First win for Dinamo Riga against Sochi on home ice
Photographer: Raimonds Volonts
Riga is back home and looking to get back into winning ways against an opponent that they have never defeated before on the home ice - HC Sochi.
Both teams are coming into the game having two or more losses in a row so this certainly meant that one of two sides would have a wonderful mood after the game. Nikolajs Jelisejevs has been red-hot for Riga recently having scored three points in just as many games. Sochi are coming into Latvian capital with three former Dinamo players on their roster - goaltender Maxim Tretiak and forward JC Lipon who is yet to score a point so far this season with seven games down. Janis Jaks is returning to his home soil in the colours of the enemy as well - the 26-year-old was off to a quick start early on in the season and since has registered three points in 11 games.
“The first period wasn’t good, I don’t know the reason for it. In the second period we had a second breath and managed to have the strength in the end to win. I’m so happy about this victory” Daniels Berzins said after the match.
Coast to coast hockey early on and HC Sochi came in with the first real opportunity of the game - two minutes in Mattsson was beaten but the puck hit the crossbar and ricocheted towards the corner of the rink.
Shortly after Brandom Gormley was forced to trip up the opponent who was very close to a break-away giving the visitors a man advantage. Riga’s penalty kill was sharp and although their opponent controlled the puck well the disadvantage with having one less player got taken care of. Midpoint of the period and Riga with yet another penalty - this time Emile Poirier sat down for kneeing, then later on Lukas Radil took a dangerous hit to the head penalty with under five left in the period but going three for three on the penalty kill helped Riga to remain on a level score after twenty.
In the opening phase of the second period Sochi continued to control the pace and the game itself often spending time in the offensive zone, however nothing dangerous could be created. An error in line-change caused them to go down a player due to too many men penalty but Riga couldn’t cease the chance that was given to them. Both teams exchanged penalties but still no goals after two periods.
A sign of changes in the third period - Riga came out determined to get thi going and eventually they earned the right to play on power-play which was enough to earn a one-goal lead. Nikolajs Jelisejevs positioned himself near the left face-off dot and shot the puck into the close corner continuing his streak that had now reached four games in a row with at least a point. Hellberg had no business saving that puck due to Gints Meija blocking his sight.
Things were going well for Riga, they controlled the events on the ice for most part in the third but then a shocker from Sochi came - a calm wrister was sent towards Dinamo’s net by Garayev and a tiny ricochet meant that the score became 1:1 with seven minutes left to play.
The game winner was there to take at the very end of the third - a battle near the board in Sochi defensive zone, Martins Karsums got the puck, quickly passed to Daniels Berzins who gave Riga the most important goal of the game and two points in the standings in the first of two home-and-home series games. For the first time in history Dinamo can say that they have won against the Sochi side on home soil.
The goal scorer later explained how it all went down: “At first I saw the defenseman in front of me, I thought about passing but the position was way too good not to shoot so I just decided to let it rip.”