Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The Champions Cup in Kazan was expected to be the big competition of the summer and a battle between four top teams produced plenty of exciting hockey. Sunday was the decisive day, and Ak Bars came out on top after holding on to beat Metallurg 4-3 in the final. Earlier, Salavat Yulaev claimed third place, defeating SKA by the same scoreline after a shoot-out.

In two warm-up games, Barys got its first win of the summer, while Spartak scored seven on Khimik Voskresensk.

TANECO Champions Cup

Ufa claims third place ahead of SKA

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 SO (1-0, 1-2, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Salavat Yulaev saved the best for last, getting its first win at the Champions Cup in its final game and taking third place in the four-team tournament. Once again, though, it was a tight affair, with SKA forcing a 3-3 tie before losing in a shoot-out.

Photo: 23.08.20. TANECO Champions Cup. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

The two head coaches took a different approach to their selections for the game. Tomi Lamsa made few changes, leaving his top line unchanged, although understudy goalie Vladislav Sukhachyov got the start ahead of Juha Metsola. His opposite number, Valery Bragin, went for a more youthful option. Danila Galenyuk was placed in the first defensive pairing, while goalie Alexander Samonov got the start just a day after his 25th birthday. Linden Vey and Vladimir Tkachyov were among the experienced men to get a rest.

SKA’s youngsters made the early running. Midway through the opening frame, the teenagers combined to create the opening goal, with Ivan Morozov scoring off assists from Vasily Podkolzin and Kirill Marchenko. However, Ufa’s top line went on to have a great game, producing all three of the team’s goals. Markus Granlund led the way, scoring twice in the second stanza to give Salavat Yulaev the lead and take his personal tally to five in the tournament. Marchenko tied it up for SKA, and the third period saw the teams exchange one further goal apiece — Teemu Hartikainen for Salavat, Emil Galimov for the Army Men.

In overtime, Salavat Yulaev had the edge. A penalty on Vasily Tokranov gave the men in green a power play, and Lamsa withdrew his goalie to force a 5-on-3 advantage. SKA held on, but could not win the shoot-out; Granlund finished a good day with the decisive effort.

Ufa head coach Lamsa was happy with his week’s work — and keen to look at the bigger picture. “We didn’t look bad today,” he said. “I think there was only a spell of five minutes after their third goal when things were really tough for us. Otherwise, we played some good hockey. It was an excellent tournament for us, against four top teams.

“The result wasn’t the most important thing here. We played with four lines in this tournament and everyone got a chance to play. In different circumstances during the season, that might not happen. If you look at our penalty kill, I was concerned about the number of goals we allowed. But I’m more worried about how many we scored. The big thing is that we all understood what we worked on during the tournament.”

For SKA, condemned to finish last, head coach Valery Bragin was philosophical. “In pre-season, every team has its own objectives,” he said. “Sure, we want to go out and win every game, but that all depends on where each team is in its preparations. We can improve on this.

“Of course, we’re disappointed with the results. But it’s more important that we got to see how our game is developing. I don’t feel any pressure from the management. We’re all working together and everyone understands that it’s the end result that counts.”

Zaripov shoots Ak Bars to victory

Ak Bars Kazan 4 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 (2-0, 1-1, 1-2)

Danis Zaripov scored twice as Ak Bars completed a perfect showing at the inaugural Champions Cup. The host team made it four wins from four games, helped in no small part by two tallies from Zaripov late in the first period.

Photo: 23.08.20. TANECO Champions Cup. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Dmitry Kvartalnov continued to shuffle his lines for this game, reaffirming his contention that — results aside — his team’s performance is not yet where he wants it to be. Ilya Vorobyov, meanwhile, stayed close to the roster that beat SKA yesterday to book its place in Sunday’s final.

