The Afternoon Shift – Feb. 9

Stefan Liv/Photo by Mark Newman

News from the Kontinental Hockey League in Eurasia doesn’t filter back to this side of the pond very often, so perhaps you missed reports from last Saturday’s KHL All-Star Game in which Team Jagr defeated Team Yashin by a ridiculous 18-16 count. Half of that game’s thankless netminding chores fell to a pair of goalies that Griffins fans know very well.

Stefan Liv, who posted a 15-15-2 record with a 3.01 GAA and a 0.895 save percentage for the Griffins back in 2006-07, had the best performance — if you can call it that — of any of the game’s four backstops. While earning a no-decision for the victorious Team Jagr, he allowed nine goals on 25 shots for a game-high 0.640 save percentage. (We’ll kindly overlook his 17.86 GAA.)

At least Liv fared better than the legendary Dominik Hasek, who stopped fewer than half of the shots he faced but somehow avoided the loss for Team Yashin. Hasek made only eight saves on 17 shots for a 0.471 save percentage, apparently not getting much help from a defensive corps that included Karel Rachunek (1999-00), the second former Griffin invited to participate in the all-star festivities.

Of course you can’t put any stock in an all-star game, and both Rachunek and Liv have excelled during the KHL’s regular season. Rachunek leads all KHL defensemen with 42 points (9-33–42) in 47 games for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, while his 33 assists place fifth overall on the circuit.

Liv sports a somewhat pedestrian 19-15-2 mark for Sibir Novosibirsk, but he owns a 2.19 GAA, a 0.917 save percentage and four shutouts.

Nine other former Griffins can be found on KHL rosters. Pavol Demitra (1996-97), the first of Grand Rapids’ 115 alumni to graduate to the NHL and a current teammate of Rachunek, stands fifth in the league with 58 points (18-40–58) in 51 games while ranking second with 40 assists.

The enigmatic Igor Grigorenko (2007-08) appears to have found the stardom that he couldn’t achieve in North America, standing fifth in the KHL with 23 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa. By contrast his teammate, Petr Schastlivy (1999-02), built a strong resume as a Griffin, joining John Gruden and Travis Richards as the only players in franchise history to earn all-star selections in both the AHL and IHL.

Dmitry Afanasenkov (2001-02), who became the first ex-Griffin to win the Stanley Cup as a member of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, plays for Traktor Chelyabinsk. The other familiar faces include Dynamo Moscow’s Konstantin Gorovikov (1999-01), Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod’s Danny Groulx (2002-05), Dinamo Minsk’s Maxim Spiridonov (1997-99), and Dinamo Riga’s Mark Hartigan (2007-08) and Robert Petrovicky (1998-00).

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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