Hradec Králové – The opening match of the Hradec Králové hockey players in the quarterfinals of the Champions League playoff with Zug ended 2:2. The reigning Swiss champion, led by captain Jan Kovář, had the upper hand for a long time, but was equalized by Lukáš Cingeľ in 55:08, who was followed 107 seconds later by Marek Zachar. The final result was set by Christian Djoos in 58:41. The second leg in Switzerland will take place on Tuesday from 19:45.
“In the end, of course, it’s a bit of a disappointment because we were close and could have beaten such a quality team as Zug undoubtedly is. However, the draw is probably fair. Zug showed quality, especially Honza Kovář’s line was dangerous whenever it was on the ice. I think except for the initial respect, we played an excellent match,” home team coach Tomáš Martinec told reporters.
“We are not satisfied with our game. In the first period it was still so-so, but from the second we went down a lot with the activity and we lost the victory. We didn’t have many shots there, we couldn’t keep the puck, one player played and four others were looking at him. We will definitely want to change that for the next match. It’s 2:2, so we want to win the rematch and move on,” Kovář said.
After only 90 seconds, the visitors went within four after Senteler’s foul, but they defended themselves without much difficulty. Thanks to that, they were able to take the lead in the 11th minute. After winning the throw-in, Martschini tried his luck and the puck ended up in the goal, partly also because the home goalkeeper Kiviaho could see practically nothing through the players in front of him. Soon after, Okuliar could equalize, but he failed to solo Genoni. Lalancette also crashed on the experienced goalkeeper of the Swiss national team.
Right at the end of the second period, Cingeľ got into an interesting position to finish, but missed the goal with a backhand. A moment later, the attempt of Jergl, who shot a forehand from the ideal space between the circles, ended in the same way. Even Lalancette did not succeed before the half of the match.
In the 34th minute, the Mountfield team played the second power play in the duel after Abdelkader was sent off, but it was very unsuccessful. The East Bohemians got under pressure only before the second break. He graduated with a huge chance from McCormack, who finished into the open goal after a pass from Kevin Klíma, but Genoni managed to move and defended Zug’s narrow lead with a great save.
In the 47th minute, the guests also played their first power play, but Kreis’s hard attempt from the blue line was enjoyed by Kiviaho with a spectacular save. The conquest of Genoni’s goal continued without success until the last five minutes, then Lev found Cingeľ patrolling in front of the goal area, who equalized with a quick run. The turnover was immediately arranged by Zachar in the fall after Okuliar’s recording, but Djoos had the last word.
“We see that we don’t score many good goals, we try even harder to score the dirty ones: to press into the goal, to be in the area in front of the goal to go against it. Now we have scored a few such goals, so we must continue to do so,” commented the coach Martinec.
The result reminded us of the match between them three years ago, when Královéhradečtí drew 1:1 at home with Zug on their way to the finals in the same stage of the playoffs, but then triumphed 4:0 in the rematch on the opponent’s ice.
“It’s a pity about the unconverted chances, our pain. It’s always the same over and over – again we created a lot of chances, but we couldn’t score a goal for a long time. Only at the end did we manage to turn it around and get close to victory, but then Zug again showed that quality and equalized. We know how it was three years ago, but now it’s a completely different time and different players. We will continue to stick to our system and play actively in Zug. We will definitely go there with faith to try to succeed,” he said Martinec.
National team forward Jan Kovář was one of Zug’s most outstanding figures in the first quarter-final of the Ice Hockey Champions League in Hradec Králové. After a wild finish, the guests took the result 2:2 to the rematch, which represents a promising starting position. However, as the captain of the reigning Swiss champion admitted in an interview with journalists, he did not feel good about the team’s performance.
Zug initially confirmed the role of the favorite with the leading goal, but eventually turned away a defeat by Christian Djoos 79 seconds before the end. “Fortunately, we equalized in the end, which helped us a lot. But overall, we are not satisfied with our game. In the first period, it was still so-so. But then we went down a lot with our activity and almost lost the game,” said Kovář.
