Friday, April 13, 2012
The KHL championship final for the Gagarin Cup begins today when HK Avangard Omsk takes on OHK Dynamo Moscow.
This will be the fourth time the cup has been awarded with the previous winners being Ak Bars Kazan in 2009 and 2010 followed by Salavat Yulaev Ufa last year.
Salavat Ufa celebrating their 2011Gagarin Cup championship
This will be the first finals appearance for both clubs. Omsk won the Chernyshev Division and entered the playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference standings, advancing to the finals by defeating #7 Amur Khabarovsk from far western Russia, 3,800 miles from Omsk, who themselves are one of the most western clubs in the league being based in Siberia, in a four game sweep.
Omsk then showed their mettle by dispatching #3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-1 and top seeded Trakor Chelyabinsk 4-1 to advance to the finals.
Dynamo was the #3 team in the west, having finished second in the Bobrov Division. Their first opponent was #6 Dinamo Minsk, who were swept in 4. Dynamo also did not have an easy road after the first round, drawing #2 Torpedo Nizhny Novogorod, who they eliminated 4-2 for the right to face #1 SKA Saint Petersburg, who were surprisingly swept in four straight, scoring only 3 goals in the final 3 games.
Marek Kvapil led Dynamo in scoring with a modest 29 points while fellow Czech Roman Cervenka was the top scorer for Omsk with 23 goals and 39 points, which placed him at 21st overall, 24 back of scoring champion Alexander Radulov of Ufa, now playing for Nashville in the NHL playoffs, who led the league with 63, as both clubs relied more on defense to get them where they are now as Alexander Yeryomenko of Dynamo went 18-9 with a 92% save percentage and a 1.91 goals against average, second best in the KHL, followed immediately by Finn Karri Ramo of Omsk at #3 with a 19-17 record, a 92.5% save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average.
Goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko of UHC Dynamo Moscow
Their appearance in the finals for Dynamo Moscow is a welcome reward following some difficult times for the club, as the original HC Dynamo was formed back in 1946 and was the Soviet Union's second most successful team, winning five Soviet Championships followed by
four Russian championships as well as a European Champions Cup as recently as 2006 while sending numerous players on to the NHL until financial strains saw them merged with HC MVD to form the new iteration UHC Dynamo in 2010.
Avanagard Omsk was one of the clubs who benefitted from the demise of the Soviet Union which resulted in the decline in power of the long dominant Central Red Army club. Omsk won the Russian Superleague title in 2004 and went on to secure their own European Champions Cup in 2005.
If you would like to purchase 2011-12 jerseys from either Avangard Omsk or Dynamo Moscow, or any other of the KHL clubs in either replica or pro styles, please contact our sponsors at ProRussianJerseys.com!
UPDATE: The opening game of the Gagarin Cup Finals is now complete and was won by Avangard Omsk by a final score of 2-1, giving them a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 will be held on Sunday at 2PM Moscow Time, which is 6 AM Eastern Time in the United States and Canada.