Russia's Omsk Hawks - 2012 Elite Champions
By Kevin Doyle - HNIB
The Omsk Hawks, 2012 champions of Russia's MHL Junior League, claimed the third Hockey Night in Boston Elite Showcase title by upending defending champion New England Elite in a fast-paced title game, 4-3, at the Haverhill Valley Forum. Omsk finished the four-day event a perfect 6-0, outscoring its opponents by a combined margin of 32-9.
Omsk opened the tourney with a 5-1 victory against New England, but Sean Tremblay's squad regrouped and rattled off four consecutive wins to earn a shot at defending its title. The championship game pitted the Hawks' precise passing and creativity against New England's aggressive forechecking and crash the net mentality. Both styles worked, resulting in momentum swings throughout.
The Hawks grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Evgeny Zubkov finished off an odd-man rush from close range. Tyler Whitney's power play strike pulled New England even in the opening minute of the second period before Ilya Mikheev restored the lead for Omsk a little more than three minutes later.
New England's Zach Sanford scored perhaps the game's prettiest goal to tie it a little more than midway through the period. Sent away on a partial break by Connor Gorman, Sanford fought off the check of a pursuing Omsk defenseman and roofed the puck over the right shoulder of keeper Eduard Reyzvikh. Omsk regained the lead when Valentin Pianov one-timed a bomb from the right circle, then Kirill Rasskazov notched the eventual game-winner with 10 seconds left in the period.
New England refused to fold, though, and closed to within a goal on Brian Morgan's shorthanded tally at 12:45 of the third period. New England then applied prolonged pressure during the game's final minute and a half with the goalie out but couldn't dent Reysvikh for the equalizer. Reysvikh and New England keepers Brian Billett and Kollyn Jones combined for a number of larcenous stops. New England finished the tournament at 4-2.