Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Young Metallurg defenseman Grigory Dronov caught the eye with a fine coast-to-coast goal in his team’s 4-0 victory over Salavat Yulaev in one of the big clashes in the Eastern Conference today. The other battle of the big guns saw Avangard defeat Avtomobilist 3-0 as the section leader continues to stutter. In Shanghai, Brandon Yip made a bit of history with the first ever hat-trick for a Chinese-eligible player in the KHL. Vitaly Kravtsov sank Admiral and Andrei Razin’s first game behind the bench for Severstal ended in defeat.

Sochi fights back to defeat Amur

Amur Khabarovsk 2 HC Sochi 3 SO (1-0, 0-0, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Amur missed a chance to move up a place in the Eastern Conference as Sochi produced a strong finish to this game.

For 50 minutes, the home team looked good. Two goals from Danil Faizullin had Amur in control and poised to overtake Sibir in the table. Then it all went wrong. Yury Alexandrov scored his first of the season to halve the deficit; Stanislav Bocharov tied it up in the 54th minute. Swedish forward Robert Rosen assisted on both goals.

Overtime could not separate the teams and the shoot-out saw Faizullin and Bocharov find the net once again before Eric O’Dell struck the decisive blow.

Yip’s landmark for Chinese hockey

Kunlun Red Star 4 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (1-1, 1-1, 2-0)

Red Star captain Brandon Yip made a little bit of history when he became the first Chinese-eligible player to score a hat-trick in the KHL. The Vancouver-born forward has deep Chinese roots and his motivation for joining Kunlun at the start of last season included a desire to become available for the People’s Republic in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

As club captain, he led from the front in this game, scoring three of his team’s goals and earning praise for his leadership qualities from head coach Jussi Tapola. Yip started with a close-range finish to open the scoring in the first period and returned to score twice in the third and settle the outcome of another entertaining clash between these Chernyshev Division rivals. Veli-Matti Savinainen was Kunlun’s other scorer, potting his first since returning from injury.

For Sibir, this marked the end of a five-game winning streak. Ironically, the team’s last loss was also to Red Star and by the same 4-2 scoreline. Shane Prince kept up his personal streak with an assist on Jordan Caron’s first-period equalizer and now has 4 (2+2) points from his first three KHL appearances.

Dronov goes coast-to-coast as Magnitka smashes Ufa

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 0 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 (0-2, 0-1, 0-1)

Grigory Dronov is best known as a defensive prospect – but today he let loose with his creative side. The 20-year-old has been hotly tipped to follow the likes of Viktor Antipin and Alexei Bereglazov and become a fixture with Metallurg, but his progress over the last couple of seasons has been hampered by injuries.

Today, in only his third appearance of the season, he made the most of his chance with a wonderful solo goal. Collecting the puck from Evgeny Biryukov behind his own goalline, Dronov surged up the ice and needed no further help from his team-mates before firing past Juha Metsola. The home team, though, may well wonder about the defensive laxity that allowed the youngster to advance so far without facing a serious challenge.

Dronov’s strike followed Chibisov’s opener, also assisted by Biryukov. The third, early in the second period, went to the experienced defenseman and Iiro Pakarinen added a fourth as Nick Shore picked up his second helper of the game. Artyom Zagidulin made 31 saves to record his first shut-out for the club.

Kravtsov haunts his home-town team

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Admiral Vladivostok 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Vitaly Kravtsov got the winner for Traktor as basement club Admiral sank once again.

The Rangers prospect was born in Vladivostok and he let his home-time team see exactly what it missed out on as he inspired a come-from-behind victory with 1+1. Admiral shaded the first period and went to the intermission one goal ahead thanks to Vojtech Polak’s marker.

Then Kravtsov began to shape the game. First he produced an assist as Anton Glinkin tied the scores at the start of the second period. Then, early in the third, the youngster potted the decisive goal as Traktor’s PP delivered.

The result halts Admiral’s mini revival; the Sailors had won the last two games. For Traktor, a second win in three moves the team to within four points of a playoff place.

Avangard heaps more woe on Avto

Avangard Omsk 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 (2-0, 0-0, 1-0)

If Avtomobilist hoped that the return of goalie Jakub Kovar would spell the end of the team’s problems, the Eastern Conference leader learned that losing can be a hard habit to break.

Photo: 29.11.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Avangard (Omsk) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

Today’s loss at Avangard was the sixth in eight games since the international break; in that time the Motormen have been overhauled at the top of the KHL table and their Eastern Conference lead has been cut to just four points.

Avangard sensed uncertainty, and stormed into action from the start. Canadian combination Max Talbot and David Desharnais set up Semyon Koshelev for a fifth-minute opener. Four minutes later it was 2-0 thanks to Ville Pokka. Avtomobilist worked hard to get back into the game but found Igor Bobkov in unyielding form. The goalie made 24 saves for his shut-out, Cody Franson’s power play goal midway through the third snuffed out an lingering hopes of a grandstand finish.

Losing start for Razin

Spartak Moscow 3 Severstal Cherepovets 0 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0)

Incoming head coach Andrei Razin failed to lift Severstal’s game on its trip to Moscow. Two goals for Anatoly Nikontsev and a third from Ilya Zubov condemned the Steelmen to a seventh successive defeat and left the team at the foot of the Western Conference table.

Photo: 29.11.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Spartak (Moscow) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Nikontsev opened the scoring midway through the first period but Severstal refused to buckle. The middle frame saw the visitor outshoot Spartak 12-3. However, Nikita Bespalov had the answers to those efforts and Spartak’s lead remained intact.

In the third period, penalty trouble undermined Severstal’s chances. Nikontsev’s second came on the power play and Zubov scored on a delayed penalty to put the game beyond reach.

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