CHL field down to elite eight
by Derek O'Brien|25 NOV 2021
Leksands IF (pictured is Ben Thomas) had an impressive comeback from a four-goal deficit against Klagenfurt to reach the quarter-finals.
photo: Daniel Eriksson / Bildbyran / Champions Hockey League
Three Swedish teams, two from Finland and one each from the Czech Republic, Germany and France are the last eight teams standing after the round of 16 concluded on Wednesday, while the remaining teams from Switzerland, Austria and Italy were knocked out of the competition. All eight ties were settled in regulation time and one was decided by a single goal. The return games this past week saw a big comeback by Leksands IF, who overcame a four-goal deficit on aggregate.

Unfortunately, one return game wasn’t played at all as Finnish authorities forced the cancellation of Lukko Rauma vs HC Bolzano for precautionary reasons after a Covid-19 scare. Based on the result of the first game, Lukko advances.

Rogle Angelholm def. ZSC Lions Zurich 7-4 (4-3, 3-1)

The first game in Zurich was tied 3-3 when Samuel Jonsson scored the game-winner with 32 seconds remaining, with Adam Tambellini assisting to cap a four-point night. The difference in the game was special teams, with Rogle going 3-for-3 on the power play. 

A week later in Angelholm, Yannick Weber scored the aggregate-equalizer in the 34th minute but Ludvig Larsson scored another Rogle power-play goal three minutes later and Dennis Everberg added another in the third. 

This is Rogle’s first appearance in the CHL, while Zurich appeared for the sixth time in its current form and won the previous edition of the Champions Hockey League in 2008/09.

Sparta Prague def. Skelleftea AIK 4-3 (3-1, 1-2)

Skelleftea outshot Sparta 53-37 over 120 minutes of hockey but great goaltending from Alexander Salak and Matej Machovsky combined with great team defence stifled the normally potent Skelleftea offence. 

Two points each from Erik Thorell and Vladimir Sobotka helped Sparta win 3-1 on the road and then captain Michal Repik widened the aggregate lead to three in the first period in Prague. Skelleftea got a couple of goals in the final period thanks to a goal and an assist from Linus Karlsson, but ran out of time to complete the comeback.

Sparta went to the CHL Final in 2016/17 and also made the finals of the European Hockey League in 1999/2000 and IIHF European Champions Cup in 2007/08, but has yet to win a European club title. 

Frolunda Gotheburg def. Adler Mannheim 14-2 (10-1, 4-1)

Mannheim was forced to play the first game with several regulars out of the lineup due to Covid-19 protocols and the four-time CHL champs took advantage in a big way, running up an insurmountable nine-goal victory in the first game in Germany. With little for either side to play for, Frolunda won again on home ice, this time 4-1, resulting in a margin of victory over two games that equalled the CHL’s largest ever.

Ryan Lasch had six points in the first game to raise his all-time CHL-leading total to 105. Elmer Soderblom and Johan Sundstrom each had five points combined over the two games.

Leksands IF def. KAC Klagenfurt 8-5 (0-4, 8-1)

Leksand dug itself a hole in Carinthia by losing 4-0 in the first game, in which Johannes Bischofberger had four points, Thomas Hundertpfund had three and Sebastian Dahm made 36 saves for the shutout. 

The Danish national team netminder had no magic left in the return game, however, as he was beaten seven times on 49 shots. Carter Camper and Justin Kloos had four points each and Emil Heineman recorded a hat trick as Leksand came all the way back to win on aggregate by three, with the last goal going into an empty Klagenfurt net.

Red Bull Munich def. Fribourg-Gotteron 7-4 (4-2, 3-2)

Thanks to a four-goal second period, Munich won the first game in Switzerland by two goals and was looking good with the return game in Bavaria still scoreless after two periods. However, Fribourg struck for two fluky goals in the first 2:22 of the final frame and it was all tied on aggregate. But 2018/19 CHL MVP Trevor Parkes put Munich back up for good just 1:33 later.
Parkes led Munich with three points across two games, while linemate Frederik Tiffels and Ben Smith had two each. 

Munich reached the CHL final in 2018/19, the only time a German team has reached the title game of a European club championship.

Lukko Rauma def. HC Bolzano 3-1 (3-1, 2nd game cancelled)

In northern Italy, Lukko got two points each from Scott Pooley and Vili Saarijarvi en route to a 3-1 win over Bolzano. 

And that was it. On Tuesday, the CHL announced that the second game would not be played as scheduled on orders from local health authorities in Finland as a precautionary measure after a number of Lukko players entered Covid protocol. The next day, it was announced that there was no time to make the game up ahead of the quarter-finals and the 3-1 Lukko victory from the first game in Bolzano would stand as a complete series result.

Lukko previously reached the CHL semi-finals in 2015/16.

Tappara Tampere def. Vaxjo Lakers 6-4 (2-2, 4-2)

Vaxjo and Tappara traded two goals each in the first 24 minutes of the first game in Vaxjo, then settled into a cautious defensive game, which ended in a tie. The following week in Tampere, the Lakers led 2-1 with just 20 minutes remaining but the home team stormed back with a big third period, getting the tying and go-ahead goals by Patrik Virta and Anton Levtchi just 1:39 apart.
Tappara is making its seventh straight CHL appearance and topped its group for the fifth time this year, but this is the first time it has advanced to the quarter-finals.

Rouen Dragons def. Red Bull Salzburg 4-3 (3-0, 1-3)

Slovenian goalie Matija Pintaric has been one of the biggest stories of this year’s CHL and he followed up a 33-save shutout in the first game in Rouen with a 51-save performance in the return game in Salzburg. 

The Dragons got a couple of late goals at home to win 3-0 and they needed every one of them as Salzburg chipped away at their lead and eventually tied it on aggregate on a goal by Jan-Mikael Jarvinen with 10:22 to play. But with 5:12 to go, Dylan Yeo sent a shot toward the net and Rolands Vigners deflected it in, giving Rouen the decisive goal on aggregate.
In 2018/19, the Dragons became the first French team to make the CHL’s round of 16 and they are now the first French team to make the quarter-finals.

Quarter-final matchups:

  • Rogle Angelholm (SWE) vs Sparta Prague (CZE)
  • Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE) vs Leksands IF (SWE)
  • Red Bull Munich (GER) vs Lukko Rauma (FIN) 
  • Tappara Tampere (FIN) vs Rouen Dragons (FRA)
The quarter-finals will be played over two legs – first games are scheduled for 7/8 December and the return games a week later on 14/15 December – with each team playing one game at home. The schedule, to be announced in the coming days, will be based solely on factors such as arena availability and broadcasting obligations. 

The semi-finals will be played in January also over two legs and CHL final is a one-game showdown to be played after the Olympic Break on 1 March 2022. 

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