December 20, 2008


Dinamo Riga vs.
Avangard Omsk

Avangard Omsk is one of Russia’s most successful clubs in the recent years. It has become the champion of Russia in season 2003/04, in season 05/06 Avangard Omsk won silver medals, in 06/07 – bronze. But the last season definitely wasn’t the best for Avangard – the team finished 10th.

This season isn’t going so good either. Avangard Omsk is currently placed 11th and 2nd in the Harlamov Division, in which also plays Dinamo Riga. Only 5 points separates Dinamo and Avangard in the division – Omsk has 53, Riga – 48.

Everyone are used to see Avangard Omsk as a strong team, that is placed in the leaders, but this year the club isn’t actually such a super team… Yes, it has Jaromir Jagr and other Czech players, it has some awesome Russian players, but they aren’t so great for keeping their team in the top of the tournament table. The defense and also goalkeeper lines are not very stable. But Jaromir Jagr can’t drag the team all by himself.

Omsk’s team another and, in my opinion, the main problem is psychological. Avangard Omsk is the team, where played Alexei Cherepanov, whose death in October shocked the whole world… After such a tragedy it’s very difficult to think about hockey and concentrate on playing, even if some time has already passed since it. It is hard for Avangard’s players, but they are continuing playing and trying their best to gain victories. You know the old saying – only real man play hockey.

November and the beginning of December were catastrophic for Avangard Omsk – only one win and only after shot-out (against Khimik Voskresensk), the rest 6 games Avangard lost with a -16 goal difference…

The last games, however, showed that the team is improving its result – Avangard confidently won three games before the break – 5:2 with Severstal Cherepovets, 3:1 with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and 5:1 against St. Petersburg’s SKA. I honestly hope that Avangard will keep it this way.

Dinamo Riga has met with Avangard two times this season in Omsk and had a 3:2 victory and a 0:3 defeat.

So, besides Jaromir Jagr (19+22), other teams’ goal-scoring leaders are forwards Dmitri Pestunov – only 4 goals, but 28 assists, Yakub Klepish (10+14), Anton Kuryanov (7+14), Alexandr Popov (8+12).

The situation with the goalkeepers isn’t so clear. Avangard had recently given up their number one keeper John Graham, who, it seems, didn’t satisfy the club management. So the club is looking for a new goalie-foreigner right now. The other two goalkeepers are Alexandr Fomichev, who has 7 wins and 4 looses and 88.3% of save percentage, and Yevgeniy Tsaregorodcev, who played very little and has 2 wins and 2 looses.

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