I have always had a soft spot for Amur Khabarovsk, since the days when the KHL’ s most eastern club had 5,000 km. to travel (one way) to play their nearest rivals (now, of course, Amur are right cheek-by-jowl with Admiral Vladivostok, a mere 750 km. down the A-370 highway). It has been a tough go for Amur, with only one playoff appearance since the founding of the KHL and consecutive last-place overall finishes in the last two years. However, 2015-16 has brought with it a more hopeful atmosphere around the team’s Platinum Arena home; backed by fine goaltending from Finland’s Juha Metsola, Amur have a 10-12 record at this point. The playoffs are by no means assured — far from it — but it looks like there will be meaningful hockey somewhat later in Amur’s campaign than has recently been the case.
And Saturday saw a nice moment. There was a real challenge on the menu for Amur, in the form of a visit from 15-6 CSKA Moscow and one of the league’s most formidable players in Alexander Radulov. “No problem,” said Amur, taking a 2-0 second-period lead thanks to Tom Wandell and Vitaly Shulakov. CSKA, through Dmitry Kugryshev and Andrei Svetlakov, roared back to tie it… but the little guys from Khabarovsk came through. With less than four minutes to play in regulartion, Shulakov’s second of the game put Amur in front again, they held onto that precious lead, and a sell-out crowd went home very happy indeed.
Extended highlights of the feat are above! Enjoy — the news notes will be along tomorrow, bringing tidings of the big coaching news from this weekend, interesting meetings in China, and other such matters.