With the 2:3 home defeat against Tappara Tampere, the EVZ missed the jump into the final of the Champions Hockey League on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the Swiss champions showed their best performance on the European stage this season.
Yes, the end was bad. Frustrating, undeserved, even unfair from the local point of view. With 160 seconds to go (57:20), the EVZ was leading 2-1 against Tappara Tampere in front of 5,531 spectators who had long been enthusiastic, when Patrik Virta received a two-minute penalty and the dominant hosts were able to start the final spurt in overtime. One goal was still missing to equalise the total score of the two games. A goal that had been in the air for a long time, that would have meant overtime and would have finally tipped the momentum to Zug's side. Dan Tangnes replaced goalkeeper Leonardo Genoni with a sixth outfielder in order to make what had long seemed possible a reality with six against four players on the ice. It was not meant to be: 30 seconds later Petteri Puhakka became the party killer with an empty netter (2:2, 57:50), and after another goal into the empty Zug net (2:3, 58:39) the Finnish record champions left the ice as winners as in the first leg (2:0).
The frustration of the losers was big. As great as the desire had been to be the first Swiss team to win the trophy in the Champions Hockey League. "We played one of our best CHL games, had enough chances to make up for the 2-0 deficit in the first leg and it still wasn't enough," said a disappointed Dan Tangnes. "We dominated the game, played at a much higher level than in Biel and Tampere and missed a huge chance," Brian O'Neill was annoyed. Lulea Hockey and Tappara Tampere will now meet in the final match on 18th of February. The Swedes have home advantage due to the highest number of points from all CHL games.
The Zug team cannot be blamed. They showed one of their best performances of the season in the semi-final second leg, played aggressively and nevertheless disciplined (no penalties), were solid defensively and dangerous offensively like in their best times. "Unfortunately", Christian Heljanko in the Tappara goal, like his counterpart Leonardo Genoni, once again delivered a top performance.If they had not had to take the goalkeeper out and risk everything in the last three minutes due to the negative total score from both games, they would most likely have won the game 2-1 and celebrated their tenth victory in the twelfth game. With the exception of the weak performance in Tampere, almost everything was good in this year's appearance of the Swiss champions in Europe.
Now the focus is back on the National League. Dan Tangnes and Brian O'Neill were also already thinking about the two games on Friday and Saturday against Fribourg. They summed up their expectations in the same words: "I hope that we can take this high level into the championship!
EVZ-Tappara Tampere 2:3 (1:0, 0:1, 1:2)
BOSSARD Arena, 5'531 spectators. Goals: 16. Suri (Abdelkader) 1:0. 36. Virta 1:1. 41. Herzog (Kovar) 2:1. 58. Puhakka 2:2. 59. Lehterä 2:3.
Lulea Hockey-Frölunda Göteborg 4:3 (0:0, 3:2, 0:1, 0:0, 1:0) SO
Final on 18th of February 2023: Lulea Hockey-Tappara Tampere.