April 20. First day of play for the teams of the East Group in the Gazprom Neft Cup 8th International KHL Youth Ice Hockey Tournament. All 12 teams fought their battles on the ice today, the results of which confirm their intention to go all-out for the Trophy.
From the outset, the games of the first day of the Tournament yielded an impressive set of results, as if the teams were vying for the most shots delivered. In just four opening games the young ice hockey players scored a total of 40 goals, or an average of ten per game. Natural leaders immediately came to the fore in a number of teams. In the opening game between Sibir and Barys, the Siberian forward Ilya Kogikin racked up five goals + pass points, twice scoring goals and three times assisting teammates to score, thereby helping his team to seal a 6:3 victory.
Before every Tournament fans and experts rate the competitors’ chances. Favourites in the East Group are the representatives of famous ice hockey schools of the Continental Hockey League clubs: Traktor, Avangard, Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) and Avtomobilist. And they were these teams that gave the finest displays of ice hockey on the first day of the play.
Metallurg showed no quarter to Yamal on Avangard’s home ice, crushing them 10:0. After the first period the Urals team led 4:0 and went on to secure their victory with ease. Meanwhile, Traktor demolished the defences of Yugra piece by piece to finish at 13:2! Before the evening’s opening ceremony game, Traktor warmed up well against Omsk hosts Avangard, with forwards Volgin and Khalezin scoring four goals and a hat-trick respectively.
By dint of the calendar some teams had to play two games in one day, which for some proved to be too much. Metallurg ceded a 2:1 victory to Tyumen’s Rubin after a hard-fought game, while Sibir could barely dent the performance of Ak Bars, losing 4:0 to the Kazan team. It was the same story with Yekaterinburg’s Avtomobilist, who after scoring a confident 5:1 win against Neftekhimik then lost 2:1 to Tournament newcomers Salavat Yulayev from Ufa.
In the evening the fans were treated to a lavish multi-media show followed by the scheduled clash of Avangard and Traktor. The teams fought a neck-and-neck game full of tense moments and riveting play but victory eluded the Omsk players in the final stage of the game when they missed two successive shots and lost 3:1. This left Traktor to stake its place on the ice as the favourite to win Group A.
A packed day of play beckons tomorrow in the East Group, with ten games to decide who goes through to fight for the Gazprom Neft Cup. All games at the Omsk Arena will be broadcast live on TV.