Sergei Mozyakin has long wished to play alongside his son Andrei in the KHL — and on Sunday that dream came true. Two generations came together on a single line at the start of Metallurg’s game at home to Barys as Andrei, captain of Magnitka’s juniors, made his first appearance in the big league. True, after that, Andrei returned to his initial role as 13th forward, but the pair followed Denis Platonov and his son Yury, who played together for Metallurg in 2019 by establishing their hockey dynasty on the ice for the Steelmen. And the celebrations continued for the home team, with a 3-2 scoreline giving Magnitogorsk a 10th straight victory.
The top eight in the Eastern Conference was confirmed last week when Sibir’s last mathematical hope was extinguished on Friday. Nikolai Zavarukhin’s team already faced a tough task to crack the top eight, but after a 2-3 loss at home to Barys there was no longer any possibility of catching the Kazakhs. The finishing positions cannot yet be confirmed, but the eight teams advancing to the post season will be Ak Bars, Avangard, Metallurg, Salavat Yulaev, Traktor, Avtomobilist, Torpedo and Barys.
In the West, though, things are very different. Just four of the eight playoff places are filled and, in eighth and ninth place, Vityaz and Spartak are fighting tooth and nail. Currently the two teams are level on 56 points, with Vityaz scraping into the playoff places by virtue of more wins in regulation. Adding to the drama, the two teams are scheduled to meet on the final day of the regular season in what could be a win-or-bust affair for both clubs. Vityaz forward Kaspars Daugavins, meanwhile, has a bit of extra motivation to make post season — he was released by Spartak in the summer. “I hope it will all come down to that final game,” he told KHL.ru. “Every player dreams of being part of games like that, when it’s all on the line. It’s like game seven in a playoff series, that’s why we came to hockey in the first place. And, of course, it would be cool to deny Spartak a playoff place.”
Salavat Yulaev star Teemu Hartikainen continues to set new standards for Finnish players in the KHL. He already broke Esa Pirnes’ record points tally for a single season and last week he overtook Teemu Pulkkinen’s goalscoring record. Goal number 24 arrived on Thursday against Dinamo Riga, helping Ufa to a hard-fought shoot-out win. And it wasn’t long before there was more: goals 25 and 26 eased the team to a 4-0 success against Amur on Sunday.
Torpedo forward Kirill Urakov potted two short-handed goals last Wednesday in his team’s win over Vityaz. That’s the eighth time a player has scored twice on the PK in a KHL game, with Evgeny Galkin first to achieve the feat playing for Traktor against Dinamo Minsk in Nov. 2008.
On Feb. 5, one of the oldest Junior Hockey League records fell. SKA-1946 forward Matvei Michkov became the top-scoring under-17 player in the league’s history. He overtook Nikita Kucherov’s record of 29 goals, established in the competition’s first season 11 years ago. Michkov matched Kucherov on Jan. 28 when he scored his first JHL hat-trick on Riga. The following game he failed to add to his tally, but at the start of February Michkov potted his 30th goal of the season against Krylya Sovietov.
During a brief pause in the WHL season, the defending champion played two exhibitions games against Russia’s national team. In the first game the teams iced full-strength rosters and, after a hard-fought battle, the Russians took the verdict with a 1-0 scoreline. The only goal came from Polina Bolgareva, while goalie Valeria Merkusheva produced a shut-out. In the second game, Brian Idalski rested two of his American stars, Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek. Even without those key players, this was another hard-fought game which went all the way to a shoot-out before team Russia snapped a 3-3 tie. The KRS goals came from Leah Lum, Minnamari Tuominen and Maria Pushkar.
Sadly, the two exhibition games did not pass off without an unpleasant incident. During the second period of game one, KRS goalie Noora Raty suffered a lower body injury. The Finnish international was unable to continue and was stretchered off the ice.
At present there is no further information about the extent of the injury or the likely recovery time. In the second game, goaltending duties were shared by Kimberly Newell and Milena Tretyak.