After a tough start of their homestand - Dinamo Riga were set to host Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod at the Arena Riga. A notable game especially because former captain and head coach - Sandis Ozolins is on the opposing bench as an assistant coach. If there was a way for Riga to gain confidence it was by winning the game! At home Riga has suffered two disappointing losses adding to their losing total - four out of five games played. Their opponent came into the game fresh off of a victory against SKA St. Petersburg and having won three out of their five to begin the season. Torpedo play fast paced hockey, their powerplay is exceptional while Riga is struggling on penalty kill - all signs and numbers pointed towards the visitors being perfect candidates to earn three points. Johan Mattsson remained in the net after replacing Machovsky during the first period against Lokomotiv, however, forward Jere Karjalainen drew into the line-up for the first time this season after missing time with an injury.
Both sides began with careful scouting but minute by minute the game tempo raised creating moments on both ends of the ice. Five minutes in there had been real scoring opportunities for Torpedo and Dinamo but the score still remained 0:0, which played in favour for Riga given their slow starts in previous battles. First real test for home defense was when Ceverny got sent to the box for boarding - they passed the test and even had a one-on-one breakaway with Poirier running away and coming close to giving Riga a lead.
Not long after Dinamo had their power-play units sent on the ice but they struggled to set up themselves in the offensive zone. Man advantage ended with Lukas Radil tripping up Alexei Murigin behind the net - Torpedo couldn’t capitalize and with 6:27 left in the first both sides finally returned to playing five-on-five hockey.
The game took a turn when Rudolf Ceverny was pushed into the boards - at first it appeared to be a two minute minor but the referees went to review and decided that it would be a five minute penalty for Georgy Misharin giving Riga an exceptional chance to grab the thread of the game as well as score a goal or two - Torpedo defended well not giving Riga much of a breathing room and that caused issues for Shinkaruk who ended Riga’s power-play with a lazy tripping call. No goals after twenty minutes of entertaining hockey.
90 seconds into the second both sides were back to full strength as both penalty times ran out and offenders returned to the ice. Physical and fast paced hockey returned. Johan Mattsson was the first goalie to demonstrate his skill stopping what looked like an unstoppable one-timer by Andy Miele. Riga all of a sudden struck first on a counter attack - Nikolajs Jelisejevs dumped the puck into the zone, Shinkaruk robbed opposing goalie behind the net and then quickly passed to Emile Poirier who cashed in on one of many chances he had in this game - 1:0 for Dinamo Riga.
Riga appeared to have switched the gear up and the speed of the game became even greater - that seemed to play in favour for Riga. Torpedo iced the puck and won the face-off but made a mistake in the neutral zone that cost them, Riga grabbed the puck and started their offensive push - debutant Jere Karjalainen caught a rebound after Gormley’s shot and one-timed it into the net doubling his team's lead. Mattsson kept Riga’s net empty on multiple occasions and even had his defenders help out to sweep the puck off of the line. Lukas Radil had an exceptional chance to score but hit the post with four minutes left in the period. No sign of penalties up until final minutes - first Andy Miele went to the box for slashing and then Nerijus Alisauskas was sent off for tripping with just a single second left in the middle frame.
Torpedo began attacking while still both sides played with four men, the pressure only increased once they got their extra man at the start of the third but once again Mattsson stopped everything that came his way. Even after time on man advantage ended Nizhny Novgorod side were eager to quickly get back into this game and looked far more dangerous than in the second period, some of the players tried to take matters in their own hands which caused some errors and further chances for the home team.
The visitors managed to return drama into the game finally getting a goal of their own - Zhafyarov skated towards the middle of the offensive zone had a perfect opportunity to shoot but he decided to drop the puck to Ivan Chekhovich who perfectly executed his chance to pull his team back within a goal with seven minutes left to play in the third. Not long after - Ziyat Paigin appeared to have scored to tie the game but due to a hand-pass the goal was called back. Torpedo pulled their goalie to try and get the equalizer, Rudolf Ceverny got penalised for slashing but Riga held on to their lead and earned themselves first home victory of the season.
Mattsson was happy with the outcome: ‘’We battled really hard, blocked shots and got the points - it’s great right now.’’ No secret that the goalie was under fire for most part of the third period to which he admitted that he liked it: ‘’I like it, we expected the puck to come and keep us on our toes and I’d rather have a lot of shots than a few shots, I like it.’’ The Swede missed some games with an injury, when asked to give an update on it he was blunt: ‘’I don’t want to talk about it, it’s good to play.’’