After suffering a horrific loss against Barys Nur-Sultan, Dinamo Riga traveled to Ufa to meet with the local Salavat Yulaev team.
Dinamo entered the game having lost 1:7 against the Barys team while Salavat Yulaev also suffered a loss in the most recent game - 3:4 loss against Metallurg Magnitogorsk. For Riga the task at hand was once again clear, a return to winning ways was most important for Krikunov and his crew. A game to rebound and why not do it against an opponent that they haven’t managed to beat on the road since September 6th of 2016?
Krikunov was still eleven players shoot and he reached to change things when it came to the line-up as well - for the first time this season young Eriks Vitols was set to start in goal for the visiting Dinamo side. More of HK Riga’s youngsters dressed for the game including Millers, Tumanovs, and Andzans. Key roles were played by Jelisejevs, Cerveny, and Meija who all of a sudden had performed well in previous outings earning themselves first-line minutes.
In a game of many goals and as many mistakes - Salavat Yulaev Ufa’s side came on top giving hope for another exciting match on Monday when both sides will meet again - 6:4 the final score.
Dinamo Riga head coach Vladimir Krikunov: ‘’We tried to get ourselves into the groove of the game. However, in the first minutes, we already go two goals against. I wanted to give a chance to our young goalie, but unfortunately, after the fourth goal, we had to swap him out. We wanted Hudacek to rest. We played very well on power-play, it’s been a long time coming that we’ve been capable of performing in such a manner. If we look at the game overall, the guys tried and played hard. I’m happy with the perfomance but not the result.’’
Special team action brings goals
Early on Krikunov had already surprised the viewers and opponent - the lines in the sheet were different than the actual thing on the ice. All of a sudden Lukas Radil was missing from the game. An unlucky start to Filips Buncis getting a seat in the penalty box. Salavat Yulaev’s side wasted no time - two stretch passes led to a cross-crease goal by Teemu Hartikainen. A tripping call against Southorn meant that Riga once again would go down by a man - but his side managed to kill it.
Nikolai Kulemin got penalized for kneeing meaning that the game would continue being played with inequal player count on the ice and for Riga a chance to level the score. Attacks were dangerous and chances came, yet the Ufa side survived their first penalty kill to also stay on top in the scoresheet.
At the mid-point of the period when teams managed to play more of five-on-five hockey, the game seemed less one-sided than it was before. Both teams created opportunities in front of the net. Riga even had improved and seemed to control things on the ice slightly more than their opponent. A shot for a tie was denied as Eriks Vitols was beaten for the second time in the match - a scuffle as Philip Larsen went to the net and the puck bounced right onto his stick for a perfect re-direct into the net.
Both sides still continued battling showcasing a very entertaining game of hockey, although the scoreboard showed a two-goal lead for the home side it looked like nothing has been decided in the game and there would be more fun stuff to come. Eventually, the fun stuff came - Nikolajs Jelisejevs was back and ready to score - four-minute minor gave Riga a lengthy period of power-play, and in one of their attack pucks landed right on the stick of Jelisejevs who roofed the puck in the net to cut down lead to a single goal. It wasn’t nearly over either as the game was tied with Nikolajs Jelisejevs dropping the puck down to Zile who blasted the puck into the net with 3 seconds left in the first.
Ufa doubles down
After a shocking end of the first period, Ufa came back in the second determined to assure they would be up a goal, and on their first try the puck was once again in the net - Larsen once again drove the net and cashed in on a rebound on his second attempt in that situation. Hockey-wise things still seemed as if the game would be entertaining from the start till the end. Out of nowhere the puck once again was in Dinamo’s net meaning that Vitols game would come to an end and Hudacek stepped into the game.
Following the goalie swap, Dinamo picked things up trying to once again find the goal-scoring touch. They cycled the puck a lot but didn’t seem to come close to scoring once again. Ufa meanwhile with a relentless counter almost got their fifth of the game but the puck hit the post and tumbled away.
An opportunity to score was once again in the hands of Dinamo Riga as they were awarded a man advantage - nothing happened until it ended - Gunars Skvrocovs had a superb chance to run away and battle against Sharychenkov but was caught off-side by a long mile. Unfortunately for them, Ufa was up by two as the second period came to an end.
Third-period began with Salvat Yulaev attacking a lot and Julius Hudacek having to stop pucks. Krikunov had switched up his game-plan a little as his team now looked for quick and long passes to send their players in more dangerous attacks which occurred less often due to the activity of the Ufa side.
An action-packed battle with not many stops led to the home side being able to score another goal to officially seal the deal in the game - a mistake between Ozols and Zile handed the puck to Bashkirov who quickly passed to Alalykin who one-timed the puck in the net from a close range.
That didn’t end there - the score did change once more - a long cycle of the puck by Salavat Yulaev’s first line led to Markus Granlund shooting the puck towards the net and Viktor Tikhonov was there to re-direct it past the goalie and into the net. 6:2 was the score with over eight minutes still to play.
With five minutes left in the third Riga were given an opportunity to make the end result look somewhat better and play on the power-play. That opportunity was ceased - Kristaps Zile shot the puck from the blue-line and Emile Poirier with re-direction. Another power-play followed and Riga managed to once again score - Poirier once again with the goal and this time with a one-timer of his own after a successful pass from Jelisejevs. The game ended with a two-goal difference - 6:4 for Salavat Yulaev.
Dinamo Riga debutant Arturs Andzans reflected on the game: ‘’It’s a cool feeling. The overall game wasn’t bad for me or the team. The first period worked well when we managed to get two goals. During the second and the third we got some unlucky goals on our side. It was a good debut for me, there were mistakes but you can always do better. If you can score it’s good, if not it’s not as good. We have to continue working. The power-play was great, that has to stay for the future games.’’