Category Archives: Junior Hockey

Finals Week, and Other Notes

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Newly-appointed Russian men’s national team coach Ilya Vorobyov. (Image Source)

This is a bit of a “tidying-up” sort of post; it includes updates on all of the various league Finals going on or starting this week, as well as some news from the FHR and previews of imminent international hockey attractions.  So read on, as we go all over the place!

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To the Kharlamov Cup Final!

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The Kharlamov Cup. (Image Source)

The field for the Kharlamov Cup Final in the MHL (Russia’s top-tier men’s junior league) is now set, and the series will get underway this coming weekend.  This year’s Final will be an all West Conference affair (the MHL crosses over at the semifinal stage), with 2015-16 champions Loko Yaroslavl taking on SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, whose previous best finish was as runners-up in 2014-15.

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The Gagarin Cup Final is Set!

The Final of the 2017-18 Gagarin Cup playoffs is indeed set: CSKA Moscow, in something of a surprise, will take on Ak Bars Kazan for the KHL championship, with Game 1 of the Final going on April 14th.

But before we start our discussion of the Conference Finals, the KHL results were of course not the big hockey news of the weekend.  That occurred on a wintry stretch of highway in rural Saskatchewan, where the bus carrying 29 players and staff of the Humboldt Broncos, who play in the Junior A Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, collided with a transport truck.  Fifteen passengers on the bus were killed, and the other 14 injured, some very seriously.  Junior hockey is a huge thing on the Canadian prairies, and indeed in many other places, and those long bus rides between towns are a staple of growing up for kids on sports teams, in clubs, and involved in school, church, and community groups; this is a devastatingly tragic blow, obviously, not only for the victims and their families, but for the town of Humboldt as well.  Many will recall the bus accident involving another Saskatchewan junior team, the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, in 1986.  And for those of us who follow Russian hockey, there are shades of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster in 2011.

Notes of condolence for the victims of the accident have poured in from all over, including statements from the Russian Hockey Federation and from KHL teams Dynamo Moscow and Spartak Moscow, among others.   Much has also been written about the tragedy; there is far too much to link to it all, but I would particularly recommend this piece by Gregg Drinnan, and this one by Roy MacGregor.  And allow me here to add my own condolences and warm thoughts to all the victims of this horrendous accident.

Read on, as we go back to the KHL.

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Crossing Over in the MHL

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Loko Yaroslavl’s Ilya Konovalov, who is having an excellent MHL playoffs, snags a shot. (Image Source)

Round 2 of the Kharlamov Cup playoffs in the MHL, Russia’s top men’s junior league, finished up last week, and we are now on the eve of Round 3: the semifinal round.  Read on, for quick look at what happened in the quarterfinals, and a peek ahead to the pairings for the final four!

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Women’s Hockey Update: March 27th, 2018

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Things get a little rivalrous between Agidel Ufa (in white) and Tornado Moscow Oblast during a game last week. (Image Source)

There was a lot of hockey played in the Women’s Hockey League over the past seven days, and we have recaps of it all, and some discussion of what it all signified for the upcoming playoffs and for the scoring race.  Do read on for that, and for the final resolution of the national Under-18 championship!

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To the Last Eight in the MHL

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Reaktor Nizhnekamsk’s Bulat Shafigullin (in blue) works against the Stalny Lisy Magnitogorsk defence during the first round of the MHL playoffs.  Shafigullin would be a key figure in a huge upset!  (Image Source)

A week or so ago we looked at the then-impending first round of the playoffs in the MHL — Russia’s top-tier men’s junior league.  Well, that round is now complete, as the series were all best-of-five, and we have the pairings for the last eight.  Read on, for a quick recap of the opening series with some discussion of key performers, and of course a look at those upcoming match-ups in the second round.

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The MHL Playoffs are Here!

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Loko Yarslavl’s Daniil Isayev makes a save under pressure from Alexander Petunin of Dynamo Moscow during 2017-18 MHL action.  Both players count very much as “guys to watch!”  (Image Source)

The 2017-18 regular season of the MHL, Russia’s top men’s junior hockey league came to an end this past Tuesday in dramatic fashion.  Russkie Vityazi Chekhov, junior team of the KHL’s Vityaz Moscow Oblast, needed a point from their final game to sneak ahead of MHK Dynamo Moscow and take the last playoff berth in the league’s West Conference.  Things look dire for the “Russian Knights,” down 0-1 to HK Riga in the closing stages.  But Pavel Gorokhov scored for the Chekhov side, and seven seconds later so did Ilya Chuikov, and that was enough; Russkie Vityazi held on to win 2-1, and with that all the playoff matchups were known.  And the post-season hunt for the Kharlamov begins tomorrow — read on, for a look at the pairings and some notes on the regular season!

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Women’s Hockey Update: February 27th, 2018

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Mariya Barykina (l.) and Svetlana Trefilova, team-mates on the Russian national team at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and still team-mates today, with Grad-1 Moscow in Russia’s amateur women’s hockey league!  (Image Source)

With the Olympic Games over, we now return to the weekly women’s hockey updates!  This one is sort of a catch-up edition; there were games in the amateur League of Women’s Hockey and in the Russian national Under-18 championship during the Olympic break, so read on for a full recap of those events.  And we will also start to take a look at the women’s hockey program in Russia in light of the results from these most recent Games, and at where it might go in the future.

 

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KHL Doings

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The VTB Ice Palace at Legends Park in Moscow.  It is the home of both Spartak and Dynamo, which is causing a bit of a problem for the KHL as the playoffs approach. (Image Source)

Both Russian Olympic teams, women’s and men’s, are now ensconced at the site of the Games in South Korea, which means that the next couple of weeks around here will largely have to do with that competition.  However, the KHL, despite now being well into its Olympic break, has not been entirely idle in terms of news.  So read on, as get caught up on some re-signings, departing coaches, and the like…

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Wrapping Up the Under-18 Women’s Worlds

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Russia’s Ilona Markova (in white) battles her opposite number, Alexie Guay of Canada, during the bronze medal match at the 2018 Women’s Under-18 World Championship. (Image Source)

The 2018 Women’s Under-18 World Championship came to an end on Saturday in Dmitrov, Russia, as the United States collected its fourth straight gold medal at the event with a 9-3 victory over Sweden.  Not that the Swedes need be embarrassed; the tournament saw them become the first non-North American team to make it to the gold medal game.  As we have mentioned here before, the tournament had earlier seen some history made by Team Russia, who became the first squad from outside North America to beat one of the continent’s two women’s hockey powerhouses.  However, in the end the Russian players may leave their home tournament (the first top-division women’s hockey Worlds held in Russia) with a sense of an opportunity missed, as they dropped the bronze medal match to Canada by a score of 5-1.  Read on, for a recap of how Russia’s tournament ended, and for some thoughts.

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