The KHL may have wrapped up its action for 2016-17, with SKA St. Petersburg the Gagarin Cup champions, but there are still games being played in some Russian domestic leagues. We noted yesterday that HK Rostok had won the country’s third-tier professional men’s championship; today, the second-level VHL wrapped up its title race, so read on for a recap of that result, and some other notes as well!
In the VHL, Russia’s second-tier men’s professional league, the Bratina Cup playoffs wrapped up today when Dynamo Balashikha defeated Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk 2-1 to complete a sweep of the best-of-seven Final. For Dynamo, farm club of the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow, it is the first Bratina Cup championship since the team’s founding in 2010; in fact, 2016-17 marked the first time that Dynamo had made it past the second round in the VHL playoffs. It was also something of an upset: Dynamo were the sixth-ranked team in the VHL regular season, finishing 17 points behind regular-season champions Torpedo.
Dynamo goalie Ivan Bocharov won the playoff MVP award, and that is a name you may wish to keep in mind for future reference. He has yet to make his KHL debut, but the 21-year-old Bocharov posted a .951 sv% in 19 playoff games to lead the second league, and his .928 sv% in 33 regular-season games had him in the league’s top 10.
Dynamo overcame defending champions Neftyanik Aletyevsk in the first round, saw off Sputnik Nizhny Tagil in the quarterfinals, and won their semi-final round over Zauralye Kurgan. 2016-17 also marked the first trip to the Final for Torpedo, who defeated Izhstal Izhevsk, Dynamo St. Petersburg, and Rubin Tyumen on their way to the last series. Torpedo should be back; Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the far north-eastern corner of Kazakhstan, is one of the ex-Soviet world’s great producers of hockey players (the city trails only Moscow and Chelyabinsk in number of native KHLers).
This was likely the last season that the VHL trophy will be known as the Bratina Cup. According to reports, it will be renamed beginning next season in honour of Soviet-era superstar Vladimir Petrov, who passed away in February.
Congratulations are also in order to Anyang Halla, the South Korean club who secured their fifth Asia League title last week by defeating the league’s only Russian representative, HK Sakhalin, in three straight games. The Sakhalin club, from the eponymous island off Russia’s east coast, were also beaten in the Final last season, by the same opponents. HK Sakhalin were founded in 2014, so two trips to the Final in three seasons is not bad at all, even if no championships have yet resulted.
In Russia’s top junior league, the MHL, the Kharlamov Cup Final is now two games old, and it does not look like the series will be a close one. Krasnaya Armiya Moscow, junior side of CSKA Moscow, won both of their first two games (7-4 and 6-1) against Reaktor Nizhnekamsk (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk’s youngsters). Reaktor have had no answer to the Krasnaya Armiya duo of Danila Kvartalnov and Semyon Koshelev. Koshelev scored a hat-trick in Game 1, and has eight points to go with a +8 rating through those first two games. Kvartalnov is also +8, and has six points through Games 1 and 2.
Meanwhile, in the second-tier junior league, the NMHL, Gornyak Uchaly and Dizelist Penza are tied at a game apiece in the best-of-five Final.
Full updates on the still-ongoing series when they are over; in the meantime, thank you for reading!