Vujtek defeats Tikhonov for the first time

FEB.13 (RHI) -- If there's one particular coach Yaroslavl's Vladimir Vujtek had trouble outsmarting during his two seasons in RSL, it has to be the legendary Viktor Tikhonov.

In two meetings between RSL's uncontested leader and once upon a time mighty Red Army Club, Tikhonov's youngsters had the best over Lokomotiv's star stocked line-up.

On the 19th of September in front of the sold out crowd at the Arena-2000 Tikhonov introduced to Yaroslavl's public young phenom by the name of Nikolai Zherdev. 18 years old puckwizard dominated that game scoring a goal and generating numerous opportunities for his teammates, as young and inexperienced CSKA prevailed 4-3 - stunning Russian hockey community.

A month ago teams met again in Moscow, but Vujtek's squad was unable to avenge September's loss, as Tikhonov's youngsters came out on top again 2-1. This time they were led by a couple of other young phenoms: St.Louis prospect Alexei Shkotov, 18, scored his first RSL goal and a beauty that was, as he deked experienced Alexei Vasiliev and slotted the puck to the top corner. Meantime Philadelphia Flyers' draftee Konstantin Baranov, 21, marked his debut in CSKA with a game winning tally.

When asked why his team has so much success against the RSL's best club Viktor Vasilievich praised Vujtek's coaching: "They're one of a few teams that are successful without being boring. They play themselves and allow to play those who face them."

Last night Lokomotiv and CSKA met again, likely for the last time this season since Tikhonov's side has almost no chances making it to the top eight, while Vujtek's side became the first team to clinch itself a play-off spot couple of weeks ago.

And what do you know... Tikhonov came close to delivering a severe blow to his opponent's ego by becoming the first coach to be undefeated in a season series by the all mighty Czech specialist. Vujtek Senior shall thank his mal aimée Pavel Vorobiev for bailing him out with a game winning goal at 18:02 of the third period.

The home side came out strong and took a comfortable two-goal lead 7:44 into the opening period. First Dmitry Vlasenkov pushed the puck behind the goal line from in close, than Anton But scored with a man advantage redirecting the disk in off Radim Tesarik's point shot. Suddenly Lokomotiv players cooled off, probably thinking that two goals would be sufficient.

Visitors' only legit scoring opportunity prior to intermission turned into goal. Nikolai Pronin and Dmitry Subbotin worked well the boards in Lokomotiv's zone and delivered the puck on Nikolai Semin's stick who cut Lokomotiv's netminder Egor Podomatsky going down too early. Blueliner hit the topshelve.

Scoreless second period was dominated by a pacy Tikhonov's team. Early in the third CSKA continued to outwork and outskate the home side and finally managed to equalize, as Sergei Mozyakin, playing his first game since 18th of November after missing 18 games to a facial injury, scored his 8th tally of the season.

The goal prompted Yaroslavl players to recall their opening period flurry, as they awoke and pressured CSKA until Vorobiev capitalized on a rebound of Alexander Guskov's shot.

RSB © 2003