Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru
The closing stages of the Beijing Olympics came with a strong KHL flavor. In the gold medal game, 35 of the 42 players were from our league, and in total 47 of the 75 medals awarded went to active KHLers. Now, as players return to their clubs, the focus is on final preparations for the playoffs, which are confirmed to start on March 1.

Finland wins historic gold

The big news of the week came from Beijing, where a Finland team with a strong KHL accent won Olympic gold for the first time in the country’s history. The Leijonat edged team ROC 2-1 in a hard-fought final and there were key KHL contributions all over the ice. Sibir goalie Harri Sateri was impressive throughout the tournament, Salavat Yulaev forwards Sakari Manninen and Teemu Hartikainen were among the leading scorers at the Games, and the key goals in the gold-medal match-up came from Avangard’s Ville Pokka and Jokerit’s Hannes Bjorninen, the latter assisted by Jokerit’s talisman Marko Anttila, who has a habit of scoring big goals for his country.

Finland won the historical gold medals in the Olympic thriller

ROC takes silver

Finland’s victory meant heartache for Team ROC, which missed out on a successful title defense at the final hurdle. There were several stand-out players on the Russian team, though: goalie Ivan Fedotov made a big impact at his first major international tournament, getting shut-outs in his first two games and generally proving hard to beat. Young Avangard forward Arseny Gritsyuk showed nerves of steel to pot the game-winning penalty shot in the semi-final success against Sweden. And another youngster, Spartak defenseman Alexander Nikishin, slotted in at the highest level with a string of assured displays.

Slovakia earns first ever medal

The bronze went to Slovakia, which took a place on the hockey podium for the first time. Powered by seven goals from 17-year-old wunderkind Juraj Slafkovsky, the Slovaks also rode some powerful goaltending from Dinamo Minsk’s Patrik Rybar, not least in a shut-out win over Sweden in the third-place playoff. Peter Cehlarik (Avangard) got the shoot-out winner against Team USA in the quarters, and there were significant contributions from Michal Cajkovsky (Sibir), Marek Hrivik (Torpedo), Tomas Jurco (Barys) and Libor Hudacek (Minsk).

Slovakia celebrates first Olympic hockey medal

Morozov hails KHL’s Olympic impact

The Beijing Olympics was a huge success for the KHL. Not only did more than 120 of our players – more than 40% – take part in the tournament, the bulk of the medals also went to representatives of the league. Of 75 gongs handed out, 47 of were won by active KHLers. 

“The final was a real showcase for our league,” said league President Alexei Morozov. “Of 42 players who took part in the game, 35 came from the KHL.” 

Of those, 14 helped Finland win its first ever Olympic hockey gold. In addition, the Games’ All-Star Team, as voted by accredited media in Beijing, comprised five KHL players out of six, including Dinamo Minsk goalie Patrik Rybar who backstopped Slovakia to its first ever hockey medal at the Olympics.

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Three Olympic medallists return to Women’s League

It wasn’t just the men making an impact. Three of Finland’s bronze medallists in the women’s tournament have links with the Women’s Hockey League and will be heading back to KRS Vanke Rays when the regular season resumes this week. Defender Minttu Tuominen was part of the Rays’ title-winning team in 2020 and collected her third Olympic bronze after a 4-0 win over Switzerland in the playoff. Team-mates Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani both scored in that game, and they too are KRS bound as they return to the team they briefly represented in September before the start of the current campaign.

Olympic women: three medallists returning to Women’s Hockey League

Avangard teases Olympic champ

With so many KHL players active in Beijing, it was inevitable that club loyalties would be stretched from time to time. Avangard’s media team was quick to joke about this after the gold medal game. When Hawks’ defenseman Ville Pokka potted his first goal in an international tournament to tie the game against ROC, the club’s Instagram sprang into life: a pic of Pokka’s locker in Balashikha emerged, taped over with a label reading ‘Fired’.

Playoff schedule confirmed

The KHL officially signed off on changes to the regulations to enable the regular season to be halted, and for the final standings to be determined on a points per game basis. This outcome was made inevitable by the number of games lost due to COVID protocols in late December and early January. As a result, the 2021-2022 campaign will resume on March 1 with the opening games in the playoffs. The Tikhonov Continental Cup, usually presented to the regular season champion, will not be awarded this term.

Regular season won't be resumed, playoff to start on March 1st

The playoff schedule is as follows:

West

SKA (1) – Dinamo Minsk (8). Game dates: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 March 2022.
Jokerit (2) – Spartak (7). Game dates: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 March 2022.
CSKA (3) – Lokomotiv (6). Game dates: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 March 2022.
Dynamo Moscow (4) – Severstal (5). Game dates: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 March 2022.

East

Metallurg (1) – Barys (8). Game dates: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 March 2022.
Traktor (2) – Neftekhimik (7). Game dates: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 March 2022.
Salavat Yulaev (3) – Sibir (6). Game dates: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 March 2022.
Ak Bars (4) – Avangard (5). Game dates: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 March 2022.

CSKA extends Nordstrom

Last week, the Army Men announced that Lucas Wallmark had signed a further contract. This week, his fellow Swede Joakim Nordstrom did likewise. Both players joined Team Sweden in Beijing after successful KHL rookie seasons. Nordstrom had 14 (3+11) points from 27 games, despite injury problems earlier in the season. He will remain for a further season.

Boucher leaves Loko

American forward Reid Boucher parted company with Lokomotiv. The former Avangard man had 27 (12+15) points from 46 games this season. Other imports to part company with their clubs include Admiral’s Czech goalie Patrick Bartosak, his compatriot and team-mate Vojtech Mozik and Latvian forward Miks Indrasis. Torpedo said goodbye to Slovak forward Marek Hrivik, Swedish D-man Theodor Lennstrom and fellow Swede Daniel Zaar.

Lokomotiv terminated the contract with Reid Bocher

Ak Bars wins exhibition tourney

The Pause Tournament, held in Kazan to give game time to players not involved in the Olympics, finished with the host, Ak Bars, topping the table. A victory over Neftekhimik on the final day of the competition put Dmitry Kvartalnov’s men on top. Two goals from Canadian forward Eric Fehr led the way to a 6-2 verdict. Lokomotiv took second place in the four-team event thanks to a 5-2 win over Severstal on the final day’s play.

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Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

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