Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg couldn’t have started any better in their quarter-final match at the Spengler Cup, taking a 3-1 victory over Adler Mannheim to advance to the tournament semi-finals.
It took Yekaterinburg just eight minutes to find the back of the net for the first time in the game. Coming off of a 5-1 win against HC Davos earlier in the tournament, Tommi Kivisto got things started with a quick shot through a screened Dennis Endras, beating the German goaltender through the five-hole to make it 1-0 for the KHL squad.
Three minutes after that, Endras’ poor five-hole coverage would strike once again. This time, Ondrej Roman’s pass to Alex Torechenyuk proved to be effective after Torechenyuk made a quick deke on Endras, tapping it between the pad opening before giving his team the 2-0 lead. By the time their second goal went in, Yekaterinburg had an 8-4 shot advantage, easily dictating the play in the early stages.
Yekaterinburg’s dominance continued before the period was over. This time, Kivisto purposely shot the puck off the glass so that Sergey Yemelin could grab the rebound. Yemelin made the right decision, skating right to the net and firing the puck past Endras, giving the Russian squad the 3-0 lead heading into the intermission.
The second period saw a lot of the same, with Yekaterinburg controlling the puck possession for most of the frame. Endras did a much better job in the period, playing calmer, safer and quicker than in the first. At the other end, Yekaterinburg got a great performance from usual backup goaltender Igor Ustinsky, who was easily making a case for top goaltender in the tournament. With just two goals against in the opening match against the strong Canadians, Ustinsky was also making the case to be Yekaterinburg’s starter for the semi-finals instead of typical starter Jakub Kovar thanks to a solid 15 save effort after two periods.
It looked like Mannheim was struggling to do much offensively but they finally found a way to put in the puck with nine minutes left. It wasn’t pretty, with Mathieu Carle taking a shot from far out that Ustinsky deflected. The puck was loose for a second, but Brent Raedeke was right there to make a diving play and tip the puck over the goal line, bringing his team within two goals late in the contest. Mannheim tried their best to get anything they possibly could on net, but Ustinsky absolutely shut the door and kept Avtomobilist’s victory intact.
With the 3-1 win, Avtomobilist will meet up with Lugano tomorrow for a 2:15pm EST puck drop to decide who plays in the finals. The other quarter-final match will take place at 9:00 am, with Davos and Canada taking the ice for a rematch after Canada won 2-0 on Monday.
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