ASIAGO/VOJENS – The Stavanger Oilers are off to the 2014 Continental Cup Super Final for the first time ever after qualifying from Group D in the third round of the tournament, while in Group E HC Asiago ensured a third straight appearance by an Italian club in the final stage of the Cup.
Asiago and Stavanger join 2013 champions Donbass Donetsk and runners-up the Rouen Dragons for the 2014 Super Final. The four-team round-robin championship tournament will take place 10-12 January 2014 in Rouen, France.
Oilers make history
After barely missing out on last year’s Super Final, the Stavanger Oilers left nothing to chance this time around, rattling off three straight wins to qualify for the final round of the Continental Cup for the first time ever.
Stavanger’s biggest test came from Nemad Grodno in the first game of the round robin. The Belarussian club from the western city of Grodno went up 3:1 in the second period, only to have the Oilers come back with a pair of power play goals to tie the game up all the way through to a shootout. Norwegian star forward Christian Dahl-Andersen, the GET-Ligaen Player of the Year last season after leading the league in scoring with 78 points in 45 games, notched the tying goal and the game winner in the shootout for the 4:3 win.
The victory was a good omen for the team, who a year earlier had lost a crucial game in the shootout to another Belarus club – Mettalurg Zhlobin – which cost them a qualification to the Super Final. Dahl-Andersen scored four points and earned Best Player honours as Stavanger followed up with a 9-1 demolition of Hungary’s Dunaujvarosi Acelbikak in the team’s second game.
The Oilers closed out the group with a 3-1 win over Danish club SonderjyskE Vojens to book their ticket to Rouen, while Neman Grodno finished with two wins and claimed second place. Dahl-Andersen's four goals and three assists in three games led the tournament in scoring.
The Super Final qualification is the first time that a Norwegian club has made it this far in a Continental Cup tournament. In fact, taking into account the old European Cup competition it is the first time a club from this Scandinavian nation has ever reached the final of a top level European club tournament.
Asiago returns to Rouen
An Italian club will be competing in the Super Final for the third straight year as HC Asiago took advantage of home ice and posted a 3-0 record in Group D to qualify.
The Asiago offence was humming throughout the tournament, accounting for 12 goals in three games. But it was goaltender Vincenzo Marozzi who set the tone for his team in the opening game against Yertis Pavlodar. Marozzi held the Kazakh club to one goal on 42 shots in a 3-1 win, the game winner coming off a power play goal from Kevin Devergilio.
Asiago’s next opponent Toros Neftekamsk didn’t fare much better, giving up three unanswered in a 6-2 loss. Asiago captain David Borrelli scored the game’s first two goals and ended up with a hat trick, while forward Sean Bentivoglio had four points (2+2=4). Bentivoglio was one of five Asiago players who finished among the top six in scoring.
The final game against the Nottingham Panthers saw Asiago’s power play convert three goals, after which Marozi shut the door on the British club in the third period. With the 3-2 victory Asiago returns to the Super Final after a one year absence. The club had a tough go in its last Super Final appearance in Rouen 2012, being outscored 3:16 and finishing last in the round robin.