The visitors sent only 16 accurate shots at the goal guarded by Henri Kiviah. “We didn’t have many of them, that’s a fact. We couldn’t keep the puck that much. The biggest problem for us was that one player was playing and the others were looking at him. Right from the first substitution in the second period, we lost activity and couldn’t get back, we only managed to weaken well. We will want to change the rest in the rematch,” emphasized Kovář.
However, he also appreciated the performance of the East Bohemians, who had the upper hand in the game. “They have a good team. If they didn’t have it, they wouldn’t be playing in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. They definitely showed quality and we’re looking forward to the rematch. We need to win at home and advance,” Kovář said.
At the club, they take participation on the international scene with full seriousness. “The Champions League is a lot of work for us, it is prestigious for the club,” said Kovář, with the belief that the three-year-old story will not repeat itself, when Zug drew 1:1 from under the White Tower in the quarter-finals, but then lost 0 at home: 4. “Anything can happen, but we really wouldn’t want such a repeat. We want to improve our game and move on.”
He did not enjoy his return to the Czech Republic this time. “Unfortunately, it’s really a turn-around, we had our own plane and flew straight to the match. Now we’re in a hurry to catch the flight again. I’ll say hello to my family and go home,” said Kovář.
He started in front of national team coach Kari Jalonen, with whom he had a few words after the game. In the nomination for the Swiss Games published today, however, the experienced center was missing. “We’re playing in the Champions League in a week, so we thought it wasn’t worth it for him to nominate me,” Kovář explained.
Due to injury, he already missed the first representative event of the season, which was the Karjala tournament. However, he should participate in the Swedish Games in February, where the Finnish coach originally planned to take only players under 25 years of age. “I’ll just turn it around. I’m thirty-two, so I’ll throw the numbers around and I’ll be there,” Kovář announced with a smile.
He assured that the World Cup is still an attraction for him. “If there is interest, that is definitely a topic for me. When Karjala was played, I was recovering from an injury, now we are playing. I would like to go, but there is nothing that can be done. Hopefully I will be more lucky next time, so that I can come to the festival,” he said Blacksmith.
Zug has been the champion of the last two seasons of the Swiss top division and is eager to complete the golden hat-trick, but now it is only sixth and has already had several ups and downs.
“We won twice in a row, then everything is a little more difficult, the others are preparing well for us. Moreover, the league went even higher when more foreigners can come here. The best foreigners from the KHL went to Switzerland. We alternate better matches with worse ones, but a hat trick we’ll go against it. But maybe we played the best matches of the season in the Champions League, only now in Hradec it wasn’t the same. Hopefully next time.”
Kovář’s older brother Jakub has been defending the goal of Sparta Prague since this season, but the Zug striker did not invite him to travel to the east of Bohemia for today’s duel. “No, no, he’s still celebrating,” laughed Kovář, recalling the clean sheet that Jakub caught on the ice of Liberec on Tuesday (1:0). “I think he’s still running around Václavák somewhere now. But no, he’s caught up really well, I wish him the best,” Kovář added.
Hockey Champions League playoff quarterfinals – opening game:
Mountfield Hradec Kralove – EV Zug 2:2 (0:1, 0:0, 2:1)
Goals and assists: 56. Cingeľ (Lev, Jank), 57. Zachar (Okuliar, R. Pavlík) – 11. Martschini (Cehlárik, Geisser), 59. Djoos (Leuenberger). Referees: Hunnius (Germany), Nikolič (Austria) – Ondráček, J. Svoboda (both Czech Republic). Exclusion: 2:3. No use. Viewers: 3012.
Hradec Králové: Kiviaho – McCormack, Jank, Blain, Kalina, F. Pavlík, Rosandič, Piegl – Lev, Lalancette, Cingeľ – Okuliar, Zachar, R. Pavlík – Jergl, Kevin Klíma, Kelly Klíma – Z. Doležal, Štohanzl, Pilař . Coach: T. Martinec.
Train: Genoni – Stadler, Djoos, Geisser, Nussbaumer, Schlumpf, Kreis, Vogel – Simion, Jan Kovář, Hofmann – Zehnder, Senteler, F. Herzog – Martschini, O’Neill, Cehlárik – Abdelkader, Leuenberger, Suri. Trener: Tangnes.
Source: České noviny – sport by www.ceskenoviny.cz.
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