Sensation, fairy tale, anomaly

The world press is excited and astonished about ZSC’s triumph

29.01.2009
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Sean Simpson’s reward for his masterpiece: The Silver Stone Trophy. Photo: Getty Images/Bongarts

ZURICH – When an underdog achieves a feat, or reaches an unattainable pinnacle, it gives the press much to write about. Below is a what the press around the world had to say after Switzerland’s ZSC Lions beat Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 5-0, in the CHL title game.

The Swiss press about the final:

“Sensation: ZSC on the hockey throne,” headlined Switzerland’s most-read newspaper 20 Minuten on the front page with a photo of Domenico Pittis hoisting the trophy. “We are number one in Europe. What more could we want?” ZSC captain Mathias Seger said.

“The ZSC Lions humiliate Magnitogorsk,” wrote the Tages-Anzeiger. “On the way to their triumph, the ZSC Lions demolished the supposedly best team of the Champions Hockey League in the last period. ... All qualities of Russian hockey were not enough against these Lions, who had the momentum on their side.” Mentioned are the 40-year-old goalkeeper Ari Sulander, the offensive pressure, the power play, face-offs and the “dirty goals that can make the difference”.

“A Zurich hockey fairy tale,” the game was called by Neue Zürcher Zeitung. “[After the first period] The ZSC Lions changed to their brisk tactic and were looking for salvation in the offensive game. Metallurg Magnitogorsk played too nervously in general and seldom fulfilled their role as a favourite.” The prestigious paper also had high praise for the CHL. “The IIHF has brought European club hockey to a next level with the creation and the perfect organisation of the CHL. Swiss hockey can also profit as the status of the regular season, often seen as unimportant play-off preparation, is substantially enhanced since the regular-season winner can qualify for the CHL.”

“Lion Kings win Champions League,” said the front page of Blick. “Phenomenal – Rapperswil-Jona trembled and Zurich celebrated. ... Together with Domenico Pittis, who assisted on three goals, Ari Sulander was the key player on the strong Zurich team. ... The atmosphere in the arena gave goose bumps. The stands trembled with each goal, the whole arena pushed ZSC to this crazy win.”

“Dismounting of the Russian bears,” Zürichsee-Zeitung said of the game in its headline with a cheering Blain Down, who plays in the Zürichsee region with farm team GCK Lions in Küsnacht.

“The last victim of the hunt,” headlined Mittelland Zeitung about the ZSC win. “It was tactically a master achievement that ended with a 5-0 score – and in autumn, they will face an NHL team in the Victoria Cup.”

“The game of their lives,” headlined the Basler Zeitung which said of the 5-0 victory. “Zurich made the impossible possible and swept away Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 5-0, to win the new European club competition.”

“Sensational! The ZSC Lions in the flush of victory” wrote .ch. “Our triumph showed that a team is stronger than 25 individuals,” ZSC defenceman Severin Blindenbacher said.

“Zurich dominates Europe,” wrote Le Matin on its front page and underlined Ari Sulander as “the hero of the crazy team”.

“ZSC Lions have made history,” wrote 24 heures. “Yesterday night, the fans of all Swiss clubs cheered for the ZSC Lions dreaming about being competitive in the game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk, one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs.” And the team was more than competitive.

“Zurich folds Metallurg and sits on the throne of Europe!” wrote Giornale del Popolo. “Unbelievalbe, really unbelievable, this Zurich team: from Sulander to the inexhaustible Pittis and 19-year-old defenceman Geering.”

“This success in the Champions Hockey League means that the ice hockey world must acknowledge that the Swiss league is at an impressive level,” Ralph Krueger, Swiss national team coach said during the live TV broadcast in Switzerland.

The TV ratings were also sensational. 488,100 people (market share: 30.8%) saw the second final game of the Champions Hockey League on Wednesday night in the German-speaking part of Switzerland on SF2. A figure rarely reached with a hockey game.

From the Russian media:

“Krutov and Co. win Champions Hockey League,” headlined Moskovsky Komsomolets. “The Magnitogorsk team went to Switzerland with a clear desire to win ... but the third period broke all dreams of the players and fans.”

“The victory over Metallug gives the Zurich Lions a million Euros,” titled RIA Novosti. “As in the first game, the Lions were tactically more prepared to meet one of the best KHL teams. The play was dictated from the first until the last minute by the Swiss team. The Metallurg players were not able to pick up the keys to Ari Sulander’s cage.”

“On the ice rink, Magnitka lost everything, most notably their honour,” wrote Interfax. “After the 3-0 goal in the third period, the Russians gave up.”

“Krutov won the Champions League,” headlined gazeta.ru and explained how Goliath could lose against David: “The Swiss showed a typical Canadian style of hockey and many KHL teams are not used to play against that style.”

“Magnitka’s anomaly,” read the headline of Sovietsky Sport on the front page. “Modest Zurich smashed unrecognisable Magnitogorsk and sensationally won the Champions Hockey league.” On the other pages of the CHL final coverage, it read “Bravo Zurich!” and “Zurich wanted to win – Zurich won”.

“Zurich upsets Metallurg in the final,” wrote Sport-Express. “The teams focused on defence in the first period ... after the break, the hosts took the initiative and scored. They blocked all approaches to their goal in the neutral zone.”

From the rest of the world:

“Zurich earns game versus NHL team,” read the Associated Press headline, mentioning that the Lions have the right to play an NHL team in a $1 million challenge game, the Victoria Cup.

“Lions, Champions of Europe,” the New York Times wrote in its hockey blog SlapShot. “Congratulations to the Lions, and to Magnitka too for their fine performances in this inaugural Champions League season.”

 “Zurich’s lions are Europe’s strongest team,” wrote German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur. “As the first winner of the Champions Hockey League, the ZSC Lions from Zurich heat up the enthusiasm for World Championship three months before it begins in their country. The ZSC Lions continue the surprises that were made by the national team at the 2006 Olympics in Turin with victories over Canada and the Czech Republic.”

“Swiss on ice,” headlines Süddeutsche Zeitung. „Already the 2-2 tie in the first game was a surprise, the return game became a humiliation: 5-0 it was, when the final buzzer sounded at 21:57 – the biggest success of a Swiss club team since the invention of ice hockey (around 1850) and Switzerland (1291) was perfect.”

 “Suloista! Sulander’s Zurich wins the CHL,” headlined Finnish paper Ilta-Sanomat – a word play with the Finnish word for sweet and Sulo, the nickname of Finnish ZSC goalkeeper.

“Zurich Lions win Champions League,” read the headline of Swedish paper Aftonbladet. “The Zurich Lions crushed Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the second final of the Champions Hockey League and is now awaiting and NHL challenger in the Victoria Cup next autumn.”

Deniksport from the Czech Republic focused its report on Metallurg’s scoring leader Jan Marek. “Magnitogorsk’s goal in the Champions Hockey League finals clearly failed,” it said and Marek can’t hide his disappointment: “All Russia will be disappointed but everyone saw that the better team won.”

“ZSC Lions celebrate Champions League triumph with disruption of Metallurg Magnitogorsk,” titles Latvian newspaper Diena. “Throughout the game, the hosts had more puck possession. The guests had some dangerous moments but they were not able to score.”

“Champions Hockey League: Swiss premiere,” wrote France Info about the “enormous surprise in the final of the Champions Hockey League, Europe’s most prestigious competition. The ZSC Lions dominated the huge favourite Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the game for the European title.”

MARTIN MERK


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