Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The Bobrov Division came out on top in the 2020 FONBET All-Star Game, with Mikko Lehtonen playing a starring role. The Jokerit defenseman scored twice in the final against Team Tarasov before potting the winning penalty after a 6-6 tie in regulation. Earlier in the day, Linus Omark was an unexpected goaltending star as Team Chernyshev claimed goal and youngster German Shaporev started off the action by blasting a hat-trick to help Team Bobrov win its semi-final.

Photo: 19.01.20. FONBET All-Star Week 2020. KHL All-Star Game

Lehtonen decides the destiny of the gold

The All-Star final was a game of fightbacks. In the first period, Team Tarasov led 2-0 and 3-1, but Team Bobrov hit back to lead 4-3 at the intermission. Yakov Rylov, Mikko Lehtonen and Vladimir Tkachyov scored in the space of one minute, 47 seconds, to turn the game upside down. But the second period was almost a mirror of the first, with Tarasov showing its character to recover from 3-5 and 4-6 to take the action to a shoot-out. Stephane Da Costa and Kirill Kaprizov got the late goals to deny Team Bobrov victory in regulation.

However, in the extras there was no way past Dynamo goalie Ivan Bocharov and Lehtonen settled matters when he became the first and only player to find the net in the shoot-out. Bocharov’s goaltending colleague was Julius Hudacek which meant it was time for the traditional celebratory Huda-show at the end of another hard-fought victory.

Omark stars in goal for Team Chernyshev

The bronze medal game saw Team Chernyshev take on Team Kharlamov – and they served up a thriller. The first surprise came when Bob Hartley radically altered his tactics for the game and had Linus Omark suit up in goal for Chernyshev. The Swede, more renowned for plundering goals than preventing them, swapped roles with Ufa team-mate Juha Metsola, and earned a huge ovation from his colleague after some early saves. Metsola, meanwhile, picked up an assist on a Nikita Soshnikov goal as the first period ended 3-2 in favor of Team Kharlamov.

Metsola then took his accustomed place in net, only to see Kharlamov jump to a 7-4 lead. Omark scored to begin the fightback, Chernyshev made it 7-7 and Dmitry Kvartalnov was chewing his clipboard bench the Kharlamov bench. The teams traded late goals – Nigel Dawes for Kharlamov, Adam Almqvist for Chernyshev – before Omark went back in net for the deciding shoot-out. The Swede blanked the opposition every time, while successful efforts from Brandon Yip and youngster Yegor Chinakhov earned Chernyshev the hardware.

Shaporev stars in the semis

Earlier in the day, the two semi-finals set the tone – and possibly uncovered a star of the future. In game one, Team Bobrov defeated Team Chernyshev 7-4 thanks to a hat-trick from German Shaporev. Who’s he? One of the four youngsters called up from the JHL Challenge Cup last week and invited to join the KHL All-Stars. Shaporev, 19, plays his hockey with Altai Ust-Kamenogorsk in the Junior League, but he was in no way overawed by this occasion. He potted the first goal of the day and knocked in two more in the second period. Team-mate Yegor Morozov (Severstal) scored twice; Chernyshev’s goals all came from one line, with Darren ‘Pushkin’ Dietz and Nikita Soshnikov also getting two apiece.

The second semi-final was also full of special moments – two of them involving Team Kharlamov’s goalies. Jakub Kovar wasn’t entirely thrilled with the work of his defense in the early stages of the game as Team Tarasov jumped to a 2-0 lead in just 71 seconds. So he opted to step up and take the next face-off himself, asking young Yegor Anisimov to replace him on the crease. But those pads got in the way, Kovar lost the draw and Vyacheslav Gretsky made it 3-0.

Kovar later got some revenge when he stopped a penalty shot from the Belarusian, but another penalty shot provided another memorable moment. Danis Zaripov was called for delaying the game at the start of the second period and goalie Andrei Tikhomirov stepped up to take the shot for Team Tarasov. However, it wasn’t the most fluent approach to the net and, in the end, Timur Bilyalov was able to lie back and put his feet up as he made the save.

However, Tikhomirov and his team-mates had the last laugh, grabbing two late goals to snatch an 8-6 victory.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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