Nikita Bespalov (via KHL/YouTube)
KHL netminder Nikita Bespalov wasn’t drafted and has spent most of his career as a minor league goaltender in Russia, but the 27-year-old may now be able to lay claim to the greatest save of the season. Bespalov’s reached back and stole a goal from Pavel Varfolomeyev with one of the best glove stops you’ll see all year.
Goaltender Nikita Bespalov didn’t have his name called at the NHL draft, he’s never played a game on an international stage and for much of his career he’s been a minor league or backup netminder. But Bespalov, 27, is going to be turning some heads thanks to an incredible glove save.
In a contest against Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk, Bespalov got the call between the pipes and had backstopped Sibir to a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. Sibir scored early in the final frame to extend the lead to 5-2 and shortly thereafter Bespalov made a stop that should have him on highlight reels all season long.
After a puck battle behind the net, Ugra’s Evgeny Lapenkov emerged with the puck and made a perfect, seeing-eye pass to Pavel Varfolomeyev that had Bespalov entirely out of position. In one motion, Varfolomeyev took a swipe at the puck and knocked it towards the net, where Bespalov made a desperation glove stop that’s worthy of repeat viewings:
Bespalov’s tremendous glove save was one of the 35 shots he turned aside on the evening, and it boosted his total save percentage to .921 and goals-against average to 2.45. Regardless of how the rest of his season goes, though, Bespalov is going to challenge for the greatest save of the season in any league, because he had no right turning aside Varfolomeyev’s shot.
Sibir now has a 10-point lead atop the KHL’s Eastern Conference and has been one of the league’s best teams all season. Bespalov saw three games of post-season action with Sibir in 2014-15, but he could have a chance at helping his club go all the way to the Gagarin Cup final this season.