The Budapest-based club sealed their progress through to the next round thanks to a fine 3-1 victory against Ritten in front of 1,278 inside Ritten Arena. Earlier in Group D, Ferencvaros had blanked Txuri-Urdin from Donostia-San Sebastian 6-0 in their opener, before squeezing past Olimpija Ljubljana 3-2 during the second day.
The reward for Ferencvaros coached by Szabolcs Fodor will be a trip to Vojens in Denmark. During the third round of the Continental Cup, Group E played between 15 and 17 November 2019, Ferencvaros will face the Nottingham Panthers of Great Britain, France’s Amiens Gothiques and hosts SonderjyskE Vojens.
Despite fighting on two fronts in the space of one week, Ferencvaros showed little sign of fatigue in Italy. Having returned from an arduous road trip in the Erste Liga in Romania’s Eastern Transylvania, Ferencvaros only had a few days to regroup before heading to South Tyrol in northern Italy for three games in the Continental Cup.
Following wins against Txuri-Urdin and Olimpija Ljubljana, Ferencvaros entered the final game of Group D against Ritten knowing that a win in overtime or penalty-shot shootout would see them finish top of Group D.
The Hungarians wasted little time to get in front against their Italian hosts. Brett Switzer snapped up a misplaced pass on centre ice and raced through from the chasing pack of Ritten’s Ryan Obuchowski and Simon Kostner before finishing low on the catcher side past Kevin Lindskoug at 2:48.
Karmeniemi redeemed himself at 14:37. On the power play Gergo Nagy weighed up his options from the left face-off circle, found Roland Hajos lurking to the left of Lindskoug´s goalline and picked out an onrushing Karmeniemi, who one-timed Ferencvaros back in front 2-1.
Buoyed by their lead, it was advantage Ferencvaros for the remainder of the first frame. Led by the speed of Switzer and skill of Gergo Nagy, the Hungarians kept Lindskoug in the Ritten net on his toes and had a 14-5 shot advantage.
Entering the middle frame in Ritten Arena, the Italian hosts were well aware that only a regulation-time win against Ferencvaros would seal their progress. Despite winning the shots 12-9, the second period yielded no goals. Italian national team player Kostner came close once as did Alex Frei on a couple of occasions during a few hectic seconds when a string of fine saves from Arany held Ferencvaros’s lead intact.
Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, Ritten progressed to two successive appearances at the Continental Cup Final. Any hopes of returning to such heights, at least one goal was needed in the final frame. But instead of Ritten surging relentlessly forward, it was Ferencvaros who appeared to be most lethal. On the breakaway, Switzer sailed through on a two-on-one forcing a fine save by Lindskoug and as he continued to be a thorn in the side for Ritten’s cumbersome rearguard.
But Ritten had far from thrown in the towel. Entering the final half of the third period, Matt Lane tried his luck on a two-on-one but was denied by Arany. Soon after, the Hungarian netminder’s credentials were once again tested, now with Frei charging down the Hungarian net from the right, with Obuchowski just about managing to squeeze the puck into the Ferencvaros net.
Just as the public address announcer informed that two minutes were left of the third period, Ferencvaros hit the killer blow. From a tight angle, Attila Nemeth’s effort found a way past Lindskoug. With Ritten now needing to convert twice to take the game into overtime, Lindskoug was pulled from the net with 1:32 left, but Ferencvaros was firmly in control as they held on to their win to the joy of their contingent of travelling supporters.
Arriving as winners from the first round, Txuri-Urdin had travelled the furthest to what became a daunting task. They left Ritten winless and spare a thought for goaltending duo Ander Alcaine and Iker Etxeberria, who got plenty of practice as they were bombarded with 172 shots in three games.