Ak Bars off to hot start

Ak Bars off to hot start

13 Sep 2013 | Matt Tidcombe

Ak Bars Kazan are off to a good start to the new KHL season as they have picked up seven points from their first four games.


Ak Bars dropped their first game of the season on the road against Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, 3-1. Ak Bars took the lead early on through a goal by Mikhail Varnakov, but Ak Bars conceded two goals inside the last six minutes of the game to lose their season opener.

However, they have rebounded strongly to win their next three games and now sit second in the Kharlamov Division.

They got their first win of the season in their home opener when they beat Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4-3 in a shootout. Former Winnipeg Jets forward, and Kazan native, Alex Burmistrov scored the shootout winner and picked up two assists in the game.

Ak Bars next game saw them defeat Traktor Chelyabinsk, 3-2 in overtime. Shaun Heshka of Saskatoon, Canada got the OT winner at the 2:55 mark. Kirill Petrov had a goal and an assist in the win.

Ak Bars finally got their first win of the season in regulation as they pulled off a 3-2 win over division rival Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Ak Bars took a commanding 3-0 lead through goals from Janne Pesonen, Varnakov and Dmitry Obukhov before two goals by Magnitogorsk in the last ten minutes made for a nervy finish.

The key to the early season success for Ak Bars has been the play of Burmistrov, Heshka and Tim Stapleton. Burmistrov has a goal and three assists in four games, while Heshka leads the team with five points (two goals). Stapleton has three points, one of which was a goal. Point scoring aside, the chemistry shown with their line mates has been outstanding and should continue to keep Ak Bars towards the top of the league standings.

12 players already have points this season in only four games, highlighting the depth of scoring the team possesses.

In goal, Konstantin Barulin has started three games, winning two and losing one. Backup Emil Garipov won his lone start.

Ak Bars next three games are as follows (all times Kazan local):

Vs. Avangard Omsk Region - Sept. 15 (17:30)

@ Dinamo Riga  -Sept. 17 (20:30)

@ CSKA Moscow - Sept. 19 (19:30)

The point scoring in the KHL is as follows:

3 points – regulation win

2 points – overtime or shootout win

1 point – overtime or shootout loss

0 points – regulation loss

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