BOULDER, Colorado -- I'm in the middle of writing this article about the impacts of the war in Chechnya on the economic development of the North Caucasus, so I can't write too much today. In short, Baikal-Energia Irkutsk beat Metallurg Bratsk 5-4 on Wednesday night. Sergei Rogulyov had the game winner in the 69th minute.
The win puts a comfortable distance between second-place Baikal and SKA-Neftyanik Khabarovsk, who trails them by five points with only two matches left to play this season. Baikal trails division leader Kuzbass Kemerovo by the same margin.
Metallurg remains in eighth place, keeping hope alive for a playoff berth. A paltry 7,000 fans showed up at Irkutsk's Trud Stadium to watch the match, even though it was a balmy -4C.
In Kemerovo, the matchup everyone had been waiting for left nothing decided, at least not in regulation.
At the end of the second half, the two sides were locked in a 3-3 tie, so the decision went to penalty shots. Russian goalie Kirill Khvalko was spectacular, and the Russians won 5-3.
Today (Thursday) is a rest day for the tournament, and a work day for me, so I will have more detailed results over the weekend when the championship round of the tournament begins.