Two goals in the space of a minute in the second period ultimately decided the outcome of the 2014 Gagarin Cup, with Yaroslav Kosov and Jan Kovar leading Metallurg to a 7-4 victory over Lev Prague in Game 7 to give Magnitogorsk it’s first Kontinental League championship.
It also means Mike Keenan becomes the first North American coach to take the top prize in Russian club hockey. Twenty years after landing the Stanley Cup with the Rangers, the Canadian adds the Gagarin Cup to his impressive resume.
Victory is also a personal triumph for Sergei Mozyakin, the KHL’s most reliable point machine. He had one goal on the night, taking his season’s point tally to 106 as he secured his first major club trophy and banished the memory of 2011’s final series loss while with Atlant. Mozyakin, like Keenan a man sometimes regarded as a throwback to an earlier era of hockey, missed out on the Olympics – a decision that still divides opinion among Russian fans – but ends the season with more than a consolation prize.
Kosov snapped a 2-2 tie after Evgeny Timkin got away from Calle Ridderwall and dropped the puck off for his teammate to launch a one-timer past Petri Vehanen. Just 40 seconds later, Mozyakin’s line created the fourth goal. Danis Zaripov’s wrist shot was tipped in by Kovar in the slot to give Magnitka some vital breathing room in the game.
The 2014 Gagarin Cup final also marked several records:
Mozyakin took his season’s points tally to 106, setting a new record for KHL, Russian Superleague and Soviet League hockey
Keenan became the first non-Russian coach to win the Gagarin Cup and the first foreigner to take the Russian championship since Vladimir Vuitek’s double triumph in Yaroslavl in 2002 and 2003.
Lev also wrote a distinguished chapter in the record books, becoming the first non-Russian team to contest a Gagarin Cup final after battling its way through the Western Conference.
Game 4 at Prague’s O2 Arena established a KHL attendance record of 17,073, beating the previous best set in Game 3.
Lev also took part in the first ever KHL playoff game to go to a fourth period of overtime, finally losing 4-3 to Donbass after 126:14 of game time.
Justin Azevedo, perhaps now the most famous hockey player to claim Portuguese roots, also managed a big personal achievement, becoming the first player to score in all seven games of a KHL final series.
Azevedo’s eight goals made a big contribution to the 44 shared between the teams in the final series – that, as well as the 11 scored in tonight’s decider, also set a new KHL record.