Decisive matches and bright competitions
The 2023 KHL All-Star Game will forever go down in history. First of all, the official opening of the SKA Arena, which seats 21,5 spectators, took place. Secondly, a record was set for the attendance of such show meetings – 19,682 people. The achievement of the KHL All-Star Game eight years ago in Minsk (15,100 spectators) was beaten. The hockey players were also pleased, scoring a total of 28 goals in the two semifinals.
On Sunday, December 10, fans were waiting for an equally bright eventful day. In the confrontation for the third place, the divisions of Chernyshev and Bobrov were supposed to meet, and in the decisive - Tarasov and Kharlamov. Thus, the team of the latter reached the final for the second time in a row. In 2022, she lost and now had a great opportunity to still prevail.
At the same time, the coaches of both teams made it clear that no one takes what is happening on the ice seriously.
"It's all pretend. We're laughing, it's a positive environment. We try not to spoil the holiday. We are all responsible for humor," said Andrey Razin, the coach of Kharlamov's division, who was assisted by Andrey Arshavin.
Traditional contests promised to be no less interesting. If the day before the athletes competed in the strength of the throw and its accuracy, and the captains took part in their own competition, then on the second day there were three more.
First, the athletes had to determine the fastest. One representative from each squad ran a lap for speed. The program ended with a small tournament for goalkeepers - a reliable defense.
But, of course, the icing on the cake was the shootout contest, in which you can use items that are not related to hockey. In previous years, the participants approached it as creatively as possible. For example, last year Andrey Mironov and Alexander Eremenko performed a throw from a real grocery cart. The ex-goaltender rolled it, and the defenseman, sitting inside, sent the puck into the goal. And in 2016, Linus Umark performed a literal fiery click. He set fire to the hook of his stick and threw it.
Sometimes the stars perform stunts that are simply incredibly complex. In 2015, a very young Nikita Gusev created a miracle. Having approached the goalkeeper and controlling the projectile between his legs, he turned around his axis 180 degrees and left no chance for the goalkeeper. The video of this episode is still the most popular on the KHL Youtube channel.
This time, it was expected to participate in the competitions of assistant head coaches from among the former players. Alexander Mostovoy, an assistant to Alexei Zhamnov, admitted in an interview with RT that the organizers asked to take the uniform without going into details. Arshavin also confirmed the information.
"I really want to take a shootout. As far as I know, such an opportunity will present itself. What can I come up with? I can try to make a normal throw. Only then will I have a chance to score. We are scheduled to go out on the ice, but I don't know exactly what we have to do," Andrey summed up.
Lee and Menell's outfits and Sychev's double goal
And a few hours before the decisive matches, all four were actually included in the applications. It was reported that teams would be able to use them as jokers.
The second part of the stellar weekend was preceded by a bright musical show. Its highlight was the mixture of classical art forms with performances by popular contemporary performers. It was opened by the Grand Variety and Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg under the baton of conductor Artem Teterin. A little later, ballet stars danced right on the ice. Filatov & Karas and The Hatters sang several of their compositions on stage.
The competitions, as well as the day before, were successful for the Bobrov division. To the delight of the local crowd, SKA forward Vladimir Alistrov won the speed competition in a circle in 14.1 seconds. Nikolay Goldobin and Pavel Poryadin helped him to take the lead, warming up their partner before the start right at the boards.
Well, the competition for the brightest shootout met all expectations. The hockey players creatively approached it and amused the audience a lot. Representatives of Chernyshev's division were remembered for Sychev's appearance on the ice. He appeared in a pair with Vladimir Tkachev. The two of them tried to send a puck and a soccer ball into the net at the same time. The ex-striker of the Russian national team coped with both tasks. He even scored the ball with his head in the fall, making a sensation.
Two legionnaires, who recently received Russian citizenship, also showed themselves brightly. Amur's Cameron Lee put an ushanka on his head and took a small jar of red caviar with him, which he tried to play with like a puck. As a result, the present went to the referee. And Dynamo's Brennan Menell dressed up in a braided shirt and a linen shirt. And when he failed to beat Jeremy Smith, he gave him a pack of chuck-chak.
