Sibir Switch Coaches


An all-too-common scene already this season, as the puck finds its way in the Sibir Novosibirsk net. (Image Source)

Sometimes, I get it entirely wrong.  “Definitely a team to keep an eye on,” I wrote in my  2018-19 preview of Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast, after suggesting that Sibir might even be a possible division winner.  Well, that looks a ludicrously sunny prognostication indeed right now.  The team from central Siberia — 0-6, with no points, and having been outscored 25-9 — will go down in the books as the first KHL team of this season to change coaches.  Gone is Vladimir Yurzinov, Jr. (“I think Yurzinov is exactly the right guy to look after this roster as it heads into the next stage of the rebuilding process,” said I, blithely), and his replacement will be ex-Admiral head coach Alexander Andriyevsky.  Read on, for what went awry, and what happens now.

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SKA St. Petersburg in 2018-19

Eras have ended at SKA St. Petersburg, after a 2017-18 campaign in which they lost just five times in regulation during the regular season but were unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs at the semifinal stage by CSKA Moscow.  Gone is coach Oleg Znarok, replaced both for club and country by Ilya Vorobyov.  Gone is Ilya Kovalchuk, who last season became the first player not named Radulov or Mozyakin to win the KHL scoring title.  And gone are a number of other well-known names from this immensely powerful team, as the KHL heads towards the imposition of a hard salary cap.  But this is still SKA St. Petersburg, and there are some big names among the incoming players as well… read on. Read the rest of this entry

CSKA Moscow in 2018-19

CSKA Moscow, the Central Red Army team of years gone by, were, as usual, very very good in 2017-18.  CSKA and SKA St. Petersburg were in a class by themselves during the regular season, and it was the former that earned the last laugh when the two titans met in the West Conference Final.  But, once again, CSKA’s season ended in disappointment, as what looked a prime opportunity to finally pick up a first Gagarin Cup was spurned via a five-game loss to Ak Bars Kazan in the Final.  Can CSKA finally get things right in the end in 2018-19?  Read on.

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Jokerit Helsinki in 2018-19

2017-18 featured a blistering start for Jokerit, and although they faded down the stretch, the team from Finland’s capital finished up in the league’s top five for the third time in its four KHL seasons.  And though Jokerit failed to get past the second round of the playoffs, they did give eventual finalists CSKA Moscow a pretty good fight before succumbing.  That second-half stumble raised some eyebrows, but overall the results must be deemed satisfactory.  Oh, and Jokerit also introduced a jaw-dropping young forward to the hockey world along the way!  So what’s in store for this season, and can Jokerit make a real run for the Gagarin Cup?  Read on…

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The Women’s Hockey League in 2018-19


Agidel Ufa’s Polina Luchnikova (#87) camps out in front of Tornado Moscow Oblast goalie Nadezhda Alexandrova and Galina Skiba during Sunday’s opening game of the 2018-19 Women’s Hockey League season.  Luchnikova, making her Agidel debut, had a huge game, scoring twice to lead her team to a 3-2 victory.  (Image Source)

The Russian Women’s Hockey League began it’s 2018-19 season on Sunday, as defending champions Agidel Ufa hosted their arch-rivals, and last year’s beaten finalists, Tornado Moscow Oblast.  This season will be the fourth in the Women’s Hockey League is under the aegis of the KHL, and it will feature some changes from last season.  Most notably, with the Olympics out of the way, the 2018-19 regular season will expand from 24 games per team to 36.  It will be followed once again by a two-round playoff featuring the top four regular-season squads.  The lineup of teams?  That is unchanged from the seven who took part in 2017-18.  So read on, for a look at each of those clubs, their major off-season moves, and their prospects for the coming season.


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Ak Bars Kazan in 2018-19

Ak Bars Kazan, the team from the capital Tatarstan, became the KHL’s first three-time Gagarin Cup champions last season, and it was generally considered something of an upset; most people, myself included, expected the trophy to go to CSKA Moscow or SKA St. Petersburg.  But we must take our hats off to Ak Bars, who were 2017-18 champions entirely on merit.  They won the East Conference despite a slew of injuries throughout the season, and lost just three games in the four playoff rounds.  And they may just be primed for an encore — in an early-season crisis in goal can be overcome.  Read on…

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Мы будем помнить.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in 2018-19

Lokomotiv’s 2017-18 campaign was very much, in its final result, what we have come to expect from the well-run, reliable, Yaroslavl team.  A top-four place in the conference, a playoff round won — nothing wrong with that at all for a club that, while it (usually) falls short of giants like SKA and CSKA, can nonetheless claim an annual spot among the West’s better teams.  But change is in the wind, and youth will most definitely be served on the Lokomotiv team that takes the ice in 2018-19.  Read on…

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Silk Roads


Where we left off in the VHL: Dynamo St. Petersburg players celebrate winning the Petrov Cup earlier this spring.  (Image Source)

The MHL, Russia’s top junior league, began 2018-19 play yesterday, and today it is the turn of the VHL, the country’s second-highest men’s professional circuit.  The VHL has undergone some re-branding, and its regular-season championship will now be known as the Silk Road Cup.  The playoff championship trophy remains the Petrov Cup, and it is currently in the possession of Dynamo St. Petersburg, who opened the season today with a rematch of the 2017-18 Final against their city rivals SKA-Neva.   Read on, for a quick primer.

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Junior Hockey Notes


Krasnaya Armiya Moscow’s #99 Nikita O. Popugayev breaks through the MHK Dynamo Moscow defence (#95 Vladislav Kazamanov and #89 Dmitry Grishchenko) during Tuesday’s opening game of the 2018-19 MHL regular season.  (Image Source)

The 10th season of the MHL — the “Youth Hockey League, Russia’s highest men’s junior circuit — got underway today with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow defeating city rivals Dynamo 5-3.  Kranaya Armiya’s 19-year-old Yegor Filin, who tied for sixth in MHL points last season, was the big star of the day, scoring a goal and adding two assists in the victory.  Read on, for a few notes and thoughts on the 2018-19 MHL season!

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