12 November 2021
That international break didn’t last long – especially with a rescheduled game for our Dragons on the Saturday – and we’re already back in KHL action. The coming week brings two games against Avangard, plus a match-up with Amur.
Avangard Omsk (Nov. 13, away; Nov. 17, home)
Last season: We had four games against Avangard last season, winning the last of them in a shoot-out on Dec. 30. Hunter Shinkaruk got the decider after a 3-3 tie, Ethan Werek, Anton Lazarev and Ryan Sproul were also on target in the game.
Familiar faces: Avangard goalie Simon Hrubec made his KHL reputation during his time at Red Star, and his 13 victories in 42 games with us secured him a trade to Avangard and a chance to lift the Gagarin Cup back in April. He’s not involved with the Czech team at the Karjala Cup, so could feature in both games this week.
Background: So far, Avangard’s title defense has not gone according to plan. The summer recruitment program raised eyebrows, particularly the eve-of-season swap that sent popular center Denis Zernov to Metallurg in return for Nikolai Prokhorkin. The forward line is also lacking the heft provided by sniper Reid Boucher, now at Lokomotiv. Slovak international Peter Cehlarik made a bright start to his KHL career, collecting nine of his 17 points in his first six games, but has been unable to maintain that strike rate his colleagues’ form falters.
The Hawks are further hampered by the absence of Ivan Telegin and Sergei Tolchinsky, as well as exciting youngster Arseny Gritsyuk, who had to withdraw from the Team Russia roster this weekend due to injury.
Amur (Nov. 15, home)
Last time out: Our first meeting with the Tigers this season was a frustrating affair, with the Dragons going down 0-2 at home after Evgeny Alikin stopped 30 shots at his net.
Familiar faces: Several ex-Dragons moved to Khabarovsk in the summer, including defenseman Ruslan Pedan and forwards Ivan Nikolishin and Gleb Zyryanov. The latter scored his first goal of the season in that 2-0 win in Mytishchi back in September but is currently on the injured list. Nikolishin, meanwhile, potted his fifth of the campaign in the recent fightback win at Lokomotiv.
Background: Amur finished the first phase of the regular season on a high, with back-to-back wins at Dynamo Moscow and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl lifting Mikhail Kravets’ team firmly into the playoff race. Currently the Tigers are ninth in the Eastern Conference, level with eighth-placed Neftekhimik on 25 points and one clear of Barys.
That’s a reward for the efforts the team has made under Kravets, who took over early in the season after the team began with just one victory in its first eight games. Since then, things have improved. It’s not just getting more wins, it’s also the manner of Amur’s losses: you have to go back to Oct. 7 to find the last game that ended in a loss by more than one goal. That’s a run of 13 fixtures, and Amur has taken at least one point in nine of them. Alexander Gorshkov leads the team in scoring with 16 points, while recent games have seen Vladimir Butuzov and Ivan Nikolishin among the top contributors.