Where Friday evening’s game had been a fine display of fast open skating with goal-scoring opportunities arising in abundance, Sunday’s game was an example of hard grafting with neither team giving an inch. Although the score-sheet may not have been as pretty as Friday nights game, the game was arguably twice the spectacle. Masaļskis fine performance in goal was helped in no small part to a solid Dinamo Riga defensive effort, with Dinamo Minsk only managing to break through Dinamo Riga defensive zone on a handful of occasion.
Missing key players Janis Sprukts and Mike Iggulden, not to mention Sandis Ozoliņš who is still absent, Dinamo Riga were never going to adopt their normal attacking game which Iggulden and Sprukts are such vital components off. Instead, their game was built round a solid defensive effort.
The opening phases of the game set the tune for the evening with neither team looking like breaking down the opposition defense. The first power-play of the evening was rewarded to Dinamo Riga in the 11th minute, but it looked as if it would come and go with no action as Dinamo Minsk succeeded in denying Dinamo Riga a clean shot.
However, just as Dinamo Minsk were preparing to return to their full entourage of players, Krišjānis Rēdlihs faked before passing to Aleksandrs Ņiživijs who had snuck behind the Dinamo Minsk defensive line to beat goalie Andrej Mezin with the simplest of shots.
Dinamo Minsk started the first 18 seconds of the second period with an extra man on the ice. Unfortunately for the visitors they seemed to fail to recognize that the 18 seconds was up, with Miķelis Rēdlihs sneaking back on the ice undetected to pop up in the Dinamo Riga offensive line unmarked to beat Mezin.
The rest of the second period produced plenty of action but the defensive efforts of both teams meant the score stayed the same. Oļegs Sorokinsand Lee Sweatt were working particularly hard for Dinamo Riga who twice found themselves reduced to four men.
The final period was a display of Dinamo Riga’s finest defensive effort of the season. After having gotten onto the wrong side if the referees their patience finally gave in with Kristaps Sotnieks given two minutes whilst on an offensive play. This resulted in Marcel Hossa losing his cool, tripping a Dinamo Minsk skater at least two minutes after the whistle had been blown, resulting in him also receiving two minutes and Dinamo Riga left to defend on a 3-on-5 power-play. However, this was Dinamo Riga’s night, with the 7,840 fans cheering as if they had scored a goal every time they managed to clear the puck out of the third.
It was now Dinamo Minsk’s turn to lose their cool as time began to run out, seeing them employ some unsavoury tactics. Sergei Sadelenov’s foul play on Hossa in front of his own net resulted in a shut out with Ņiživijs stepping up to go one-on-one with Mezin. It seemed that he had scored and indeed the scoreboard clicked over to 3-0 but after a long consultation between the referees on the ice and the video referee upstairs, it was deemed that the goal had come of a rebound, deeming it void and seeing the score go back to 2-0.
This is how the score would remain, seeing Masaļskis shout out for joy as he recorded his first clean sheet of the season. Following the game Baltic Reports caught up with the injured Mike Iggulden who was in a reflective mood. He was overjoyed for his team mates win but admitted to finding it a lot more nervy watching from the stands. He particularly proud of the way they killed off some big penalties.