Handshakes between Nomad Astana and Ritten Sport after the shootout won by Nomad. Photo: Alisa Keptyukha
Kazakhs beat Ritten in shootout
Nomad Astana eyes the Continental Cup winners’ plate after beating Ritten Sport 3-2 in shootout.
Ritten Sport surprised the Kazakh champion with a 2-0 first-period lead but Nomad fought back during the next two periods and got the extra point in the shootout.
“We started bad. They’re a serious team, we knew them, and we were a bit tired from last night. But we said we can do this and we got stronger during the game,” said Nomad forward Nikita Mikhailis, who had one goal and assist – as did his linemate Dmitri Grents.
For Nomad Astana it was about confirming the strong game last evening and remain in title contention, for Ritten Sport it was to keep hopes alive after the opening-day loss. And hopes were kept alive after the beginning.
Although Nomad had more scoring chances and four minutes on power play, the result after 18 minutes of play was Nomad 0, Ritten 2.
The team from the South Tyrolean Alps sees itself as the underdog from a small mountain village but in the first period it beat the Kazakhs with the weapons they used in yesterday’s success: good defence and waiting for good scoring opportunities.
At 4:28 Alex Frei got the puck after a giveaway in the neutral zone, found Kyle Jean on the right side who opened the scoring.
Nomad Astana had the chance to score from quality opportunities and had another power play later on but Ritten defended bravely and 43 seconds after killing the power play had room in the offensive zone to try their luck. Eventually it was defenceman Roland Hofer with a shot from the back row who made it a 2-0 lead at 17:24.
Ritten Sport had the better start into the second period. They took over a power play late from the opening frame and after Madiar Ibraibekov was assessed a minor penalty for roughing just seven seconds into the period it became a 5-on-3 during 79 seconds for Ritten. However, they were not able to capitalize on it. A situation at 1:10 was reviewed by the officials but the video showed that the puck didn’t cross the line.
The direction of play changed back latest when Ritten’s Thomas Spinell got a major penalty for tripping but the Kazakhs didn’t convert the lengthy power play. However, with 68 seconds left in the second period the puck eventually went into the net behind Ritten goalie Patrick Killeen. Grents started a counter-attack from the left side and found Mikhailis free in central position whose top-shelf shot made it a one-goal game.
Nomad Astana’s first line continued to create damage for Ritten in the third period. After a saved shot from the right side from Valeri Gurin, Ritten didn’t get the puck under control. Mikhailis tried it first and eventually Grents netted the puck to tie the game at 4:35.
“I thought we were playing better than last time we played them. We knew they were a skilled team and have some good players but thought we had a good chance to win the game. Unfortunately in a shootout it can go either way,” said Ritten’s Kyle Jean.
The 2-2 score stayed until the end of regulation time. Teams also exchanged shots in the overtime period including a Mikhailis breakaway but eventually a penalty-shot shootout had to decide and Pavel Zhdakhin scored the game-winner in the fifth round.
Round 1: Grents 1-0, Lutz 1-1.
Round 2: Petukhov post, Victor Ahlstrom 1-2.
Round 3: Mikhailis 2-2, Oscar Ahlstrom save.
Round 4: Kovzalov save, Jean save.
Round 5: Zhdakhin 3-2, Frei missed.