Avangard’s first game at the Sochi Hockey Open left mixed impressions. For two periods, Bob Hartley’s team struggled to match Lokomotiv, and fell 0-3 behind. In the third frame, greater intensity and solid forechecking changed the pattern of the game, even if the final scoreline was a 1-3 reverse.
Compared with that opening fixture, Bob Hartley and his colleagues were quick to make changes. Newcomer Alexander Sudnitsin took over in goal and Denis Zernov moved up to center the first line. Sergei Shirokov and Alexei Emelin were given a rest, enabling Taylor Beck and Cody Franson to make their first appearances of the competition.
Russia ‘B’, selected from players knocking on the door of the national team, is making its fourth appearance at this summer tournament. In 2016 and 2018 it was runner-up and in 2017 it won it all. For today’s game against Avangard, Oleg Bratash included one of the Omsk team’s own prospects, Artyom Manukyan. And later in the tournament there will be more club vs country battles when five Lokomotiv players line up for Russia against their clubmates from Yaroslavl.
The enhanced teamwork that usually boosts clubs against national teams was offset on Sunday by significant changes to the Hawks line-up and by the fact that this was only the second game Bob Hartley’s team had played in pre-season. At the start, the game followed a similar pattern to yesterday, with Avangard falling behind as Sudnitsin struggled on his debut. First, he failed to deal with a Daniil Misyul point shot despite having a clear view of the release. Then, early in the second period, he offered a rebound in front of him and Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi converted the chance. The third goal, meanwhile, scored by Vladimir Bryukvin, offered Sudnitsin little chance as Russia attacked at lightning speed.
For the second game in two days, Avangard found itself down 3-0. This time, though, it sparked a fightback. Initially, Avangard began to lock Russia in its zone while struggling to create scoring chances. However, a defensive error presented Nikita Shcherbak with his first goal for his new club and moments later Pavel Dedunov got his debut marker with Avangard shorthanded. The pressure built up and Sergei Shumakov scored on the power play to tie the game going into the third period.
The intermission came at the right time for Russia ‘B’ and midway through the final frame Bryukvin got his second of the game. Avangard had a great chance to tie it up late in the game when it got a 5-on-3 power play but Hartley’s team could not take advantage as it fell to a second loss in Sochi.
Bob Hartley, head coach, Avangard
We saw a great game from these young Russian players. I have to say that your country has a lot of talents and the team we played today could be competitive in the KHL. It would certainly be one of the quickest opponents we’d face. As for Avangard, we started badly again. We have a lot of new guys and I could see that we’re still looking for that chemistry on the ice. Right now we’re giving the same minutes to each line so we can see as much as possible of what they can do.
Slava [Voynov] has an injury, he’s training by himself at the moment. As everyone knows, nobody wins the Gagarin Cup in August so there’s no need to rush him and we’ll put him in the team when he’s ready. Sven [Andrighetto] just got back from a camp with Team Switzerland today.
Oleg Bratash, head coach, Russia ‘B’
It was a good game against a strong opponent. It’s really good for these young players, they are learning to take the initiative, to take responsibility for the results. The fact that we had played through four days of training could be seen on the ice. There were individual errors that players have to take responsibility for but, on the whole, I thought we did really well.
Avangard Omsk 3 Russia ‘B’ 4 (0-2, 3-1, 0-1)
Goals: 0-1 Misyul (Kayumov, Alexeyev 10:04); 0-2 Bryukvin (Shvets-Rogovoi, Zhafyarov 17:20); 0-3 (Shvets-Rogovoi (Yudin 20:28); 1-3 Shcherbak (Pyanov, Koshelev 29:32); 2-3 Dedunov (33:08 SH); 3-3 Shumakov (Beck, Franson PP 39:05); 3-4 Bryukvin (Zhafyarov, Yudin 49:02).
Goalies: Sudnitsin - Melnichuk
It’s been a long time since SKA had a summer as turbulent as this one. The Army Men will start the new season without Nikita Gusev, Igor Shestyorkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrik Hersley, Vladislav Gavrikov and Nikolai Prokhorkin. Moreover, there’s a new head coach at the helm, with Alexei Kudashov replacing Ilya Vorobyov. For his first game in charge of SKA, here at the Sochi Hockey Open, Kudashov named a strong roster.
The changes in Petersburg were clear from the first two lines: four of the six forwards were newcomers. Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tkachyov lined up with Sergei Plotnikov, while Joonas Kemppainen and Dmitry Kagarlitsky joined Alexander Barabanov on the second line. Lukas Bengtsson took his place on the first defensive pairing.
