Eight become four in CHL
by Derek O'Brien|15 DEC 2021
Red Bull Munich – pictured are celebrating players Justin Schuetz, Jonathon Blum and Ben Street – advanced to the semi-finals in an overtime win.
photo: Matthias Balk / City-Press / CHL
The Champions Hockey League is now down to the final four after the quarter-finals finished up on Tuesday night and German club Red Bull Munich grabbed the last spot with an overtime win over Lukko Rauma from Finland. 

After last week’s opening legs, two series were tied on aggregate score while two were three-goal differences. In the end, two were decided by one goal – including the win by Munich – and two others were slightly less dramatic. 

Of the four teams remaining, one team stands above all in terms of previous CHL success in Frolunda Gothenburg, which has won four previous titles and made the final on one other occasion, so the semi-finals are nothing new to the team from Sweden’s west coast. Of the other three teams, Munich has made it this far once before, having reached the final in 2018/19, while the other two are here for the first time. Rogle Angelholm has made the semi-finals in its first-ever CHL season, while Tappara Tampere is here for the first time despite five previous appearances in the European club championship.

Rogle Angelholm def. Sparta Prague 6-5 (5-2, 1-3)

Rogle won the opener in Prague by three goals and needed all of that margin as Sparta made a big push in the third period of the return game in Angelholm. 

In the first game, Rogle won 5-2 thanks to three points from defenceman Lucas Ekestahl Jonsson and two each from Canadian forwards Adam Tambellini and Eric Gelinas. If the Czech team had anything going for it, it’s a good track record in Sweden and that continued this game as well. After two scoreless periods, the two teams traded goals early in the third and then, needing three, Sparta coach Josef Jandac pulled goalie Alexander Salak for a sixth attacker with more than six minutes remaining. Filip Chlapik connected twice to bring Sparta within one on aggregate, but that’s as close as it would get. 

“It was a bit of a back-and-forth game,” Rogle defenceman Samuel Johannesson said to the club’s website. “It was pretty defensive at the beginning and when they made it 2-1, it became a real game. We shouldn’t have let it get so close, but it’s nice that we’re moving on.” 

Frolunda Gothenburg def. Leksands IF 8-5 (5-2, 3-3)

In an all-Swedish match-up, the two teams were tied 2-2 with six minutes remaining in the first game in Leksand, but then Frolunda struck three times late and that was really the only difference in an otherwise evenly-matched quarter-final. Patrik Carlsson scored twice and Max Friberg had three assists in that game.

“Of course, it’s nice to score two goals and get off to a good start with this series here with two games,” Carlsson told the CHL website after the first game. “I thought we played good with our line. It’s been better and better here the last couple of games and hopefully it continues that way.” 
A goal by Nils Aman early in the third period of the second game put Leksand up by a goal and within two on aggregate, but after pulling the goalie late, Frolunda got that goal back with just seconds remaining.

Red Bull Munich def. Lukko Rauma 4-3 (2-2, 1-1, 1-0)

In the most dramatic quarter-final match-up, Munich and Lukko battled to back-to-back regulation draws. Munich never led at any point in either game but came back from two goals down in the third period of the opener in Finland, and then from one down late in the second period of the return game in Bavaria to set up overtime. Finally, 2:25 into the extra frame, Florida Panthers prospect Justin Schutz banged in a rebound following a scramble in front of the Lukko net to send Munich to the CHL semi-finals for the second time. 

“It’s a big accomplishment for our team to beat the Finnish champs from last season,” said Munich head coach Don Jackson. “Danny aus den Birken had a big night in goal. From the get-go they had the momentum and we took it over during the game. Freddy Tiffels also had a big game for us with another goal. Overall, just a great team effort.”

Tappara Tampere def. Rouen Dragons 7-3 (3-3, 4-0)

This season, Rouen became the first-ever French team to advance to the quarter-finals and flirted with a spot in the semis thanks to an opening-leg draw at the brand new Nokia Arena in Tampere. That was thanks to a 41-save performance from Slovene goaltender Matija Pintaric, who was brilliant for the French side throughout the competition. 

The Dragons continued to hang in there in the return game, which was scoreless after a period, but Tappara scored twice early in the second period and then added two late empty-net goals. Petteri Puhakka had two points and Christian Heljanko made 19 saves for the shutout. 

Semi-final matchups:

Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE) vs Rogle Angelholm (SWE)
After just finishing off one Swedish opponent, Frolunda gets another in what will be a match-up between the SHL’s top-two teams in the standings. This is the first-ever CHL appearance for first-place Rogle, while Frolunda is looking for its sixth trip to the final in seven seasons and fifth European club title in six. Regardless of who wins, it is assured that Sweden will again be represented in the CHL final for a sixth straight time.
Tappara Tampere (FIN) vs Red Bull Munich (GER)
These are two teams that have had a fair bit of CHL experience, with five previous appearances for Tappara and four for Munich. Despite that, these teams have never faced each other head-to-head. This season marks the first time Tappara has gone past the round of 16, while Munich previously went to the final in 2018/19. While Munich is the only German team to previously advance this far, Finland has previously been represented at this stage by Karpat Oulu (twice), Lukko, and 2017/18 champion JYP Jyvaskyla.
The semi-finals will be played over two legs – first games are scheduled for 4/5 January and the return games a week later on 11/12 January – 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-final winners advance to the one-game CHL final, which will be played after the Olympic Break on 1 March 2022.
For more information, visit championshockeyleague.com