Team Canada first finalist
Defending champion Team Canada is back in the Spengler Cup final. The Canadians secured a final berth with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Dynamo Minsk on Friday afternoon.
After the Belarusians had pulled their goalie in favour of a sixth skater 104 seconds before the end of regulation time, things went haywire in front of the Canadian net. But then it was the post that saved the already beaten keeper Zach Fucale. And so it remained 3-2 for the team from overseas. The Canadians had paved the road to success in the opening period, when Marc-Antoine Pouliot put his team ahead (8.) and Kirill Gotovets unluckily redirected a Chris DiDomenico pass into his own net (15.) during a 5-on-3 power play to make it 2-0.
Minsk only really found its way back into the game in the second period, mostly due to five minors giving the opponents several man advantages. Andrey Stepanov’s marker in 22nd minute to cut the deficit in half then invigorated the game. The decisive pass came from former Lugano forward Fredrik Petterson, playing his first game for the Belarusians. Because the Canadians played attentive and disciplined defense and the two netminders Fucale and Ben Scrivens were brilliant, it was not until the 53rd minute that Chay Genoway’s finish on a counter attack lead to the third goal for the Canadians. On a two-man advantage Matt Ellison was able to narrow the lead to 3-2; yet the score remained after a dramatic finish.
Lugano to face Team Canada in final
HC Lugano qualified for the final of the 90th Spengler Cup with a 4-0 win over HC Davos on Friday evening. There they will face defending champion Team Canada – same as a year ago – at 12pm on New Year’s Eve.
The convincing final score may not accurately depict the on-ice performances – the shot totals were 35-33 in favour of Davos -, but Lugano was clearly the more efficient team on the finish, not least due to being fresher. And that for good reason. While Davos played its fourth tournament game within 74 hours, it was only the third for the Ticinesi and – thanks to a first-place finish during the group stage – also following a day off. In the opening period Linus Klasen scored the go-ahead goal thanks to his persistence: he beat HCD goaltender Melvin Nyffeler on the third attempt. Dario Bürgler with a power play goal (32.) and Alessandro Chiesa with the 3-0 (36.) dealt the final blow in the second period. Alessio Bertaggia scored in the 46th minute for the final score. Lugano goaltender Elvis Merzlikins notched the first shutout of the 90th Spengler Cup.
In a rematch of last year’s final, HC Lugano and Team Canada will face off in the final at noon on New Year’s Eve. Then the Canadians captured the trophy with a 4-3 victory. Now the Ticinesi will get a chance for payback.