Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The big pre-season tournament in Kazan is coming to its climax — and wins for SKA and Ak Bars mean those two will advance to Sunday’s final. Metallurg and Salavat Yulaev will play for third place. In other games, CSKA defeated Avangard in a replay of last season’s Gagarin Cup final while team Belarus tied 4-4 against Barys.

TANECO Champions Cup

SKA St. Petersburg 1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 0 (0-0, 1-0, 0-0)

Both teams came into this game knowing that only a win would secure a place in the tournament final after two rounds of action left all four teams with one victory each. Metallurg made minimal changes to the team that lost to Ak Bars, while SKA returned to the line-up that won its opening game of the competition.

The first period was frustrating for Metallurg — enjoying more of the game, twice getting on the power play, but unable to score. After the break, things were more even but the opening goal did not arrive until midway through proceedings: Anton Burdasov was sent through and didn’t miss his chance. That forced Metallurg to try and get back into the game, but Ilya Vorobyov’s team was hampered by a lack of creativity among its forwards. Magnitka applied the pressure, but was reduced to playing in straight lines. SKA repelled the danger to record a 1-0 win and book its place in the tournament final.

Metallurg head coach Ilya Vorobyov
Even though we lost, I liked the way we played in the first and third periods. In the second, we couldn’t quite get our changes right, we failed to clear the puck a couple of times. And in today’s game our offense couldn’t quite finish things off. But overall, the team looked good and worked well with our systems.

On Maillet’s line and its lack of goals
They are creating a lot, even today there was a big chance at the end when Goldobin went one-on-one.

SKA head coach Valery Bragin
It was a good, competitive game. Samonov did well for us and we looked good defensively. We also need to know how to play games like this and I’m really pleased that we won this one. After the previous games, we talked a lot about discipline: the team should never be down to three skaters. To win games, we need to be patient and not help the opposition by taking penalties. We wanted to look at our young players here, we need to settle on the line-up that will go into the championship. We have one more game left in Kazan, so let’s see.

Ak Bars Kazan 5 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 (1-2, 3-1, 1-1)

The latest edition of the Green Derby, one of the most potent rivalries in the KHL, would determine SKA’s opponent in the tournament final. For Ak Bars, as the host team, victory was especially important, although the task was not helped by a shortage of defensemen that left Dmitry Kvartalnov to name just six blue liners. Salavat Yulaev brought Juha Metsola back into goal but made minimal changes to the roster.

Photo: 21.08.21. TANECO Champions Cup. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)

There was an explosive start to the game, with Teemu Hartikainen opening the scoring after 19 seconds and Steven Kampfer responding with a power play goal. Salavat Yulaev was limited to just four shots on goal in the opening frame, but got a second goal through Kirill Tsulygin. The lead might have increased early in the second when Ufa got a minute of 5-on-3, but Ak Bars held on. Back at full strength, Dmitry Kagarlitsky’s second goal in successive games tied the scores but another Ufa power play saw Hartikainen get his second of the game.

Then Ak Bars began to assert itself. It took barely a minute for Dmitry Voronkov to tie the game, Jordan Weal made it 4-3 and, at the start of the third, Artur Brovkin added a fifth. That two-goal cushion proved sufficient to win the game, despite Sergei Shmelyov pulling a goal back on yet another power play.

Ak Bars head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov
Once again, we weren’t on it in the first period. We have to get rid of simple errors and simple goals. Then we picked up, played well, but took a lot of penalties. Twice we played 3-on-5. It’s good that we survived that, but why should we provide Ufa with a training session? We know they have players that can score goals. OK, we didn’t concede, but we need to stop taking penalties late in the game.

For the fans, I guess, it was a good game: competitive, end-to-end. But we can’t put our heads in the clouds, we have a lot of problems. We need to try to play differently. If you look at the first two goals we allowed, the opposition barely had to do anything to score. A couple of passes, a couple of gifts, and everything falls apart. We saw the same thing in Magnitgorsk. We realize that we are playing against good teams, and fatigue is building up, but even so ...

