Avangard Omsk 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (0-2, 3-0, 1-0)
Torpedo made its first appearance of pre-season and, for 20 minutes, looked to be well on top of its game. However, Sergei Tolchinsky stepped up the pace for Avangard to secure a comeback victory in the first game of the Puchkov Tournament in St. Petersburg.
Prior to coming to this tournament, all of Torpedo’s preparations had been in house. However, by the middle of the first period, David Nemirovsky’s team was 2-0 up and looking good. Alexei Drobin opened the scoring, then summer signing Brady Austin set up fellow newcomer Chris Wideman for a power play goal.
But the bright start did not last. Avangard has a bit more game experience this summer and turned the scoreline around in the middle stanza. Tolchinsky was the key man, assisting on goals for young Arseny Gritsyuk and recent acquisition Oliwer Kaski. In between, Corban Knight potted the tying goal.
In the third, Tolchinsky got a goal of his own on a late power play to complete the 4-2 scoreline and get Avangard off to a winning start. And the forward was happy with the way he and line-mate Denis Zernov are building their game. “It feels like we’re a good fit in terms of speed and in terms of how we think about the game,” he said. “We’ve been together for about a month, we scored some good goals today and for me everything is going the way it should.”
For Torpedo, head coach Nemirovsky was content with a first outing of the summer. “I was happy with some of our game, but not with the result,” he said. “This was our first game of pre-season and you could see how our guys were coming back after a long break. We played well in the first period but made too many mistakes in the second. The team still needs to adapt, our new guys need time to adapt to our systems.
“But I don’t think we need to go back to the drawing board, it’s not worth trying to make fundamental changes.”
HC Sochi 1 Kunlun Red Star 2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-1)
Two power play goals gave Red Star its first victory of the summer, with Sergei Monakhov claiming the game-winner for Alexei Kovalev’s team.
Both these teams have faced challenges in pre-season. Sochi had to pull out of its own tournament at the start of the month after a flurry of positive COVID tests, while Red Star has been more preoccupied with paperwork and relocation than building a team under a new head coach.
Red Star had plenty of triallists on the team — several previously at Sochi, such as goalie Dmitry Shikin and forward Ilya Krikunov — while Sochi was able to give game time to several of its imports. But it was the Dragons, hungry to earn contracts for the coming campaign, that made the livelier start.
Sochi, meanwhile, had some youngsters on display and the most promising of them, Pavel Kukshtel, staked his claim for a bigger role this season with an inventive finish. Admittedly, he was helped by some absent defense, but still did well to convert Daniil Ogirchuk’s pass.
Shikin frustrated his former team-mates during a 5-on-3 power play, making a great save to deny Daniil Apalkov and repeatedly shutting the door on the Leopards’ best efforts. Then, in the third, Kunlun demonstrated that its power play was looking sharp, with a slick passing move presenting Monakhov with the winner after good work from Ivan Nikolishin.
Shikin & Co still had one late penalty to kill but when Jere Karjalainen fanned his shot in the last minute, Sochi’s last chance was gone.