Khabarovsk's junior unit impressive in defeat
Game Recap: Lokomotiv - Amur
-- Sept.18, YAROSLAVL.
While in town experts predicted a low scoring and extremely boring game, I was preparing to see exactly what it turned on to be - thrilling offensive oriented contest! With the arrival of coach Andrei Pyatanov Khabarovsk side rapidly looses it's reputation for being an extremely low scoring team. While in Yaroslavl shifty spectacular hockey is on for second straight season - ever since Czech great Vladimir Vujtek took over the team.
Seven minutes into the game Oilers' Alex Fomichev was sent to the showers by Yaroslavl's second unit. Talented youngster digged the puck out of his net three times on just eight shots. Rejuvenated vet Vladimir Samylin along with a couple almost written off prospects (Vladimir Antipov and Dmitry Vlasenkov) teared up Amur's defence with style.
At 8:01 Alex Badyukov restored some respectability for the visitors. But couple of minutes before the first intermission Samylin's unit combined to set up Sens' Karel Rachunek's first RSL goal.
After Alexander Guskov's booming blast from the point made it 5-1, it seemed that Pyatanov's side was cooked. But three goals in four minutes span totally shocked the home crowd.
Early third period goal by Anton But cooled off visitors' enthusiasm. Meantime the home side could have extended it's lead missing several glorious opportunities. Moreover Fomichev's replacement - American Alex Westlund was sharp at handling remaining 16 shots of the final period. 19-year old Oleg Minakov's second goal of the game at 8:33 prompted Vujtek to call his men to play it safe... and so they did without giving Amur a chance to press for the equalizer in the closing minutes.
I was quite impressed with the play of Amur's junior line of Minakov, Alexei Builov and Stanislav Basov. Basov and Builov are smallish speedy forwards with an average skill level albeit respectable work ethic. Minakov, 6"3 200 ld. giant belongs to the Blackhawks, has the necessary tools to become a decent power forward. While being an average skater Oleg has a good set of hands for a big guy and possesses an accurate wrist shot. Compared to last year he improved his body strength and on-ice intensity level.
Having played limited time Yaroslavl's Dmitry Fakhrutdinov and Viktor Alexandrov were too concerned not to make any mistakes and as far as it went succeeded. Albeit Alexandrov managed a few spectacular rushes along side Alex Suglobov and Ivan Nepryaev.
Out of all the Yaroslavl drafted bunch only Anton But and Karel Rachunek looked like NHL caliber players. The way But has played last season and early this fall many wonder how come he's still playing in RSL... Pavel Vorobiev isn't at his 100% yet after recovering off serious knee injury - but he'll get there soon... Columbus' Ivan Tkachenko steel needs to upgrade his physical involvement and on-ice intensity before heading for a try out across the ocean... LA's Denis Grebeshkov played a very sound defence-oriented game...
Ivan Nepryaev will eventually become a sound checking center in Andrei Nikolishin's mold while being a better skater and niftier stickhandler. But weighting just 160 lb. even in RSL he's getting tossed off the puck too often. Still his two-way up-side remains unquestionable.
It appears that Nepryaev's line-mate Alexander Suglobov is making a smooth transition - becoming a sound defensive forward. Often lacking imagination in opposition's zone and criticized for constantly overhandling the puck, Suglobov of late has become a great checking winger by the RSL standards. Meantime speed allows him to create chances in front of opposing net - mainly on the rush thought.-- Max Dostoevsky