Metallurg, Espoo to semi-finals

Slavia vs. Zurich on Dec. 3 will decide Group D winner

19.11.2008
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Espoo players Jaakko Uhlbäck and Tomi Sallinnen celebrate Ryan Keller's 2-1 goal against SC Bern. Photo: Getty Images/Bongarts

Metallurg Magnitogorsk made sure that one of the Champions Hockey League semi-finals will be an all-Russian affair. By defeating Kärpät Oulu 3-1, Metallurg secured the win in Group A and a semi-final encounter with Salavat Yulayev Ufa.

The Espoo Blues can also book their semi-final tickets after a 2-1 win against SC Bern. ZSC Lions Zurich won a crucial game against Linköping to ensure that the last game at Slavia Prague will be a “winner-takes-all”.

Group A:
Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS, 3W-0L) – Kärpät Oulu (FIN, 1OTL-3L)
3 – 1 (in Magnitogorsk). Game recap.
Vladislav Bulin scored his first CHL goal 1:27 into the second period to break a scoreless tie and Metallurg never gave up the lead, becoming the second team to earn a spot in the semi-final where the team will play KHL rival Salavat Yulayev. Evgeni Biryukov and Tomas Rolinek had the other goals in the 3-1 win in front of a near sell-out crowd of 7,593 fans. Metallurg’s last group stage game at Eisbären Berlin will carry no consequence on the standings.

Salavat Yulayev won the only clash in the KHL between the cities that are located within 250 km distance of each other, 5-1 in Magnitogorsk. The Ufa team also holds a better record with 57 points out of 25 games while Metallurg Magnitogorsk had 51 points in 27 games.

Group B:
Espoo Blues (FIN, 3W-0L) – SC Bern (SUI, 1W-3L) 2 – 1
(in Espoo). Game recap.
The Espoo Blues clinched the group win and a place in the semi-finals by defeating SC Bern 2-1 before a sell-out crowd of 6,274. The Swiss team had to win the game with a wide margin to remain in contention and they scored a short-hander after only 47 seconds through Christian Dubé. But the Blues rebounded with goals by Juuso Puustinen and Ryan Keller to turn the game around and the first-period result stood till the end. Espoo’s last group stage game at Jönköping will mean nothing for the standings. Espoo will play either Slavia Prague or the ZSC Lions in the semis.

Group C:
Slovan Bratislava (SVK, 1W-2L) – Mountfield C.B. (CZE, 1W-3L) 5 – 3
(in Bratislava). Game recap.
Slovan scored three first-period goals through Lubomir Vaic, Martin Hujsa and Robert Döme but they still needed to rely on late goals by Roman Kukumberg and Miro Lazo to get their first CHL win. Slovan’s last group game at Ufa will decide about second place in the group, where Salavat Yulayev already is the winner.

Group D:
ZSC Lions (SUI, 2W-1OTL) – Linköpings HC (SWE, 0W-4L) 4 – 3
(in Zurich). Game recap.
Defenceman Severin Blindenbacher scored two second-period goals and Cyrill Bühler got the team ahead 4-2 only 57 seconds into the third as the ZSC Lions squeezed by winless Linköping 4-3. With the win, ZSC made sure that the last game against Slavia Prague away will be all-decisive affair for the group win. ZSC will qualify for the semi-final with a regulation time win or an OT-victory in Prague on December 3. It was a crucial win for a nervous Zurich team which conceded two short-handed goals.

Go to championshockeyleague.com for latest news and team updates and the clubs in all four groups. Click here for the on-ice officials assignments for the Wednesday’s games. Click here for the 25-man rosters of all teams.

The 12 teams are playing in four three-team groups, where the four group winners advance to the home & away semi-finals (December 10 – January 7). The home & away finals will be played on January 21 & 28.

The last group stage game date is December 3. The team with the better Group Stage record in each semi-final pairing will have home ice advantage of the second game, played on January 7, 2009. The first game of the semi-finals will be played on December 10, 2008.

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