Neftekhimik wrapped up its pre-season camp in Finland with a game against the KHL’s very own Finnish representative, Jokerit. The Helsinki team was playing its first pre-season game and had plenty of new faces in the roster: goalie Antti Niemi, plus Mikko Lehtonen, Eemeli Rasanen, Petri Kontiola, Ahti Oksanen, Veli-Matti Savinainen and Henrik Haapala. Neftekhimik handed debuts to goalie Alexander Sharychenkov and forwards Matt White and Radel Fasleyev.
It took time for the goals to arrive: fans in the Hartwall Arena had to wait until well into the third period before Jokerit took control with two goals in five minutes. Lehtonen had an assist on both. However, Neftekhimik rallied to tie the scores on markers from Pavel Padakin and Artyom Sergeyev. Overtime looked inevitable, but with 53 seconds on the clock Brian O’Neill got the game winner for the host.
Jokerit Helsinki 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 (0-0, 0-0, 3-2)
Goals: 1-0 O’Neill (Lehtonen PP 45:01); 2-0 Kontiola (Lehtonen 49:42); 2-1 Padakin (51:28); 2-2 Sergeyev (Khafizov 54:17); 3-2 O’Neill (Norman, Oksanen 59:07).
Goalies: Niemi – Sharychenkov
Ak Bars made the short trip to Almetyevsk to play Tatarstan’s VHL team, Neftyanik in its first pre-season game of the summer. Neftyanik mean ‘oil worker’ and on the eve of the game Dmitry Kvartalnov and his team visited a nearby drilling platform to see what life was like when pumping oil from the ground at the Tatneft installation. The team also visited the Neftyanik hockey complex. As is traditional, the game was a fund-raiser, with the money from ticket sales going to help hockey fans who are battling against serious illness.
Kvartalnov was taking his first game at the club seriously and named a strong roster. All his imports were involved, with Adam Reideborn in goal. Danis Zaripov was captain.
The full roster was:
Adam Reideborn; Mikael Wikstrand – Igor Ozhiganov; Albert Yarullin – Andrei Pedan; Roman Abrosimov – Nikita Lyamkin; Kristian Khenkel – Daniil Zhuravlyov; Justin Azevedo – Patrice Cormier – Matt Frattin; Danis Zaripov – Vladimir Tkachyov – Stanislav Galiyev; Emil Galimov – Mikhail Fisenko – Kirill Petrov; Mikhail Glukhov – Artyom Mikeyev – Artyom Lukoyanov.
Initially the home team hung in well against a more skilled opponent, but gradually Ak Bars’ extra finesse began to tell. However, it wasn’t until the second period that the visitor got in front when Zaripov produced a fine shot with almost no backlift to convert Tkachyov’s excellent pass from behind the net. After the goal, Neftyanik stepped up the pace and started to work Timur Bilyalov, brought to the crease in place of Reideborn. Bilyalov was caught out in the third period, allowing a short side shot from Ivan Ivanov to squeeze past him and tie the scores. In overtime, Ak Bars had the better chances but could not beat Andryukhov in the home net despite finishing with a spell of 5-on-3 hockey after getting a power play and replacing Bilyalov with a skater. New arrival Patrice Cormier settled the issue in the shoot-out.
Neftyanik Almetyevsk 1 Ak Bars Kazan 2 SO (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1)
Goals: 0-1 Zaripov (Tkachyov 23:41); 1-1 Ivanov (54:52); 1-2 Cormier (65:00, penalty shot)
Goalies: Andryukhov – Reideborn (Bilyalov).