SKA’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end in game 10 – but it took a shoot-out for Dynamo Moscow to halt the league leader. SKA had already defeated the Blue-and-Whites twice this season, but it was third time lucky for the Muscovites, who handed a debut to new signing Brennan Menell. The American defenseman assisted as Eric O’Dell tied the game at 1-1 late in the second period, then Dmitry Rashevsky potted the shoot-out winner.
At the other end of the table, Neftekhimik remains the only team still awaiting its first victory of the 2022-2023 season. Sunday’s 2-3 loss at home to Avangard sees the miserable run extend to 10 games. To add insult to injury, the game winner for Avangard came from Nail Yakupov, a Nizhnekamsk native who learned his hockey at Neftekhimik before becoming a #1 NHL draft pick.
Defending champion CSKA Moscow found last week trickier than expected. Road games at Kunlun Red Star and Dinamo Minsk did not present the most daunting schedule, yet the Muscovites were beaten twice. On Tuesday, 44 saves from Jeremy Smith and an overtime winner from Zac Leslie gave the Dragons the verdict. Two days later in Belarus, Dinamo beat CSKA for the first time in eight years thanks to goals from Vladimir Alistrov, Ryan Spooner and Cedric Paquette. Minsk then came close to snapping another historic losing streak, taking Salavat Yulaev to a shoot-out in Ufa before suffering a 13th successive loss to that opponent.
Alexander Sharov is the first player to score four goals in a game this season – and the first to do so in the KHL for Sibir. Sharov’s big day came on Sunday when Sibir travelled to Vityaz. The 26-year-old, who recently celebrated his 300th appearance in the league, helped his team open a 3-1 lead in the first period. Then he restored a 4-3 advantage in the third before potting an overtime winner.
Omsk’s long-awaited new arena opens its doors for KHL action on Saturday – but before Avangard faces Sibir at the G-Drive Arena, the clubs’ juniors played the first competitive game on the new ice. The JHL match-up between Omskiye Yastreby and Sibirskiye Snaipery attracted a crowd of 1,800 fans eager to see what the Hawks’ new home had to offer. On the ice, though, it was a special day for the visitors’ Yegor Klimovich. He scored a hat-trick as the Snipers won 7-2, while Omsk was left hoping for a better result when the KHL arrives on Saturday.
Neftekhimik’s slow start to the season has prompted changes to the roster. Goalie Alexei Murygin, who featured in three games but had a GAA of 5.58 and stopped 80.9% of the shots he faced, was released. He’s replaced by Emil Garipov, who moves from Traktor. Garipov, a Gagarin Cup winner in 2018, has 163 wins from his 300 KHL games to date. In addition, Slovak forward Samuel Bucek leaves Neftekhimik after failing to register a point in his first six games. Fellow forwards Denis Parshin and Eduard Gimatov are also going after a poor start to the season.
Another goalie made headlines during the week when Julius Hudacek played his first game for Barys. The popular Slovak netminder got off to a flying start, blanking Eastern Conference high-flyer Avtomobilist to help his new club improve to four wins from five. All the more impressive, Avto had been the league’s most productive team up to that point. However, the Kazakhs have struggled on the road this season and Hudacek was unable to change that. His first away game was at Severstal, where he played his first full KHL season. It wasn’t a happy return; Hudacek was benched after 20 minutes, and Barys lost 2-5.
Dynamo Neva is out in front after the opening games of the Women’s Hockey League season. The Petersburg team won all four of its fixtures to lead the early standings. Biryusa Krasnoyarsk and Agidel Ufa are also unbeaten, but have played just two games each. Dynamo’s success owes plenty to the fast start from Fanuza Kadirova, who has 11 (4+7) points from her four games to date. Monday sees defending champion KRS Shenzhen start its campaign with a rematch of last season’s grand final against Tornado.