Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)
Pre-season 2021 has brought the two Tatar teams in the KHL closer together: today’s match-up was their third meeting of the summer. The first two were exhibition games and ended in victories for Ak Bars. Today, in a tournament framework, the result went the other way with young Yaroslav Ozolin producing a shut-out to backstop Neftekhimik’s win.
At the other end, Ak Bars continued with its own young goalie, Artur Akhtyamov, who blanked Amur yesterday. Once again, his performance offered little cause for concern; instead it was the Kazan forwards who struggled despite making the brighter start to the game.
Dmitry Kvartalnov continued to experiment with different offensive combinations, resting Per Lindholm, Kirill Petrov and Kirill Panyukov. However, the new line-up proved no more potent than before and Neftekhimik’s patient, resilient game — aided by 26 blocked shots — kept Ak Bars at bay. When chances came at the other end, Neftekhimik made the most of them: Marat Khairullin on an odd-man rush midway through the first period, then Libor Hudacek setting up Rafael Bikmullin late in the game when the Kazan defense went walkabout. That sealed a win that guarantees Neftekhimik at least third place in the tournament; Ak Bars, meanwhile, has plenty to ponder after just one win and two goals in four games here.
Neftekhimik head coach Oleg Leontyev
We had teamwork, the guys battled, they wanted to win and kept putting themselves in the way of the puck. Our rookie goalie had an excellent game to get a shut-out on his debut. We can be pleased with this, we blocked a lot of shots and played as a single unit. I told the guys to help the goalie, whoever he is, and especially when he’s making his debut at this level. The guys dug in and did what we asked of them.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 Amur Khabarovsk 2 (0-0, 0-1, 1-1)
The evening began with a ceremony as banners honoring Valery Postnikov and Valery Belousov, Metallurg head coaches of the past, were raised to the rafters of the arena. These two led the club to its first honors in Russian hockey and on the international stage.
Today’s Metallurg is headed by Ilya Vorobyov, another coach used to winning trophies. His team today included two promising youngsters, Danila Yurov and Ilya Kvochko, reckoned to be poised for a role in the new generation of home-grown talent from Magnitogorsk.
However, for much of the game it was the two goalies, Vasily Koshechkin and Patrik Bartosak, who caught the eye. They kept the scoresheet blank until midway through the action, when Amur went ahead on a power play goal that ricocheted off the skate of Andrei Alexeyev. That was the Tigers’ first goal of the tournament. However, when Amur took a technical penalty for violating the face-off rules, Metallurg tied it up. Nikita Korostelyov shot home between his own legs in the 45th minute. But the winner went to Amur when Raden Lenc struck on a delayed penalty to give his team its first win of the tournament.
Amur head coach Vladimir Vorobyov
It was a good game against a good opponent. We have six lines at the moment so we’re rotating our team. We’re looking at candidates for the team. Finally we managed to score. We asked the guys to go to the net more, to shoot more pucks. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. We’ll keep working on it, the season is still ahead of us.
Metallurg head coach Ilya Vorobyov
We can be blamed for not taking our chances today. We gave away the first goal too cheaply. Now we’re getting ready for a ‘final’ against Sibir.
Kvochko skated in the morning but we took the decision to play him yesterday. When he’s on the ice, we need to remember that he was born in 2004. But without doubt, he’s an interesting prospect. We have another young guy on the team, but by your standards he’s probably already a ‘veteran’ [laughs].
Kunlun Red Star 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 6 (0-1, 1-4, 1-1)
After losing to Saryarka in its opening game at the President of Kazakhstan Cup, Barys was back with a point to prove against KHL rival Red Star. And the tournament host certainly made that point, winning comfortably after a goal flurry in the middle frame brought four markers in three minutes.
Barys was always on top in this game, but it took a while for Yury Mikhailis’ team to build on a sixth-minute opener from Matt Frattin. However, when it came, the scoring was explosive. Kirill Savitsky doubled the lead on 32:45, then two power play goals in quick succession saw Cody Kunyk and Nikita Mikhailis put the game out of reach. Frattin potted his second of the game on 35:46, making it 5-0.
The Dragons recovered some pride: a second before the intermission, Parker Foo’s power play goal got his team on the scoreboard; midway through the third, Greg Squires added a second. But this was Barys’ day, and Roman Starchenko underlined the win with a sixth goal late on.
Earlier in the day, Saryarka beat Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk 2-1 to post a second victory in the tournament.
Jokerit Helsinki 5 Krefeld Pinguine 2 (3-1, 1-0, 1-1)
Jokerit’s first pre-season action saw the Finns face DEL team Krefeld in tournament play in Imatra. After several changes to the roster in the summer, Jokerit had many debutants in the team — but it was the old guard that led the scoring in a comfortable win.
Iiro Pakarinen scored twice, getting the first and last goals of the game, and there were also tallies for Brian O’Neill and captain Marko Anttila. Of the new signings, Hannes Bjorninen marked his debut with a goal.
Jokerit plays its second game in the tournament tomorrow against Jukurit of the Liiga.