There was just the one preseason practice match involving KHL teams on Monday, but it was a mouth-watering clash between Jokerit and SKA.
Oleg Znarok's Gagarin Cup holders began their preseason a lot later than many other sides, some of whom have two or three games under their belts already, but this is understandable given the later end to SKA's season.
The men from Russia's northern capital are at camp in Finland, and their first practice match was against Jokerit of the Finnish capital. New faces include Sergei Kalinin and Vladislav Gavrikov, while high-profile departures include Evgeny Dadonov and Vadim Shipachyov, both of whom are to continue their careers across the Atlantic.
As for the Helsinki Men, the “Jokers” first preseason outing was no laughing matter: a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Kunlun Red Star.
Perhaps because of their extended summer break, or perhaps just because of good hockey from Jokerit, the Petersburg Men found it tough in the early stages, and Viktor Tikhonov even contrived to earn a 5+20 minute penalty. The Finns took full advantage and opened the scoring on six minutes via Eeli Tolvanen, but the Jokers' joy was to be short-lived. In the 14th minute, Sergei Shirokov grabbed SKA's first goal of the preseason, again in powerplay, and as the game approached the halfway stage Nikita Gusev put the visitors in front.
Shirokov turned provider to set up Jarno Koskiranta to make it 3-1 with just over four minutes of the second period remaining, and that is the way things stayed until Alexander Barabanov's empty netter in the final minute. Shirokov assisted on that fourth goal, thus earning 3 points in the match.