The atmosphere grew tenser on the second day of Gazprom Neft Cup games, which would decide teams in the tournament’s quarter finals.
In groups A and B of East Group, Avangard and Neftekhimik already knew yesterday that they would both be contesting the next stage in knock-out matches. But teams in groups C and D were still not sure which of them would stay in the running for the Cup, and which would have to make do with the consolation round.
The morning games brought an unexpected result: Metallurg (Novokuznetsk) beat Traktor (Chelyabinsk), but only in a penalty shoot-out. So Chelyabinsk gets the one point it needed to overtake Avtomobilist for the first place in its group and meets its traditional foe, Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) in a quarter final game later today. The “magnets” team, coming from a confident victory over Barys (6:0), has the momentum to give Traktor a hard match.
In group A, Kazan’s Ak Bars and Sibir from Novosibirsk had to decide who would go forward, and it was the team from Tatarstan which dashed into a 5:0 lead from the start. The Siberians showed character from the second period onwards, but were frustrated by a 5:4 score line at the end of the match. So the “leopards” of Ak Bars go forward to meet Yugra later today in the quarter final. The team from Khanty-Mansiysk comes on from a dramatic 5:4 duel against Salavat Yulaev, and its victory dashed the playoff hopes of Rubin from Tyumen, despite Rubin’s shoot-out win against Yugra yesterday. It’s tough, but that’s hockey!
Avangard and Neftekhimik have impressed the most in the opening stage, so they must be the quarter final favourites. Omsk have scored 12 and conceded just one goal in their two games, which is the best result among the East Group teams. Neftekhimik (from Nizhnekamsk in Tatarstan) have a powerful attack and a tireless will to win, as shown when they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the dying minutes of yesterday’s game against Metallurg (Magnitogorsk). Traktor, Salavat Yulaev and Yugra are harder to rate: they lost and won games in the preliminary stage, but they have made the playoffs, so anything could happen. The only sure thing is that we have some exciting hockey to look forward to!
Gazprom Neft Cup quarter final games have been shaped as follows:
Omsk Arena (Omsk time)
15:00 — Neftekhimik vs. Avtomobilist
16:40 — Avangard vs. Salavat Yulaev
Avangard hockey centre
15:00 — Traktor vs. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
16:40 — Yugra vs. Ak Bars
18:20 — Sibir vs. Barys
Avangard hockey centre
18:20 — Metallurg (Novokuznetsk) vs. Rubin
The East Group semi-finals and final will be held on April 27.
The games from the Omsk Arena will be broadcast live on the official website of the Gazprom Neft Cup.