SA Akureyri triumphs in Sofia

SA Akureyri triumphs in Sofia

Davide Tuniz30 Sep 2018Davide Tuniz»
 

Sensational weekend for Icelandic team in Continental Cup first round

 
 
 
 

First time in an european competition and an unexpected triumph for Icelandic champion SA Akureyri: the semi-professional team lead by Finnish player-coach Jussi Sipponen surprised favourite Zeytinburnu Istanbul and home side Irbis Skate Sofia in the first round of Continental Cup, played in the weekend in Sofia. Iceland clubs made the first ever appearance in Continental Cup just last season, when now defunct ESJA UMFK played in Belgrade finishing last in the group with a single point, prophetically earned losing at shootout against Zeytinburnu. And especially the Turkish team, strengthened by Ukranian veteran Sergei Chernenko and Konstantin Ryabenko was appointed as the probable winner of the group, as happened two seasons ago in the same rink. But 20-time champion of Iceland SA made a sensational campaign by winning 5-4 SO Irbis Skate, practically the Bulgarian national team, in a thrilling game, with decisive penalty scored by Canadian forward Thomas Stuart-Dant, one of only two imports of Icelandic team, along with compatriot, goalie Adam Beukeboom. In the same opening day, Zeytinburnu easily won 4-0 against Israeli HC Bat-Yam, arrived in Bulgaria with a roster composed also with players on loan from other Israelian teams. The real surprise has arrived in the second dday, when SA destroyed 6-1 Zeytinburnu with a perfect game, with 6 different scorers, as happened in the first game, when 5 different players scored against Bulgarian team. The victory means SA need to beat pointless Bat-Yam, hammered 8-1 by Irbis, to secure the qualification. And with some difficulties due to the fatigue and the disability to play every day, Akureyri sealed the perfect campaign with a 2-0 success against Israeli side, once again finishing the tournament with no points and just one goal scored. In the last clash, what should have been the decisive challenge, another disappointing defeat for Zeytinburnu, beaten 5-2 by Irbis. SA player/coach Jussi Sipponen finished as top scorer with 7 (0+7) points in three games.

SA players chanting the Icelandic anthem in Sofia - Photo from sasport.is

SA Akureyri will now face another  tough challenge, competing in Second Round, held in Riga in mid-October, against host HK Kurbads, Ukranian HC Donbas Donets'k and Spanish champion Txuri Urdin San Sebasatian

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