LOHJA/SLANY – Aisulu Almaty (Kazakhstan), HC Lugano (Switzerland), SKIF Nizhni Novgorod (Russia) and Ilves Tampere (Finland) are the national champions that will battle for the European Women’s Champions Cup trophy in the final tournament in February.
While the first two teams remained undefeated in both the first and second round, the latter ones qualified as second-placed teams.Lugano surprises SKIF
HC Lugano missed the final tournament last year, but it has won all six games in this year’s EWCC. While the 8-3 win against the Sabres Vienna and the 5-3 victory against Slavia Prague did not come as a surprise, the Swiss champion’s defeat of the 2009 EWCC winner SKIF Nizhni Novgorod in game 2 must be considered as an upset.
In the game between the best two teams in Slany, Czech Republic, Lugano gained the lead three times – 2-0, 3-2, 4-3 – and eventually defeated the Russian favourite in overtime. Latvian national team player Iveta Koka scored her second goal of the day on a power play at 2:58 of the extra period. Lugano was ready from the beginning and outshot SKIF 15-3 in the first period and 45-29 in total. SKIF equalized three times and was rewarded with one point for its late effort.
As SKIF Nizhni Novgorod also lost a point on the first day when they defeated the host Slavia Prague 4-3 in a shootout, none of the four teams had the qualification for the final secured after the first two days, with all pressure being on the Russian team.
But SKIF recovered and skated to a lopsided 8-1 victory against the Sabres Vienna while Lugano climbed back to first place by defeating Slavia.
The Czech champion finished in third place after a 6-3 win against the Sabres Vienna. It was an encounter that ended on a rather aggressive note and with 292 penalty minutes. Six players on the Austrian side – including the goalkeeper – and five Czech players received a game misconduct or a match penalty; most of them as a result of a brawl with 73 seconds remaining in the third period.Click here for box scores of Group E.Aisulu Almaty continues streak
Kazakh champion Aisulu Almaty continued its perfect streak. The team has won all six games of the season so far. But this time it wasn’t easy. Against underdog Vålerenga Oslo, the Kazakhs had 60 shots on goal, but Lyubov Ibragimova was the only player who got the puck past goalkeeper Christine Smestad at 17:23.
Ilves Tampere, the host team at the Kisakallio Sport Institute in Lohja, Finland, also scored a hard-fought victory, 2-1 against OSC Berlin with two goals from Emma Haataja.
The two favourites faced each other on Saturday in a game that eventually decided first place. Larissa Sviridova opened the scoring for Aisulu at 5:20, but Merja Halmetoja tied it up seven minutes later.
Ilves enjoyed a 41-16 shot-on-goal advantage, but it seemed that Aisulu relished the underdog role. Alexandra Ashikhina regained the lead at 2:16 of the second period while Darya Obydennova remained undefeated in the Kazakh net for the remainder of the game. Olga Potapova scored the 3-1 goal shorthanded in the dying minute.
Obydennova had 40 saves against Ilves and she continued to be a wall for the Kazakhs in the last game when Aisulu blanked OSC Berlin, 3-0. This time Obydennova made 41 saves.
Ilves Tampere secured second place and a final berth with a 4-1 win against Vålerenga in the last game while last year’s finalist OSC Berlin finished in third place having had its only victory against Vålerenga, 5-1.Click here for box scores of Group F.
The final tournament will be staged 25-27 February 2011. Several of the qualified teams have confirmed their intention to organize the event and the host will be determined soon.