Guryanov wins Russian duel against Kostin at Texas vs. San Antonio in the AHL.

Today’s game of the AHL Western Conference was a traditional Texas Derby between the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage, but it could also be called a “Russian duel”. With Denis Guryanov at the Stars and Klim Kostin at Rampage, two Russian junior hopefuls met.


IIHF World Juniors Championship 2017 Semifinal USA – RUS Tyler Parsons #1, Denis Guryanov #27 Centre Bell, Montreal © Robanser

Twenty-one-year-old Denis Guryanov, who swings back and forth between the Texas and Dallas Stars, braced 21 NHL appearances in the current season and scored four points (1G/3A). Guryanov played for the Russian U17 and U18 national teams and with the U20 at the 2017 World Cup, reaching 7 points (4G/3A). Guryanov came from the junior squad of a former KHL team Lada Togliatti and in 2016 made the leap to the USA for the Dallas Stars Organization. In the current season Guryanov holds at 41 points (17G/24A).


IIHF World Juniors 2018 RUS – SWE Klim Kostin #24 Key Bank Center © Robanser

The 19-year-old center Klim Kostin was trained in the hockey school of Dynamo Moscow. In the KHL, Kostin played 8 games for Dynamo Moscow , otherwise he played in the Russian VHL and MHL. After his appearances at World Championships in the Russian U17 and U18 national teams, Kostin moved to the USA  in 2017 where he joined the AHL San Antonio Rampage team. In his first season he reached 28 points (6G/22A) and in the current season he holds at 19 points (7G/12A).

With 25-year-old Nikita Soshnikov there is a second Russian talent at San Antonio, this was missing due to injury in this game.

In an emotional but fair game in the sold-out HEB Arena, the stars went 1-0 through a goal from Caamano (9.). San Antonio, counterattacked and Olsen scored the 1-1 (14.) minutes later. The stars again took the lead in the only Power Play of the Start periods. Caamano scored after preliminary work by Guryanov to 2-1 (16.). After the break, the stars had the best time and Markison scored to 3-1 (24.). A few minutes ago, the stars came to a power play and Condra scored to 4-1 (27.). Shortly after halftime of the game, there was again power play for the stars. But after a mistake by Hargrove on the blue line, the fast Olsen came to the puck and closes this solo with a short-handed goal to 2-4 (33.). Hargrove wanted to make up for his mistake and shortly before the second break he scores to 5-2 (39.). The stars took this momentum out of the cabin and after 30 seconds Hanley scored the 6-2. San Antonio came to power play a few minutes later and Reinke scored the 3-6 (46.) goal. But Texas can not be distracted and after a pressure phase scored Hansson to 7-3 (53.). Rampage still managed to make it 4-7 (59.) just before the end of Kaspick, but it was too late to catch up. The stars played this result with a very good performance over time and celebrate an important derby victory.

Texas Stars vs San Antonio Rampage 7-3 (2-1, 3-1, 2-1)

Commenting on the situation of young players in the AHL, Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal said: “The AHL is a ” bone mill ” where the young players have to play each game, and if their performance is steady and exceptional, they have the chance to play in the NHL.  If the performance is not so good, they could be transferred to the ECHL, where it is usually very difficult to come back to the top level. Therefore, it is very important for young players to develop in the AHL, having only the talent to be able to play ice hockey is simply not enough in this league. As in the current case with Guryanov, his hard work has been  recognized and he has got a chance to play in the NHL for Dallas Stars.”

Rampage Assistant Coach J.J. Daigneault agrees with this statement: “The AHL is certainly a severe test and no peace pad for young players, as in this league they really have to fight and nothing is given. All want to be finally recommended for the NHL and are of course under pressure. Mixing the teams with experienced NHL players, such as in the Rampage with Trevor Smith, Chris Butler or Chris Thorburn, is hugely important. Young players can learn a lot from such personalities and take them on their further sport path.”