SKA St. Petersburg 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 (1-1, 0-3, 2-0)
Metallurg struggled against the SKA power play — but had just enough to edge a 4-3 win and book its place in Sunday’s Champions’ Cup final. Saturday’s win sets up a clash with Ak Bars to decide the winner of the inaugural edition of this pre-season blockbuster. SKA will play Salavat Yulaev in the bronze medal game.
The Army Men struck first in this game, with Vladimir Tkachyov opening the scoring on the power play early on. But Metallurg also scored on its first power play of the day, with ex-SKA man Sergei Plotnikov tying the scores. Plotnikov was one of three Metallurg players to face his former club: line-mate Nikolai Prokhorkin and defenseman Yegor Yakovlev also played in Petersburg last season, while head coach Ilya Vorobyov was in charge of SKA in 2018/19.
Metallurg took control of the game in the second period. Three unanswered goals from Harri Pesonen, Bogdan Potekhin and Artyom Minulin opened a 4-1 lead. The one-sided scoreline did not reflect the balance of play, however, with the teams sharing 14 shots apiece and SKA having slightly more time on the attack during the session.
That gave the Army Men belief that this game was still alive, and with two power play goals in the third, they almost pulled off a big fightback. Anton Burdasov and Lukas Bengtsson were the scorers but Metallurg held on to secure the win.
For SKA forward Vladimir Tkachyov, it was a frustrating outcome. “We were asleep in the first two period and only woke up in the third, when it was already too late,” he said. “We had chances when the teams were at full strength but maybe we were lacking a bit of composure.”
Metallurg head coach Vorobyov complained that his team took too many penalties once again, but drew comfort from the fact that it was fewer than in the previous game. He was also happy to see the results of his team’s work between the Romazan Memorial Tournament and this event.
Ak Bars Kazan 4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 SO (0-1, 3-1, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)
Ak Bars made it three wins from three after a typically hard-fought ‘Green Derby’. Alexander Khovanov got the shoot-out winner after these old rivals shared a 3-3 tie in regulation.
The game itself was a topsy-turvy affair. Salavat, unable to qualify for the tournament final, set out with a point to prove and jumped to a 2-0 lead against its bitterest foe. Dmitry Korobov opened the scoring early on, and Markus Granlund added a power play goal early in the second period.
Then Ak Bars hit its stride. The team’s young guns combined to reduce the deficit, with 18-year-old Saveli Kuvardin pulling a goal back off assists from Alexander Khovanov, 20, and Daniil Chetverikov, 19. Then Nikita Lyamkin fired home from the blue line just when Ufa thought it had killed a penalty, and Kazan’s old master, Danis Zaripov, completed the turnaround with a fine breakaway goal.
However, it wasn’t enough to win the game. Granlund got his second of the night, converting Sakari Manninen’s feed to make it 3-3 and take us to overtime. With no further scoring, the game went to a shoot-out and Khovanov was the only successful forward as Ak Bars took the verdict.
That was Khovanov’s third successive shoot-out goal, and head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov suggested it was a sign of the youngster’s class, while adding that he had plenty still to learn. The coach added: “A win is a win, especially in a tournament where we have brought together so many good teams. It’s not easy to demand that our players produce the kind of game we want to see every time. Everyone is at a different stage in terms of physical preparation. In the first half of the game we were second best, and the stats were against us. If you’re losing those one-on-one battles, no system can save you.”
His opposite number, Tomi Lamsa, said: “Over the course of the game we played really well, especially in the first period. That was our hockey. But I’m really disappointed that we could not turn that into a win today. We many too many mistakes in the second period and allowed three goals. Our team, especially our young guys, showed character today. It’s disappointing to lose, but we are getting better with each game.”
Severstal Cherepovets 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)
Severstal got quick revenge for yesterday’s 1-5 loss in Yaroslavl, defeating Lokomotiv 2-0 on home ice in Cherepovets.
Kirill Kapustin put the home team ahead in the fifth minute and later got involved in a fight with Mikhail Belyayev. Loko proved unable to beat Vladislav Podyapolsky in the first period, and when the starting goalie was replaced by young Denis Rybalkin at the first intermission, there was still no way through. The 20-year-old kept the Railwaymen at bay and the win was sealed with five seconds on the clock when Artyom Gareyev potted an empty-net goal.