-minute Ivan Kuchin goal had opened the scoring but the lead soon evaporated.
There was a fight-back. Young D-man Valery Orekhov got a power play goal late in the second period, and a last-gasp strike from Patrice Cormier tied the game with 18 seconds left. But in overtime Kazakhstan won it when Dmitry Presnov beat Sergei Kudryavtsev. Despite the victory, Kazakhstan still finished bottom of the group, with Barys coming third thanks to the point it claimed for tying the game in regulation.
Photo credits: Marat Akimzhanov