Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) 3 – 1 Rogle Angelholm (SWE)The Salzburg players knew they came in as underdogs, but buoyed by an enthusiastic home crowd, they battled the reigning European champion to a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes and then scored two huge goals in the third period, which means taking a two-goal advantage into next week’s return game in southwestern Sweden.
“We feel good,” Salzburg defenceman Dennis Robertson, who scored the 1-0 goal, told championshockeyleague.com. “We played our game and that's a big part of what we're trying to do to be successful, but the job's not done.”
Despite the deficit, it would be foolish to count out Rogle on home ice. Looking ahead to next week, Robertson believes the key to Salzburg’s success is “playing together as a team.”
“We had our plan on being aggressive and not giving them room to play and that worked out for us. We need to continue with that in the next game.”
HC Davos (SUI) 0 – 1 Tappara Tampere (FIN)Rogle’s opponent in last year’s final was Tappara, who got off to a good start on the road back by playing a perfect road game in the Swiss Alps. There weren’t a lot of great scoring chances for either team, but Petteri Puhakka made good on a shorthanded break in the second period and that was the only goal in the first leg. Goaltenders Christian Heljanko (with a 20-save shutout) and Gilles Senn were otherwise perfect.
Jukurit Mikkeli (FIN) 1 – 1 Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI)In another low-scoring matchup between Finnish and Swiss teams, visiting Fribourg outshot Jukurit 26-13 but Frans Tuohimaa was brilliant in the Jukurit net. After Juhamatti Aaltonen opened the scoring for Jukurit on a first-period breakaway, Ryan Gunderson evened it for Fribourg early in the second and that was all the scoring in the first game, meaning the teams will reconvene next week in Switzerland on even terms.
“I think it’s a good result for us, playing on the smaller ice on the road, first game,” said Fribourg head coach Christian Dube. “I think we should have won that game. The last two periods, I think we were a little better but in the end it was tight, so the result is okay.”
Farjestad Karlstad (SWE) 4 – 3 Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE)Hradec Kralove has had some success in the CHL, reaching the final in 2019/20, and got off to a good start toward advancing by building up a 3-1 lead midway through the second period, thanks to a goal and an assist from fourth-line forward Zdenek Dolezal. However, Farjestad battled back with two goals in the second and a go-ahead marker by Joel Nystrom in the third on a power play, meaning the Swedish team will take a one-goal lead into next week’s game in eastern Bohemia.
Grizzlys Wolfsburg (GER) 2 – 3 Lulea Hockey (SWE)Lulea, the 2014/15 European club champion, takes a one-goal lead back home to northern Sweden next week after a 3-2 win in Wolfsburg. It certainly could have been worse for the Grizzlys if not for the goaltending of Dustin Strahlmeier, who stopped 33 of 36 shots and held his team in especially in the second period. Defender Jack Connolly had two assists for Lulea.
“We had a lot of ice time in the offensive end but we have to score more on our chances,” Lulea head coach Thomas Berglund assessed. Looking ahead to next week, he said: “I think we’re going to play exactly the same game as we did tonight with a lot of puck control, but we need to be a little bit better in front of the net. I think we played a pretty good game with the puck but we need to make them pay more on our chances.”
Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE) 4 – 0 Straubing Tigers (GER)Another German team got a fine goaltending performance in a losing cause, as Straubing’s Florian Manuel Bugl kept the heavily-favoured four-time European champion off the scoreboard in the first period but could only hold out for so long. Ultimately, he stopped 38 of 42 shots in a 4-0 loss, with Frolunda captain Joel Lundqvist scoring twice.
“It wasn't a perfect game, but 4-0 was a great start,” Lundqvist told championshockeyleague.com. “There’s still one more game to play but, for sure, we are in a good position ahead of next week's return game.”
Despite the win, the 40-year-old former NHLer was critical of his team’s performance, saying: “We had chances, but we need to be sharper on the power play for sure. We could easily have scored two or three more goals, so it's definitely something we need to look at.”
Red Bull Munich (GER) 1 – 5 EV Zug (SUI)It was a tough round for German clubs, with all three finding themselves needing to come back. It will be especially difficult for 2018/19 finalist Munich, who will be playing on the road with a four-goal deficit. Zug opened up a 5-0 lead in the Bavarian capital thanks to two goals from Peter Cehlarik and three points from Brian O’Neill. Munich got one back in the third period from Filip Varejcka but they still have their work cut out for them.
“Firstly, I have to congratulate Zug on playing one heck of a game. Secondly, and most importantly, we have to take responsibility for our terrible start,” Munich head coach Don Jackson frankly stated.
“Scoring three goals in the first period obviously got us off to the flying start we wanted,” said Zug head coach Dan Tangnes. “But we played a really strong second period as well, so we’re really happy with the great start which has set us up for next week.”
Skelleftea AIK (SWE) 5 – 4 ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI)There were plenty of goals in Wednesday’s lone game, which saw the teams go back and forth all night. Finally, a shot by Joakim Lindstrom dribbled across the goal line with 11:57 to play to give Skelleftea a one-goal lead as the teams move to Switzerland next week. Lindstrom had four points and Filip Sandberg had three for Skelleftea in the game, while Dennis Hollenstein and Sven Andrighetto had two points each for Zurich.
For more information and next week’s schedule, visit championshockeyleague.com.