Herning’s hopes alive

Simon Nielsen earns shutout in 4-0 win


The Herning Blue Fox won the battle of the teams that lost on Friday to keep hopes alive. Photo: Christophe Delaville

ROUEN – The Herning Blue Fox kept hopes for a Continental Cup win alive with a 4-0 blanking of Asiago Hockey. The Italians are out from the race for gold after their second defeat.

After their disappointing opening-day loss against GKS Tychy the Danes played smarter and had more luck on the second day of competition and beat a hard-working but fortuneless Italian side, who had a 29-20 shot-on-goal advantage.

Simon Nielsen had a busy day in Herning’s net.

“It was nice to get on the board and into the tournament and now we can play for the tournament win tomorrow,” the 29-year-old said. “It was busy for me but it’s nice to get shots all the time so you can feel the game, although they didn’t have that many quality chances.”

Seven weeks ago the Herning Blue Fox had already beaten Asiago Hockey on the opponent’s ice in Italy 2-1 in a shootout in the preliminary round to become the second-seeded team here in Rouen at the 2016 IIHF Continental Cup Final. The Danes took the lead, blew it when Asiago was pushing for a goal but won the game in a shootout.

The game on Saturday afternoon in Rouen resembled the one in the old year for some time. Again it was one of Herning’s North American players who opened the scoring. This time the fans who travelled from Herning had to wait until the second period until 24-year-old winger Kyle Essery’s shot hit the back of the net after 78 seconds of play in the middle frame.

Another reason for Asiago’s desperation was Simon Nielsen. The local boy with national-team experience in Herning’s net played an excellent game and made up for the fact that Asiago outshot Herning not just throughout the game but in every period. In the end he had 29 saves.

“We started well but then allowed the own goal in the second period. We had chances on the power play but we didn’t execute well enough and were not fortunate enough,” said Asiago coach Patrice Lefebvre.

Asiago tried hard and they had seven power plays to do so but today was Nielsen’s day.

Herning coach Mario Simioni was happy with the win but less so that his team had to play shorthanded for that much time. “The penalties could have cost us the game tonight. We had to sustain a lot of forecheck and were in the situation to get them tired and force them to turnovers,” he said.

On the other side Herning had chances for counter-attacks and Martin Sagat capitalized on one such opportunity to double the lead at 10:27 of the third period.

On a seldom power play for Herning a few minutes later – during a two-man advantage due to two simultaneous penalty calls against Asiago – Daniel Nielsen made it 3-0 with a shot from the face-off circle. With 69 seconds left Joachim Linnet made it 4-0 with a shot into the empty net.

Thanks to the win the Danes kept their chances of hosting the winners’ plate tomorrow alive.

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