A few days ago we looked at some Russian leagues’ final series; well, now we have the first of those championships to be resolved. Congratulations to HK Rostov, from Rostov-na-Donu (Rostov-on-Don) in Russia’s southwest, who today wrapped up the Federations Cup, championship of Russia’s third-tier men’s pro league, the Pervenstvo VHL. Read on, for some notes on Rostov’s triumph.
HK Rostov have been a power in the PVHL for the last few years; they came into 2018-19 as three-time defending regular-season champions, and had taken home the Federations Cup in 2017 as well (HK Rostov also won the championship of the Russian Hockey League, the PVHL’s predecessor, in 2015). Rostov’s path in 2018-19 was a little easier than usual, too; HK Tambov, 2018 Federations Cup champions, departed this past off-season to try their luck in the second-tier VHL. In any case, Rostov made it four regular-season titles in a row, going 43-5 with the services of the league’s top two scorers: Alexei Prokhorov (46 gp, 32-37-59) and Andrei Martynov (47 gp, 15-39-54).
The playoffs proved only sightly more difficult. Rostov swept Krasnoyarskie Rysi in the best-of-five quarterfinal, outscoring their opponents 22-3. In the semifinal, Yunior Kurgan were overcome by four games to one, although it should be noted that Rostov did need overtime to secure two of their victories in that series. And that set up a final against Morodviya Saransk, hailing from the capital of the Republic of Mordoviya southeast of Moscow. Mordoviya had defeated Altai Barnaul 3-1 in quarters, and then overcome HK Cheboksary 4-2 in their semifinal series.
The Final, and particularly the last game of it, was a little bit closer than the end result would indicate. Rostov took the opener narrowly, by a score of 2-1, before hammering Mordoviya 6-2 in Game 2. But that was the only match that would be lopsided; Game 3 went Rostov’s way by a 3-1 score, and today’s clinching Game 4 was a thriller in every way. In Saransk, Rostov got out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Alexander Korobov and Vladislav Tunik, only for the home team to fight back in the third period and level the game (Kirill Yelagin and Yevgeny Kolychev scored Mordoviya’s goals). Matters had to wait until, literally, the last second; at 19:59 of the third, on the powerplay, Pavel Shcherbakov notched the winner, and the game finished 3-2 to give Rostov the title once again.
Big props to Rostov goalie Alexander Zubarev, who stopped 107 of 113 shots in the Final (94.7%). Rostov’s big scorers contributed as well; Tunik led everyone in the playoffs with nine goals in 12 games, and his 11 points tied him with Prokhorov and Vasily Myakinin for team lead in that category (Martynov, Rostov’s other big regular-season scorer, did fine too, scoring six goals and nine points in 12 post-season games). Mordoviya can take a little bit of comfort from having produced the playoffs’ two best point-scorers overall; Kolychev and Dmitry Sarazov recorded 12 points each, although they did play a couple more games than the Rostov guys.
And so congratulations to the Condors of HK Rostov — to players, to coaches, and especially to head coach Grigorijs Panteļejevs (or Grigori Panteleyev, as he was known in his days as a Boston Bruins prospect in the early 1990s)! They were dominant through the season, and did not let up at any point — worthy Federations Cup champions indeed. Hats off as well to Mordoviya Saransk, whose performance in the Final probably deserved at least one victory.
And a quick update on several other Finals currently or soon-to-be underway in Russia:
- KHL: CSKA Moscow lead Avangard Omsk Oblast 3-0. Game 4 on Friday.
- Women’s Hockey League: Agidel Ufa vs. Dynamo St. Petersburg (best of five). Game 1 on Saturday.
- VHL: Rubin Tyumen and Saryarka Karaganda tied 1-1. Game 3 on Saturday.
- PVHL: HK Rostov win Federations Cup 4-0 over Mordoviya Saransk.
- MHL: Avto Yekaterinburg and Loko Yaroslavl tied 2-2. Game 5 on Saturday.
- NMHL: HK Rossosh and Dizelist Penza tied 2-2 (best of five). Game 5 on Sunday.
Thank you for reading! A bit later this evening, if I can get it done, we will have a preview of that Women’s Hockey League Final that begins on Saturday.