ZURICH – The European Women’s Champions Cup kicked off during the weekend with four tournaments. Planegg (GER), Grenoble (FRA), Herlev (DEN) and the Sabres Vienna (AUT) won all their games to advance to the second round.
The IIHF also announced venues for the second stage. Group E will take place in Hämeenlinna, Finland, while Group F will be organized by the ZSC Lions Zurich in the border town of Dornbirn, Austria.Group A: Planegg shuts out the rest
BYTOM, Poland – German champion ESC Planegg won its group virtually uncontested. In the opening game they defeated the opponent who eventually came second, Italy’s Bolzano Eagles, 6-0 before steamrolling past Spain’s Valladolid Panteras (22-0) and host Polonia Bytom (19-0).
20-year-old forward Julia Zorn lead the way with eight goals. Sophie Kratzer, Lisa Schuster and Swiss national team player Kathrin Lehmann scored five goals apiece.
Bolzano finished second after defeating Bytom (6-3) and Valladolid (9-0). The Polish team came in third place, celebrating its only victory on the first day. Karolina Pozniewska scored seven goals in a 10-2 win over Valladolid.
For Planegg it was the first EWCC participation since the 2008-2009 season when they also made it to the second round. Last year, OSC Berlin represented Germany, but missed the final tournament after finishing third in the second stage.
, PhotosGroup B: Grenoble wolfs opponents
MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania – Same as Planegg, French champion Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups finished its tournament without conceding a single goal. It’s the first time in four years that a French club has made it to the second round.
After beginning the event with an 18-0 smashing of Romanian host HSC Csikszereda, the French had their toughest challenge in Pantera Minsk on Saturday. Pantera was the first women’s hockey team from Belarus to ever participate in an international event after the Belarusians had started their women’s program in the summer of 2010.
The Pantera club, which plays in Austria- and Latvia-based leagues, is boosted by players from Latvia, Russia and Slovakia, and this mix of international players made the Belarusians a tough nut to crack. After a tight first period, Grenoble displayed what there are made of. Two second-period goals lead to the 3-0 victory and eventually the tournament win. On the last day, the French concluded the tournament by blanking Milenyum Ankara 14-0.
Soline Fohrer contributed with eight goals to the triumph, followed by Mathilde Ravillard’s six markers. 18-year-old goalkeeper Caroline Baldin was credited with the three shutouts, saving 33 shots.
Pantera finished its international debut in second place with two wins against Ankara (8-0) and Csikszereda (14-0). The home team Csikszereda got its only victory against Milenyum Ankara, 5-3.
, PhotosGroup C: Herlev wins “Nordic group”
RIGA, Latvia – The national champions from Denmark, Latvia and Norway have always had tight contests in “their” group of the European Women’s Champions Cup that’s usually hosted in Latvia. Danish Herlev came on top in 2008-2009, Latvia’s Laima Riga succeeded one season later and Vålerenga Oslo from Norway won the event last year. This time it was Herlev’s turn again.
The Danes opened the tournament in Riga by defeating Norway’s Sparta Sarpsborg in a Scandinavian clash. Madelèn Haug Hansen, who scored a hat trick, gave Sarpsborg the lead twice, but the Danes always found the right answer to eventually clinch a 5-3 victory.
The Herlev Hornets continued their strong showing by defeating Laima Riga (2-0) and the Sheffield Shadows (4-1). Marie Henriksen led the Danes in scoring with three. Nanna Glaas had a stellar performance in Herlev’s net with a 94.1 save percentage.
Sparta Sarpsborg finished in second place with four points before Sheffield (3) and Riga (2).
, PhotosGroup D: Sabres Vienna make it again
SPISSKA NOVA VES, Slovakia – Last year the Sabres Vienna became the first Austrian team to ever win a tournament in the European Women’s Champions Cup. This time the Sabres repeated last year’s success, collecting the full nine points at the tournament not far away from home in Spisska Nova Ves.
The Sabres experienced some resistance, but were still the best team from start to finish. In a tight clash against Slavia Prague the Austrians decided the game with two markers within a two-minute span at the end of the middle stanza to make it 4-2. After getting the two-goal cushion, the Sabres remained in charge to clinch a 6-2 victory. Janine Weber was the match-winner for her team, scoring a hat trick.
The second game against HC Spisska Nova Ves was an easier task as the Sabres jumped to a 3-0 lead after 23 minutes of play, but the Slovak hosts didn’t want to disappoint their fans and came out strong for the last period to cut the lead.
The Sabres could eventually celebrate a 5-3 win which virtually decided the tournament. The Budapest Stars offered some opposition in the Sabres’ last game, leading 2-0 after the first and 2-1 after the second period. Especially 16-year-old forward Alexandra Huszak challenged the Sabres with netting both goals and completing her hat trick with another one.
However, the Austrians turned the game with four goals in the last nine minutes of regulation time for another 5-3 victory.
Slavia Prague recovered from the opening-game loss and finished in second place after downing Budapest (7-4) and Spisska Nova Ves (5-0). Host Spisska Nova Ves claimed third place after a 3-2 shoot-out win against the Budapest Stars.
, PhotosNext round hosted by Hämeenlinna and ZSC Lions
The two groups of the next round will be played in Hämeenlinna, Finland, and Dornbirn, Austria, December 2-4.
Host HPK Hämeenlinna will face Kazakh champion Aisulu Almaty, ESC Planegg and the Sabres Vienna in Group E.
The ZSC Lions Zurich, who will play in the EWCC for the first time ever, will host Group F in Dornbirn, a town at the Swiss-Austrian border nearby Lake Constance. Tornado Moscow Region, Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups and the Herlev Hornets are the other teams.
The two best-ranked teams of each group advance to the final tournament that will be played February 24-26 at a venue to be determined following the conclusion of the second round.Click here for the structure and groups of the EWCC.