Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Avangard beat SKA to win the Puchkov Tournament in St. Petersburg. Two goals in the third period separated the teams in Friday’s showdown. Elsewhere, Dinamo Riga got its first win of the summer, enjoying a 3-0 success against Kieko-Vantaa. CSKA also tasted victory for the first time, edging Dynamo in a shoot-out at the Mayor of Moscow Cup. But Vityaz leads the way at that tournament after a second successive 3-2 victory, this time against Spartak.

Puchkov Tournament

Zhafyarov on target again

Severstal Cherepovets 0 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (0-0, 0-1, 0-1)

Damir Zhafyarov scored his third goal in two games after agreeing a contract with Torpedo for the coming season. The forward had his first game of the summer yesterday and scored twice in a 5-2 win over Kunlun, then popped up with an empty-net goal to seal Friday’s 2-0 win over Severstal.

However, Zhafyarov & Co made hard work of this game. Severstal finished late last night after an overtime win against Sochi and had little recovery time before the 2 pm start here. Nonetheless, the Steelmen gave Torpedo goalie Andrei Tikhomirov plenty to do in the goalless first period, and created chances to tie the scores in the third.

However, the decisive goal came midway through the game when American forward Justin Kloos broke the deadlock. Kloos, like Zhafyarov, was also on target against Red Star yesterday.

David Nemirovsky was happy with Torpedo’s performance in this tournament. “We didn’t have a lot of preparation time, but the guys did what we asked of them,” the head coach said. “Obviously, there’s still a lot of work to do, especially when not all of our imports have got to us yet. But they’ll join the team soon and then we can make our final preparations for the season.”

For Severstal, Andrei Razin felt his team improved sharply during the three games in Petersburg. “In our last two games we made very few mistakes,” he said. “After the first game against Avangard we had a long conversation and we went over every detail with the guys. That helped us a lot.

“Today we just had one problem — we couldn’t score. But in terms of our movement I thought we were the better team and at this stage, that’s arguably more important than the result.”

Avangard wins the cup

SKA St. Petersburg 1 Avangard Omsk 3 (0-1, 1-0, 0-2)

Avangard won the Puchkov Tournament, defeating host team St. Petersburg in Friday’s decisive game.

Photo: 28.08.19. Nikolai Puchkov memorial tournament. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Avangard (Omsk)

The Hawks handed a debut to Reid Boucher, one of the most anticipated arrivals of the summer. The former New Jersey Devil has 120 NHL appearances to his name but opted to move abroad for the first time after just one game in two seasons for the Canucks.

And Boucher was quick to make an impact, collecting an assist in the third minute. His pass was deflected into the path of Corban Knight for the opening goal in Petersburg. However, Boucher was also involved when SKA tied the game late in the second period. He and Ville Pokka took a pair of quick penalties, and SKA struck during the 5-on-3 power play. Emil Garipov beat away a couple of close range shots but the puck dropped to Vasily Tokranov in the circle and he picked a spot that the visiting goalie could not reach.

“I’m really happy with Boucher,” head coach Bob Hartley said after the game. “He’s a real smart hockey player, we noticed he had an immediate chemistry with Knight and Sekac. Reid is far from 100% ready, but he showed up really well today. I think he’ll get stronger and stronger.”

The third frame saw Avangard back in front early on. Kirill Semyonov was forced behind the goalline, but when he fired the puck back to the crease it deflected of a defenseman’s skate and into the net. SKA had an immediate chance to respond when Sergei Tolchinsky sat for tripping, but the Hawks’ PK did its job and the home team could not find a way through.

That looked even more costly when Avangard returned to full strength and put the puck in the net once again. Pavel Dedunov was the scorer, but Hartley deserved an assist after challenging the original decision to whistle off the play due to goalie interference on the part of Alexei Potapov. Hartley asked the officials to look again and the verdict was reversed — 3-1 to Avangard.

SKA was unable to recover. Not even a late power play, after Dedunov fouled Bengtsson, could get the Army Men back into the game. And so, for the second tournament this summer, Valery Bragin’s team lost out in the final game and had to be content with second place. While Avangard recorded its sixth successive win, SKA, suffered a sixth defeat in nine games.

“We started well today, we showed good intensity and worked well as a team,” Hartley added. “I think we’ve added some pace since last season. And with this we wrap up a very unusual camp. We need to pay our dues to the guys who battled with coronavirus and say a big thank you to our doctors. Now we can’t wait for the season.”

Mayor of Moscow Cup

Vityaz tops the table

Spartak Moscow 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 3 OT (0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 0-1)

For the second game in a row, Vityaz picked up a 3-2 victory. Justin Danforth, a summer signing from Lukko, led the way, scoring two goals and assisting on the winner as the Podolsk team moved to the top of the table at the Mayor of Moscow Cup.

