AMSTETTEN, Austria – For the first time in the history of the Austrian-based cross-border Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL) the championship was won by Pantera Minsk from Belarus in a 6-1 victory against defending champion Sabres Vienna.
The Salzburg Eagles claimed the bronze medals after edging the Bolzano Eagles 2-1.
Pantera played efficient on both ends. Being outshot 42-39, former Russian national team goalkeeper Maria Onalbayeva saved 41 shots while the offensive department capitalized on its chances better than the Austrian side by scoring six goals.
Canadian forward Jessica Jones and Latvian national team player Ieva Petersone scored two goals apiece for Pantera. American Kathryn Walker and Russian Tatyana Lvova netted the other markers for the 6-0 lead after two periods. Janine Weber scored the Sabres’ consolation goal.
The Pantera roster included many import players including two North Americans as well as the first generation of Belarus-trained female players, most of them still teenagers. The club was launched only three years ago as a kick-start for women’s hockey in Belarus.
18-year-old Lidia Malyavka was the most successful Belarusian player scoring 14 goals and 30 assists in 22 games, second on her team behind Jones (28+25). Esther Kantor from the Sabres Vienna led the league in scoring with 63 points (29+34), her teammate Victoria Hummel was third.
“We’re still a young team and I’m very happy that we were able to win the league already in our second year,” Pantera Minsk head coach Vasili Pankov said. “But we have been working very hard for it. For next season we hope that even more teams will participate in the league.”
In this year’s edition the league also included KMH Budapest from Hungary and the Vienna Flyers, who missed the final tournament that was held in Amstetten.
Goalkeeper: Maria Onolbayeva, Pantera Minsk
Defenceman: Kiira Dosdall, Sabres Vienna
Defenceman: Jacalyn Sollis, Salzburg Eagles
Forward: Esther Kantor, Sabres Vienna
Forward: Jessica Jones, Pantera Minsk
Forward: Maria Herichova, Vienna Flyers