Djurgarden Stockholm def. Skelleftea AIK 7-4 (3-3, 4-1)The opening game in Skelleftea was a 3-3 draw and featured Djurgarden goalie Niklas Svedberg getting credit for an empty-net goal on a delayed penalty to his team. In the return game, the Djurgarden power play struck three times en route to a 4-1 home ice win to advance from this all-Swedish match-up.
While Djurgarden won back-to-back IIHF European Cups in 1990 and 1991, this marks the first time that the team from the Swedish capital has advanced this far in the CHL.
Red Bull Munich def. Yunost Minsk 9-2 (3-2, 6-0)Yunost Minsk scored twice in the first period of the first game at home and had a potential third goal wiped out by video replay. Munich came back to win that game 3-2, and then last year’s CHL finalist won 6-0 on home ice a week later. That game was not as one-sided as it seemed, however – still just 1-0 after two periods.
Munich showed balanced scoring over the two games with only three players recording three points – Chris Bourque, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Florida Panthers prospect Justin Schutz.
EV Zug def. Tappara Tampere 6-4 (3-3, 3-1)This was a match-up between two of the six teams that have competed in all six CHL seasons, although neither had advanced past this stage of the tournament before. Zug built up a 3-0 lead in Finland before Tappara came back to tie it before the end of the first game. On home ice, Zug once again went up by three goals but, this time, Tappara could only get one back. Gregory Hofmann scored three of Zug’s goals over the two games, including two power-play markers in the second game.
Mountfield Hradec Kralove def. Adler Mannheim 2-1 (1-0, 1-1)Two goals over 120 minutes of hockey were enough to send Mountfield to the quarter-finals for the first time ever. Former NHL goalie Marek Mazanec recorded a 23-save shutout in the first game as Mounftield won 1-0 on home ice, and he continued to shut out Mannheim for another 49:13 into the second game. Down by a goal on aggregate, Mannheim pressed for the equalizer in the dying minutes but Mazanec held the fort.
“I didn’t even have the energy to celebrate,” an exhausted Mazanec said to club website mountfieldhk.cz after the game. “Five minutes before the end I moved my hip so I could barely stand on my feet. I was really glad it was over, because playing two games when you only get two goals is very mentally demanding.”
EHC Biel-Bienne def. Augsburger Panther 4-3 OT (2-2, 1-1, 1-0)In this match-up between two first-time CHL teams, Augsburg and Biel played a tight series with a pair of tied games. On home ice, the Panther built up a 2-0 lead but Biel scored twice in the third period with David Ullstrom recording two points.
Late in the second game, with the teams tied 1-1, Augsburg goalie Olivier Roy was injured and had to be replaced by Marcus Keller. Then in overtime, Toni Rajala scored on an incredible individual effort to send the Swiss team into the next round.
Frolunda Gothenburg def. Farjestad Karlstad 11-8 (3-6, 8-2)It’s not a surprise that three-time CHL champion Frolunda has advanced to the quarter-finals, but perhaps the way it happened in is. Halfway through the first game in Karlstad, Farjestad led 5-0, by the end of 60 minutes, the aggregate difference had been cut to three. After two periods of the second game it was 4-2 Frolunda, meaning Farjestad still had a lead of one. That’s when Nicklas Lasu reeled off a natural hat trick and, when all was said and done, Frolunda had pulled off the remarkable comeback.
Lulea Hockey def. SC Bern 7-2 (3-0, 4-2)The CHL champions from 2014/15 are back in the quarter-finals for the first time in four years after winning both games against Swiss powerhouse SC Bern. A 3-0 win in the Swiss capital in the first game – and a second-straight CHL shutout for goalie David Rautio – put Lulea in great shape going home to northern Sweden, and a hat trick from Arttu Ilomaki led them to a second-straight victory.
“We have a strong team – better than when we won the CHL – so we are going for gold,” Karl Fabricius, one of two players remaining with Lulea from their championship team, said before the first game. “But to be able to stand there a winner in the end we have to be able to beat every team that we face – which is something that we are convinced we have a chance to do.”
Lausanne HC def. HC Pilsen 6-5 OT (2-1, 3-4, 1-0)Late in the first game in Pilsen, Joel Genazzi’s power-play goal gave Lausanne a one-goal aggregate. Lausanne then outscored Pilsen 3-2 in a wild first period of the return game in Switzerland to give the home side a two-goal lead. That remained until Pilsen scored twice in the third period to force overtime. It took just 58 minutes of extra time for Cory Emmerton to convert a pass from Genazzi on a 2-on-1 and end it.
Quarter-finals in two weeksThe quarter-finals are scheduled for early December, with first games to be played on the 3rd or 4th and return games on the 10th. The exact schedule will be announced in the coming days. Here are the match-ups with the higher-seeded team on the left:
- Red Bull Munich (GER) vs Djurgarden Stockholm (SWE)
- EV Zug (SUI) vs Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE)
- EHC Biel-Bienne (SUI) vs Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE)
- Lulea Hockey (SWE) vs Lausanne HC (SUI)
The winners will advance to the semi-finals, which are scheduled for 7-8 and 14-15 January. The one-game final is scheduled for Tuesday, 4 February 2019 with home-ice advantage for the team with the better record throughout the tournament.
For more information, visit championshockeyleague.com.