The 2017 Gagarin Cup Final
We have a Final! Metallurg Magnitogorsk wrapped up a four-game East Conference Final sweep of Ak Bars Kazan earlier today with a 4-1 victory. Sergei Mozyakin celebrated his 36th birthday in some style, contributing two assists and then a goal to the victory. The goal was his 54th of this season, surpassing the previous single-season record of 53 set by CSKA Moscow forward Veniamin Alexandrov in 1962-63 (in fairness to the old Red Army man, we should point out that Alexandrov scored his in 38 games, while Mozyakin took 72 to break the record).
Metallurg will be looking to win their third Gagarin Cup in four seasons, but the opposition will be tough. SKA St. Petersburg, themselves the 2015 champions, swept the West Conference Final against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl despite losing Pavel Datsyuk and goalie Mikko Koskinen to injury. Two of the games required overtime, one of those after SKA tied it in the last 10 seconds of the third, so it was not a routine sweep, but a sweep it was nonetheless. Much credit to young netminder Igor Shestyorkin, who stepped in for his injured colleague Koskinen early in Game 3, and stopped 65 of 66 shots the rest of the way.
Due to the brevity of the Conference Finals, we now have a bit of a break before the Final commences. Game 1, in Magnitogorsk, will be played on April 8th. Sometime before then, we will have a full preview of the series here at the blog. However, as a preview of the preview: given the way these two teams play the game, there ought to be some spectacular hockey coming our way in early April!