CSKA won the Mayor of Moscow Cup, defeating Kunlun Red Star 4-1 in the final. Red Star blazed a thrilling trail to Sunday’s gold-medal game, edging Spartak in a shoot-out before defeating Vityaz on a goal two seconds from the hooter. However, against last season’s KHL champion the Dragons were unable to continue their winning run. CSKA goalie Alexander Sharychenkov was named top netminder in the tournament, and his team-mate Vladislav Kamenev was selected as best forward. Canadian defenseman Zac Leslie picked up the other individual award in his first action since joining KRS.
Three other pre-season tournaments concluded this week. In Chelyabinsk, Traktor claimed victory in its home tournament, finishing ahead of Metallurg to repeat the outcome of the Romazan Memorial in Magnitogorsk earlier this month. In St. Petersburg, SKA also dominated on home ice, securing top spot with a game to spare and rendering its 2-3 loss to Avangard irrelevant. However, in Kazan, Ak Bars suffered a surprise loss to Neftekhimik. Yohann Auvito’s overtime goal settled the Tatarstan derby and propelled the tournament outsider to top spot in the TANECO Cup.
Torpedo signed Slovak goalie Adam Huska to a one-year contract. The Nizhny Novgorod club acquired the player’s KHL rights from HC Sochi. Huska, 25, has played the bulk of his pro career in North America. Last season he made his NHL debut for the Rangers but spent most of his time in the AHL. He also went to the World Championship, playing in six of Slovakia’s games in Finland. Huska will likely compete with Andrei Tikhomirov for the starting role, with Belarusian Ivan Kulbakov in reserve.
Brett Pollock and Garet Hunt became the latest Canadians to join the KHL this summer. Both are going to Kunlun Red Star. Pollock, 26, spent the last two seasons in Europe, playing in Germany and Sweden. Hunt, 34, is a noted enforcer in the North American minor leagues. He previously played for KRS in 2019-2020. Another Canadian, Zack Mitchell, cancelled his contract with Vityaz.
Prior to the Mayor of Moscow Cup final, head coaches Sergei Fedorov and Greg Ireland exchanged merchandise from past NHL super series between the top teams of North America and the USSR. Fedorov was pictured with a memento from the 1975 New Year’s Eve classic between the Habs and CSKA at the Forum, Ireland with a medal from the inaugural 1972 Summit Series.
The Women’s Hockey League, scheduled to start on Sep. 17, unveiled its first pre-season tournament. Dmitrov will host the Dmitry Solunsky Cup, involving six WHL teams plus Russia’s U18s. Group A features Dynamo Neva, 7.62, SKSO and host club Tornado. Group B sees Russia’s youngsters face Torpedo and KRS Shenzhen. After three days of group action on Sep. 5-7, the playoffs will run Sep. 9-10.
There’s one remaining pre-season game – Monday’s Green Derby between Ak Bars and Salavat Yulaev – before the action starts in earnest. Thursday brings the Opening Cup, with CSKA taking on Metallurg in the traditional repeat of the Gagarin Cup final. And the action comes thick and fast after that, with five games on Friday and six on Saturday. Highlights of the opening weekend include Oleg Znarok bringing his Ak Bars team to his former club, Dynamo Moscow and SKA welcoming Salavat Yulaev to St. Petersburg.