THURSDAY 27/07

HC Yunost-Minsk vs. Dinamo Minsk: 5-2 (1-0, 2-2, 2-0)

The Minsk Cup continues to intrigue and entertain the spectators, and Thursday's program opened with a local derby and a surprise result, with Dinamo Minsk suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of HC Yunost-Minsk of the Belarusian Extraleague.

Yunost drew first blood on the 15-minute mark thanks to a powerplay goal from Viktor Turkin, but it was in the opening half of the second period that the game burst into life with four goals in 10 minutes. Slovenian defenseman Klemen Pretnar made it 2-0 just 52 seconds after the first interval, but within three minutes, Dinamo hit back with a goal from 19-year-old Belarusian international Yegor Sharangovich. On 30.26 Former Neftekhimik and Lada forward Andrei Mikhnov scored for Yunost, but exactly 30 seconds later, young Sharangovich completed his double.

The score remained at 3-2 until the 54th minute, when Yunost's two-goal advantage was restored by Mikhail Plotnikov, who played for Spartak and Admiral last season, and less than a minute later, Maxim Parfeyevets put Yunost 5-2 ahead and removed any lingering doubts about the winner.

New Dinamo Minsk boss Gordie Dwyer was gracious in defeat:

"I'd like to congratulate Yunost and their coach, Mr. Zakharov. It turned out to be a tough and exciting game, and one that was interesting to watch... Our opponents created a lot of chances, and I'm grateful that they gave us such a hard game, as it was valuable experience for us... Yunost put us under constant pressure in all zones and made it hard for us to make any quick breaks, or even to bring the puck out of our own zone," - said the Canadian specialist.

A feature of this tournament is a shootout series after each game, regardless of whether the match was tied at the end of regulation time. The results for this “Minsk derby” are as follows:
Shootout: Mikhnov (saved), Dugin (saved), Medvedev (saved), Plotnikov (saved), Razvadovsky (missed) - Sharangovich (missed), Stepanov(goal), Buinitsky (goal), Kovyrshin (goal), Klinkhammer (saved).

Ugra vs. Lokomotiv: 2-3 OT (1-0, 1-0, 0-2, 0-1)

The second game of the day in the Minsk Cup was just as intriguing. In a match littered with penalties, the casual observer would expect a one-sided game settled by Lokomotiv's formidable powerplay unit, and indeed, all the goals were scored in 5-on-4 powerplays, with the exception of the fifth and decisive strike, which came during a 5-on-3. Moreover, when given the man (or two-man) advantage, Yaroslavl boss Alexei Kudashov decided to deploy a special team comprising his starting five: Jakub Nakladal and Staffan Kronwall backing up the fearsome troika of Brandon Kozun – Petri Kontiola – Max Talbot.

There was a twist in the tale, however. Khanty-Mansiysk netminder Ilya Proskuryakov clearly had no intention of following such a script, and he thwarted the Railwaymen with a string of impressive saves. Meanwhile, at the other end, Anton Korolyov opened the scoring on 14.14 and Alexander Ugolnikov gave Ugra a 2-0 lead on 32.58.

It was not until the clock displayed 42.17 that Lokomotiv had something to cheer, when Yegor Korshkov halved the deficit a mere 13 days after his 21st birthday, and then, with just 70 seconds remaining, Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal made the score 2-2. One of the hallmarks of a leader is the ability to produce the goods at the most crucial moments, and in the second minute of overtime, Nakladal scored again to bring Lokomotiv victory and secure a place in Saturday's final.

Igor Zakharkin's men exacted a little revenge in the shootout, in which Lokomotiv failed to find the net with any of their attempts.
Shootout: Varfolomeyev (goal), Skachkov (saved), Kuryanov (goal), Ankudinov (saved), Panov (goal) – Kapustin (saved), Ilyenko (missed), Kayumov (saved), Kartayev (saved), Ivanov (missed).

Photo: 27.07.17. Minsk Cup 2017. Yugra (Khanty-Mansiysk) – Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Spartak vs. Torpedo 2-1 (1-0, 1-0, 0-1)

Both head coaches, Vadim Yepanchintsev for the Muscovites and Peteris Skudra for the Nizhny Novgorod Men, rested many of their leading players for this encounter in the little Austrian town of Bruck an der Leitha.

Finnish international defenseman Ville Lajunen scored the game-winner with a 26th-minute powerplay goal after his fellow defenseman, Evgeny Kulik, had put the Red-and-Whites in front at the end of the first period. Evgeny Grachyov notched a consolation goal for Torpedo on 47 minutes.

Vityaz vs. Avangard 3-1 (0-0, 2-1, 1-0)

This game took place in Fussen, Germany, and was delayed by 30 minutes because (according to the Avangard Omsk Press Office) Valery Belov's Moscow Region men were held up in traffic. The players certainly had no trouble with mobility when they finally stepped onto the ice, and they took the lead when Alexei Makeyev scored the first goal of Vityaz's preseason. The Omsk Men drew level with a strike from ex-New York Islanders forward Johan Sundstrom, but Avangard's joy was cut short – Dmitry Semin made it 2-1 and Jesse Mankinen added a third.

FRIDAY 28/07

Dinamo Riga vs. Ugra: 2-3 SO (2-1, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

As might be expected from a team which stepped onto the ice having enjoyed 28 hours more rest than their opponents, Sandis Ozolins's men started this Minsk Cup game with far more vigor and better movement than did Ugra, and they took a deserved lead in the 9th minute through Emils Gegeris. However, Igor Zakharkin's team stood up well to the Latvians' pressure, and a couple of minutes before the first interval Veli-Matti Savinainen managed to level the score. The Latvians' lead was restored just 10 seconds before the first siren when former Coyotes and Canadiens forward Lukas Lessio struck during a 5-on-3 powerplay. This time, the lead lasted much longer – almost 40 minutes – but with 47 seconds of regulation time remaining, Konstantin Panov scored to keep Khanty-Mansiysk hopes alive.

