Ilya Andryukhov is less than 150 minutes into his KHL career, and already he’s made a highlight-reel save the likes of which few goaltenders make over the course of several seasons.
With the end of the year little more than two weeks away, highlight packages are being built and clips are being compiled for Top 10 lists of the best and brightest of the calendar year. The lists will include everything from goals to celebrations, moments to milestones. But when it comes to the list of best saves of 2016, any completed Top 10 may need to be blown up so as to make room for Ilya Andryukhov.
Andryukhov entered his bid for the best save of the calendar year in a game in which, quite frankly, his team was getting the boots put to it. By the end of the second frame, Avtomobilist
Yekaterinburg had a healthy 5-0 lead. Amur’s starting netminder, Juha Metsola, had been yanked from the net after surrendering his fourth goal in less than 40 minutes of play, and Andryukhov was responsible for letting the fifth puck to get into the Khabarovsk net.
In the third period, though, Andryukhov wasn’t about to concede another. That he didn’t do so is evident on the score sheet, but it’s emphatically stated when catching a glimpse of the spectacular diving save he made on Artyom Gareyev in the third.
Watch as Avtomobilist work the puck up ice with ease, setting up Gareyev for what should have been a tap-in:
There’s a moment after Andryukhov makes the save where cameras catch Gareyev, who was getting back to his feet, taking a moment to realize he somehow was stopped. The look on his face tells the story of the stop better than any amount of words ever could.
Andryukhov, 26, is only now getting his look on the big stage. He has spent his entire career in the primarily Russian league and was named the KHL minor league’s goaltender of the year in 2014-15. He seems to be proving he can do the job — and do it well — in the KHL, too. Through four games, he has a 1.20 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
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