With less than a month to go until the KHL World Games arrive in Switzerland, Salavat Yulaev and Ak Bars served up a tantalizing appetizer. The teams, who meet in Davos on Dec. 23, played out the 200th edition of the Green Derby in Ufa – and it went all the way to a shoot-out in dramatic fashion. Ak Bars twice held a two-goal lead but Ufa refused to yield and tied the game with just six seconds left thank to this season’s top marksman Nikita Soshnikov’s 17th goal of the campaign. Ak Bars edged the shoot-out thanks to Danis Zaripov and remains out in front at the top of the table. There are more thrills in prospect at the Eisstadion Davos next month, and tickets are already on sale at https://ticketmaster.ch/. Prices start at just 10 Francs, children under 6 go free and under 18s enjoy a 50% discount. Don’t miss it!
The World Games won’t be the only be event for the KHL in the coming weeks. The 2020 FONBET All-Star Week is getting closer, and voting is well underway as the fans choose the players they want to see in the starting line-ups in Moscow on January 19-20. Currently, Salavat Yulaev goalie Juha Metsola leads the polls with more than 2,000 votes. Two other goalies, Ak Bars record breaker Timur Bilyalov and CSKA star Ilya Sorokin are also riding high with more than 1,500 nominations. The highest-ranked skater at this stage is Avangard defenseman Vyacheslav Voynov. All fans can place their votes before Dec. 1 at www.allstarweek.com. Tickets are also available from the same site.
Last December saw a record attendance for a hockey game in Russia when SKA hosted CSKA at the Gazprom Arena. The stadium, more often used for soccer, was packed with more than 60,000 fans as the Muscovites won that edition of the Army Derby. It was such a great success that the clubs are going to repeat the experience this season on Dec. 19. The date, of course, also marks the ‘birthday’ of Russian hockey, representing the 73rd anniversary of the first games played in the Soviet Championship back in 1946. Will we see a new attendance record established this time?
Alexander Radulov’s tally of 299 points in the KHL for Salavat Yulaev has been eclipsed. Swedish forward Linus Omark broke through the 300 barrier last week and is now on 302. That makes him Ufa’s record scorer in the KHL. Meanwhile, teammate Teemu Hartikainen is right behind him. The Finn, who has played his entire KHL career with Salavat, is currently on 299 (124+175) points. His next contribution will make him the 37th player to score 300+ points in the KHL. However, Hartikainen still has some way to go to catch the league’s top-scoring Finn: Petri Kontiola is on 374 points and is still adding to that total with Jokerit.
Severstal captain Yury Trubachyov reached a landmark of his own last week – in Friday’s game against SKA he made his 1,000th appearance in top-flight Russian hockey. The 36-year-old, who made his debut for SKA back in 2000/01, has played the bulk of those games with Severstal. He also represented SKA, Salavat Yulaev and CSKA. Trubachyov is the 15th player to reach 1,000 games.
Ak Bars youngster Nikita Dynyak is a long way from 1,000 games – but his first KHL outing was a huge hit. The 22-year-old made the step up from VHL team Dynamo St. Petersburg after moving to Kazan last week and his first appearance saw him get a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win away to Barys. To prove it was no fluke, he had another helper in Sunday’s ‘Green Derby’ win at Salavat Yulaev. This forward could be a name to watch as the season progresses.
Swedish forward Mario Kempe, whose goals helped Vityaz reach its first ever KHL playoff back in 2017, is back in the league. The 31-year-old signed a two-year deal with CSKA last week. He spent the last two seasons in the NHL with Arizona, but after a trade to Los Angeles over the summer Kempe was unable to break into the Kings’ roster and opted to come back to Europe rather than continue in the AHL. Meanwhile, Barys has placed American forward Eric Tangradi on waivers. The 30-year-old came to Kazakhstan in the summer but the 2017 Calder Cup winner produced just 9 (5+4) points in 22 games.