ZURICH – 16 women’s teams competed in the European Women’s Champions Cup last weekend, with only four making it to the next round to determine the finalists.
ESC Planegg (Germany) and Hvidovre IK (Denmark) advance to Group E of the second round where they will meet Tornado Moscow Region (Russia) and the ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland), who were seeded in the second round thanks to their performances last year. The venue is to be determined.
The other two tournament winners Aisulu Almaty (Kazakhstan) and the Sabres Vienna (Austria) advance to Group F of the second round where they will face pre-qualified AIK Stockholm (Sweden) and host Espoo Blues (Finland) from 6 to 8 December.
Click here for the EWCC overview and on the links below for scores and stats.
Group A, winner: ESC Planegg
German champion ESC Planegg was the measure of all things at the group in Neuilly sur Marne near Paris.
The Germans defeated British champion Bracknell Queen Bees 9-1 in the opening game and steamrolled SAD Majadahonda from Spain 21-0.
Host Neuilly sur Marne also had a strong opening defeating the same opponents 10-0 each to set up a winner-takes-it-all game against Planegg on Sunday evening.
Brooke Ammerman opened the scoring for Planegg after 32 seconds of play but Jillian Dempsey tied it up around the three-minute mark. The French had their chance to gain the lead when Planegg took three penalties in seven minutes but instead Ines Strohmair scored a shorthander for Planegg’s 2-1 lead.
Planegg was in control of the remainder of the game and didn’t allow the French too many chances. After a scoreless middle frame the floodgates opened for Planegg in the last period. Kerstin Spielberger, Kalsey Ketcher, Julia Zorn, Ammerman and Monika Bittner netted the puck for the final score of 7-1.
Ammerman and Zorn led Planegg in scoring with seven goals each and 14 and 13 points respectively. Spielberger had six goals.
Like last year, Neuilly sur Marne finished the event in second place. Bracknell earned a third-place finish after defeating winless Majadahonda 6-2 in the teams’ last game.
The players of ESC Planegg celebrate a goal in the deciding game against Neuilly sur Marne that lifts them to the next round. Photo: Robert Munoz
Group B, winner: Aisulu Almaty
There’s hasn’t been a EWCC second round without the champion of Kazakhstan, Aisulu Almaty. This year they once again advanced with three wins.
The only tight score happened on the first day, 3-0 against host Laima Riga, although Aisulu had the game under control and outshot the Latvians 39-8. Daria Moldabai, Galia Nurgalieva and Jesslyn Legasse, one of six Canadian imports, scored the goals.
In their second game Aisulu allowed Pantera Minsk only one shot on goal and won the game 19-0. Kirsten Marie Mihalcheon scored four goals and tied her teammate Christina Marie Sharun in points with six.
The big victory almost sealed the tournament win for Aisulu since no other team had two wins in two games. The Kazakhs won the last match-up against Romanian champion HSC Csikszereda 7-0 with a Sharun hat trick.
Laima Riga finished the tournament played in the Latvian port town of Liepaja in second place after blanking Csikszereda 19-0 and Pantera Minsk 24-0. Csikszereda reached third place thanks to its 13-5 opening-day victory against Pantera Minsk.
The once ambitious Belarusian team suffered a big downfall. After losing its sponsor it wasn’t able to keep its international players and had to drop out of the Austrian-based EWHL, the league that it won last year. All players on this year’s roster were from Belarus and most of them between 16 and 18 years of age.
Group C, winner: Hvidovre IK
After a one-year break, Denmark will be back among the countries represented in the second round with the top-8 national champions of Europe. Tight wins against Hvidovre’s main competitors from the Czech Republic and Slovakia propelled the Danish team to a first-place finish.
The tournament started with Hvidovre’s game against SK Karvina, the new champion from the Czech Republic. While the Czechs usually perform better in national team contests, it was the Danes who won the clash against the EWCC rookies 3-2.
Vendula Kytkova opened the scoring for Karvina with a shorthander but after 33 seconds into the middle frame Josefine Persson tied it up while her team had one player less on the ice. Then the Danes capitalized on Karvina’s next two penalties. Julie Gregersen scored on the first power play and Silke Glud made it 3-1 a few seconds after a penalty against Karvina had expired. The Czechs weren’t able to turn the game despite a late goal from Martina Krupkova.
1,002 fans watched host HK Spisska Nova Ves taking on Hvidovre in a game between two unbeaten teams. The Slovaks had a better start with Eniko Toth from Hungary scoring the opening marker at 6:01 for the 1-0 lead that stayed for 38 minutes.
Hvidovre turned the score with two quick goals early in the third period. Caroline Søndergaard tied it up and Gregersen gained the lead 108 seconds later. At 11:55 Louise Bjerregaard scored on a power play for the 3-1 lead, but the score didn’t settle the case yet.
The Slovak hosts fought back with two goals from Martina Velickova at 12:09 and 16:50. Hvidovre coach Jesper Hovedskov took his time-out and the wake-up call seemed to work. Persson scored the game-winning goal with 62 second remaining in regulation time.
Thanks to the victories against its closest-ranked teams the Danes already won the event after two days but added a third victory on Sunday against Poland’s Polonia Bytom, 5-2.
Spisska Nova Ves finished in second place after winning the neighbouring clash against third-ranked Karvina 5-3. Polonia Bytom ended up in last place without a point.
Hvidovre’s Caroline Søndergaard receives a pass in front of Karvina goalie Klara Peslarova. Photo: Tomas Cerny
Group D, winner: Sabres Vienna
After missing out on the qualification to the second round last year, Austrian champion Sabres Vienna succeeded this time.
The Sabres started with a convincing 6-1 victory against host HK Maribor from Slovenia. Pia Pren and Kiira Dosdall had a pair of goals apiece.
The Bolzano Eagles, who eventually finished in second place, proved to be the biggest challenge for the Austrians, who outshot the Italians 25-20 in a game that was close for two periods.
Eleonora Dalpra opened the scoring for Bolzano at 10:58 but Pren tied the game at one three minutes later and Anna Meixner gained the lead for the Sabres Vienna midway through the second period.
Meixner ended the game with a hat trick after scoring two more goals in the third period. Her teammate Regan Boulton and Bolzano’s Diana da Rugna hit the back of the net as well for the final score of 5-2.
The Austrians ended the tournament on a high note with a 14-0 blanking of Vasas Budapest, which finished the tournament in third place after losing 4-3 in shootout against Bolzano but defeating Maribor 1-0 thanks to a goal from Bernadett Nemeth. Host Maribor went winless in three games.