Sochi’s head coach Sergei Zubov made some big changes of his own after Saturday’s shoot-out win against Dinamo Riga. Dmitry Lugin, the star of that shoot-out, moved up to the first line while debutant goalie Ilya Proskuryakov went between the piping.
Early on, SKA’s new faces struggled to get their game together but gradually the Army Men took the initiative and earned two power plays. However, Kudashov’s special teams could not find a way to goal and ended up allowing a goal at the other end. Ilya Nazarevich sent the puck to the slot where Vadim Khlopotov converted the chance. The end of Kudashov’s first period in charge produced some disappointing stats: 0-1 down, and just four shots on goal.
SKA picked up the pace in the second period but its determination to attack at all costs proved to be its undoing. Sochi had a few chances on the counter attack and Stepan Starkov took advantage late in the second period, to the delight of the 4,203 fans who came to the Shaiba Arena. Early in the third period Viktor Tikhonov pulled one back for SKA, but it wasn’t enough to save the game. Two wins from two games put the tournament host on top of the table with four points.
Sergei Zubov, head coach, HC Sochi
We skated well for the whole 60 minutes. I was disappointed with our power play, we put too much pressure on ourselves. We also need to work on our discipline. But a win is a win and we can move on.
Alexei Kudashov, head coach, SKA
The third period can be regarded as a plus, the team began to move at last. In the first two we didn’t manage that. At least we know where to go from here.
HC Sochi 2 SKA St. Petersburg 1 (1-0, 1-0, 0-1)
Goals: 1-0 Khlopotov (Altybarmakyan, Nazarevich SH 18:51); 2-0 Starkov (Rakhimullin, Tomilin 37:11); 2-1 Tikhonov (45:03)
Goalies: Proskuryakov - Hellberg
Kunlun Red Star played its second game in its home tournament and Beijing and once again selected a roster drawn almost entirely from Chinese and Chinese heritage players. Sunday’s opponent was ORG Beijing, a VHL team from the People’s Republic. Until the summer, it too was part of the KRS stable but in the coming campaign it will be striking out on its own, with Red Star establishing a new VHL team to serve as a farm club. Many of the Chinese players on display in Red Star jerseys today are likely to spend the bulk of the season playing for that new VHL operation, giving the game the feel of a local derby.
Guest of honor Alexander Ovechkin was on hand to perform the pre-game ceremonies and the Great 8 saw Red Star score eight goals in an entertaining game. Rudi Ying led the way with a hat-trick, while David Bondra pushed his claims for a permanent contract with a goal of his own.
Kunlun Red Star 8 ORG Beijing 4 (4-1, 2-2, 2-1)
Kunlun goals: 1-0 Ying (Hu 8:24); 2-1 Bondra (Lockhart, Jaw 12:04); 3-1 Tam (Bondra 14:32); 4-1 Seto (14:45); 5-1 Ying (Hu, Zhang 24:13); 6-2 Jaw (Lockhart 33:36); 7-3 Zhang (Ying 42:26); 8-3 Ying (43:23)
The Red-and-Whites started their Mountfield Cup campaign in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. According to the club’s press team, Oleg Znarok brought just 25 skaters to the competition, suggesting that he is already close to identifying his preferred roster. Today’s game against host club Mountfield attracted an almost capacity crowd.
The coaching staff left a host of players on the sidelines, including Patrik Hersley and Vyacheslav Leshchenko. The game turned out to be tough. For 40 minutes, Spartak struggled to create opportunities – in the first session only Robin Hanzl and Alexander Khokhlachyov tested the home goalie, in the second Anatoly Nikontsev and Ilya Talaluyev went close. But the second period also saw Spartak fall behind to a power play goal from defenseman Pavlik.
In the third period, the Muscovites raised their game and began to put pressure on Mazanec’s goal. That pressure forced the home team to call a time-out in the 50th minute, not long after Evgeny Kulik tied the scores.
There was no more scoring in regulation, nor in overtime. In the shoot-out Spartak trailed 1-3 but fought back to take it to sudden death before Kaspars Daugavins secured the win.
Mountfield Hradec Kralove 1 Spartak Moscow 2 SO (0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)
Goals: 1-0 Pavlik (Rosandic, Miskar PP 27:26); 1-1 Klik (Kokarev, Zubov 45:31); 1-2 Daugavins (shoot-out)
Goalies: Mazanec - Hudacek