The quarterfinals of the 2015-16 Champions Hockey League have been played and four team have advanced to the semifinals. We got to experience some great hockey action during the quarterfinals when four Finnish teams, one Swiss team and three Swedish teams fought for four spots in the next round.
Highlights from the quarterfinals (bold teams set for semifinals)
This matchup was a replay of the final last year when Luleå won the Champions Hockey League 2014-15. Luleå won the first quarterfinal at home and a shootout was needed to separate the teams in the second game, in Gothenburg. Frölunda draw the longer straw at the shootout, with Andreas Johnson scoring in the last round. This game was one of the best we have seen so far in the Champions Hockey League. Both teams wanted to win and gave everything.
Skellefteå – Davos
Davos did what many Swedish teams have failed to do: They went to Skellefteå in northern Sweden and won. Having an 1 goal advantage with them from the first game, Davos also won the second game, 1-3. This was extremely important for the tournament, meaning a larger part of Europe is included in the top four, not just Swedish and Finnish teams.
Lukko Rauma – TPS Turku
One of two all-Finnish quarterfinals. Both games were tight, ending tied at full-time. As in the game between Frölunda-Luleå, this quarterfinal also had to be decided by a shootout. Turo Asplund scored the only goal at the shootouts, giving his Lukko Rauma a place in the semifinals.
Kärpät Oulu – Espoo Blues
Espoo had a two goal advantage from the first quarterfinal in this second all-Finnish showdown. Julius Junttila changed that. He played his best hockey in the return game, scoring three goals and performing two assist in Kärpät’s 5-1 victory. Juntilla is a 24-year old forward, born in Oulu. Now he has brought his team into the semifinals!
Tuesday, 12 January
Lukko Rauma – Kärpät Oulu
HC Davos – Frölunda Gothenburg
Tuesday, 19 January
Kärpät Oulu – Lukko Rauma
Frölunda Gothenburg – HC Davos
The first leg of the round of 32 in Champions Hockey League 2015/16 have been played and here you can read about the results.
Djurgården won against Växjö
One of two all-Swedish games was between Djurgården (from the capital, Stockholm) and Växjö (the current Swedish champions). Växjö started the game with fast play and some good chances but failed to convert. Instead, Djurgården could score in power play after 6 minutes of play. Marcus Sörensen scored from the blue line. Växjö got the chance with the man advantage as well, but failed. After 14 minutes of play, Djurgården scored their second goal of the game. This time it was Markus Ljungh who converted on a quick wrister. However, 10 seconds later Växjö reduced the lead to 1-2 through a wrister from Josh Hennessy. Funny thing, Hennessy’s goal was almost identical to Ljungh’s. The first period ended 2-1 in favor of Djurgården. In the second period the teams had some power plays each. Växjö kept being inefficient, both in power play and on the break away. Instead, Djurgården could get a two-goal lead in power play, after 15 minutes of play in the period. The overall play was kind of sloppy and five minutes into the third period, Erik Josefsson could reduce Djurgårdens lead to 2-3. However, Djurgården’s answer came as quick as Växjö’s 1-2 in the first period: Fredrik Forsberg scored 4-2 in a quick attack. The question is how focused the teams were and how motivated they are by the Champions Hockey League. The tournament has not quite reached the potential status as the soccer equivalent. Djurgården kept being sloppy in their defences. Växjö kept being ineffective. Richard Gynge failed to score on his second break away for the evening. Lithuanian goalkeeper Mantas Armalis was probably the best player on the ice and saved Djurgården quite a few times. Växjö could however reduce the lead to 3-4 which also became the end result. The return meeting is in Växjö October 6. Our guess is that Växjö will win at home and go through to the round of 16.
Luleå won against Färjestad away
The second all-Swedish game was played between current CHL champions Luleå and Färjestad. Färjestad, who had a failed season in the Swedish Hockey League last year, could not take advantage of their home ice. Luleå have set the goals of winning both CHL and SHL this year. 1:19 into the second period, Brendan Mikkelsson scored 0-1. A few minutes before the period break Toni Rajala increased the lead to 2-0. This was clearly Luleå’s game. In the third period Johan Harju did a masterpiece that we have only seen names like Kent “Kenta” Nilsson and Peter “Foppa” Forsberg do earlier, which meant 3-0 and game over for Färjestad. All goals came in five-against-five. It is doubtful whether Färjestad will be able to turn this result to something positive up in Luleå (which lies in the northern part of Sweden).
Below are the other results from the first leg. As we can see, the Swedish teams Linköping and Skellefteå lost their first game. Skellefteå will probably be able to win at home, but Linköping had a rough night against Michal Bulir who scored a hat-trick. The last Swedish team, HV71, played 2-2 against Oceláří Třinec. HV71 had 8 players on the injury list and had to play with one line consisting of only juniors, born 1997. They are probably resting their players which is a shame… In order for the CHL to grow, the best teams need to participate with the best players available.
Vítkovice Ostrava 0-2 Tappara Tampere
Espoo Blues 4-1 Adler Mannheim
IFK Helsinki 2-1 HC Davos
JYP Jyväskylä 2-2 TPS Turku
Bílí Tygři Liberec 4-1 Linköping HC
Lukko Rauma 5-3 Red Bull Munich
Oceláří Třinec 2-2 HV71 Jönköping
HC Košice 4-3 Skelleftea AIK
Sparta Prague 3-2 ZSC Lions Zurich
Färjestad Karlstad 0-3 Luleå Hockey
Red Bull Salzburg 1-3 Storhamar Hamar
Vienna Capitals 3-4 HC Litvínov
Düsseldorfer EG 0-2 Kärpät Oulu
Eisbären Berlin 3-0 Stavanger Oilers
Djurgården Stockholm 4-3 Växjö Lakers
Tonight the first of two back-to-back games in the Champions Hockey League semifinals were played:
Frölunda HC 4-2 Kärpät
Sweden versus Finland in Scandinavium, Gothenburg. Sadly there was a problem with the ice in the arena and the game had to be paused for 90 (!) minutes because of problems with the ice in the second period with Frölunda in a 2-1 lead. The game could be finished at last and Frölunda could increase the lead to 4-2 and has a good chance to reach the final. We’re hoping the ice in Finland is better for the return game unless the global warming is affecting all the nordic arenas…
Skellefteå AIK 2-2 Luleå HF
Swedish derby between two teams from the north. The guests took the lead with 0-1 in the first period while the home team could make it an even game in the second. After some fighting and penalties both teams could score a goal each in the third period which means we have a tied deciding game in Luleå to look forward to next Tuesday.
The final is played 4th of February.