BOLZANO/LIEPAJA – Keramin Minsk and the Bolzano Foxes won the third-stage tournaments with close decisions and advanced to the 2009 IIHF Continental Cup Super Final in Rouen, France, January 16-18.
Belarusian champion Keramin Minsk won the tournament in Liepaja, Latvia, after defeating the host 5-2 in the deciding game. Keramin, Liepaja and Sokil (UKR) all finished with six points, but Keramin prevailed with one more goal in the head-to-head standings between the three teams. Kazakhstan's Gornyak Rudny lost all three games.
Liepajas Metalurgs was the only undefeated team entering the final day and could have won the tournament withjust one point. Keramin had to win by three goals to secure the title after losing the first game against Sokil Kyiv 4-2. And the Belarusians did exactly what was needed to advance to the final tournament.
Alexei Permyakov opened the scoring for Keramin after just 64 seconds but Andrejs Smirnovs equalised with his power play goal three minutes later. Two goals by Irek Khafizov and one each by Dmitri Shulga and Evgeni Baukin sealed the triumph for the Belarusians. It is the first time for Keramin in the Super Final since 2004.Click here for scores from Group D.
In Bolzano, Italy, the other third-round group ended with a clash between two undefeated teams. British champion Coventry Blaze and Italian champion Bolzano Foxes both beat Maribor (Slovenia) and Dunaujvaros (Hungary), thus Sunday's game determined the last spot in Rouen.
To the delight of the 3,150 fans at the Palaonda Arena, Bolzano prevailed, 1-0.
Captain Roland Ramoser, the 36-year-old veteran who represented Italy in 15 World Championships, scored the lone goal in the win on a power play at 14:42. Ramoser also scored the game-winner in the 5-2 win over Dunaujvaros on Friday. Both goalies, Bolzano's Pasi Häkkinen and Coventry's Jean-Francois Perras, received the best-player awards.
"We fought and played with heart. It was the most important game and we deserved this win. Now we’re all happy to go to Rouen,” Ramoser said after the game. “A big compliment to our goalkeeper Pasi Häkkinen, who played faultless and came up big in a couple of situations.”
It is the first time that the 17-time Italian champion qualified to a final tournament in an IIHF competition.Click here for scores from Group E.
Keramin Minsk and the Bolzano Foxes will meet the Rouen Dragons from France and Slovakian top team MHC Martin in the Continental Cup Super Final, January 16 to 18, 2009. The Super Final will take place in Rouen.