Photo: 28.08.20. Moscow mayor cup. Spartak (Moscow) - Vityaz (Moscow Region)

The game pitted yesterday’s winners against one another and there were few chances at either end in the early stages. Vityaz went in front late in the first period with a power play goal. Linus Hultstrom’s shot was redirected by Danforth with 30 seconds left on the clock. Spartak tied the scores in the second session thanks to Anatoly Nikontsev and the teams traded quickfire goals in the third. Danforth went first, restoring the Vityaz lead, but Jori Lehtera levelled it up once again.

That took us to overtime, and it took just 27 seconds for Vityaz to win it. Danforth turned provider and Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov fired home the decisive goal.

Danforth impressed in his first game of the tournament, and head coach Mikhail Kravets was pleased that six new faces did well in this game.

“We had six people making their debuts in this tournament today and we saw a game played at a good pace,” he said. “We were up against a serious opponent and all our new guys looked good. After the game, I told the guys there was nothing I could find fault with. Today we had a good combination of desire, hard work and skill — and we got our reward in overtime.”

Spartak head coach Oleg Znarok admitted that playing back-to-back games was a test for a team hit by illness. “It’s not easy playing two games in two days, especially after playing last night,” he said. “We had problems getting everyone recovered. We rested a few people, others had to play. Maybe we could have given more people a chance to rest but the roster didn’t allow that. Several of our defensemen are ill — not with COVID.”

Sharychenkov thwarts his former team

Dynamo Moscow 3 CSKA Moscow 4 SO (3-1, 0-2, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Former Dynamo goalie Alexander Sharychenkov played a big part for CSKA as he denied his former club in a shoot-out. Sharychenkov won six of his seven post-game duels before Nikolai Goldobin claimed the game-winner to give the Army Men a first victory of the summer.

Photo: 28.08.20. Moscow mayor cup. Dynamo (Moscow) - CSKA (Moscow)

Both teams came into Friday’s game on the back of losses the previous day. CSKA went down 2-3 to Vityaz, while Dynamo slipped to a 1-4 loss against Spartak. And, after allowing four unanswered goals in the third period of that game, the Blue-and-Whites were in trouble early on here as CSKA went ahead after just 46 seconds. Sharychenkov collected an assist as Anton Slepyshev opened the scoring.

That brought an immediate response from the Dynamo, with three goals in barely three minutes. Daniil Tarasov, Juuso Hietanen and Teemu Pulkkinen hit the net in quick succession to their team, apparently, in control of the game. However, Pulkkinen later left the game with an injury.

“We’re not sure exactly what’s wrong with Pulkkinen, we need to do a scan,” said head coach Vladimir Krikunov. “It’s a problem with his shoulder. We fought our way back into the game but then he dropped out and we had to reshuffle everything.”

That reshuffle set Dynamo back. The second period started with CSKA on the PK, but when Mikhail Naumenkov emerged from the bin we saw another spurt of scoring. And this time, it was the Army Men seizing the initiative. Slepyshev got his second of the night, assisted by newcomer Goldobin. Then, 74 seconds later, Andrei Loktionov made it two goals in two games with a power play effort to tie the scores.

It stayed goalless from then on, despite CSKA having to kill a penalty in overtime. The shoot-out went the way of the Army Men, leaving head coach Igor Nikitin happy with his team.

“I’ve got to thank our guys today,” he said. “They kept their heads after giving up three quick goals, they helped our goalie a lot. Yes, there were some stupid mistakes, but there’s no getting away from that in summer hockey. The key thing right now is getting game time.”

One player still awaiting game time is Brendan Leipsic. The former Capitals’ forward has arrived in Russia but is still completing the formalities before joining up with his new team. “I haven’t seen him, but he messaged me,” Nikitin added. “We see him as a top-6 forward, a leader of his line. He’s an experienced player with goalscoring quality and we’re counting on him.”

Warm-up game

Dinamo gets its first win

Kieko-Vantaa 0 Dinamo Riga 3 (0-1, 0-0, 0-2)

Vantaa is best known as the town closest to Helsinki’s airport — and it was here that Dinamo’s preparations for the season took flight at last. After three losses on this week’s tour of Finland, the Latvians finished a win against a team that played in Finland’s second tier last season.

There was no waiting around in Friday’s game: Dinamo took off with its first attack when Denis Parshin set up Konstantin Komarek for the opening goal. It was the Austrian forward’s first tally since joining Riga this summer. Then came two more goals in the final session as Patriks Zabusovs and Lauris Darzins saw the visitor cruise to victory. Goalie Ilya Proskuryakov finished the game with a shut-out.

Dinamo starts its regular season with a run of home games. The action starts on Sep. 3 against Barys, before Jokerit (Sep. 5) and Spartak (Sep. 8).

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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