ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Metallurg Magnitogorsk qualified for the final of the European Champions Cup thanks to a shootout win against Slovan Bratislava. The Slovaks were close to a surprise but the Russians could overcome the hard-working opponent at the end of the game. Metallurg will play Sparta Prague in Sunday’s gold medal game.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk went as a clear favourite into the game against Slovak champion Slovan Bratislava, whose budget might be ten times smaller, but the Slovaks got in with heart and without fear. Even though Metallurg had more shots on goal, Slovan created some quality chances but had no luck, when Radoslav Kropac hit the post (11:09) and Daniel Hancak the bar (15:39) only. This changed when Marek Uram put the puck behind Metallurg’s goalkeeper Travis Scott at 17:24.
The Russians came out of their locker room with anger and a heavy firepower on the Slovak goal. Slovan’s Finnish netminder Sasu Hovi was like a rampart and kept the overview even in hot and sometimes chaotic situations in front of his cage. Metallurg’s stars did not find the net in unbelievable situations while the Finn made 26 saves in the first two periods.
Hovi made save by save until the 49th minute but was stopped then. After a shot in power play by ex-Slovan defender Martin Strbak, Hovi blocked the puck with his pad but Igor Korolev could profit from the rebound. However, the goal only stood after a lengthy video replay, which eventually determined that Korolev did not use a kicking motion with the skate when scoring.
The half-an-hour pain of the Russians fans since Slovan’s goal disappeared but Metallurg’s inefficiency didn’t. After 60 minutes and the result of 1-1, the teams came into a scoreless overtime. In the penalty shots, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who pulled its number one goalie Travis Scott in favour of Belarusian Andrei Mezin for the shootout, was the cooler team. “It was a good choice to bring Kaigorodov and also the decision of the goalie coach to bring Mezin,” said Metallurg’s head coach Valeri Postnikov after the game. He leaves it open, which goalkeeper will start in tomorrow’s final against Sparta Prague.
SLO Martin Huisa 1-0
MET Jaroslav Kudrna save
SLO Marek Uram save
MET Jan Marek save
SLO Richard Kapus save
MET Alexei Kaigorodov 1-1
MET Alexei Kaigorodov 1-2
SLO Martin Huisa miss
Metallurg wins in penalty shots.
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