GRENOBLE, France – Red Bull Salzburg finished the 2010 Continental Cup with a 9-4 win and clean record in the Super Final in Grenoble, before hoisting the Continental Cup plate on Sunday night.
Belarusian champion Yunost Minsk finished in second place following a win on Sunday against third-place Sheffield. Grenoble did everything to win a medal in its last game against Salzburg, but the hosts ended the tournament in fourth place.More:Photo galleriesHighlight videosRed Bull Salzburg vs. Grenoble Brûleures de Loups 9-4 (3-2, 3-1, 3-1)
Red Bull Salzburg won its last game in great fashion, a 9-4 win outshooting Grenoble 56-37. The 3,500 fans in the Patinoire Pôle Sud got everything; offensive play from both teams, 13 goals from 13 different players, but also also excessive emotions resulting in 170 penalty minutes.
Grenoble equalized an Austrian lead twice, but after Michael Schiechl’s 3-2 goal at 16:40, the French had no more answers and Salzburg extended the league in the last two periods. Five Salzburg players (Brett Aubin, Michael Gergen, Jeremy Rebek, Dominique Heinrich and Ryan Duncan) had one goal and one assist.
It’s the first time that an Austrian team played in the final tournament. The previous winners came from Slovakia (4), Switzerland (4), Russia (2), Belarus (1) and Finland (1).
Red Bull Salzburg's win doesn’t come as a huge surprise though. Since the energy drink owner took over the hockey team, the club has advanced from the second division to being a powerhouse of Austrian hockey within just a few years.
Former NHL coach Pierre Pagé has now led the team to the biggest success of an Austrian club since VEU Feldkirch won the 1998 European Hockey League. Before that, Pagé made Eisbären Berlin the German powerhouse before his move to Austria in 2007.
Red Bull Salzburg is the club with the biggest budget of all Continental Cup participants and also in the Austrian league, which in the last few years added clubs from neighbouring countries Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.
The result of the high budget is reflected in the roster, that has some better-known names in European hockey. On the transfer market, Red Bull tries to compete with Europe’s top clubs.
Pagé had the team with most depth, and the players executed the game plan well; solid hockey in both directions, patience and excellent special-team units. Former NHL goalie David LeNeuve had the best save percentage with 96% and Salzburg boasted a solid defence with some of the best Austrian-trained players.
Salzburg occupied the first four places in tournament scoring and three of them were defencemen. Matthias Trattnig, who had no goals but seven assists, was the pointman on the power play and several of his shots were deflected by his forwards.
Daniel Welser was the top goal scorer with four goals. Defenceman Jeremy Rebek and forward Brett Aubin had one goal and four assists each.
Money can buy a skilled team, but that does not always produce championships. While Red Bull Salzburg was successful on the European stage, they lost last year’s final against Klagenfurt in seven games and the are currently in third place in the domestic league.
Now, Pagé hopes to bring the self-confidence and the performance his team had in Grenoble back to the Austrian league.Sheffield Steelers vs. Yunost Minsk 1-4 (0-1, 0-3, 1-0)
Yunost Minsk won its first game on Sunday, 4-1 against British team Sheffield Steelers. Alexei Baranov scored two goals when Yunost sealed the win in the second part of the middle period.
Yunost Minsk didn’t have the chance to win the tournament anymore after they lost to eventual winner Red Bull Salzburg in their first game, but the Belarusians are still in run for the silver medals thanks to the win.
Yunost coach Mikhail Zakharov was happy with the win, but not so much with his team's display at the tournament. “We have not performed very well. There were maybe some mistakes in the management, but they should rather remain internal,” Zakharov said. “We also didn’t expect that it would be so tough to play against Red Bull Salzburg.”
Against Sheffield, Yunost opened the scoring at 7:32 following a couple of scoring chances on a power play. Andrei Stepanov skated towards Sheffield netminder Andrew Verner surrounded by two defenceman and fed Maxim Slysh on the other side, who shot the puck into an empty net.
Two minutes later Sergei Yanovski had a breakaway, but couldn’t defeat Verner.
The Steelers had much puck possession and tried their best to compete against the more skilled Belarusian team. They outshot their opponent 12-11 in the first period, but most shots were not really challenging Yunost keeper Sergei Shabanov, who like Verner played the third game in three days.
Yunost beat Sheffield with its own methods: an economic and patient play, and they struck when the Brits became tired.
Yunost extended the lead midway through the second period when Alexei Baranov scored on his own rebound at 30:42.
Oleksandr Materukhin, on a pass from Alexander Borovkov, scored the 3-0 goal at 34:13 following an odd-man rush. Baranov made it 4-0 just two minutes later. Yunost had a 20-10 shot-advantage in the middle period.
Sheffield scored the consolation goal at 54:34 seven seconds into a power play when Matt Hubbauer, fed by Robert Dowd, was alone in front of the net to score the 4-1 goal.Best Player Awards by the Tournament Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Andrew Verner, Sheffield Steelers
Best Defenceman: Douglas Lynch, Red Bull Salzburg
Best Forward: Oleksandr Materukhin, Yunost Minsk