DUNAUJVAROS, Hungary – Even a 12-hour bus trip could not stop them from raising the cup above their heads. After having won their first ever MOL Liga title last year, DAB Dunaujvaros Steel Bulls repeated the same success this year defeating HSC Csikszereda in six games.
Two goals in the second period by Attila Pavuk and Viktor Papp opened up the gap that the hosts could never recover from. Although pushing them back into their own zone, HSC Csikszereda could not beat Slovak goaltender Peter Sevela, who turned away all 22 shots and outplayed his countryman and opponent Stanislav Kozuch in a battle between the league’s best two netminders. Adding salt into the wounds of the home fans, the Steel Bulls doubled their lead with another deuce within the last three minutes of the game to clinch the title with a commanding 4-0 victory.
“After an even first period, we slowly took control in the second period,” DAB Dunaujvaros assistant coach Zoltan Szilassy said. “In the final period our opponent played a high tempo pressure game but luckily we were able to keep them from scoring. I don’t think the 4-0 score is a good reflection of the balance of the game but I’m very happy that we were able to retain our title.”
Surprisingly enough despite not having a 12-hour bus trip in the legs, the home team only was able to win 1 out of the 6 games in the final series.
With the title, Dunaujvaros ties the city of Miercurea Ciuc / Csikszereda for MOL Liga titles, both having won two. In 2009-10, the Budapest Stars won the league, which has only been existence as of 2008. The MOL Liga is a cross border league consisting of teams based in Hungary (4), Romania (2), and Slovakia (1) but does not contain Hungary’s strongest team SAPA Fehervar, currently playing in the Austrian EBEL league.
After the conclusion of the MOL Liga, the teams returned to their respective national leagues, which will crown the national champions of Hungary and Romania. The mutual games between the Hungarian teams as well as the two Romanian teams in the MOL Liga also count towards the national championship.
After the 48-game regular season, the semi-final draws saw first seeded DAB Dunaujvaros take on second seed Miskolci JJSE while HSC Csikszereda had to play the only Slovak team in the league, Lokomotiv Novy Zamky.
While the latter match-up was clearly unbalanced and ended up in a sweep by Csikszereda (3-0), DAB Dunaujvaros needed an extra game and an OT win in game 4 to defeat Miskolci, the top scoring team of the regular season. Once again the Steel Bulls went undefeated away from home.
Advancing to the final, the Hungarians broke a 1-1 series score with a pair of OT wins to take a 3-1 lead in the series. Csikszereda grabbed a 77th minute overtime winner themselves in game 5 to force a sixth game, but were unable to even out the series on home ice.
The team from Dunaujvaros’ recent success can be partly credited to the arrival of Swedish coach Stephan Lundh who was a head coach of Frölunda HC before signing in Hungary. Previous success for the team dates back to the 90’s and early 00’s after followed by a decade without any championships.
Contrary to most other teams, DAB Dunaujvaros used most of its import spots for defencemen, making the team solid at the back and relying on some of Hungary’s best domestic playing forwards such as Nikandrosz Galanisz , David Szappanos or Attila Pavuk who hope to be in contention for a spot on the upcoming Budapest hosted World Championships Division 1 roster.
The team’s supremacy also showed during the annual MOL Liga awards show in which the DAB Docler took three of the four awards.
Best goaltender: Patrick Polc (Corona Brasov)
Best defense: Victor Lindgren (DAB Dunaujvaros)
Best forward: Nikandrosz Galanisz (DAB Dunaujvaros)
MVP: Nikandorsz Galanisz (DAB Dunaujvaros)
It is not yet sure whether Stephan Lundh and his team will be able to go for a third consecutive title. Over the past few years the MOL Liga has seen a number of teams dropped out and a few new teams entering the league. At the moment there has no decision made yet on whether there will be a 2013-14 MOL Liga season. Another Budapest-based team is rumoured to join the league, but these same reports also mention financial struggles within the existing teams, which makes for an uncertain future.