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SKA -Neftyanik will square off in the gold medal game against Yenisey Krasnoyarsk for the second time in three years. They skated past Baikal Irkutsk in a quarterfinals three game series to qualify.


 There had been two factors to ponder over before the game in Irkutsk.  First off, two games in Khabarovsk were a strong indication of,  if not subservience (12:1), but of total dominance (8:3) of the reigning Russian champ.  Secondly, it was very unlikely to happen again because Baikal is the team that  always makes the best of a situation when it comes down to home ice advantage. The opinion hurled (?) by the media was unanimously accepted by all of the fans and specialists : Baikal-Energia will fearlessly fight to the very end.


As the game commenced, it wasn't overtly evident that the home team was willing to bend over backwards to ensure the win, so few were the attempts to threaten Denis Rysev and his goaltending domain. But things changed suddenly when one of the most experienced SKA players, Aleksandr Kim, made a blunder by passing the ball towards his defenseman teammate..  He did so very sloppily and carelessly so that it was easy prey for Evgeniy Ivanushkin, who executed "one on one and past the goalie" to deliver the first goal of the game.  He had another chance to extend the lead but flopped his penalty shot.  SKA retaliated in full, netting three goals by the end of the first half.


In the second half we had a spectacular benefit thrown by the Baikal goalkeeper GrigoriyLapin who managed, with his multiple saves, to fend off SKA forwards in numerous risky situations. On their part, the Baikal players used their opportunity to score and won the second half by one, but it was not enough to win the entire game, 3-4. It needs to be mentioned that by a referee's decision SKA was left outnumbered on the ice, 8 against 11, for the final 15 minutes of the match. Our hometown players showed their guts and stamina to kill off all of the Baikal' persistent attacks. The final game for the Russia's Bandy League gold medals will take place in Khabarovsk on March 25 at 17.00 at the Yerofey Arena.


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