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Although shots on goal were just 5-3 in Arlan’s favour, the Kazakh team made it a clear lead after just 18 minutes of play thanks to three makers including two on the only power plays of the period.
The opening goal came with 5-on-5 though. Ivan Kiselyov brought the puck to the net where Konstantin Savenkov saw his first attempt saved but capitalized on his own rebound at 11:44.
During the first power play Vadim Berdnikov brought the puck from right to left where Stanislav Borovikov scored from behind the face-off circle. The second power play was evenly successful. After a double pass play between Dmitri Potaichuk and Ivan Kiselyov the former made it 3-0.
“It was a good game. We started not bad and scored three goals. After that we had a couple of penalties but in the third period we played very solid, focused on the game and scored one more goal to win the game,” Berdnikov said.
Three-and-a-half minutes later the world looked even better for the Poles. Jesse Rothla pushed through the Arlan defence and beat Ivan Poloshkov from a short distance.
“It was a close matc and unfortunately we gave up that fourth one on a bad line change. On a good night some of those puck go in and we win this game. We played at their level. We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. Based on what I’ve seen, we’ll be in the hunt to win this tournament.”
There were still almost 33 minutes to play in regulation time but for Arlan it was a wake-up call and the team defended its lead. On a two-on-one they sealed the win with 5:39 to go. Denis Klemeshov passed from the right to Alexander Nesterov, who sent the puck back for Klemeshov, who scored the final 4-2 goal.
Arlan is on the hunt to become the first IIHF Continental Cup winner from Kazakhstan and will play HK Gomel from Belarus tomorrow. Can they make it? “We will see. It depends on the other games. We will try our best to win this tournament,” Berdnikov said.
A rematch against host Belfast Giants awaits GKS Katowice tomorrow evening. “I know that they want to beat us and feel they have a great shot at winning this Continental Cup – and they do. I expect another very challenging game for our team,” Coolen said.