The home team tried to grab the early initiative but found it hard to break down Magnitka. However, late in the first period Yegor Yakovlev shot the puck out of the rink and, at the same time, Andrei Chibisov took a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Metallurg defended well, but could not withstand the pressure; Zaripov broke the deadlock in the final moments of the power play. The master’s vision helped him double the lead five seconds before the intermission, spotting a gap and bursting through on goal for his second of the evening.

In Ak Bars’ previous game, against Salavat Yulaev, Zaripov’s play drew a rare show of emotion from Kvartalnov on the home bench, and he was happy to talk up the quality of his star forward. “Look at how he took that goal, there was so much skill involved,” he said. “It surprises me a little that a player can still pull off plays like that at his age, especially at the end of a shift.”

Young Artyom Galimov has been one of the highlights of this tournament and he added another goal midway through the game when he stripped Grigory Dronov of the puck in center ice and skated away to make it 3-0. Magnitka finally got on the board late in the frame when Taylor Beck scored on the power play.

Early in the third, Mikhail Fisenko made it 4-1 and it seemed that the game was done. Metallurg had other ideas, though, and battled back with goals from Artyom Minulin and Juho Lammikko. That left Ak Bars with five minutes to preserve a one-goal lead, and the last two minutes were spent on the PK after a minor on Artyom Lukoyanov. But the home team had enough to get over the line and collect the trophy.

Does that put added pressure on Ak Bars in the coming season, with the Kazan team making itself a favorite to compete for the Gagarin Cup? Kvartalnov thinks not. “There is a lot of talk about favorites but history shows that this is premature,” he said. “There is pressure everywhere and our job is to deal with it. We are keeping our feet on the ground, we know what we have to do.”

Warm-up games

Barys gets its first win

Barys Nur-Sultan 6 Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk 4 (1-0, 1-2, 4-2)

For the second time in three days, Barys took on a local rival in the form of one of Kazakhstan’s most storied teams. After going down 1-2 against Torpedo on Friday, this was an improved performance for the men from the Kazakh capital, ending in a high-scoring victory.

Linus Videll and Roman Starchenko led the way, both collecting four points, line mate Matt Frattin added three more. Videll scored twice, Starchenko had a goal and three helpers in a roller-coaster of a game. However, there were few signs early on that this would be a high-scorer. It wasn’t until the last minute of the opening frame that Barys opened the scoring, thanks to Curtis Valk’s goal, assisted by Starchenko. Subsequently, the teams traded markers and midway through the third period, Andrei Vinogradov put Torpedo ahead for the first time in the game.

But that wasn’t the end. Barys recovered from 3-4. Starchenko tied it up, Videll potted the gamewinner and Anton Sagadeyev wrapped it up with an empty-net goal.

Spartak proves too strong for its farm club

Spartak Moscow 7 Khimik Voskresensk 3 (1-1, 2-2, 4-0)

Spartak was due to play Amur this weekend, but that game was cancelled and a hastily-arranged meeting with the Red-and-Whites’ farm club was set up instead. For two periods, VHL team Khimik tested Spartak, but Oleg Znarok’s team showed its class in the third to ease to a comfortable victory.

Photo: 23.08.20. Friendly match. Spartak (Moscow) - Khimik (Voskresensk)

Khimik was boosted by a few players with KHL experience on Spartak’s team — most notably goalie Nikita Bespalov. The outsider even took a first-period lead, with Zakhar Shablovsky opening the scoring on the power play in the 10th minute. Spartak recovered. Robin Hanzl tied it up and Andrei Kuteikin put the host in front, but Ilya Talaluyev — another man with KHL experience — made it 2-2. The teams traded two more goals in the second period, with Shablovsky on target again.

In the third, though, Spartak took control. Two early goals from Anatoly Nikontsev and triallist Kirill Lyamin took the game away from Khimik. Late on, Nikontsev got his second, scoring into an empty net, and Hanzl struck in the last second to put some gloss on the scoreline.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Khimik (Voskresensk) Khimik (Voskresensk)
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