Torpedo’s fans are anxious about Jordan Schroeder. At the Puchkov Tournament the American has played just one game and missed three games on the bounce. But another newcomer has made his case for the right to lead the offense – Quinton Howden. On Saturday he scored twice against Severstal and on Sunday he followed that up with a great shot from the blue line to open the scoring against Avangard. Unusually, it wasn’t a traditional point shot, set up after careful play in the offensive zone, but a mighty blast to rip past the goalie on a quick break.
But Howden’s bright start was outshone by Avangard’s second period. The Shirokov – Zernov – Andrighetto line unnerved Torpedo in the first period without finding the net; in the second it was a devastating force. Andrighetto and Shirokov scored one apiece, Zernov potted a double and the Hawks fired in five in the middle frame.
That proved decisive, even though a third-period pair from Mikhail Varnakov kept the game alive until the very end. Avangard claimed its first win of the tournament.
Avangard Omsk 5 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 4 (0-1, 5-1, 0-2)
Goals: Howden (Varfolomeyev 19:51); 1-1 Andrighetto (Chudinov, Shirokov 20:13); 2-1 Zernov (Shirokov, Andrighetto 28:35); Belevich (Ilyin 32:10); 3-2 Shirokov (Shumakov, Voynov 36:53 PP); 4-2 Dedunov (37:06); 5-2 Zernov (Pooka, Andrighetto 39:18 PP); 5-3 Varnakov (Belevich, Bocharov 40:21); 5-4 Varnakov (Volchenkov, Belevich 54:25)
Goalies: Sudnitsin – Lindback
HC Sochi has looked strong in pre-season, but as August wears on a few things have started to go astray. In the Czech Republic there was a surprise loss against Karlovy Vary, then here the Leopards lost out against SKA. That can be explained, at least in part, by a demanding schedule of three games in four days plus a flight. In that context, it might be more appropriate to focus on the win over Torpedo rather than the losses elsewhere.
It’s also notable that Sergei Zubov has resisted the temptation to shuffle his pack overmuch in pre-season. The top line of Krikunov, Rosen and Stromwall played the first two games in Petersburg and today’s meeting with Severstal saw just one of the three rested as Krikunov made way for Sean Collins. However, it was a local favorite who delighted the Petersburg crowd with Sochi’s first goal: one-time SKA prospect Andrei Altybarmakyan tied the game with a power play goal after Vladislav Provolnev opened the scoring on a Severstal power play.
However, Severstal also found a Petersburg native who knew his way around the power play. Sergei Monakhov converted his chance early in the third period and that goal proved sufficient to bring a 3-2 win for the Steelmen.
HC Sochi 2 Severstal Cherepovets 3 (1-1, 0-1, 1-1)
Goals: 0-1 Provolnev (Alexeyev 7:23 PP); 1-1 Altybarmakyan (Kapustin, Arkhipov 18:26 PP); 1-2 Nikolishin (Yakovlev 39:08); 1-3 Monakhov (Morozov, Kodola 44:42); 2-3 Stromwall (Rosen 48:24)
Goalies: Shikin - Podyapolsky
The game between SKA and Jokerit always looked like a key fixture in this tournament. It wasn’t just the history – two Baltic neighbors, two teams who regularly lock horns in this competition. It was also the fact that Sunday’s winner would be set to claim the title with a game to spare.
Kochetkov put in a good performance, but SKA’s hero on the day was forward Roman Rukavishnikov. Something of an unheralded figure on the Army Men’s blue line, he grabbed the first two goals of the game to set SKA on its way to a 4-1 win. Viktor Loov got one back for the Finns, but Nail Yakupov and Vladimir Tkachyov sealed the result.
Monday sees a battle for second place, with Jokerit, Severstal and Avangard all in contention.
SKA St. Petersburg 4 Jokerit Helsinki 1 (1-0, 1-1, 2-0)
Goals: 1-0 Rukavishnikov (Plotnikov, Tkachyov 3:46); 2-0 Rukavishnikov (Barabanov, Rundblad 21:30); 2-1 Low (Eronen, Ikonen 22:23); 3-1 Yakupov (Zub, Kemppainen 43:42); 4-1 Tkachyov (59:47 empty net)
Goalies: Kochetkov – Kalnins
Vladimir Tkachyov, forward, SKA
I’ve picked up a few points in pre-season but I’m not getting carried away. It gives me some confidence, but let’s see what the season brings. I feel like I’ve settled in well at SKA, I already knew a few of the guys before I arrived here. I like the smaller ice that we’ll be playing on this season. In the past I played in Canada and in Vladivostok, where they have this kind of rink. It makes the game faster, it makes you think faster, there’s more goal action.
Igor Yefremov, coach, SKA
We played against a strong team today. It wasn’t easy to get into the game, but Pyotr Kochetkov did well and made some big saves for us. There was no special order for Rukavishnikov to get forward more often, we all play on the offense. Today things worked out for him; his partners set him up nicely and he found the right shot. He could even have had a third goal, there were more chances for him.