ZSC grabs last spot

CHL quarter-final picture complete

10.11.2016
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The ZSC Lions Zurich celebrate Patrick Thoresen’s 3-1 goal against HC Lugano. Photo: Berend Stettler / ZSC Lions / Champions Hockey League via Getty Images

ZURICH – The ZSC Lions Zurich on Wednesday won the last game of the Champions Hockey League 1/8-finals. In a domestic clash they eliminated HC Lugano to make the CHL quarter-final picture complete.

Eight days earlier Lugano had won the first leg 3-2 on home ice and after 60 minutes in Zurich the return game ended with the same score.

The Lions had the better start but Sebastien Reuille gave Lugano the lead on a breakaway. At 14:58 Reto Schappi tied it up with a shot from a short angle and one minute later defenceman Severin Blindenbacher made it a 2-1 first-period lead for ZSC.

At 9:17 of the second period Norwegian national team forward Patrick Thoresen scored the 3-1 goal for the Lions against his former team – a score that would have lifted them to the quarter-finals. However, just half of the game was played and it didn’t take long until Linus Klasen cut the deficit to 3-2 while the teams were playing 4-on-4. That meant the aggregate score was 5-5 and everything open.

The third period remained scoreless despite power plays on both sides and overtime had to decide. The ZSC Lions Zurich started with a man advantage after a penalty call against Lugano’s Tony Martensson late in the third period and during the last few seconds of 4-on-3 play Roman Wick beat Elvis Merzlikins for the OT winner.

With the 4-2 victory the Lions made up for the 3-2 loss in Lugano and will play the Swedish Hockey League’s Vaxjo Lakers in the quarter-finals.

Already the night before it became clear that three Swiss, three Swedish and two Czech teams will battle in the quarter-finals. That’s quite a change compared to the last two years when Swedish and Finnish teams were dominating the competition. This time no Finnish team will be in the round of the eight best teams after having had four teams in 2015/16 and as many in 2014/15.

Currently second in the ranking of the domestic leagues participating in the CHL in these three years behind Sweden, the Finns risk losing that spot (and an extra participant in 2017/18) if the Swiss and Czech teams continue to be successful in the CHL quarter-finals.

Below are the quarter-final pairings. The games will be played 6 and 13 December 2016. The home-and-away semi-finals will be played 10 & 17 January 2017 and the one-game final (at the venue of the finalist with the better record) will be played on 7 February 2017.

Vitkovice Ostrava (CZE) vs. Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI)
Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE) vs. Linkopings HC (SWE)
ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI) vs. Vaxjo Lakers (SWE)
Sparta Prague (CZE) vs. SC Bern (SUI)

MARTIN MERK

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