In a sign that the team may be putting its dark days behind it, Avangard Omsk topped division-leading Yaroslavl Lokomotiv 3-1 in Omsk on Monday. The win gave the Hawks their second consecutive victory after a dismal November in which they earned only a single shootout victory in eight games. Once again Jaromir Jagr put Omsk on the board first, scoring his 17th goal of the season on a power play at 13:19 of the second period. Defenseman Nikita Nikitin added another power play goal at 18:44 of the second, and Pavel Rosa topped off the scoring with an empty net goal in the final minute of play. Alexei Mikhnov picked up Loko’s only goal late in the third to make the final five minutes interesting. Goaltender Alexander Fomichev stopped 19 of 20 shots to earn the win. Despite the loss, Lokomotiv maintains a 13-point lead over the Avangard in the KHL’s Kharlamov Division.
In his post-game press conference, head coach Wayne Fleming confirmed that goaltender John Grahame has in fact been released by Avangard (you can see him say it himself approximately 5:15 into this video). According to Soviet Sport, the American-born netminder’s equipment has been removed from the locker room and he has already left the club. His release follows news last week that he’d been picked up by police drunk outside a club in Omsk.
Following the game, Jagr explained the team’s change in fortunes to Soviet Express. “When we beat Severstal on Saturday, our confidence increased. It always happens that way. You win one match, you catch success by the tail and everything fits into place.”
Asked to explain his scoreless November, Jagr was pragmatic. “That sort of thing can happen to anyone. I even heard that Ovechkin played a string of nine games without a goal in the NHL. What can I say?” “Not only could I not score,” he added, “but the whole team [couldn't]. Eight goals in six games – how is that enough? Against the backdrop of Avangard, every opponent looked like a monster. Plus there were injuries: Svitov, Kuryanov…”
Jagr was also asked about the upcoming KHL All Star game, set to be played in Red Square on January 10th. “First of all I imagine that it will be cold,” he shared. “We once tried to hold an open-air practice for Team Jagr at a public skating rink in Kladno. Not the most pleasant memories,” Jagr admitted. “But Red Square – that’s something special. A historical place… It would be like playing hockey in Time Square in New York. Something like this happens once in a lifetime. ”
As captain of Team Jagr — a team comprised of the best foreigners playing in the KHL this season that will face off against the best Russians under captain Alexei Yashin — Jagr was given the opportunity to choose two players he’d like to have on his team. The big Czech chose fellow countryman and current teammate Jakub Klepis and former Rangers linemate Marcel Hossa, who continues to lead his team, Dynamo Riga, in scoring with 24 points in 30 games. Asked why he chose those two players, Jagr reasoned “it wasn’t certain that they’d be selected by the fans,” who get to vote for the starters. “These guys are my friends,” he continued, “it’s pleasant to play with them.”
33:19 Jaromir Jagr (Ryabikin D., Klepis J.) (PP) (watch)
38:44 Nikita Nikitin (Pestunov D., Ryantsev A.) (PP) (watch)
54:57 Alexei Mikhnov (Irgl Z., Vashichek I.) (watch)
59:05 Pavel Rosa (Ryabikin D., Volkov I.) (EN) (watch)
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