Jokerit was riding a high having a three-game winning streak while Riga had lost their previous game against Sochi - 0:3 while prior to that the home side had provided some quality hockey biting into teams such as SKA St. Petersburg and Dynamo Moscow.
“This wasn’t an easy situation for us because we had a long road trip with two days off and then a single practice session and a single game to play prior to the break, I’m very satisfied with how we played. In the first period we held on, in the second our special teams were impressive and our goalie did a great job. We now deserve to rest and then get back into action next Monday,” Lauri Marjamaki said after the game.
Valerijs Kulibaba was visibly upset “Special teams decided the who would win the game, we couldn’t score on power-play while the opponent did it very well in three out of four chances. In the first the team did what they were asked to do. Game discipline worked. We weren’t afraid to play against such an opponent. Maybe they didn’t play as aggressive as we expected. We got an unwanted penalty and then another one - it changed things a lot. Now we will rest for a few days and then get back to practicing.”
“It wasn’t a very good game, we didn’t come out to play very well. I don’t think that we were aggressive enough, I think that we sat back a little and felt kinda scared. They are a very good team and you have to play against them with confidence and we didn’t do it. We gotta use the break to get our bodies back and find a way to be better. When you lose two in a row and other teams gain on you in the standings it isn’t good, but we will come back and do whatever we need to,” Hunter Shinkaruk said with confidence.
First period opened up carefully. The task at hand for Riga was to be ready defensively due to their sloppy start last time around and it seemed to be going well - nothing dangerous early on. Dinamo had changed a whole lot in the line-up to balance out whatever Jokerit had to offer.
Things didn’t change at all as the game progressed, still careful but not a very engaging hockey game. Loads of ice time in the neutral zone and nothing besides dump-in style of play between the sides. Daniels Berzins with the first real chance in the game going one against the goalie but he was stopped.
With 4:34 left in the period Jere Karjalainen of Dinamo Riga was assigned to the box for cross-checking giving Jokerit their first actual chance to take the lead - Mattsson stopped one very dangerous chances in front but the following one went past the goalie - O’Neill awarded with a goal after a beautiful back-hand pass by Bjorninen.
Gints Meija followed up with another penalty and Jokerit had two amazing chances with a one-timer from the right side but Mattsson was sharp. Third one-timer didn’t connect putting an end to the power-play and as the time ran out - Jokerit were ahead with a single goal after the first period.
Jokerit came out motivated to begin the second frame. Multiple scoring chances early on with puck control. However, Riga would answer with chances of their one thus leveling the field once again. Lukas Radil had a golden chance being left all alone in front of Juvonen’s net but the goalie did manage to stop the shot from a close range.
After a well rounded attack Martins Karsums drew a penalty sending Marko Anttila to the penalty box for cross-checking. The best chance was when Jere Karjalainen shot towards the net and Hunter Shinkaruk almost re-directed it into an empty side of the net but it went wide. Nothing further could be accomplished.
Riga followed up with a penalty of their own - Filips Buncis was sent to the box for high-sticking. Jokerit straight away began attacking and in just four seconds Mattsson had to get involved.
Ten seconds later the puck hit the post. A short-handed two-on-one for Riga with Berzins and Shinkaruk going to the net - Berzins decided to shoot and Juvonen stopped it point blank.
Jokerit did eventually get their goal after quick regrouping in their zone they went in on an attack mode - O’Neill did the job getting Mattsson out of place for Nicklas Jensen to put the puck in the net from a close range. Later on Lauris Darzins had a chance to pull his team back within a goal but it did not go in.
The lead became 3:0 to round out the second. Alex Grant with a shot from the blue-like, a rebound and Teemu Turunen finished the sequence with a goal. O’Neill followed up with a penalty that would carry over into the third.
Riga had golden chances on man advantage as the third began but they weren’t capitalised upon. Eventually Jokerit once again had a shot at playing on man advantage. A single chance and it became 4:0 - this time it was Alex Grant.
Jokerit did have another puck land in the net however, it was disallowed for goalie interference. The Helsinki side did continue to control things as they were left to finish out. Hunter Shinkaruk managed to get one for Riga. The teams did exchange penalties but the score remained unchanged 1:4 victory for Jokerit.