Salavat Yulaev head coach Tomi Lamsa
It was a very tough game, today we were up against the strongest team at this tournament. I think we did well in the first period, I liked how we went about the game. We have to note our problems on defense, Naumenkov was taken out. We had chances on the power play, but we couldn’t take them and in the second period Ak Bars were clearly two feet taller than us. The big plus was that our young players didn’t give up, they battled to the end and we had chances to tie it up in the last minutes. Looking at the bigger picture, we started and ended the game well.

Warm-up games

CSKA wins ‘dress rehearsal’, Admiral unveils new head coach

CSKA Moscow 4 Avangard Omsk 2 (0-0, 1-1, 3-1)

CSKA and Avangard staged a dress rehearsal for the Opening Cup, which these two will contest on Sep. 1 in Balashikha. Sergei Fedorov continued with the first line from his previous game, with Slepyshev, Wallmark and Grigorenko lining up together. Elsewhere, though, he looked at different combinations and gave goalie Ivan Fedotov a chance to prove himself at his new club. Avangard took to the ice with a more experimental roster.

Photo: 21.08.21. Friendly match. CSKA (Moscow) - Avangard (Omsk)

The first period was goalless, but early in the second the teams traded goals in the space of 25 seconds. Nikita Nesterov’s power play effort was cancelled out immediately by a tally from 19-year-old Timofei Davydov. In the third, though, the Army Men took control of the game thanks to goals from Sergei Plotnikov and John Gilmour. Pavel Dedunov’s short-handed goal kept Avangard in contention, but Grigorenko’s empty netter wrapped it up.

Belarus 4 Barys Nur-Sultan 4 (1-1, 2-1, 1-2)

Team Belarus continued to prepare for its Olympic qualification campaign with a second game against Barys. After a hard-fought 2-1 win last time, this was a more open affair and the teams shared eight goals.

Curtis Valk goal after 48 seconds put Barys in front and set the tone for a lively encounter. Belarus responded through Alexander Pavlovich late in the frame. The scoring picked up at the start of the second, with three quick markers. Valk struck again to restore the Barys lead, but within four minutes, Belarus turned it around. Shane Prince had a goal and an assist on Alexei Protas’ effort to make it 3-2.

The intrigue continued, though. The start of the third brought two more quick goals, this time both from Barys, as Alexei Zubov and Nikita Mikhailis put the visitor back in front in the space of 59 seconds. However, six minutes from time, Yegor Sharangovich tied the scores.

Vityaz Moscow Region 3 Admiral Vladivostok 1 (1-0, 0-0, 2-1)

Admiral went into this with new head coach Alexander Andreyevsky at the helm and also gave a debut to Josh Kestner, the first import to sign for the team since its return to the KHL.

However, it was Vityaz that made the running. Slava Leshchenko opened the scoring in the second minute and late in the opening frame Niko Ojamaki failed with a penalty shot. It wasn’t until the final frame that we saw more goals. First, Ojamaki atoned for his earlier miss to make it 2-0. Pavel Makarenko pulled one back for Admiral, but Leshchenko produced a great combination with Ilya Arkalov to set up Alexander Yaremchuk for perhaps the prettiest goal of the game.

Spartak Moscow 3 Amur Khabarovsk 4 SO (0-2, 3-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

This was the second meeting between these teams this summer, and once again Amur came out on top. At the start of August, the Tigers won 3-2; today they edged a rollercoaster of a game in a shoot-out.

The first period was all about the visitor. Goals from Vladimir Galuzin and Artyom Alyayev opened a 2-0 lead. However, in the second Spartak hit back to go ahead. Gleb Shashkov and Ilya Shipov struck twice in little over a minute to tie the game at the start of the frame, then Alexander Khokhlachyov made it 3-2 midway through. That lead was short-lived, as a power play goal from Vladimir Butuzov made it 3-3. Then came a shoot-out, with Spartak unable to score as Radan Lenc and Galuzin found the net at the other end.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Admiral (Vladivostok) Admiral (Vladivostok)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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