After two weeks of the 2021-2022 KHL season, two clubs remain unbeaten. Salavat Yulaev leads the way with five wins from five, setting a new record for the franchise’s best ever start to a KHL season. With 23 goals so far, Ufa is also the highest scoring team in the league. In the West, Dynamo Moscow is also perfect with four wins from four. Dynamo’s start has been helped by Vadim Shipachyov, who leads the league in goals with six as he closes in on the 750-point barrier.
It might be early days, but it will take something very special to improve on Eddie Pasquale’s stop during Thursday’s game at CSKA. The Lokomotiv goalie, whose three NHL appearances came with Tampa Bay in 2018-2019, was under pressure on the home power play and it seemed that the Army Men had the lead when Lucas Wallmark’s feed found Sergei Plotnikov at the back door. Plotnikov seemed to have a simple task to slide the puck into an empty corner of the net, only for Pasquale to reach behind himself with his stick and somehow steer the puck off the goal line. Which goalie can do better?
Results have not always gone the way of Vityaz so far this season, but there’s no argument about the impact of the imports in Podolsk. Miro Aaltonen and his compatriot Niko Ojamaki are off to a flying start and are first and third in KHL scoring at present. Aaltonen leads the way with 10 (2+8) points, while Ojamaki (5+2) has been the beneficiary of several of those helpers.
The rise of 16-year-old hotshot Matvei Michkov continues unabated. The SKA prospect got his first KHL goal last Monday during a 9-2 hammering of Admiral. And the teenager proved it was no fluke by getting a second a few minutes later. Aged 16 years, 271 days, he’s the second youngest goalscorer in KHL history; Maxim Kitsyn was 17 days younger when he potted his first for Metallurg Novokuznetsk in 2008-2009.
Goaltender Alexei Murygin got his first game time since Jan. 24, 2019 as Torpedo beat SKA 3-2. The experienced goalie replaced Andrei Tikhomirov for the third period of his team’s win and blanked the Army Men to secure the verdict. It was the 34-year-old’s first competitive action since he was diagnosed with a carcinoma in his throat, a potentially fatal condition that required two years of treatment and rehab to get him back to full health and game readiness.
Spartak’s Swedish forward Emil Pettersson has adapted quickly to life in the KHL. The 27-year-old signing from Vaxjo Lakers is on a five-game productive streak for his new club and has a goal in each of his last four appearances. That’s helped the Red-and-Whites to four wins from five.
The 2021 Women’s Hockey League final, delayed from March, finally took place last week — and it was worth the wait. Defending champion KRS Vanke Rays took on Agidel Ufa in a best-of-three series that went all the way. Game one saw a heavily revamped Rays roster lose 2-5 in Ufa, but the next encounter tied the series. Then, in Saturday’s showdown, Agidel trailed late in the third before Ilona Markova tied the game with three to play. In overtime, Maria Sorokina produced a huge save to deny Michelle Karvinen and Olga Sosina stepped up to keep Ufa in the shoot-out before grabbing a sudden-death winner. It’s Agidel’s third title in four years.
Head coach Denis Afinogenov said: “I kept my word. I said we would come back with the cup, and we did it.”