Dinamo wins the first exhibition game
On August 2 Dinamo Riga played it’s first exhibition game, beating Neftekhimik Niznekamsk 5:2. The game was held at the training facility Volvo sporta centrs, who has a registered capacity of 1500. Arena was overcrowded.
Four minutes before the end of the first period Meija had already his second great goal scoring opportunity, however his stick was lifted and the next two minutes Dinamo played on a powerplay, on which defender Oskars Cibulskis managed to score from the blue line. Just a moment later Neftekhimik players earned already the third penalty of the night, and Mark Hartigan scored just within ten seconds of the powerplay.
In a mid-second period Chris Holt, after his own mistake, was beaten by Sergei Konkov, as he managed to score after a great pass from Maksim Pestushko. Minutes later Neftekhimik changed Ivan Kasutin for Canadian Scott Munroe in the net. With seven minutes left in the period, Andris Dzerins had a breakaway, but Munroe stepped out of the net and cleared the puck. Late in the period, after a bad rebound by Munroe, Lauris Darzins managed to score another powerplay goal, but with just 28 seconds before the end of the period Mikelis Redlihs stepped into defense too late and, after a successful play, Sergei Konkov managed to score his second goal of the night.
Three minutes into the third period defender Oskars Cibulskis managed to score once again and make it 4:2 already. A while later Martins Karsums and Maxim Berezin exchanged a few punches, but once both of them had dropped their gloves, they were already separated by the linesmen. Minutes before the regulation, after a great pass from Aleksandrs Nizivijs, Slovak Tomas Surovy scored his first goal in Dinamo jersey. The game ended 5:2.
Dinamo Riga – Neftekhimik Niznekamsk 5:2 (2:0, 1:2, 2:0)
Goals: 1:0 17:56 Cibulskis (K.Redlihs, Darzins, PP), 2:0 18:46 Hartigan (Cibulskis, Nizivijs, PP), 2:1 27:02 Konkov (Pestushko, St.Pierre), 3:1 36:44 Darzins (M.Redlihs, K.Redlihs, PP), 3:2 39:32 Konkov (Pestushko, Arkhipov), 4:2 42:57 Cibulskis (Nizivijs, Hartigan, PP), 5:2 54:41 Surovy (Nizivijs, Hartigan)
Goalies: Holt – Kasutin (28:44 Munroe)
Chris Holt had a decent game. He managed to make a couple of great saves, however it was clear that he has not adjusted to the European-sized rinks just yet, as he was a little confused, when playing with the puck.
Among defencemen, Arvids Rekis was slower than expected and definitely will not start the season in the first defensive pair, like he did today. Eventhough Oskars Cibulskis managed to score two goals, he was clearly the slowest player on the ice. Although these two goals will definitely give him a certain edge over Janis Andersons in the fight for the seventh defender’s spot, I would still prefer Andersons, who showed a much better performance.
The forward, which had the biggest impact on me, was Gints Meija, who had not lost a tiny bit of the play he showed at the World Championships in May. He would definitely deserve a bigger ice-time, but, unfortunately, it does not seem that he will manage to earn a spot within first three lines. Still, Karsums – Trotter – Meija could make a solid third line. It also does not seem too realistic that Dinamo will sign a contract with Swede Kenneth Bergqvist, who is not as skilled to play anywhere above the fourth line. There is no point signing him, to let him play for Metalurgs Liepaja of the Belarussian league. (As HK Riga of MHL is an U21 team, Dinamo is likely to sign a contract with Metalurgs, that it would allow to let five players to play in Liepaja. However, Dinamo might not call up players, who have a contract with Metalurgs).
When I left the game, I was desperately searching for a reason, why Dinamo has signed try-out contract with players like Eriks Ozollapa, Juraj Simek, Juris Stals and others, if the first three lines at the exhibition games are formed from players, which do not need to worry about their spot on the roster.
Dinamo line-up at the game:
|Lauris Darzins||–||Janis Sprukts||–||Mikelis Redlihs|
|Krisjanis Redlihs||–||Arvids Rekis|
|Aleksandrs Nizivijs||–||Mark Hartigan||–||Tomas Surovy|
|Oskars Cibulskis||–||Sandis Ozolins|
|Martins Karsums||–||Andris Dzerins||–||Girts Ankipans|
|Guntis Galvins||–||Rodrigo Lavins|
|Kenneth Bergqvist||–||Vitaly Karamnov||–||Gints Meija|
|Janis Andersons||–||Jekabs Redlihs|