Dynamic line of Shilov, Kulebyakin and Vlasov led tournament in scoring
The search for a 2008-born Russian national champion ended on Wednesday when SKA-Yunost Yekaterinburg defeated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4-3 in a shootout. The championship was a rematch between the two teams who met last Thursday; Lokomotiv dominated SKA-Yunost by way of a 5-1 final. With a national championship on the line, though, the result proved to be significantly different.
SKA’s prolific line of Egor Shilov, Oleg Kulebyakin and Alexey Vlasov proved would finish as the top three scorers in the tournament, and lift the team to national championship gold.
Kulebyakin shines in championship game
Much like in their first game against one another, Lokomotiv got the scoring started just over two minutes into the championship game. Artem Korsavok threw a puck on net from the blue line that deflected off Alexander Leonov. The rebound dropped in the crease where Sergey Chernnyaev slipped it home for a 1-0 lead. After more time had passed, SKA gained the offensive zone with Fedor Tuliveter chasing a loose puck. He managed to send a chip pass over to Egor Kim who was alone in the slot. Kim whipped a shot past Dmitry Borichev for his first point of the tournament to tie the game at 1-1.
With the minutes waning in the first period, SKA’s top line went to work. Shilov took the puck off a face-off win and sent it high over the net. Vlasov pinned a defender to the boards, allowing Shilov to take the puck and shoot it on goal. Waiting there was Kulebyakin, who collected the loose puck and banged it in for a 2-1 lead with 1:04 remaining on the clock.
The game would again draw even when Lokomotiv scored to make it 2-2. While killing a penalty, Victor Federov managed to slip by the defense for a short-handed breakaway. He was taken down on the attempt and a penalty shot was awarded. Showing off his silky hands, Federov deked around Grigory Melnikov to score on the opportunity.
While that particular power play backfired on SKA, they made sure to cash in on the next opportunity. With Lokomotiv unable to clear, SKA’s power-play unit moved the puck around with some dazzling passes. The sequence was completed when Kulebyakin fired a wrist shot top shelf from the right circle to give SKA a 3-2 lead.
But Yaroslavl’s tenacity showed once more when they tied the game with 1:18 left in the period. Federov took an unforced turnover from behind the net and fed it to Andrey Kochetkov in front. After being denied on his initial shot, he took the rebound and put it in to even the score.
Second straight shootout winner for SKA-Yunost
With no goals scored in the third period or overtime, the game headed to a shootout. It was familiar territory for SKA-Yunost. After all, an overtime goal from Andrey Gudin against CSKA Moscow in the semifinals is what propelled them to the championship game.
With the game, tournament and championship on the line, Kulebyakin tallied the only goal in the shootout while Melnikov stopped all five opposing shooters. SKA-Yunost secured the victory and the championship with one of the more unlikely victories in the tournament. The win comes seven days after Lokomotiv nearly eliminated them from national championship contention altogether.