The Kontinental Hockey League kicked off it’s 2009-2010 season on Thursday with a rematch of last spring’s Gagarin Cup final between champions AK Bars Kazan and runners-up Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. AK Bars reprised their Cup victory in dramatic fashion when Alexei Morozov scored his second of the game with just nine seconds remaining in overtime to give his team a 3-2 victory in the lone game on the KHL schedule.
Former Pittsburgh Penguin prospect Janne Pesonen scored the other goal for Kazan, while Gennady Churilov and former Carolina Hurricane and New York Islander Josef Vasicek provided the goals for Yarsoslavl. Radek Bonk, most recently of the Nashville Predators, was in the penalty box for Morozov’s overtime game-winner. Former Ranger prospect Jarkko Immonen made his KHL debut for the reigning champions, finishing scoreless and a +1 in just under 15 minutes of playing time.
Eight more teams will get their seasons underway on Friday. Of particular note to New York Rangers fans will be the season opener between Moscow rivals CSKA and Dynamo. Rangers 2009 seventh round draft pick Mikhail Pashnin is expected to make his KHL debut for CSKA, while the status fellow defenseman Pavel Valentenko, acquired as part of the trade that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal this summer, remains uncertain following an injury suffered two weeks ago. The game will be available live online starting at 11:30am EDT.
As I did last season with Avangard Omsk, I’ve set up pages containing the schedules for both CSKA and Dynamo and will update them with scores and links to online broadcasts and highlights (when available) for those who want to keep tabs on the Rangers’ two KHL-based prospects. And for those who still wish to follow Jaromir Jagr and Avangard Omsk, I’ve once again posted the Avangard schedule and will update it with links and results throughout the season. (All three schedules can also be found in the “Links” section to the left.)
Avangard’s season gets underway on Saturday when they face Barys Astana at 5:00am EDT. That game is scheduled to be shown live on the new and much improved KHL web site, which was re-launched today to coincide with the start of the new season. (Unfortunately, the — extremely limited — English-language content that existed previously appears to have been lost in the transition.)
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