Rouen reigns

Dragons open Continental Cup with win


Olivier Labelle (left) and Marc-Andre Thinel (right) celebrate a goal in the Rouen Dragons’ 4-2 opening-day victory against Asiago Hockey. Photo: Christophe Delaville

ROUEN – French host Rouen Dragons start the 2016 IIHF Continental Cup Final on top of the standings after defeating Italian champion Asiago Hockey 4-2.

The Dragons’ first line with its long-time players made the difference producing the first three goals for the host club. Marc-Andre Thinel scored the first two goals and had an assist on the third to earn best player honours for his team. Rouen outshot Asiago 38-29.

“We know from the past how important the first game can be for the whole tournament so we knew we had to work hard for this game,” Francois-Pierre Guenette said.

“I think it’s a good way to start the tournament but we had many turnovers and gave them many chances. We have to play better to win the tournament. All can give a little more,” Thinel said.

“First in Italy – Gold in Europe” stood on a banner the Asiago fans carried over their shoulders. It was roughly four minutes played in the game and Jose Magnabosco Aguirre had just scored the first goal to give Asiago the lead. But the lead didn’t last for too long and by losing their first game the gold medals went one step away from them.

Two minutes after Asiago’s goal the Rouen fans stood up. Thinel had a breakaway but Asiago goalie Christopher Carrozzi made the save. But that was no problem for the host team as it tied the game a few seconds later with the next attack. At 6:28 Thinel succeeded with his shot to tie the game at one.

The game continued to be offensive-minded with great scoring chances on both sides. At 15:00 it was the Rouen Dragons who earned the lead for the first time. Again it was the first line that put pressure on the net and when Thinel got the disc in front of Carrozzi he put it in again for the 2-1 lead.

“We had a good start but then we had two big mistakes in the defence and gave them the momentum,” Asiago coach Patrice Lefebvre said. “Tomorrow we got to play the game we normally play.”

The Dragons extended the lead midway through the middle frame when the French dominated the most. After 11 seconds on a power play Loic Lamperier made it 3-1 scoring on one of several rebounds.

Two minutes later Nicolas Arrossamena had the puck in front of the net. The shovelled it back and put it backhand high into Carrozzi’s net forcing Asiago coach Patrice Lefebvre to use his time-out.

Asiago played better in the third period but Dany Sabourin in the Dragons’ net was a wall for the Italians. When nothing seemed to work out Anthony Nigro eventually scored a shorthanded goal at 10:56 of the third frame. He comfortable skated through the Dragons’ defence deking his opponents and netted the puck for the 4-2 goal. It remained the final goal of the game.

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