GRENOBLE, France – Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups, the only team that had the chance to win the Continental Cup apart from undefeated Red Bull Salzburg after three games, beat Yunost Minsk 3-2 in a shootout. But the two points were not enough and mean that Salzburg will remain in first place in any case and won the 2010 Continental Cup before the last game against Grenoble on Sunday.More:Game sheetPhoto galleryHighlight video
Grenoble scored the lead and kept the dreams of challenging Salzburg for the Continental Cup plate alive for about 30 minutes, but Yunost turned the game with two goals late in the second period. Grenoble reached the overtime with a goal with six minutes left in the third period and won the game in a shootout, but the French had to win in regulation time to preserve a chance for the tournament win.
“It was fantastic to succeed in the first period after the bad luck we had against Sheffield, and of course that I scored on my penalty shot,” said forward Alexandre Rouleau. “It was a great win that also shows that the level of our league is good. Too bad that we can’t win the tournament anymore, the loss against Sheffield really hurts us.”
Earlier the day, Salzburg defeated the Sheffield Steelers 6-1. Click here for the recap of the first game on Saturday.
Grenoble had the better start and opened the scoring after the first penalty of the game was called against Yunost’s Artyom Senkevich. Much to the joy of the 3,500 fans in the sold-out Patinoire Pôle Sud, Alexandre Rouleau hammered the puck in from the blueline at the eight-minute mark.
Sébastien Raibon had a strong game in Grenoble’s net and seemed to be an unbeatable wall for the Belarusians. Yunost had many scoring chances in the second period and outshot the French 20-10, but Raibon kept his net clean for a long time and Jean-François Dufour even missed out a huge chance to score the second Grenoble goal on a breakaway at 32:29 when Yunost goalkeeper Sergei Shabanov blocked the shot.
Head coach Mats Lusth surprised many fans by giving Raibon a chance as the 19-year-old has played just two games in the French league. “We decided that already before the tournament. We have three games in three days and two good goalies, so both must play,” Grenoble coach Mats Lusth said about the decision.
At 36:48, the hard work eventually paid off for Yunost Minsk as Oleksandr Materukhin scored on a power play.
Grenoble tried to react immediately and had a one-man advantage, but with 32 seconds remaining in the second period, it was Konstantin Zakharov who gained the lead for Yunost on a breakaway. With four seconds left, the play seemed to repeat, but there was no second shorthander as Materukhin’s shot hit the post.
Grenoble played more offensively in the third period and wanted to keep the hope alive to play for the tournament win on Sunday against Salzburg, but the French efforts were fruitless until late in the period.
At 54:08 after a Yunost chance, Christophe Tatari passed the puck to Damien Fleury for a breakaway. Fleury skated between the back pair Karev/Tolkunov to defeat Shabanov with a backhand shot.
Fleury’s goal brought Grenoble into overtime. Both teams had chances to win within the additional five minutes, but no goal was scored and a penalty shootout had to determine the winner.Shootout:
1st round: Alexandre Rouleau 0-1, Andrei Stepanov 1-1.
2nd round: Martin Jansson 1-2, Oleksandr Materukhin – missed.
3rd round: Damien Fleury – save, Konstantin Zakharov – save.
It were the Grenoble players, who celebrated the additional point with their fans, although it was not enough to win the tournament.
“Everybody played two, three levels higher than yesterday,” Lusth praised his players. “Against such a fast team you have to think one, two seconds ahead compared to the French league and we read their game perfectly. It’s a pity that we can’t win the tournament, but we will take it as the final anyway. We know Salzburg has a big team.”
Yunost faces the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday at 15:00. Salzburg vs. Grenoble is the evening game at 19:00.