Challenge Cup coaches announced

The MHL will host the first Challenge Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 2010 February 6th at the 5PM (Local time). The Challenge Cup will be a sort of All Stars Game and it will feature a match between Western and Eastern Conferences. 

Western team's coach will be Loko's head coach and 1992 Olympic Gold Medal Nikolai Borschevsky, while Eastern team's coach will be Tolpar Ufa's Alexander Semak. Every club will send at least one player to the gala match, that will be judged with the 4 referees system.

Any possible date for the rosters' unveilment hasn't been released.


Q&A with Samvel Mnatsyan

MHL Hockey is proud to present you Samvel Mnatsyan, Omskie Yastreby's defenseman with junior national team experience. The 20-years-old defensive defenseman scored this year so far two points in fourteen matches. In this interview David talked about MHL's first season, about his play with the Hawks and about his life.

Hello Samvel. Where were you born and when you started playing ice hockey?

I was born in Omsk, and when I was seven my parents subscribed me to the hockey program.

What was your first team?

Avangard Omsk, the team of my city.

Why you picked hockey instead of other popular sports, like football or basketball?

The son of my father’s friend used to play hockey and my dad decided to make me play too. In Omsk hockey is definitely the most popular sport.

Can you resume quickly your career?

I played in “D.YU.S.SH.” (Russian system’s sports school) Avangard until I was 17, I was the team’s captain and I was also called to the Russian U-18 national team. In the last three years I played for Avangard’s junior-farm team.

Can you describe a little your game?

I am a defensive defenseman who can play physically.

Is there anything you try to specifically train?

At the end of any training session I and one of my team mates work out with shoots and skating.

How do you join sports and studies?

I study by correspondence, I’m always busy with lesson during the free time!

What current NHL/KHL player you pattern your game after?

In the NHL I like Anton Volchenkov and Dion Phaneuf, in the KHL I like Daniil Markov’s style.

Who is the player from the main team who helped you more in your career?

Evgeny Kurbatov. I do extra-work with him every day.

This is the MHL’s first season. How would you judge it?

I think that this is a big step forward for Russian hockey’s development. Now there is an increased attention on our league from fans and press. There was a rise in the organization’s level, the league became closer to the overseas analogues.

How would you describe your personality?

Kind-hearted, purposeful, hard-working.

Best moment of the season?

There is still nothing in particular that I can be proud of, but I’m sure that the best is in front of me!

And the worse?

The knock-out bowl we got from Sibirskie Snaipery. (Omskie Yastreby lost 7-0 to them on September 29th - ASR)

How's your typical day during the season?

I get up, have the breakfast, then training (on and off the ice), some day sleep is compulsory…evening training then if I can I meet up with friends and go to the movies.

How many sticks did you use this year?

Around twenty.

What do you think about the performances of Russian national team?

Nowadays Russia has the strongest national team of the world, I believe that they can win the gold in Vancouver!

Favourite movie?

Dumb and dumber with Jim Carey.

Favourite book?

Harry Potter.

Favourite dish?

Fried chicken with spaghetti.

Favourite NHL team?

Colorado Avalanche

Favourite KHL team?

Avangard Omsk

And last but not the least, Stanley Cup or Olympic gold?

Stanley Cup!


September best players!

As the first month of the season is now history, the MHL directorate awarded September's first months, with awards given both to Western and Eastern Conference.

Western Conference's top scorer has been 20-years-old Stanislav Levin, thanks to an impressive 14 points in 10 games, with 6 goals, while the same stat top contributor among defensemen is so far MHL's face Alexei Marchenko (CSKA-Krasnaya Armiya), with eight points.

September's top goal scorer has been probably the player who looked better so far, Dynamo Moscow's Nikita Dvurechensky, with seven goals, while Alexander Aleshkin from Almaz Cherepovets resulted as best assistman with nine helpers.

Alexander Ataev from Dynamo and Spartak's Artem Zemchenok were the best +/- index with +9.

Goalkeeper Evgeny Ivannikov, who plays for SKA-1946, got the best goalie honors thanks to his impressive GAA of 1,14.

In the Eastern Conference, dynamic forward Daniil Kaskov from Avto dominated the offensive stats as he was the top scorer with 20 points and the best assistman with 16 helpers. Among defensemen, Tolpar's Artur Kutdusov topped all blueliners with 7 points.

