Avangard Climbs Towards the Top of the League on Two Jagr Goals
Saturday September 27th 2008, 8:11 pm

Jaromir Jagr set the mark for the fastest tally in the KHL on Tuesday when he scored just 38 seconds into Avangard Omsk’s game against Metallurg Novokuznetsk. He bettered that mark before the record book could even be updated when he gave Avangard a 1-0 lead a mere 31 seconds into Avangard’s second of two consecutive games against Amur Khabarovsk on Friday. It was his first of two goals in the game, and helped the Hawks stretch interim coach Igor Nikitin’s undefeated record to five with a 4-3 victory, catapulting the team into third place in the league — after they wallowed near the bottom of the table just over a week ago.

After seeing their team get shut out 4-0 by the Hawks on Thursday, Khabarovsk fans must have felt they were experiencing déjà vu on Friday as Omsk once again roared out to a 4-0 lead, all before ten and a half minutes had passed in the game. Alexei Cherepanov, who finished third in voting in Sportbox.ru’s player of the week poll this week, gave Avangard a 2-0 lead at 8:17 by batting the puck past starting goalie Sergei Borisov with the shaft of his stick as he was being flattened from behind in the crease. After a lengthy video review, the goal, which Soviet Sport described as a “small hockey masterpiece”, was allowed to stand. That may have been a slight overstatement, but you can judge for yourself by watching the highlights at the bottom of this post.

Thursday’s starter Taylor Moss was called from the the Khabarovsk bench to replace Borosov after Jagr scored his second of the game and seventh of the season just twenty four seconds later. But even Moss couldn’t stem the tide right away, getting beaten by an even strength Anton Kuryanov tally less than two minutes later.

But unlike Thursday, Moss’ teammates mounted a comeback, starting with a power play goal at 11:45 that beat a screened Alexander Fomichev in the Avangard net. Tempers flared just 3:15 later when Jacob Klepis hit an Amur defenseman hard along the half boards inside the Khabarovsk zone. Moss flew from his net to his teammate’s defense, and within seconds everyone else had joined in. Ultimately only Klepish and Maxim Yushkov paired off and dropped their gloves to fight, while Jagr played peacemaker, pacifying the Canadian goaltender.

The hit and subsequent rough stuff inspired Khabarovsk, and they used the 2-minute power play that resulted from the original hit to make it 4-2 at 15:48. Then, in the first minute of the second period, they cut the deficit down to just one with an even strength goal from Oleg Belkin. But that was as close as they would come. Belkin had the opportunity to tie things up when he was awarded a penalty shot at 4:49 into the period after he was hauled down during a partial breakaway, but Fomichev thwarted his attempt, as he did all other opportunities Khabarovsk had in the game. Moss too stopped everything he faced the rest of the way; his 21 saves on 22 shots earned him second star of the game. Cherepanov, who played 17:02 minutes in 19 shifts, was named 3rd star, while Jagr, not surprisingly, was awarded the first star of the game.

Friday’s game was the last the team will play under undefeated interim coach Nikitin, since new head coach Wayne Fleming, who’s contract has been finalized and will take him through the end of the current season, arrives in Omsk on Sunday. Fleming will lead his first practice on Monday morning and take his place behind the bench for the first time later that day in a home game against HK MVD. Meanwhile, Czech coach Miloslav Gorzhava, who was expected to serve as an assistant to Fleming, will not be joining the Siberian side after all. Contractual issues with his Czech team are said to be at fault, but one has to wonder if Nikitin’s undefeated record since taking over for former head coach Sergei Gersonsky influenced a change of heart. Nikitin will server as Senior Coach under Fleming. Current assistant coach Sergei Khramtsov will stay on in his current role.

Avangard Omsk vs. Amur Khabarovsk – Period 1 Highlights

Avangard Omsk vs. Amur Khabarovsk – Periods 2 & 3 Highlights

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