Monday, January 09, 2017Medvescak v Severstal 2-1
Few game the Croatian club much hope of reaching the top eight as 2016 drew to a close: Medvescak seemed stuck among the also-rans in the lower reaches of the Western Conference. But in Zagreb, they kept the faith … and today’s victory made it five wins in six to lift the team to within seven points of the top eight. True, with just 12 games left to play, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but Gordie Dwyer’s team has shown great resilience to give itself a fighting chance and goes into the closing stages with some momentum behind it.
Today’s win was secured by Francis Pare’s 52nd-minute goal, snapping a 1-1 tie. Earlier Goran Bezina gave the home team a second-period lead only for Evgeny Mons to tie it up just after the half-hour.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017Kunlun v Vityaz 1-2
Two first period goals from Alexei Makeyev were enough to give Vityaz a valuable victory in Beijing and lift Valery Belov’s team back into the top eight.
Makeyev struck late in the opening stanza to give the visitor a commanding lead against a team that is in the thick of a similarly tight playoff battle in the Eastern Conference. Knowing that a victory would lift Kunlun to the relative security of sixth place, the home team rallied in the second period. Leading scorer Chad Rau got his 17th of the season to halve the deficit and Igor Saprykin faced a busier time in the away net. The goalie, standing in for the injured Harri Sateri, was up to the task though, and when he denied the in-form Martin Bakos in the final stanza, Kunlun’s chances were over. Vityaz moves into a playoff spot in the West, Kunlun remains in eighth in the West.
Traktor v Torpedo 2-3 SO
Traktor made Tuesday’s game the start of a seven-game series marking each of the seven decades of the club’s history. But while the party started off the ice, it took time for the team to make its grand entrance in the game. Torpedo, undefeated in 2017, demonstrated why it is riding high in the Western Conference table with two goals in 20 seconds to take control of the fixture midway through the game. Vladimir Galuzin and Evgeny Mozer found the net to hit the ‘mute’ button for Traktor’s celebrations. The home team would not be completely upstaged on its big night, though. A third-period fightback saw Dmitry Pestunov and Konstantin Klimontov tie the game at 2-2, taking us to overtime with the momentum seeming to favor the host. But up stepped Ilya Proskuryakov, a man renowned for his sang-froid in do-or-die situations. The Torpedo goalie made three saves in overtime and two more in the shoot-out, denying Derek Roy and Paul Szczechura. Galuzin and Kaspars Daugavins both scored for the visitor, extending Torpedo’s winning streak to five games.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017Metallurg Magnitogorsk v Sochi 3-5
HC Sochi picked up a valuable and unexpected win in its push for a playoff spot, downing defending champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk to move back into eighth place in the West. The Black Sea team had to recover from a slow start, going behind to a Jan Kovar power play goal in the third minute, but responded strongly in the second period. Andre Petersson was the architect, bagging assists on goals for Eric O’Dell and Ben Maxwell to turn the game around by the 24thminute. Andrei Kostitsyn added a third just after halfway. Magnitka remained dangerous, though, and Sergei Mozyakin reduced the arrears on the power play, but there was to be no fightback here. Igor Ignatushkin and Chris Lee traded goals before Sergei Kuznetsov rounded off the scoring with an empty-net goal.
Severstal v Sibir 4-3
Sibir missed the chance to break into the playoff places, losing 4-3 at Severstal. Goals from Alexei Ugarov and Dmitry Kagarlitsky either side of the second intermission snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Steelmen a decisive advantage. Konstantin Okulov reduced the deficit with 10 minutes to play, but the visitor could not salvage the game. To add to Sibir’s woes, goalie Danny Taylor picked up an injury while sitting on the bench. An unlucky deflection sent the puck into his head, leaving him with suspected concussion.
Slovan v Avtomobilist 3-2 OT
Slovan clawed back an 0-2 deficit to beat Avtomobilist in overtime in a clash of two teams trying to keep their outside hopes of a playoff spot alive. Anatoly Golyshev and Artyom Gareyev put Avto in charge after 40 minutes, but Pavol Skalicky and Kyle Chipchura tied it up. Chipchura’s equalizer came with just 37 seconds left. Jeff Taffe got the overtime winner.
Medvescak v Barys 4-5
Barys strengthened its playoff prospects with a late win in Zagreb after two goals apiece for Brandon Bochenski and Nigel Dawes set up a 5-4 victory. Bochenski’s pair gave Barys a 2-1 advantage in the second period, but the outcome was never beyond doubt as goals from Kirill Voronin and Jiri Smejkal clawed back Dawes’ duo in the third. Brendan Shinnimin’s 59th-minute strike, his first for the club, proved decisive, despite Goran Bezina’s last-gasp reply for the home team.