There was also a mention of food during Vasily Atanasov's attempt. Playing with his own surname, he appeared on the ice wearing a large pineapple mask. And two children of Nikita Serebryakov presented the corresponding fruits to all the teams. As a result, it was this shootout that the fans recognized as the best.
There were a lot of other memorable shootouts. For example, Nikita Grebenkin pulled an artificial bald head over his head, parodying his Metallurg coach Razin. Severstal's Nikita Korostelev wore the uniform of teammate Danil Aymurzin, who missed the KHL All-Star Game due to injury and watched from the stands. And 18-year-old Vladimir Mikhalev repeated Gusev's famous 2015 snap.
Finally, Vladislav Podyapolsky won the goalkeeping competition, wearing a special helmet with a pompom. At the same time, one of the shots was realized by Sychov.
Goldobin as a referee and a goal feast in the final
He and Oleksandr Mostovoy took an active part in the match for the third place. They regularly appeared on the ice and joined the attacks. It was felt that both of them really wanted to distinguish themselves. The former captain of the Russian national team immediately went almost one-on-one with Anton Krasotkin, but failed to outwit him. A little later, his colleague missed a similar chance.
Bobrov's division quickly achieved a comfortable lead in the score thanks to shots from Alexander Nikishin and Vladimir Alistrov. However, the opponents immediately restored the status quo. The goals were scored by Lee and Igor Chernyshov. But still, Zhamnov's wards looked stronger. Soon Alistrov scored a double, and Goldobin outplayed Krasotkin.
His vis-à-vis Serebryakov was also noticeable. In one of the episodes, he boldly went on the attack and even broke into a striking position, but could not deceive his vis-à-vis. And just before the halftime buzzer, the puck got stuck in his ammunition and it took a minute to find it.
In the second period, the team of Zhamnov and Mostovoy did not miss theirs, and Mikhail Berdin became the main hero in their lineup. Not only did he refuse to concede, making one save after another, but he almost hit the opponent's goal. After a pass from a teammate, he shot for sure, but the projectile ricocheted into the net from the opponent's stick.
In the end, Atanasov, who scored a double, reminded of himself in the winners' lineup. And Goldobin, who spent some time in the mask of his partner in the form of a pineapple, first tried to fight with Lee as a joke, and then tried himself as a judge.
The final turned into a real decoration of the tournament. Shirokov and Arshavin, following the example of Mostovoy and Sychev, also took to the court. Andrey was replaced on the coaching bench by another former Zenit player Vladimir Bystrov. He managed not only to sign items of ammunition for the audience right on the bench, but also to "shove" it to his friends.
Arshavin clearly did not deserve criticism in the opening. On the eve of the KHL All-Star Game, the Euro 2008 bronze medalist modestly called his level of play weak, but pleasantly surprised everyone present. Already in the third minute, he opened the scoring with a well-aimed click into the corner. Moreover, in the middle of the opening period, he also assisted Sergei Kolesnikov. Andrey was quite active in the future and could have distinguished himself again.
Shirokov was not so noticeable at first, but 36 seconds before the break, he helped Vitaly Pinchuk to equalize the score – 2:2.
At the beginning of the final period, Tarasov's division seemed to have made a decisive breakthrough, upsetting Podyapolsky three times. One of the goals was scored by Shirokov. The ex-Zenit midfielder opened up at the far post and finished off a cross.
A little more than two minutes were enough for the wards of Razin and Arshavin to restore the status quo themselves. Alexander Radulov also scored. Then the events on the ice developed at an incredible speed. In the 18th minute, Nikita Nesterov put Tarasov's division ahead. As part of the opponent, Troy Josephs and Nikita Grebenkin responded to this with accurate shots. However, Yaroslav Likhachev turned the confrontation into a shootout 29 seconds before the buzzer.
At first, Alexei Kolosov and Podyapolsky did not concede at all. It is significant that the decisive attempt was made by Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, who was called up to the KHL All-Star Game at the last moment instead of Matvey Michkov, who was ill. Thus, Kharlamov's division won the trophy at the second attempt.