SKA-Neftyanik and Irkutsk Baikal-Energia are not only "geographic rivals", quite a misnomer, given the Siberian scope and size, but they have some intense battles year in, year out, regardless of the position they are taking. This season they are neighbors sitting in the third and the forth positions in the current standings. Very likely they will be seeing each other in the playoffs next year.
It took two minutes for the game to really get going, but once it started, it turned into a multi-scoring presentation. Dmitriy Sidorov gracefully scored off the corner stroke executed by Tuomas Maata at the second minute, then Tuomas, himself, sent it home after a stroke at a sharp angle in a couple of minutes to raise the mark, 2-0. SKA made it again in yet another two minutes, 3-0. This time around Artyom Bondarenko showed his true colors of a high class top scorer. It was his 400th goal in the League for our hometown team. Seemed like the absence of our super duper veteran Pavel Ryazantsev and a very crafty defenseman Yuriy Bondarenko didn't affect a harmonious interaction within the team. The game slowed down a little, but with multiple opportunities for scoring for both teams. At the 37th minute Vyacheslav Vdovenko of Baikal decided to make up for the team's shoddy performance on the onset of the encounter and made it, 3-1. Irkutsk looked way fresher and way more aggressive by the end of the halftime.
In the second half the fast pace of Irkutsk continued and they managed to trim the deficit, 3-2. Vyacheslav Vdovenko did it again. Looked like SKA seemed to be losing free reign over their home ice, but Artyom Bondarenko didn't agree with it to score an exquisite breakaway goal, 4-2. Baikal cranked the heat up to level the game, 4-4. Then came the moment of wonder. Tuomas Maata overrun and overdribbled literally half of the visiting team to rip the sucker home past the goalie! 5-4. It was Irkutsk, who put their final stamp on the game, 5-5. Both games played up to the competition and were clicking on all cylinders! It was a hell of a game!