RIGA, Latvia - Favourite Ak Bars Kazan did what most had been expecting: three wins and grabbing the Continental Cup plate at the Super Final in Latvia’s capital Riga.
After having gained six points against Kazzinc-Torpedo of Kazakhstan (2-1) and AaB Aalborg of Denmark (4-1), the Russians overwhelmed also hosts HK Riga 2000 thanks to a 6-2 win.
Ak Bars had an easy start as Riga 2000 collected three penalties. The Russians did not make use of them but scored a little later with Grigori Shafigulin’s goal at 6:58. Riga 2000, less skilled but with heart, showed some great attacks in the first period and was the only opponent to be leading against Ak Bars. Artis Abols scored two goals with a ten-metre power play shot (7:44) and a breakaway (14:30) but the difference to the high-level players of Ak Bars was too big to defend the lead over the following 45 minutes.
The Kazan-based team regained lead already before the intermission. Finland forward Jukka Hentunen equalised at 18:17 and one minute later it was Mikhail Zhukov to fool Riga's defence and scoring the 3-2.
Riga 2000 did not have many scoring chances during the rest of the game. So it was not a big astonishment that Ak Bars decided the game in the second period. At 27:49, a shot of Danis Zaripov hit the goal post and Alexei Morozov found the net afterwards. A power play goal of Alexey Yemelin and Sergei Zinoviev’s distance shot extended the lead to the final result of 6-2 in favour of Ak Bars during the following four minutes. Riga 2000 head coach Normunds Sejejs replaced Martins Raitums, who got his first start, with Edgars Lusins, who defended his cage with 12 saves in the final 28 minutes. The game was the most attended of the tournament with 4000 spectators.
“It was a very big challenge for us to play against a team like Ak Bars with its world class players,” Riga’s only scorer of the day, Artis Abols, said.
Ak Bars’ head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was satisfied with his team and the Super Final: “The games were very useful for us and it was interesting to take part in this tournament. The results were as I expected and we won high against Riga because we realised our scoring chances well.”
Ak Bars is the second Russian team to win the Continental Cup plate after Lada Togliatti in 2006. Also two other trophies went to the team from Kazan. American Robert Esche was awarded the best goalkeeper, Ilya Nikulin the best defenceman. Riga 2000’s Czech player Tomas Chlubna was elected the best forward by the directorate. He was the scoring leader with four goals after the first two games but broke his arm in the second one.Photo gallery of the gameClick here for the complete Continental Cup Super Final coverage