Another full day of play in the East group of the 8th Gazprom Neft Cup wrapped up with the final game, attended by about 4,000 fans. Victory went to the Kazan players of Ak Bars, whose success can be called characteristic.
Throughout the tournament, coach Lenar Vildanov’s charges have shown us hockey beyond their years with a special talent for defence. We can see the effects of the special Kazan school of hockey. The final frontier was cemented by Shamil Valiullin, who in the entire tournament has allowed only one (!) goal. What’s more, Ak Bars has only twice taken their missile out of the net. And the attack has also done its job well, hitting opponents with just exactly as much as was needed for victory. A huge score was achieved only once, when the Tatarstan players heaped it on in the game against Barys — 18:1.
The third day of competition kicked off with the semi-finals. On the ice at the Omsk Arena, Ak Bars with a minimal score beat Magnitogorsk Metallurg — 2:1. Up to the 28th minute the scoreboard was fixed on (1:1) but the individual efforts of Danil Grigoriev in the rival end brought the Kazan team their victory. In the final they went to meet Omsk team Avangard, which had looked great in all their matches after their unexpected opening loss to Traktor. Ufa team Salava Yulaev were in the semi-final but couldn’t stand up to the speed of the ‘eagles’. From the low results of Mikhail Zlobin’s team in the third period they got the score to 4:1 in their favour and made it into the final of the East group. After which Avangard looked forward to returning to the ice at the main Omsk arena.
Before the start of the final, the fans welcomed the head coach of the adult Avangard team Raimo Summanen, who had only that morning flown into Omsk. The Finnish specialist found time in his busy schedule and spent a whole hour signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone who wanted to. Then he and about 4,000 fans watched the tense fight between the ‘eagles’ and the ‘panthers’, decided by one goal hit in on a ricochet by Denis Kurochkin. Shamil Valiullin put another ‘dry’ game on his record. Now he and his teammates will wait nervously for April 25, the day of the Superfinal in the 8th Gazprom Neft Cup.