The Sochi Hockey Open continues, with Nail Yakupov taking just 34 seconds to get his first goal for SKA. Sunday also saw the start of the Nizhny Novgorod Governor’s Cup, and here too there were encouraging signs from new arrivals at Dynamo Moscow and Avtomobilist.

Sochi Hockey Open

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Russia ‘B’ 3 (1-1, 1-1, 0-1)

Lokomotiv head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov opted to test some of his club’s young talent in this game against Russia’s ‘Olympic’ roster. Yegor Fateyev, Nikita Gromov, Mikhail Belyayev, Ivan Lisin and Ivan Kovalyov – all born between 1997 and 1999 – got the call. That set up a game of two youthful rosters – and the national team proved marginally stronger in an entertaining clash.

The opening goal came on the power play in the 11th minute when Andrei Svetlakov beat Alexander Salak with the help of a deflection off a Loko defenseman. The Railwaymen tied it up through Vladislav Kartayev, part of another young line for the Yaroslavl team after linking up with Pavel Kraskovsky and Yegor Korshkov. The teams traded further goals in the middle frame with Georgy Ivanov putting Loko in front before Andrei Chibisov tied it at 2-2.

Russia got the winner with a power play goal early in the third. Lokomotiv forward Artyom Ilyenko picked up an assist against his usual employer as Nikolai Demidov claimed the decisive tally. But it took a penalty shot save from Ilya Ezhov to secure the win; the experienced goalie denied Nikolai Kovalenko with 10 minutes left.

Russia’s head coach, Oleg Bratash, was happy with his afternoon’s work. “It was a good, competitive game,” he said. “Both teams had young rosters, and it was a useful work-out for them.”

His opposite number Kvartalnov had mixed feelings. “We created chances, but our execution was weak,” he said. “Then we gave up two goals on the PK, which is something we will have to work on when we get time.”

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SKA St. Petersburg 5 Kunlun Red Star 0 (2-0, 1-0, 2-0)

In the second game of the day, Nail Yakupov made an immediate impact. SKA’s new signing, once a #1 NHL draft pick, needed just 34 seconds to find the net against Kunlun Red Star. A goal in his first shift as a SKA player was just the tonic Yakupov needs: his arrival in Russia after stints with Edmonton, St. Louis and finally Colorado has been seen as a chance to revive a career that has never quite lived up to the player’s undoubted potential.

Photo: 05.08.18. Sochi Hockey Open. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

The early goal also set SKA on the way to its second victory of the tournament. Andrei Zubraev made it 2-0 in the 13th minute and Sergei Kalinin added a third in the middle frame. Viktor Tikhonov and Jarno Koskiranta added two more in the third period while Magnus Hellberg collected a shut-out on his first encounter with his former club since leaving Red Star at the end of last season.

Red Star head coach Jussi Tapola admitted that his team’s slow start had cost the game, and added that he was hopeful new goalie Ivan Nalimov could provide competition for today’s starter Alexander Lazushin. His opposite number, Ilya Vorobyov, fended off questions about Yakupov’s long-term role in the team and added that Pavel Datsyuk was close to a return to action but may not make it in time to play in Sochi.

The tournament continues Monday with Red Star playing Lokomotiv and Sochi taking on Russia ‘B’.

New signings impress in Nizhny Novgorod

Dynamo Moscow 4 Dinamo Riga 1 (0-0, 1-1, 3-0)

Summer signings Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitry Kagarlitsky both found the target as Dynamo came from behind against its Latvian namesake.

Riga took the lead early in the second period on a goal from young Kristaps Zile and goalie Timur Bilyalov was dealing with everything the Muscovites could throw at him. But a power play late in the second period and a rebound that broke kindly for Shipachyov saw the game tied one second before the hooter.

In the third frame, Dynamo Moscow took control. Evgeny Mozer got the go-ahead goal, Kagarlitsky marked his debut with number three and Dmitry Sidlyarov completed a 4-1 victory.

“Of course it’s reassuring to score in my first game,” said Kagarlitsky. “It gives me confidence for the future. As for the game, the guys gave everything even though we’ve been worked hard in pre-season. It’s a bit early to talk about my impressions of the team – we’re still getting to know each other, that’s what pre-season is all about.”

Riga head coach Girts Ankipans is eying his team’s opening KHL game on September 2. “We’re a young team and today we were up against a classy opponent that put out a strong roster. We’re really happy about that. In games like this, we want to see our players using their heads at all teams. We’re still a long way from our peak, but we’re working towards it. The key thing is to reach that level by September 2.”

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Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Spartak Moscow 2 (1-0, 2-2, 0-0)

Avto’s big summer trading created an exciting new line in Yekaterinburg – and the fledgling partnership of Dan Sexton, Nigel Dawes and Stephane Da Costa looked impressive in this outing.

Photo: 05.08.18. Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor`s Cup 2018. Spartak (Moscow) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

Sexton, an American forward signed after several seasons at Neftekhimik, scored twice. Da Costa, a French international once of CSKA, had two assists. Dawes, famous for his scoring exploits at Barys, also got a helper in a lively second period.

Spartak also scored twice in the middle frame, with Maxim Trunyov and Alexander Khokhlachyov finding the net. Nikita Filatov, another of the great enigmatic talents of the KHL, had an assist on that second goal. But Avtomobilist held the lead from Alexei Vasilevsky’s first-period marker, and Spartak was never able to overhaul its rival.

Avtomobilist’s new head coach Andrei Martemyanov was happy with his new signings, but also paid tribute to the players he inherited. “Thanks to [previous head coach] Vladimir Krikunov for leaving us the foundations of three lines,” he said. “I’m happy with the newcomers, both in terms of their attitude and their performance in this game. But I hope that there is even more to come from them, and from the whole team. In general, we’re coming together well, the roster is OK and we can achieve some serious goals.”

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 6 Dinamo Minsk 1 (0-0, 5-1, 1-0)

David Nemirovsky is in his first full season as a head coach – and he began his home tournament in impressive style. His Torpedo team shot down Dinamo Minsk with few alarms, taking control of the game in the second period.

After a goalless first frame, Daniil Ilyin opened the scoring for the host on the power play. Dinamo tied it up thanks to new signing Patrick Wiercioch, a former Ottawa and Colorado defenseman, but Damir Zhafyarov and Mikhail Varnakov quickly took the game away from the Belarusians. Andrew Cadof, a new signing for Torpedo added a fifth before the second intermission, and there was more to come in the final frame when Varnakov got his second of the night.

The tournament continues tomorrow with Dynamo Moscow playing Avtomobilist before Minsk and Riga look to bounce back from Sunday’s disappointments in the evening game.

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