Dinamo Riga continues their four-game road trip this time visiting Sibir Novosibirsk. Riga came in fresh off of a victory against Admiral and would be looking to extend their winning ways. An important game because Riga will have to face their opponent twice within six days.
The visiting side has a major task at hand prior to entering the game as they haven’t been able to beat their opponent on road seven times in a row, their last win dates back to October 1st of 2013. After having a strange line-up against the Vladivostok side Sergei Zubov returned to a somewhat usual crew - Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier amongst others returned to game action. Many awaited for Matej Machovsky to start a game on this road trip and it finally happened - he dressed as the starting goalie with Vitols becoming the backup - Mattsson by all means necessary would be rested because the next game against Sochi is a four point game. Riga also knew what to expect from their opponent: ‘’Sibir will be a really good team, they have offensive power.’’ Lukas Radil had admitted after his team's last game.
The game plan also remained the same - work as a team, block shots and make sure to score a few in order to book more points.
Pace of the game was controlled by Sibir - Dinamo didn’t manage to create anything dangerous, their first shot of the game came from a shot from distance which didn’t cause any trouble for Krasotkin. Machovsky had to get involved in a few occasions making the saves. Sibir ruined their momentum by taking a too many men penalty - Riga dominated on man advantage controlling the puck and that resulted in a goal - Emile Poirier drew back into line-up and scored an important goal from front of the net - assists awarded to Darzins and Shinkaruk for the set-up.
Shortly after taking the lead Kristaps Sotnieks was booked for tripping - Riga’s penalty kill worked well without Sibir spending much of their time in the offensive zone and without generating any real scoring chances. It appeared as the game had reset itself as after their power-play Sibir once again took matters in their own hands once again leading the play on the ice. From their rare opportunities the biggest chance was for Edgars Kulda to double his team's lead but Sibir goalie somehow kept the puck out of his net.
Active play by the home side forced Riga to once again get themselves in penalty trouble which led to a tie - a long cycling of the puck led to a few opportunities and the third one was the key - Trevor Murphy received the puck and blasted it from inbetween the blue-line and face-off circle to make it 1-1 - Riga listened in to see if there’s a reason to challenge but there was none so the game could carry on as planned.
Dinamo earned yet another opportunity on man advantage - Denis Golubev was assigned a seat in the penalty box for boarding. Riga started pressuring early and had scoring chances during the delayed penalty, they continued to attack while being a man up but the puck seemed like it had a mind of it’s own and refused to enter the net. Dangerous scoring chances for both sides to finish off the period but the score still showed a 1:1 tie after twenty.
Second period began as the first one ended - active hockey and Daniels Berzins was the first one to have a huge chance to score but that was turned away by the goalie. Riga didn’t end up scoring and if you don’t score your opponent does - Sibir entered the zone, the puck was thrown towards the net and tumbled right on to the stick of Alexei Kruchinin who beat Machovsky to give his team the first lead of the game. Home team's second goal seemed to have broken the game as they quickly got another one to double their lead - Riga made an error when trying to exit the zone and a soft throw of the puck flew into the net, this time Denis Golubev with the goal. The puck would have flown over the net but it hit Oskars Cibulskis on the way, changing the trajectory.
Riga showed signs of offensive flashes but any time they managed anything - they were stopped in a simple manner. They were looking for any possible way to get back into this game and Karlis Cukste attempted to provoke opponents with some pushing, jabbing and mimicking just enough not to cross a line himself that would hurt his team. That seemed to have helped as Riga found themselves finally controlling the puck a lot more. Sibir switched to high-pressure in order to regain control of the game.
Ilya Morozov ended up accidentally tripping his opponent late in the frame meaning that Riga’s power-play would go to work once again to try and score a goal that would give them bigger chance to battle back in the third - that didn’t happen meaning that Riga would still get 58 seconds of PP time to begin the third and a two-goal lead for Sibir heading into the second intermission.
Fresh sheet of ice didn’t help Riga to capitalise on the man advantage but they had set their sights on the net and began the period grinding their way through the opponent. Chances came and they were very close to chopping the difference in the result down to a single goal. Hunter Shinkaruk came close on a breakaway; however, Krasotkin once again kept the puck out. Machovsky had his moment to shine when Sibir led by Sedtikov had a rare moment to score but a daylight robbery was performed in order to keep Riga in the game.
A crucial error was made by Riga towards the end of the third - Riga apparently had six players on the ice at one point during the line-change and Sibir had the opportunity to put the game out of reach - although chances were had Riga survived the penalty kill. Dinamo went all in on offense - a timeout was called to draw the final game plan, the goalie was pulled for extra attacker but much needed goals weren’t found which meant an eight game losing streak for Dinamo Riga at the Sibir Arena after the hosts got another one on an empty net.
Post game Dinamo Riga coach was happy with the performance but admitted that his team got unlucky: ‘’In principle the whole group managed to create chances, we had unlucky moments where we allowed the goals and unnecessary penalties cost us - we will clean it all up for the next game. I was happy to see how the guys that returned to the line-up played today and we scored a pretty decent goal. We lacked the strength to finish off the game in favour of us.’’
When asked about the decision to start Machovsky in this game because it didn’t seem to be ‘’as important’’ Zubov said that the team tries to win every game. ‘’We needed points but we also needed to let Mattsson rest. It wasn’t a bad game for Machovsky today. He kept us in the game and he played really well.’’
Zubov also admitted that it felt like Sibir forced them to play a physical and fast paced game game: ‘’We felt that, we also didn’t manage to make it in time to defend properly on occasion but still in the third we controlled the game, we had a chance to make a comeback but we didn’t manage to do it.’’