With 15 of the remaining teams as members of the E.H.C. Alliance and seven different leagues represented, the Champions Hockey League’s Round of 16 is the focus of European hockey in the first week of November. Later in the month, the third round of the Continental Cup will be played.
On Tuesday, the first legs were played and next Tuesday the second legs will be played in the opposite city. The eight winners on aggregate score will advance to the quarter-finals, which will be played in early December.
The Champions Hockey League’s two-time defending champions are the Frölunda Indians, who went into Liberec to take on Bílí Tygři. With the score tied 2-2 in the third period, Rasmus Dahlin – the projected No. 1 overall pick in next summer’s NHL Entry Draft – broke the deadlock on the power play with 6:49 to go on a spectacular solo effort.
“I got a great pass from (Matt) Donovan and I just skated and took the shot and it went in,” Dahlin cooly described after the game. “I just do what comes up. It just happened.”
For the first time, a member of the British Elite Ice Hockey League has made it this far in the CHL after the Nottingham Panthers won their group. With plenty of travelling support in Zurich, they put on a good fight on Tuesday but ultimately the ZSC Lions prevailed 3-1 on home ice, meaning the Panthers will need to win by two goals at home to send the series to overtime.
“We’ve seen it before in other competitions, when the fans get going it’s a pretty tough place to hold onto a lead,” winger David Clarke told the club’s website. “I think we showed in Zurich that we can play with them – we got a goal and created some other chances. So we need some luck and once the fans get behind us and get rocking, it could be a special night.”
In other CHL action, both Red Bull squads hold somewhat surprising one-goal leads after Munich won 3-2 in Bern and Salzburg beat the Växjö Lakers 2-1 on home ice. If they both manage to hold their leads, they will face each other in the quarter-finals. Also, Kometa Brno leads EV Zug 4-3 as the teams move to Switzerland, Brynäs IF heads home with a 3-2 lead over Adler Mannhiem, Oceláři Třinec lead the Malmö Redhawks 2-1 and, in an all-Finnish affair, JYP Jvyäskylä leads Tappara Tampere 3-1.
After the teams play the second legs on 8 November, the third leg of the Continental Cup will be played 17 – 19 November, involving the Sheffield Steelers. Donbass Donetsk, who continue to ride a perfect record after 14 Ukrainian Hockey League games, was knocked out in the second round with one win and two losses.
Photo: Jiří Princ/hcbilitygri.cz