Moscow wins two of three national tournaments in Russia; Central takes U15
The Russian Federal District Championships concluded over the weekend. The annual tournament features all-star teams from seven of the country’s districts (Central, Far Eastern, Northwestern, Privolzhsky, Ural, Siberia, Southern), its two major cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) and an honorary member from Belarus. Separate tournaments are held at the U14, U15 and U16 age groups.
The tournament is similar in structure to that of TV-Pucken in Sweden or the Youth Olympic Games in Canada. It has a Little League World Series feel to it as teams represent the various regions of the country. Top youth hockey players from several winter clubs are selected in an all-star team type of way. For instance, players from Dynamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow clash repeatedly throughout the winter season. However, for a 10-day stretch each November, they set their rivalries aside to represent Moscow on the national stage. Similar situations occur in St. Petersburg and throughout the other districts in the tournament field.
Moscow Finally Makes it Past St. Petersburg
In the previous two ‘07 Federal District Championships, Moscow came up just short both times at the hands of St. Petersburg. In 2020, Moscow’s lone loss in the U14 tournament was a 5-3 decision to eventual champion St. Petersburg. Again in 2021, the two clashed on the final day of the U15 tournament, and again St. Petersburg was victorious 7-4.
In the 2007 birth year’s third and final Federal District Championship tournament, Moscow finally broke through. Not only did they knock off St. Petersburg 4-3 in the semifinal, they won big over the Central District to win tournament gold.
After losing on the opening day of the tournament to Siberian District, Moscow went on to win its next six games by an average margin of victory of 4.6 goals. Ivan Ryabkin and Ivan Arkhipov led the way offensively for Moscow. Both have been standout forwards this season for the No. 2-ranked team in the world, Dynamo Moscow. Ryabkin has 22 points in 11 games and Arkhipov has 18 points in 15 games.
At the tournament, they continued that success. Ryabkin recorded at least one point in every game of the tournament. Additionally, Arkhipov posted multi-point games against Belarus, Northwestern and Central.
While it was the first time Moscow won the 2007-born Federal District Championship, the district had won the U16 tournament twice in the past four years. The ‘06s won it last year, and the ‘03s won in 2018.
Secondary Scoring in the Semifinal
While heavy hitters like Ryabkin and Arkhipov helped get Moscow to the final four, it was depth players that ultimately exorcized their tournament demons.
Mikhail Melikov put Moscow on the board first with a strong move to the net and a follow-up attempt on his own rebound. After back-to-back goals by St. Petersburg gave them the lead, it was Nikita Esipov who tied it back up at 2-2.
Before the end of the second period, though, St. Petersburg would regain the lead for the second time.
With 11:43 left in regulation, Ryabkin won an offensive-zone face-off cleanly back to Roman Rizvanov. Rizvanov — who had several scoring chances throughout the game — quickly corralled the puck and fired it into the net before goaltender Victor Levchenko could react.The game headed into the late stages tied at 3-3.
Just over a minute later, Esipov carried into the zone, cut into the slot and sent a backhand shot over Levchenko’s shoulder to give Moscow the 4-3 lead. Esipov only had one goal in pool play, yet came up with two huge tallies when Moscow needed it most. They would hold onto that lead down the stretch to ultimately eliminate St. Petersburg and advance to the championship.
Central District Dominates Field of ‘08s
A district that includes the country’s capital city of Moscow does not actually pull players from the city limits itself. Moscow — and St. Petersburg, for that matter — fields its own team in the tournament. So, the Central District pulls the majority of its players from surrounding programs like Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (10), Vityaz Podolsk (eight) and Mikhailov Academy (five). All three of those programs are ranked among the top 10 teams in Russia. Players like Victor Fedorov, Matvey Kotkov and Nikita Daryavin showed just why their winter season clubs are ranked so highly.
The Central District went 5-1-0 in group play, with the lone loss coming 3-1 against Moscow in the second game of action. Finishing atop Group B, Central earned a first-round bye and top seed in the elimination rounds, along with the Ural Federal District on the other side of the bracket.
In the quarterfinals, Central put a hurting on the Southern District 10-4, scoring three unanswered goals three different times. The semifinals followed a similar pattern, as Central thumped St. Petersburg 9-2, with seven different players recording a goal.
Chalk eventually won out in the bracket, as the top team in Group A, Ural, moved on to meet the top team in Group B, Central. However, in a matchup of best on best, Central still proved to be dominant with an 8-3 win in the final.
Alexey Vlasov Tops All Skaters
Fedorov finished as the leading scorer for Central with five goals and 12 points. However, SKA-Yunost Yekaterinburg forward Alexey Vlasov led all skaters in the tournament with 14 points while representing the Ural District. Vlasov opened up the tournament with a five-point performance against the Southern District. He quickly added a hat trick in a win over Far-Eastern District the next day. Then, Vlasov closed out the tournament with five points in Ural’s last two games against Belarus and Privolzhsky District.
While he may have trailed Vlasov in points, Fedorov did prove to be the only skater to tally a point in every game. He factored in on 35 percent of the team’s offensive in the tournament.
Ural District’s Nikita Fedotov led all defensemen in points with seven. All of those came in the form of assists, as he distributed the puck well to produce offense. In fact, Fedotov tallied three assists in Ural’s 4-3 win over Privolzhsky District, setting up the game-tying goal and game-winning goal 10 minutes apart.
Moscow’s Vladimir Selivanov and Central’s Dmitry Borichev had matching 1.54 goals-against averages. Selivanov has played 15 games this season for world-ranked No. 16 Dynamo Moscow; they are 8-7-1 overall. Borichev backed Central in all five of the seven tournament games. He’s allowed a total of 18 goals in 10 games this season between the Federal District Championships and his regular-season action with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
Moscow Wins For First Time In Five Years
The Moscow District, while one of the most dominant hockey regions in the country, had not won a Federal District Championship at the U14 age level since 2018 when the ‘05s won. Undefeated throughout the entire tournament, Moscow District out-scored its opponents 49-6 in group play. Moscow produced seven of the top 10 scorers in the tournament. Nazar Privalov and Dmitry Savin led the way with 13 and 12 points apiece. They were bested only by Sergei Skvortsov of the Privolzhsky District, who produced 14 points.
Moscow’s depth was on full display, with Artem Mishin, Bogdan Vasilevsky and Daniil Ermolov helped propel Moscow to dominant wins over the Southern District, Ural District and Far-Eastern District. Moscow, along with the Central District, finished as the top two seeds for the playoffs after pool play.
Once there, Moscow continued its dominance with a 10-1 win over Siberia in the quarterfinals. In the final four, Moscow faced the Ural District — a team it had beaten 8-1 five days earlier. Victorious in the rematch, it set the stage for a championship game of best on best, as the top team from Group A finally clashed with the top team from Group B. Moscow capped off its impressive performance with its eighth victory of the week over Central District, and most importantly, a Russian national championship.
Daniil Martynov — who plays for world-ranked No. 3 CSKA Moscow during the regular season — earned best goaltender of the tournament. His CSKA teammate Nazar Privalov was named top forward of the tournament after scoring five goals and 13 points. Artem Mate was awarded top defenseman honors and will return to action for No. 4-ranked Spartak Moscow this weekend.