Three KHL teams from Moscow and one from Podolsk, the Russian capital’s satellite town, started their “own” pre-season tournament yesterday. The Moscow City Mayor’s Cup has been sponsored by the mayor of Moscow since 2008, which is how it got its name.
On Thursday, CSKA Moscow played Vityaz Podolsk, and Dinamo Moscow met Spartak. All the teams will play against each other in the round-robin format ending on Aug. 29.
CSKA Show Weakness Against Vityaz
On the first day of the tournament, CSKA lost to Vityaz (2:3). CSKA had the upper hand in the first minutes of the game when Loktionov scored a goal at 12:07. Notwithstanding the Moscow team’s advantage, Vityaz Podolsk recovered fast and started shooting back. Zakhar Bardakov equaled the score at 19:37. During the second period, Vityaz scored two more goals, both on the power play. Jakub Jerabek and Daniil Moiseyev hit the scoreboard twice within a minute (23:14 and 23:47).
The only thing CSKA could do during the rest of the second period was to keep Vityaz at bay. During the third period, CSKA closed the gap. Maksim Shalunov scored at 45:13, which was the last goal of the game.
Spartak Overpowers Dinamo
The same day, Spartak won against Dinamo (4:1). Spartak’s goalie Nikita Bespalov was the star in the first period, blocking 18 shots. Dinamo’s new offensive line made Bespalov sweat.
Dmitriy Yashkin, Vadim Shipachev and Dmitriy Kagarlitskiy powered through Spartak’s defensive lines, but Bespalov held his goal intact until 38:19. That’s when Shipachev deflected a shot on goal by Chaikovsky that Bespalov could not stop. After that goal, Dinamo was called for two penalties and Spartak started the third period with a two-man advantage.
Four unanswered goals by Spartak crowned the game. Martin Bakos scored on the power play, followed by goals from Sergey Shirokov and Bakos again. Lukash Radil scored the fourth goal for Spartak thirty seconds before the game’s final whistle. After Day 1, Spartak was on top of the tournament, followed by Vityaz.
The second day of the tournament will see games between Spartak vs Vityaz and CSKA vs Dinamo. The latter game might bring a taste of what the competition between the two great teams will look like during the season.
Heavy Toll Charged by COVID-19
The four teams started the tournament from different positions due to their COVID-19 experience and pre-season preparation strategies. Spartak Moscow was hit hard during the pandemic and the team had to cancel its training camp. Still, Spartak had already played three exhibition games before the City Mayor’s Cup. They started with two losses but then secured a victory in the third game of preparation for the Cup and the regular KHL season.
Vityaz Podolsk played twice as much as Spartak in the preseason, gathering experience in six matches, two against Moscow Mayor’s Cup competitors. Thus, the team from Podolsk won against Spartak (5:3) but lost against Dinamo (1:3) in the run-up to the Cup. Vityaz suffered the least from the pandemic.
Dinamo played four games before the start of this tournament and lost only one game against Avangard Omsk (2:7). They cancelled their training camp as COVID-19 raged among their ranks.
CSKA entered the tournament with zero preparation games nor did they prepare during training camp. Moreover, they had met no real opposition from other clubs before the season.
During the official opening ceremony Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said: “Probably, many of us did not expect that we would start this hockey season this way. Everybody was afraid that the pandemic would prevent us from doing it, prevent the athletes, the fans, but we have overcome the problem, we have conquered the pandemic.”