Avangard Omsk followed up their first match without Alexei Cherepanov with a string of three hard-fought home games last week, taking 5 of a possible 9 standings points.
Dynamo Riga 3 @ Avangard Omsk 2
Avangard fell 2-3 in the first of back-to-back games against Dynamo Riga, as goaltender John Grahame continued to struggle to regain his form after suffering an elbow injury prior to Cherepanov’s death and losing almost a week of practice time in the wake of the tragedy. On the visitors side, former Ranger Marcel Hossa, who leads his team in scoring and is currently tied for 7th in KHL with 13 goals and 7 assists for 20 points, was held scoreless and a was minus-1 while taking 6 minutes in penalties. His former Ranger linemate Jaromir Jagr took a tripping penalty, but also had an assist in a team-leading 22:41 minutes of ice time.
12:16 Mikheilis Redlikhs (Tribuntsov) (watch)
19:59 Alexander Popov (Jagr, Svitov) (watch)
38:26 Phillip Novak (Hartigan) (PP) (watch)
44:30 Alexander Svitov (Klepish, Popov) (watch)
49:13 Alexei Shirokov (Lavinsh) (watch)
Dynamo Riga 0 @ Avangard Omsk 3
Grahame bounced back in a big way, stopping 34 Dynamo shots, and Anton Kuryanov had a hand in all three Omsk goals as the Hawks shut out Dynamo Riga 3-0 in the second of back-to-back games. Jagr had a goal and an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to 8 games as Hossa was once again held off the scoreboard.
Dynamo Moscow 2 @ Avangard Omsk 3 (SO)
Alexander Popov scored both regulation goals for Avangard, and Pavel Rosa put home the shootout winner as the Hawks defeated Dynamo Moscow the game that was originally scheduled for October 17th, but postponed following Cherpanov’s death. Grahame stopped 38 of 40 shots through regulation and overtime, then — with a little help from his posts — stoned four Dynamo shooters in the shootout. Former Ranger Karel Rachunek had an assist on Dynamo’s first goal.
Off the Ice
Off the ice it was announced that Omsk General Manger Anatoli Bardin — who had been given the nod to head the Russian national team at the end of last month — would not be confirmed as the team’s general manager, allowing him to focus instead on his own club in the wake of the Cherepanov tragedy. Meanwhile Cherepanov’s U.S. agent Jay Grossman was in Omsk this week to offer his condolences to the Cherepanov family, according to Soviet Sport, which also noted that Cherepanov’s father Andrei has been given a job within the Avangard organization and that he and his wife will move to Omsk.
As the investigation into the cause of Cherepanov’s death continues, Juri Afonkin, the director of the arena in Chekhov where Cherepanov collapsed, has officially resigned after being disqualified from working within the KHL earlier this week. Director of the Vityaz hockey club, Mikhail Denisov, also banned by the KHL, has also submitted his letter of resignation, though he intends to take the KHL to court over his disqualification, on the premise that he is “not guilty that the ambulance left on a call to rescue a patient three minutes prior to th end of the game.” He claims that any monetary damages he might receive in court will be given to Cherepanov’s family.
The Hawks start a three-game road trip on Monday in Yaroslavl against Kharlamov division rival Lokomotiv, with whom they’re currently battling for first place in the division and a guaranteed playoff berth. The teams are currently tied with 38 points, with Lokomotiv holding 3 games in hand. A dirty little secret — despite the volumes of posts I’ve written about Avangard, they’re not my favorite Russian team. Loko is, due in part to the aforementioned Karel Rachunek, who was the reason I started watching them during the NHL lockout, and kept watching them afterwards, when the rest of the NHLers returned to North America. That said, it’ll be hard not to root for Avangard this season. No matter who wins, tomorrow’s game should be a good one. Lokomotiv will be playing their second game in as many days, but are coming off a 7-1 thrashing of Amur Khabarovsk on Sunday. The best part? The game’s available online starting at 11am 12 noon EDT (damned time change!).
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