Rogle Angelholm 3 – 2 Tappara TampereThis is a rematch of last year’s CHL final, which Rogle won 2-1 on a pair of goals by Daniel Zaar, who missed this game with an injury.
Rogle jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes of this game following a shorthanded goal by Linus Sandin and led 3-0 by the midpoint. Had that lead held up, it would have given Rogle a commanding lead heading into next week’s return game, but Tappara came back hard in the third period and scored a couple of goals, with Niko Ojamaki scoring the first and then assisting on the second, just seconds after the expiration of a power play. Tappara pushed for the equalizer but 20-year-old Calle Clang – an Anaheim Ducks prospect – was solid in goal, making 29 saves in the game.
“We had a pretty solid first 40 minutes,” said Rogle head coach Cam Abbott. “We maybe played a little looser in the second period than we wanted to and that carried over into the third but, overall, it’s a 120-minute game and we’ve got a one-goal lead and a tough push ahead of us next week.”
These two teams will reconvene next week at Tampere’s Nokia Arena – the main venue for both last season’s and this season’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – with only one goal separating them.
Skelleftea AIK 1 – 0 Frolunda GothenburgTwo Swedish Hockey League rivals played a tight, defensive first game in Skelleftea’s Kraft Arena, with Andreas Wingerli scoring the only goal on a brilliant solo shorthanded effort late in the first period. Skelleftea outshot Frolunda 24-20 in the game, but goaltenders Linus Soderstrom for Skelleftea and Lars Johansson for Frolunda were otherwise perfect.
Taking the lead into next week’s game in Gothenburg is important, but it’s hardly secure, with the four-time CHL champion having a history of dramatic comebacks in the competition.
“We didn’t play a good game offensively but our defence was good all game,” said Frolunda head coach Roger Ronnberg. “But we know it’s a long series. There are still three periods of hockey left and to be down a goal after an away game is not such a bad thing.”
Lulea Hockey 5 – 1 Jukurit MikkeliLulea won the 2014/15 CHL and took a big step towards advancing to this season’s quarter-finals with a 5-1 home-ice win over Finnish upstart Jukurit. Brendan Shinnimin got his team off to a 2-0 lead with a goal in each of the first two periods and then Lulea took a commanding five-goal advantage with three more goals in the third. Joni Jurmo finally broke Matteus Ward’s shutout bid with 1:22 to play, but despite that, Jukirit faces a huge uphill challenge next week on home ice.
“It always feels good to get a couple goals, but our entire line played well in the offence,” Shinnimin told championshockeyleague.com after the game. “We played with discipline. It feels good – it was a good game from us.”
Mountfield Hradec Kralove 2 – 2 EV ZugIn Wednesday’s lone game, Hradec Kralove hosted Zug in a rematch of the 2019/20 quarter-finals, with these two teams representing the last Czech and Swiss entrants remaining in the competition. Lino Martschini gave Zug the early lead and that stood up until late in the third period, when a wild last five minutes saw three goals scored. Lukas Cingel and Marek Zachar struck 1:47 apart to briefly give the Czech side the lead before Christian Djoos tied it back up with 1:19 remaining, and that’s where things stand when the teams meet again in central Switzerland.
“It was very intense,” said Zug head coach Dan Tangnes. “It’s smaller ice here and they pressured hard. We defended the net’s front area very well but they were a step ahead in a lot of situations, so we’re happy going home with a 2-2 result. I think it was fair in the end, but we know we’re going to have to come up with a strong performance next week to get by.”
All four return games will be played next Tuesday. The winners on aggregate scores will advance to the semi-finals, which will be played in two-game sets between 10 and 18 January. The one-game final is scheduled for Saturday, 18 February.