For many Russian hockey fans, Japan is best remembered as the venue for Dominik Hasek’s stellar performance to deny the Red Machine gold at the 1998 Olympics. This week, though, Yu Sato put the Land of the Rising Sun back in the hockey headlines when he became the first Japanese player to score a goal in the KHL. The 20-year-old Torpedo rookie struck midway through his team’s 5-2 win over Dinamo Minsk, using his trademark pace to power from his own zone before beating Alexei Kolosov. Sato’s role at Torpedo this season is not his first spell in Russia, though. Earlier he spent a season with Krylya Sovietov u16s before going on to Finland, the USA and Canada.
Avangard’s winning streak at its new home was abrupted halted in just its third game at the G-Drive Arena. After thumping Metallurg 5-1 on Saturday, Dmitry Ryabykin’s team was confident of making it three from three when Kunlun came visiting the following day. Instead, though, the Hawks flew into a Matt Jurusik shaped barrier. The American goalie recorded the first shut-out for KRS since November 2020, backstopping a 4-0 win for the visitor.
Igor Nikitin recorded his 300th victory as a head coach in the KHL, joining an elite band of just five men to reach that landmark. Nikitin, 49, reached the milestone with Lokomotiv’s victory over Amur. Earlier he worked behind the bench at Avangard and CSKA, where he won the 2019 Gagarin Cup. The four coaches who previously reached 300 wins are led by Dmitry Kvartalnov (515 wins), followed by Oleg Znarok (432), Vladimir Krikunov (374) and Zinetula Bilyaletdinov (360).
Neftekhimik continues its impressive change of fortune. After losing the first 10 games of the season, the Nizhnekamsk team is now enjoying a six-game winning streak and could move into the playoff places if Tuesday brings a seventh successive success. Among the key performers on that run, former Canadian Junior international Anthony Camara (3+3) and KHL rookie Mikhail Nazarov (0+6) have both averaged a point a game during Neftekhimik’s upswing.
Torpedo’s young defenseman Bogdan Konyushkov is not one of the best-known players in the KHL. At least, not yet. The 19-year-old D-man is already showing signs of being one of the most effective rookies this season. Using the KHL’s smart puck stats for September, we can see that Konyushkov is winning 61% of his puck battles. In absolute terms, that represents 94 occasions when he came away with possession. Only SKA’s hotly-tipped Alexander Nikishin has won the puck more times (100), but his strike rate of 52.6% is some way behind Konyushkov’s performance. In addition, the Torpedo prospect has a 90% pass completion rate. He is also second for total time in possession behind Salavat Yulaev’s already established blue liner Shakir Mukhamadullin.
The KHL’s disciplinary committee took a strict view of Kirill Adamchuk’s foul on Curtis Valk during Ak Bars’ loss at home to Avtomobilist. The home defenseman took out his opponent, slamming his knee into Valk’s leg when the Avto forward was advancing at speed. Adamchuk was assessed a game penalty at the time and, after reviewing the incident, that was followed by a five-game suspension from the league’s officials.
In the first month of the Junior Hockey League season, Sibirskiye Snaipery are living up to their names. The Novosibirsk youngsters feature the most potent line in the competition, powered by brothers Ivan and Yegor Klimovich. Along with linemate Roman Kochenevsky, they have combined for 13 goals so far this term.
American-born Hungarian international Hayley Williams is the latest high-profile arrival in the Women’s Hockey League. Williams, 32, previously played for Gorny Ukhta from 2018-2020 before spending the last two seasons with KMH Budapest. Now she’s back on a two-year deal with Dynamo Neva. The Petersburg team is currently riding high in the standings after inflicting a first defeat of the season on leader Biryusa Krasnoyarsk. The shoot-out success in Central Siberia means there is just one point between the early pacesetters. Meanwhile, Agidel Ufa is also undefeated in its first four games after twice blanking defending champion KRS Shenzhen last week.