Category Archives: VHL

Finals Week, and Other Notes


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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The Banks of the Neva (Updated)


Dynamo St. Petersburg’s Alexander Kulagin (#82) fights through the chaos in front of the Zauralye Kurgan net in search of yet another goal.  (Image Source)

The 2017-18 Petrov Cup Final, in the VHL (Russia’s second-tier men’s professional league) will be an all-St. Petersburg affair!  Local teams Dynamo and SKA-Neva, the top two seeds coming into the post-season, have duly made their way to the championship round.  Read on, for a quick look back at the semifinal round, and ahead to the Final!

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The VHL Semifinals (and a note on a tragedy)


Goalie Ilyas Gafiullin receives congratulations from team-mate Denis Sander after Zauralye Kurgan eliminated Yermak Angarsk in the second round of the VHL playoffs. (Image Source)


First of all, and before we begin, a very sad note.  Yesterday brought dreadful news for residents of the city of Kemerovo, in Siberia 200 km. north of Novokuznetsk.  A fire broke out in a shopping mall complex in the city, killing at least 64 people — many of them children — with the death toll almost certain to rise significantly.  The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.  I would take this opportunity to extend all sympathies and condolences to the victims of the fire and to their families and friends.  Just an awful event, and thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kemerovo.


Read on, for hockey matters.

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Eight Teams Standing in the VHL


Goalie Andrei Litvinov guards the Metallurg Novokuznetsk net during their first-round series against Saryarka Karaganda.  And he guarded it very well indeed when the chips were down!  (Image Source)

The junior MHL playoffs, which we looked at yesterday, are just getting underway, but in the VHL (Russia’s second-tier men’s pro league), the first round of the quest for the Petrov Cup wrapped up on Friday.  And it featured some very interesting performances, including a tremendous upset achieved under the most dramatic circumstances!  So read on, for looks back at the first round and ahead to the second.

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Wrapping up the VHL Regular Season


Jubilation for the players of Molot-Prikamye Perm on Monday evening!  (Image Source)

While most of the attention, at this blog and elsewhere, is on the doings of the national teams at the Olympics, domestic hockey in Russia is still going on.  The 2017-18 regular season of the VHL (Russia’s second-tier men’s pro league), came to a dramatic end on Monday, as Molot-Prikamye Perm needed all three points from their final game, on the road against Bars Kazan, to snatch the final playoff spot away from Rubin Tyumen.  They got those points, as well, clinging on like grim death for a 2-1 victory despite taking a penalty in the last two minutes.  Read on, for a look at the first round matchup, and a quick recap of the VHL regular season.

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Down in the Minors: the VHL and PVHL in 2017-18


Dynamo Balashikha celebrate their Bratina Cup championship in the spring of 2017.  In an interesting twist, neither team nor trophy will return to the VHL for 2017-18.  (Image Source)

The VHL (Высшая хоккейная лига — “Vysshaya Khokkeinaya Liga” or “Supreme Hockey League”) is, despite its name, the second-highest level of professional men’s hockey in Russia, and is basically the country’s equivalent of the North American AHL.  Indeed, it includes farm teams from a number of KHL sides, although there are independent VHL teams as well.  The 2017-18 VHL campaign began earlier this month; read on, as we set the scene and talk about the league in this coming season.

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Reborn: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the VHL, 2011-12

We will remember…

KHL arenas were dark on Thursday, as always on September 7th, in observance of the anniversary of the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster.  The crash of Yak-Service flight 9633, carrying the team to Minsk to face Dinamo in their opening game of the 2011-12 KHL season, killed all 26 players on board, all 11 members of Lokomotiv’s coaching and training staff, and seven out of eight members of the flight crew.

Players: Vitaly Anikeyenko, Mikhail Balandin, Alexander Galimov, Gennady Churilov, Pavol Demitra, Robert Dietrich, Marat Kalimulin, Alexander Kalyanin, Andrei Kiryuhin, Nikita Klyukin, Stefan Liv, Jan Marek, Sergei Ostapchuk, Karel Rachůnek, Ruslan Salei, Maxim Shuvalov, Kārlis Skrastiņš, Pavel Snurnytsin, Daniil Sobchenko, Ivan Tkachenko, Pavel Trakhanov, Yury Urychev, Josef Vašíček, Alexander Vasyunov, Alexander Vyukhin, Artem Yarchuk.

Coaches: Alexander Karpovtsev, Igor Korolyov, Nikolai Krivonosov, Brad McCrimmon.

Staff: Yury Bakhvalov, Alexander Belyaev, Evgeny Kunnov, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Vladimir Piskunov, Evgeny Sidorov. Andrei Zimin.

Airplane crew: Nadezhda Maksumova, Vladimir Matyushkin, Elena Sarmatova, Elena Shalina, Andrei Solomentsev, Igor Zhevelov, Sergei Zhuravlev.

The memory of the disaster remains a very painful one, for the hockey fans of Yaroslavl especially but also throughout the hockey world, as witness the large numbers of tributes and remembrances that appear every year at this time.  But there is another story to be told here, because Lokomotiv came back.  Although it would be a full year before the team, rebuilt basically from scratch, next appeared in a KHL game, the club’s junior side continued to play in the MHL, and midway through that 2011-12 season Lokomotiv iced a professional hockey side once again.  Read on, for the story Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the VHL.

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Schedules and Suchlike


A cheerful moment between Barys Astana’s Alikhan Asetov (l.) and Talgat Zhailauov of Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, during Friday’s exhibition game. (Image Source)

The on-ice competitive portion of the 2017-18 KHL hockey season is officially underway, albeit only in exhibition game form!  Barys Astana took on their VHL farm team, Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, on Friday and… lost 6-2.  Ah well, (very, very) early days yet (and Torpedo are an extremely strong VHL team, too).  Read on, a look at newly-released schedules, league compositions, and the like!

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The Silk Road


John Cary’s 1806 map of Central and East Asia.  (Image Source, including full-size version of this picture!)

As mentioned in the previous post here, yesterday was a big day, news-wise, for Russian hockey.  We have covered the developments at Dynamo Moscow enough for the time being, so now we turn our attention to Tuesday’s other big announcement: a memorandum of understanding between the national hockey bodies of Russia and China on developing the sport in Asia.  The agreement includes the expected exchanges of information and expertise, and is part of the China’s fast-tracking of hockey development in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.  However, the announcement also means some big changes for the VHL, Russia’s second-highest men’s professional league — no surprise, as that circuit is run directly by the Russian Hockey Federation.  Read on, as we delve a little into what it all means…

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Guest Post: The KHL’s Strategic Plan


I am once again very happy to welcome Tomáš Vorčák (@vorkywh24 on Twitter) back to the blog for today’s post.  He has previously written here on the subjects of youth hockey in Russia, and on the relationship between the KHL and the Champions Hockey League.  Today, Tomáš has a detailed look at the KHL’s new development plan for the next few seasons, which was unveiled this past week and which represents a significant change of philosophy from the way the league used to operate.  Read on!

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