The 3-on-3 overtime failed to separate the sides, so the game progressed to the shootout, and this was one episode in the preseason which the Riga Men might want to forget. Not only did they not score, but they twice failed to even get their efforts on target.
Shootout: Jevpalovs (saved), Lessio (missed), Kristo (saved), Razgals (saved) - Varfolomeyev (goal), Skachkov (missed), Kuryanov(saved), Ankudinov (goal)

HC Yunost-Minsk vs. Dynamo Moscow: 4-5 OT (0-1, 2-0, 2-3, 0-1)

This mini-tournament in Minsk had already attracted plaudits for delivering exciting and entertaining games to the hockey-starved summer public, and this encounter more than matched those which had gone before.

The first period showed little sign of the drama ahead. A solitary goal from Dustin Boyd on six-and-a-half minutes separated the two sides going into the first interval. The second period, in contrast, belonged to Yunost. On 26.02, Pavel Razvadovsky made it 1-1, and in the final minute of the middle sesion a second goal in as many days for Viktor Turkin put the Minsk Men in front.

Daniil Tarasov restored parity 38 seconds into the third period, and then, after five minutes of relative calm, Yunost surged ahead with two goals in 13 seconds, first from Dugin and then from Gainetdinov. This was now a test of Dynamo's fighting spirit, and Vladimir Vorobyov's men passed with flying colors. Within minutes, Vladimir Bryukvin's strike brought them to within a goal of the Belarusians, and then Mikhail Varnakov scored in the 52nd minute to tie the game at 4-4.

Following a tense final seven minutes, the game went to overtime. With the clock showing 62.18, Daniil Tarasov completed his second double in successive matches.

The final standings for the Minsk Cup group stage are as follows:

Group А: 1st. Dynamo Moscow – 5 points, 2nd. Yunost Minsk – 4 points, 3rd. Dinamo Minsk – 0 points .
Group В: 1st. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl – 5 points, 2. Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk – 3 points , 3. Dinamo Riga — 1 point.

Dinamo Riga will now meet Dinamo Minsk on Saturday at 11.30am, local time, in the match for fifth place.
Ugra will face Yunost Minsk in the battle for the bronze medal place. Dynamo Moscow face Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the final.

Jokerit vs. Kunlun: 2-3 (1-0, 1-1, 0-2)

Not all of the day's heroics took place in Minsk. A little farther to the north, in Espoo, Finland, Jokerit faced off against Kunlun Red Star. Iron Mike Keenan's men showed an iron will to bounce back from 0-2 down to seal a hard-fought victory.

Jukka Jalonen's team also deserve credit for the part they played in an exciting encounter. The Helsinki team began in a far livelier mood than were their opponents, and it was no surprise when Sami Lepisto opened the scoring in the 13th minute. The game looked to be over as a contest even before the halfway stage, when in the 27th minute Jesper B Jensen made the score 2-0, but goals from Kyle Chipchura (31 minutes), Konstantin Makarov (43), and finally, Pavel Vorobei (56) completed a highly impressive fightback on Finnish soil.

#Jokerit tänään! #KHLfi Kiekko jäähän Tiksissä klo 18.30. Hieno ilta tulossa!:heart::yellow_heart::hockey::black_joker:

Публикация от Jokerit Helsinki (@jokerithc) Июл 28 2017 в 2:06 PDT

Ak Bars vs. Neftekhimik: 3-4 SO (1-2, 1-1, 1-0, 0-1)

Following the examples of Dynamo, Lokomotiv and Kunlun, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov's men also managed to claw their way back into contention after trailing by a two-goal margin, but they nonetheless found themselves on the losing side as Andrei Nazarov's Neftekhimik achieved a battling shootout victory over Ak Bars in Kazan.

The Nizhnekamsk Men wasted no time in going on the offensive. A mere five minutes into the match, Andrei Sergeyev scored in powerplay, and on eight minutes an even-strength goal from Chad Rau doubled the lead. Veteran forward Alexander Svitov scored for the hosts on 18 minutes, but in the first minute of the second period, Alexander Avtsin restored the visitors' two-goal advantage.

Svitov notched his and his team's second goal on 37 minutes to give his plenty of cause for optimism going into the final session. Ak Bars dominated the third period and managed to tie the game thanks to Vasily Tokranov's 52nd-minute strike, but were unable to deliver the killer blow, and eventually Pavel Poryadin clinched victory for Neftekhimik in the shootout.

There were three other games played on Friday which featured KHL teams.

In Pajulahti, Finland, Traktor was defeated 3-1 by SeverstalAlexander Sharov scored for the Chelyabinsk side, but goals from Vadim KudakoAlexander Bumagin and Nikolai Kazakovtsev brought victory to the team from Cherepovets.

Avtomobilist suffered a 4-3 shootout defeat at the hands of Pirati Chomutov of the Czech Republic. Goals from Francis PareStanislav Yegorshev and Taylor Beck gave Vladimir Krikunov's team a 3-1 lead after only 22 minutes, but the home team dug deep and fought their way back to tie the match at 3-3 and later triumphed in the post-match duels.

Finally, Lada Togliatti lost a lively game to HC Toros, with the latter clinching a 5-4 shootout win.

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