ROUEN – Yunost Minsk stays in the race for the Continental Cup plate after landing its first victory, 4-2 against host Rouen Dragons. Both teams contend for the tournament win on Sunday with undefeated leader Donbass Donetsk.
Thanks to the win Yunost Minsk has still the chance to win the tournament if they defeat winless Asiago in regulation time tomorrow and if Rouen beats Donetsk in regulation time with a margin of one or two goals, or with the score of 3-0.
If Yunost beats Asiago in regulation time, the Rouen Dragons can still win the tournament if they defeat Donbass Donetsk with a margin of four goals or more, or with a three-goal margin but scoring four goals or more (i.e. 4-1, 5-2). If Yunost doesn’t defeat Asiago in regulation time, a regulation time win against Donetsk with any margin will be enough for Rouen to win the tournament in any case.
Donbass Donetsk simply needs one more point after its two victories. The Ukrainians need to defeat Rouen tomorrow or at least grab a point (loss in overtime or shootout) to win the Continental Cup.
“Now we have to wait and see if Asiago or Minsk wins and then we will see,” Rouen coach Rodolphe Garnier said after the game. “Donbass is a very strong team, we’re also a good team, it will be a very good hockey game.”
And Garnier remains optimistic: “They are very strong offensively, but Donbass’ goalkeeper is not as strong as Minsk’s.”
Yunost outshot Rouen 40-34 while Andrei Bashko scored two goals for the Belarusians.
The Rouen Dragons controlled the first few minutes of the game while Yunost Minsk was getting stronger towards the end of the period. But neither team had big scoring opportunities in the scoreless first period.
Rouen was closest in scoring when the Dragons took over a power play from the first period and Julien Desrosiers hit the post while the goal was moved 42 seconds into the second period. However, 14 seconds later the French capitalized on the man advantage when Marc-André Thinel scored from the blueline with a shot that went in through Mika Oksa’s five-hole.
Thinel had another great shot from the left side at 12:26, but this time Oksa shone with a great glove save.
One minute later it came different. The Rouen players thought their goalkeeper Fabrice Lhenry had caught a puck that hit his body after a Yunost shot, but suddenly the Yunost players started to cheer while the officials declared it was a goal. Lhenry had lost the puck and when it fell onto the ice, Sergei Zadelenov was there to move the disc in at 13:39.
Less than a minute later Rouen’s Teemu Elomo almost replied, but eventually the Finnish forward didn’t score on the breakaway. The puck went to the other side and it was Bashko, who defeated Lhenry to gain the lead for Yunost at 15:07 with 4-on-4 players on the ice. With just three seconds left in the second period, Bashko made it even 3-1 with his second goal.
2:59 into the third period Carl Mallette scored on a power play when he hit the puck in the air, but at 9:25 Igor Voroshilov restored Yunost’s two-goal lead on a breakaway.
Rouen coach Garnier took a time-out before a power play, but eventually the score didn’t change: Yunost won 4-2.