By Hansruedi Camenisch – Spengler Cup
Metallurg Magnitogorsk – the most frequently named challenger of the defending champion Team Canada – must pack their bags and depart. The Russians surprisingly lost their quarter-final game against the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers from Nürnberg 3-1 on Saturday afternoon. The Germans now face Team Canada in the semi-finals on Sunday afternoon (3:10 pm).
The Ice Tigers deservedly beat Metallurg Magnitogorsk with their aggressive, hands-on efficient and strategic performance. They effectively steered the game to their advantage. After just 246 seconds of play, the Captain Patrick Reimer shot the go-ahead goal. At the beginning of the second period, Metallurg’s top-scorer Nikolai Kulemin equalized the game in a power play situation. However, just about 5 minutes later, Brandon Buck also took advantage of a player majority and reinstated the lead for the Germans 2-1. Just prior to the end of the period, Leonhard Pföderl sunk the 3rd goal for the Ice Tigers in a training manual counterattack. Thereafter, the Nürnberger successfully defended their lead. Goaltender Niklas Treulte proved his reliability and absolutely faultless support. He deflected 29 shots-on-goal, resulting in a defensive quota of 96.67 percent.
In the last 4 minutes of the game, the Russians played with 6 on the ice and during 67 seconds were even in double majority to attempt to turn the tide. Their several attempts failed against Treutle, their offensive strikes were mostly harmless. In the 3 games, the team only achieved 2 goals, one of which was the winning shot during the penalty shoot-out against Trinec.
The surprising poor performance of Metallurg Magnitogorsk is in line with the disappointing representation of the teams from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in recent years – supposedly the best league outside of the North American NHL. Since the tournament win by SKA St. Petersburg in 2010, 12 KHL teams have participated at the Spengler Cup. Only 3 of them were able to win at least 2 games at the same tournament.
HC Davos will play against KalPa Kuopio on Sunday evening (8:15 pm) at the Spengler Cup to decide who qualifies for the finals. The home team secured their qualification for the semi-finals with their victory against the Czech championship leader Trinec 3-1. Double-scorer Linus Klasen and goaltender Anders Lindbäck stuck out amongst the strong HCD squad.
The Czechs began by resolutely dictating the game. The Davos team only gained momentum during the two penalties against Trinec, although they were unable to create any real goal chances. Both teams then switched from primarily defensive to offensive play, providing the 6,300 spectators with a fantastic match-up with many scoring opportunities. Determined, Linus Klasen scored a goal after receiving a pass from Dario Simion in the 15th minute to give Davos the lead.
Several penalties hindered the flow of the game in the second period. The home team came increasingly under pressure and the goaltender Anders Lindbäck became the center of attention. Tino Kessler missed making it 2-0 when he attempted a speedy counterattack. Due to the flow of the game – 9-4 shots-on-goal for the Czechs – it seemed only a matter of time until the equalizing goal would happen. After an advance by Trinec Captain Lukas Krajicek and his cross pass, Ondrej Kovarcik was able to land the puck in the net shortly before the end of the second period to make it 1-1.
At the beginning of the last period it was obvious that HCD was back in the game. Both teams intensively sought to decide the game which led to a spectacular slugfest with many scoring opportunities and exceptional defensive maneuvers by both goalies. Klasen emerged as the match winner. After a shot-on-goal by Ambühl, the Swede reacted the quickest and scored on the rebound. The Czechs answered fiercely but failed to beat the exceptional HCD goaltender Lindbäck, who defended 27 shot-on-goal during the entire game. Dino Wieser scored an empty netter almost exactly as the game-ending siren rang.