Promising Airat Ziazov, from Reaktor Nizhnekamsk, scored more goals than anyone else, 10. +14 has been the best stat for the +/-, registered by Tolpar's Egor Kuptsov.

Last but not the least, Eastern Conference September's top goalie was Tolpar's Vladimir Sokhatsky, with a GAA of 1.20, despite the strong performances of Avto's Alexander Soloviev.


Prospects breakdown - MHL who's who (Part 2)

After we presented you the players to watch in Moscow and its nearby towns, we present now the rest of the Western Conference. A team that always produced lots of talent is Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. A prominent careers builder, the former railroad workers team always had lots of young players with itself. It's not a case that they are now on the top of Western Conference's standings. Nowadays' most interesting player is a versatile forward who isn't spending much time in the MHL as he's playing with the big boys in the KHL and just recently scored his first goal. We're talking about Daniil Sobchenko, an offensive player capable to play both center and winger who almost never represented Russia on the international stage because of conflicts with Vladimir Plyuschev. Sobchenko, who has his excellent passing game as main weapon, was thought to be one of the MHL stars, but he's going beyond the expectations, playing a regular role in the KHL. Another player meant to be one of the MHL top players is Anton Klementyev, who instead opted to sign an ELC with the New York Islanders. Sergei Ostapchuk, who spent last season in the QMJHL with Rouyn-Noranda, skated in only two games, getting an assist in both challenges. Also Ostapchuk already got his KHL experience. Maybe, coming the late stages, Loko will see these players more often, trying to catch the first-ever MHL title. For now, they are a team who plays a good team game without depending too much on one or two players. Top goalscorer Maxim Zyuzyakin is on good shape, he scored the GWG in the recent clash against MHK Dinamo and netted a total of 6 goals so far.

The third seed in the West is taken by SKA-1946. The St. Petersburg's team, who's coached by Italo-Canadian Ivano Zanatta, had the first-ever MHL shutout with its 1988-born goalie Nikita Starikov, who's having a convincing season so far even if he's still far from the KHL level. His colleague Evgeny Ivannikov is having a good season too. One of the most awaited players from me for this season was offensive defenseman Georgy Berdyukov, Georgy Berdyukov but he was quickly sent to SKA's High League affiliated to play against men. An interesting name is Magomed Gimbatov, and not only because he's the first KHL player from Dagestan. Grow up in St. Petersburg and earned his hockey experience both in this city and in Novokuznetsk, the dynamic winger has played only four games so far as he started the season with the main team, but he scored four points. The team's top scorer is surprisingly Yaroslav Gorbachenko, author of 11 points in ten games. The 20-years old is in a red hot strike as he scored six games in the last three games, but the whole team looks like being in great shape as they just asphalted Mytischie Atlanty 7-0 at home. Gorbachenko was also the shoot-out scorer in the SKA-1946's 1-0 win against Feniks Voskresensk in September 6th. The St. Petersburg team has also got one of the league's top assistmen in Nikita Tochitsky.

It's legit to expect some good things also from Almaz Cherepovets. The team has hosted a good number of younger players with big success, including Phoenix Coyotes' Viktor Tikhonov, Boston's draftee Yuri Alexandrov, Maxim Chudinov and others. In the start of the year two-way defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich was with Almaz, but he has been called up in the KHL and never sent back to the junior team. Another really interesting player is center Sergei Chvanov. Back in April he was team Russia's captain in the U18 WJC in the USA (where Russia lost the final match to the hosts), but curiously he's not Almaz's captain, a role taken by forward Anton Tikhonov. Chvanov isn't having too much of success, he scored a double in the very first match, then he scored again in the following match and then he disappeared from the scoresheet, but he's also went to the KHL route and thus isn't having too many chances in both leagues. There is another player worth mentioning: the homonym of Metallurg Novokuznetsk defenseman, Washington Capitals draftee Dmitri Orlov. The talented winger plays first line hockey and has rewarded his team with eight points in as many matches, with five goals so far. Despite his undeniable talent he needs to find some consistency as he doesn’t manage to score on a regular basis as he tends getting many points in one game just to be silent for the next couple of contests.
Chaika from Nizhny Novgorod isn’t having a good season so far and in their lineup they don’t feature any real star. They are now third-last in the Western Conference standings, just ahead of Feniks Voskresensk and Mytischie Atlanty.