The latest action in St. Petersburg began with a high-scoring encounter as Jokerit edged Avangard by the odd goal in seven. The evening game saw SKA prove too strong for Sochi, with the host suggesting it might have learned from its unhappy experience at the Sochi Hockey Open earlier in the month.

Niemi, Kontiola impress for Jokerit

Jokerit returned new goalie Antti Niemi to the starting line-up after he was rested in yesterday’s game – and Avangard wasted little time in testing out the Stanley Cup winner. Pavel Dedunov opened the scoring midway through the first period when he pounced on a defensive error.

Photo: 23.08.19. Nikolai Puchkov memorial tournament. Avangard (Omsk) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

Taylor Beck also gave Niemi plenty to think about. The Canadian scored two power play goals and was close to a hat-trick. But the Finn’s quality told, and a fine save denied Beck a third goal.

Petri Kontiola, another Finn returning home, albeit to less hype than Niemi, also showed his calibre. He had three assists in the game, two for Niklas Jensen and another for Brian O’Neill as Jokerit pulled off an entertaining 4-3 win. World Championship star Marko Anttila also had a helper as Matias Myttynen got Jokerit’s opener.

Avangard Omsk 3 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (1-0, 2-3, 0-1)

Goals: 1-0 Dedunov (18:56); 1-1 Myttynen (Anttila 25:46); 2-1 Beck (Shumakov 26:58 PP); 2-2 O’Neill (Lepisto, Kontiola 28:57 PP); 3-2 Beck (Andrighetto, Voynov 34:13 PP); 3-3 Jensen (O’Neill, Kontiola 36:59 PP); 4-3 Jensen (Kontiola 51:19)

Goalies: Bobkov – Niemi

Bob Hartley, head coach, Avangard

We made a few changes to our lines, our plan was to shuffle the team and try out some different combinations. I liked our game, both its intensity and our attacking play. We created a lot of chances. Apart from the goal in the third period, we did well.

SKA experiments, but wins again

SKA’s head coach Alexei Kudashov kept his promise to rotate his roster after the win over Torpedo. As a result, the line-up against Sochi had an experimental look. The established top line was gone, with only Jori Lehtera involved at all, and that on the fourth line. Alexei Melnichuk was given a chance to impress between the piping.

Photo: 23.08.19. Nikolai Puchkov memorial tournament. SKA (St.Petersburg) - HC Sochi (Sochi)

The changes couldn’t deny the Army Men a second victory in the tournament. Oleg Li converted after Ilya Kablukov won a face-off, David Rundblad scored on the power play and Maxim Karpov finished off a penalty shot.

Sochi replied with a goal from summer signing Malte Stromwall, but never looked likely to extend its summer winning streak.

SKA St. Petersburg 3 HC Sochi 1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0)

Goals: 1-0 Li (Kablukov 18:56); 2-0 Rundblad (Kagarlitsky 29:12 PP); 2-1 Stromwall (Tochinsky 31:14 PP); 3-1 Karpov (50:56 pen)

Goalies: Melnichuk – Proskuryakov

Alexei Kudashov, head coach, SKA

We’re getting ready for the season and trying out different combinations. Our young goalie, Melnichuk, did well today. There were times when he kept us on course, he did what was required of him. There are still things to work on, but the issues I talked about after the Torpedo game already looked a bit better. Dmitry Kagarlitsky just needs time. He’s a goalscorer, he’ll come good.

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