Kurbads did it again

Kurbads did it again

Davide Tuniz21 Oct 2018Davide Tuniz»

For the second consecutive season, Latvian team dominate the Continental Cup group at home flying to Semifinals. SA Akureyri won historical bronze


Last year, on the same ice, Kurbads trashed 8-1 a young unexperienced Donbas in the second round of Continental Cup, sealing a perfect weekend and flying to semi-finals. A year after the game wasn’t so easy but the history is repeating: too strong for the young Ukranians this team composed mainly by experienced veterans as Janis Sprukts, Martins Cipulis or Jakabs Redlihs, with hundreds of games under their belts in the rinks all over the world.

In the afternoon, SA Akureyri closed its outstanding European campaign with a victory 3-2 against Txuri Urdin San Sebastian, thanks to a decisive third period and a brilliant performance of player coach Jussi Sipponen and the decisive goal scored by MVP Johann Leifsson.

The small Kurbads arena is packed and noisy for the decisive game: both teams are with complete roster, with Vitali Lyalka back in the second line after serving a suspension.

The game begins with both teams very aggressive, with a confusing hockey and few real opportunities, a shot by Sarkanis blocked with difficulties by Dyachenko at minute 8 is the first real chance. Donbas kills a couple of power plays without major risks. Against an opponent very physical, home team seems having lost the fluently showed in the previous games. Also in the central period the strategy of Donbas is the same: leaving the game confusing to prevent the organization of Kurbads. The tactic needs a lot of energy and obviously the risk of a so physical style are the penalties. In the first power play of second period finally Kurbads opens the score: a one-timer of Martins Cipulis, well assisted by Juris Upitis, finds the cage opened. With Donbas now more offensive, home team can use the counterattack, doubling the score at 30:04 with Lauris Rancevs, stubbornly netting a pass from Edgars Homjakovs. The last period has immediately a great save by Dyachenko on Cipulis. but the period is more controlled by Donbas that produces the major effort around half of the period, finding the deserved first goal with a shot while falling with defender Dmitri Ignatenko. At minute 53 Kiryushenkov loses a puck in the defensive zone but Dyachenko is superb stopping twice the shot of Zembergs, two minutes after Cipulis is late in deflecting a puck well served by Upitis The last minutes are a thrilling for Kurbads but Donbas ran out of strength to really organize a final assault.

AS in the last season the home team easily won the group with some suffers just tonight and will now fly to Lyon, France, for the second consecutive attempt to reach the superfinals. Donbas showed more maturity a year after a bad performance in the competition, the young players are are growing but the way back to a great club is still long

Tournament MVP: Edgars Homjakovs

Best Defender: Jussi Sipponen

Best Goalie: Uldis Calpa

Best Forward: Martins Cipulis

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