Riga entered the game coming off of a loss against Amur Khabarovsk in which the home team dominated but the puck just wouldn’t go in. Towards the very end of the third, a goal squeaked in, yet it was far too late. Vityaz team arrived in Riga to finish off their three-game road trip and previously had defeated Dinamo Minsk. In their first meeting between the teams, Riga came on top with a score of 4:3 in overtime.
Krikunov made a quick switch in goal sending Julius Hudacek to replace Mattsson. Brandon Gormley returned from injury as well as Reece Scarlett was promoted to the top defensive pair. Upfront Cerveny and Tiivola swapped lines.
In a game where neither of the teams could stay out of the penalty box, Vityaz managed to punish Riga in overtime to finish their road trip with two important points, setting Dinamo dead last with two points down.
“I’ll say that it’s probably the first game where we played the way we did today. We had so many chances but unfortunately we couldn’t seize the opportunities. 39 shots against 13 and we scored only one. That’s why we lost. The penalties in the end put it over the top” coach Krikunov looked back at the game.
An entertaining game was promised straight off the bat - Vityaz tested Dinamo early on and they managed to get the first goal of the game. Miro Aaltonen directed the puck at the net and Niko Ojamaki went for it to re-direct the puck past Hudacek just a minute and 46 seconds into the match. Riga’s woes continued as Svanenbers got an assignment to the penalty box - which was canceled off as Mikhail Smolin got himself an interference call.
Both teams returned to full strength and Vityaz seemed to still be going forward but Riga managed to stop their clearance - Jelisejevs passed to Lauris Darzins who went behind the net who quickly found Riga’s number 69 for a one-timer into the far corner. Celebrations didn’t last long as Daniel Audette quickly put his team back up by a goal.
Lauris Darzins was sent to the penalty box giving a shot for the Podolsk side to extend the lead further - Lukas Radil however, tried to score while shorthanded on a breakaway but was stopped. Smolin once again returned the favor to make the game go in the format of four-on-four. Nothing changed as both teams returned to the ice. Riga earned another penalty that would carry over into the second as the first frame ended with a score of 1:2 for Vityaz.
The game in the second went both ways early on with entertaining back and forth between the sides. Only one goalie had plenty of work to do - Sapryikin had to handle himself and the teams’ net. The penalty run continued in the game as Ivanyuzhenkov got penalized giving Riga a shot to level the score - not many chances and the penalty kill was successful for the roadside.
The penalty fun didn’t end at all giving special teams a workout in which penalty kills seemed to be a good option that worked well. Otherwise, still, a game that was up to tempo. The shots across the board were in the convincing lead for the home team as they struggled to capitalize. A little over half point of the game Riga was up 24-5 in shots on goal department.
As the time wound down in the second ended up showing pure dominance even on ice as Riga spent plenty of time attacking. A leader was needed, somebody had to score to boost confidence for the struggling home team. One wasn’t found in the second period that stated that the score would remain the same 1:2 for Vityaz after forty.
A quick action-packed battle by Dinamo led to yet another penalty. The goal horn went off in Arena Riga but no goal was scored. Multiple shots at the net, a rebound jumped close to Tiivola who luckily got the puck through the shoulder of the goalie that would give a necessary tie and a sign of relief for the home team.
The tie made Vityaz angry and they went on a charge to once again regain the lead. It worked well for them as Riga was caught with too many men. An organized penalty kill assured that the score would remain at a level. Next up were Dinamo side with a man advantage - crossbar rang loud and after that moment another penalty was awarded once again setting the game at four-on-four.
Puck control remained in the hands of Dinamo for a stressful end of the game as they were looking to get another one in order to seal a regulation win. Igor Sapryikin looked good and the clock approached the very end of the final frame. Vityaz was awarded a penalty to close out the third meaning that they would be down a man to begin the OT period.
Riga once again had the opportunity to take the two points but the unfortunate thing happened - first Lukas Radil couldn’t put the puck past the opposing goalie. Then the home team followed up with two penalties giving Podolsk club a five-on-three in which they couldn’t score a goal with a position, yet a counter ran past Hudacek to mark a victory for Vityaz.
Karlis Cukste was full of confidence stating that nothing is over for his team “I think that we played well but we have to find a way to score goals. We have to crash the net more, block the goalies sight and I think that’s how we could score more. We gotta carry on playing well defensively. It’s easier to play offense than defense and today physically the game was hard. If we can continue to play offensively in this manner it only makes things tougher for the opponent. Many things matter when but our team has to keep enjoying the game of hockey and good things will come”.