LANDSHUT/VAASA – Beibarys Atyrau from Kazakhstan and German club Landshut Cannibals advance to the third round of the Continental Cup after winning their groups on Sunday.
In the third round Landshut will travel to Bolzano and face Italian champion Bolzano Foxes, Danish champion Herning Blue Fox and Toros Neftekamsk from Russia.
Beibarys Atyrau will go to Stavanger, Norway, for the third round of the Continental Cup. The other teams will be Metallurg Zhlobin from Belarus, Norwegian host Stavanger Oilers and Polish champion KH Sanok.
The third-round events will played 23-25 November and the winners will play in the Super Final in Donetsk, Ukraine, 11-13 January 2013.
Both the Landshut Cannibals and Vaasan Sport competed in the Continental Cup for the first time as the champions of the second-tier leagues in Germany and Finland respectively. The Kazakh team fought back from being three goals down in their deciding game against the Finns.Cannibals eat Giants
The Landshut Cannibals had wins with modest scores against the underdog teams, Romanian champion HSC Csikszereda and the Eaters Geleen from the Netherlands, but in the game that mattered most, fans at the Eisstadion am Gutenbergweg saw a goal festival against the British champions.
In the game between the top-two ranked teams the Landshut Cannibals defeated the Belfast Giants 7-1, and the Germans were superior from opening faceoff. Peter Abstreiter, the brother of former national team player Tobias Abstreiter, scored two goals while goalkeeper Timo Pielmeier was selected as best player of his team. Pielmeier returned to Germany during the off-season after five seasons in North American junior and minor leagues.
Cody Thornton opened the scoring after three minutes and Abstreiter had back-to-back goals within a three-minute span at the end of the first period to make it a 3-0 lead.
The Giants certainly had bigger hopes the day after steamrollering past Geelen 11-1, but they had a rough start being assessed four minor penalties in the first period.
Stephan Kronthaler and Bill Trew added two markers for the Germans in the middle stanza. With 24 seconds left in the period, Scott Champagne brought the British on the scoreboard, but it was mere consolation. Martin Davidek and Thomas Brandl netted two more goals for Landshut in the last period.
But the other Landshut games were not that easy. Thornton opened the scoring in the first game against Csikszereda after 30 seconds and his power-play goal at 10:57 of the third period sealed a hard-fought 2-0 win.
The Cannibals needed one more point against Geleen, but the opponent didn’t make it as easy as the hosts were hoping for.
David Burgess made it 1-0 for Geelen in the first period, but Landshut reacted after the intermission. Maximilian Brandl scored on a power play after 58 seconds and Abstreiter netted another goal on a man advantage at 13:45. With five seconds left in the period, Heiko Smazal scored the 3-1 goal for the home squad.
The Eaters Geelen tried to come back, but the goal they were looking for came too late, scored by Lars van Sloun with 1:44 left in regulation time. Maximilian Brandl’s second goal into an empty net sealed the win for Landshut.
“Before the tournament we had only thoughts about the Belfast Giants,” head coach Jiri Ehrenberger told Landshuter Zeitung
. “But we were not at 100 per cent of our potential in the other two games. That also speaks for the opponents. Eventually, we managed to remain focused in the crucial parts of the games and did our work.”
In the third round Landshut will travel to Bolzano and face Italian champion Bolzano Foxes, Danish champion Herning Blue Fox and Toros Neftekamsk from Russia.Click here for scores & standings.Beibarys masters comeback wins
Beibarys Atyrau won the Kazakh championship last spring and went into the Continental Cup with high hopes. The team has the former Latvian national team goalkeeper Martins Raitums in the net for the third season and they also signed a couple of import players including Jan Snopek and Tomas Horna, two Czech players with some national team games in their CVs.
But the other teams had their own ambitions, especially host Vaasan Sport, the defending champion of Finland’s second-tier league, Mestis.
The Kazakhs had a tough start though. Gunars Skvorcovs scored after 47 seconds for Liepajas Metalurgs and midway through the game the Latvian champion was leading 3-1. Beibarys coach Alexander Istomin pulled goalie Raitums for Mikhail Nemolodyshev.
In the third period, Beibarys’ Finnish centre Kari Sihvonen came to play and his only three shots on goal in the game became a hat trick to lead the Kazakh team to a 5-3 victory.
Vaasan Sport had an easier time and beat Hungary’s Miskolc Polar Bears 11-1 with four goals from Tomi Pekkala.
The two undefeated teams met on Saturday evening in what became the deciding game for first place.
It was an exciting start for the supporters of the home team. Three power-play goals, one from Erik Riska and two from Toni Jalo, made it a 3-0 lead for Vaasa. The home team had four man advantages and 16-2 in shots on goal in the first period. Two goals were scored during a five-minute major after a match penalty against Horna.
Having now started with Nemolodyshev in the net, coach Istomin replaced him with Raitums after the third goal. The Kazakhs became more disciplined in the second period and having less penalty trouble eventually paid off.
Ilya Akolzin cut the deficit at 2:50, but one minute later Tomi Pekkala scored another power-play marker for Vaasa to make it 4-1. But the three-goal deficit did not break the Kazakh’s as captain Yevgeni Antonov capitalized on his team’s first man advantage at 6:19.
The third period started with Sergei Ogorodnikov’s goal, 4-3 and Beibarys was back in the game as the momentum started to swing. At 12:17 Andrei Zakharov tied up the game and four minutes later Alexei Repkin scored the game winner with a shorthanded goal.
Vaasa coach Pasi Räsänen pulled his goalie with 65 seconds left to play and took a time-out, but nothing helped. Beibarys won 5-4 despite being outshot 43-19!
On the third day the Kazakhs confirmed the first place by blanking Hungary’s Miskolc 4-0 while Vaasa claimed the second place following a 4-3 overtime victory over Liepajas Metalurgs.
”Last year our team lost against the Latvian team and now it was time for revenge, but our target was to win this group and move to the next round,” coach Istomin said about his team’s triumph.
“International tournaments are very good for young players and their skill development. In the next round in Norway we have only one goal and that is to win the group and move on to the final round.”
Beibarys Atyrau will travel to Stavanger, Norway, for the third round of the Continental Cup. The other teams in Group E will be Metallurg Zhlobin (Belarus), Norwegian host Stavanger Oilers and Polish champion KH Sanok.
Fans in Stavanger can hope for a prominent guest if the lockout continues as Sanok recently signed Polish-born NHL forward Wojtek Wolski (Washington Capitals).Click here for scores & standings.
MARTIN MERK (Zurich)
BJÖRN PUNDARS (Vaasa)