Arlan Kokshetau are Continental Cup winners

Arlan Kokshetau are Continental Cup winners

13 Jan 2019 | Robert Newbolt

Arlan Kokshetau of Kazakstan defeated Belfast Giants to become Continental Cup winners.


We have a new IIHF Continental Cup champion! Arlan Kokshetau won the deciding game against host Belfast Giants 3-2 in the sixth round of the penalty-shot shootout after regulation time and overtime couldn’t determine a winner. Yevgeni Gasnikov scored the golden goal and the Kazakh champion became the first team from its country to hoist the Continental Cup’s winners’ trophy.

The Belfast Giants had a favourable start with two power plays in the first ten minutes of the game and outshot Arlan Kokshetau 16-6 in the first period. However, the effort was not rewarded while the club from Kazakhstan showed a lesson in effectiveness in the offensive zone.

Sergei Yegorov opened the scoring with a long shot at 11:51 that beat a screened Tyler Beskorawany in the Giants net. With 1:52 left Arlan even made it 2-0. After a bad pass in Belfast’s own zone defenceman Vladimir Malevich got the puck, passed it to the net where Vadim Yermolayev deflected it with his stick. A video review confirmed the stick was not too high.

The Giants tried to come back in the second period and had an early power play after an interference call against Stanislav Borovikov. However, the Giants missed out on the opportunity and saw themselves playing shorthanded as well soon after that. They killed the penalty and had soon a big opportunity on a fast counter-attack from Kyle Baun with the puck close to the line but Ivan Poloshov remained unbeaten. On the other side Arlan missed out on one or the other great opportunity in front of Beskorawany’s net as well. Either they missed the net or the Giants goalie did a great save like on a Konstantin Savenkov breakaway. The 2-0 score remained during the second period.

At 7:44 of the third period the Belfast Giants eventually worked themselves onto the scoreboard. Josh Roach battled to win the puck at the boards in the offensive zone and brought it to Kyle Baun. He saw the puck saved but Chris Higgins scored on the rebound. 72 seconds later it came even better. Colin Shields brought the puck into the zone and fed by a side pass Dustin Johner tied the game at two. The fans at a mostly full and loud SSE Arena couldn’t believe their eyes.

Arlan Kokshetau head coach Vladimir Kapulovski took his time-out to bring his team back on track but the Belfast Giants used the euphoric atmosphere at the arena. At 10:12 the fans started cheering the supposed lead but Mark Garside’s shot just hit the net from outside. On the other side Arlan Kokshetau had its chance to regain the lead with a 5-on-3 but didn’t capitalize on it. The Belfast Giants had a man advantage during the last two minutes of regulation time with Yevgeni Gasnikov in the penalty box but let it expire without a goal. The game was headed to a 3-on-3 overtime and eventually decided in a shootout.

The two teams also shared individual awards amongst themselves. Stanislav Borovikov of Arlan Kokshetau was voted Best Defenceman by the Tournament Directorate while the Belfast Giants’ Tyler Beskorowany was named Best Goaltender and his teammate Darcy Murphy Best Forward.

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