SKA travelled to Finland for the much-anticipated Helsinki Ice Challenge against HC Jokerit. Head coach Oleg Znarok put Finn Mikko Koskinen between the pipes, keeping Sergei Korobov as his replacement. Ilya Kovalchuk, Vadim Shipachyov and Sergei Kalinin played together in the first line. Karri Ramo was Jokerit’s starting goaltender.
There was a real party atmosphere in Helsinki, as the stands in Kaisaniemi Park were full to the rafters. However, Jokerit’s fans weren’t feeling cheerful for long. With a penalty coming to Jokerit, Ilya Kovalchuk went top shelf from the left faceoff circle, in turn scoring the first ever KHL goal outdoors. Our players were dominating the early proceedings, but Jokerit equalised out of nothing. SKA’s defence forgot about Henri Ikonen, who blasted under Mikko Koskinen’s blocker. Nevertheless, that blow didn’t phase our players. Jarno Koskiranta gave SKA a second lead, batting the loose puck beyond Karri Ramo.
In control of proceedings, SKA continued holding the initiative in the second stanza. Karri Ramo was a busy man for Jokerit, but the hosts found another equaliser against the run of play. Tommi Huhtala lined up for a one timer, lashing his effort into the left corner. Jokerit slowly came out of their shells as time wore on, making Mikko Koskinen work on a more regular basis. SKA were still pressing though, and with the period coming to an end, the team grabbed a vital third lead. Vadim Shipachyov pounced on a juicy rebound to poke an attempt over the line.
Jokerit gifted SKA a two-man powerplay midway through the third period, something which Sergei Kalinin took full advantage of at the doorstep. It looked as though SKA would comfortably see the game out, but Jokerit had other ideas. Unfortunately, on a powerplay of their own, the Finns made it a one goal game when Nicklas Jensen thumped a slap shot past Mikko Koskinen. SKA were under serious pressure in the final stages, but the players held on to claim a pulsating 4:3 Helsinki Ice Challenge victory against Jokerit!
Jokerit – SKA – 3:4 (1:2, 1:1, 1:1)
0:1 Kovalchuk (Shipachyov, Kalinin), 08.22
1:1 Ikonen (Regin, Lauridsen), 10.22
1:2 Koskiranta (Barabanov, Shirokov), 16.09
2:2 Huhtala (Anttila, Jormakka), 26.17
2:3 Shipachyov (Kovalchuk, Gavrikov), 37.00
2:4 Kalinin (Gusev, Kovalchuk), 48.40
3:4 Jensen (Lepisto), 55.27
Goalkeepers: Ramo – Koskinen
Shots on target: 24 – 34
Penalty minutes: 14 – 10
Faceoffs: 39 – 38
Hits: 28 – 22
Referees: Oskirko, Belov
02.12.2017. Kaisaniemi Park, Helsinki, Finland.