|Jakub Kovář has been nearly unbeatable in the Budějovice goal.|
Photo: Roman Kantor, hc-kometa.cz.
Great performances from the goalkeeper have become commonplace in České Budějovice. Last season, Jakub Kovář was voted the top goaltender in the Czech Extraliga and earned a spot on the Czech national team. This year, he has so far played in all seven of his club's games at the European Trophy and surrendered only 12 goals. His 1.63 goals-against average and .940 are the best in the tournament among goaltenders that have appeared in more than four games.
Bílí Tygři Liberec entered the weekend with an outside shot of advancing, but dropped both games on home ice and will finish fifth in the South Division. On Saturday, they were finished when they lost 3-2 to Luleå HF. Then on Sunday, they were edged 5-4 by Eisbären Berlin in the last game for both teams.
Slavia Praha also played its last game of the tournament on Sunday in Mannheim. Though they were locked in last place in the North Division, they had a chance to play spoilers against Adler, who could have advanced to the Red Bull Salute with a win. Slavia picked up just its second win of the tournament, however, knocking Adler out with a 5-3 win. They were led by 3 goals and 1 assist from Tomáš Svoboda, whose 4-point effort gives him 9 for the tournament; tied for sixth in overall scoring.
The game was a rough affair, in which 290 minutes in penalties were racked up by both teams. The final few minutes were marred by multiple fights in which resulted in the banishments of Jiří Vašiček, Michal Poletin and Dmitrij Jaškin of Slavia.
The melée at the end of the game was captured by a few fans in Mannheim, who posted their videos to youtube:
There are still two more games to be played in the group stage of the European Trophy on Tuesday. They both involve only Czech teams, but neither will have any effect on who adances to the Red Bull Salute. Sparta Praha visits České Budějovice and Pardubice visits Plzeň. Plzeň can still eclipse Budějovice in points and finish atop the division, but both teams will advance, regardless.
The Red Bull Salute will be played December 16 to 18 in Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. It is a three-round single-knockout involving eight teams. This is the schedule, which will be finalised after Tuesday's games:
Friday, December 16:
17:15 Jokerit Helsinki - Plzeň / České Budějovice (quarterfinal, Vienna)
17:15 Frölunda Indians - Linköpings HC (quarterfinal, Salzburg)
20:30 Plzeň / České Budějovice - Luleå HF (quarterfinal, Vienna)
20:30 HC Pardubice - EC Red Bull Salzburg (quarterfinal, Salzburg)
Saturday, December 17:
17:15 Winners of quarterfinals in Vienna (semifinal, Vienna)
17:15 Winners of quarterfinals in Salzburg (semifinal, Salzburg)
20:30 Losers of quarterfinals in Vienna (qualification, Vienna)
20:30 Losers of quarterfinals in Salzburg (qualification, Salzburg)
Sunday, December 18:
14:00 Losers of qualification games (7th/8th place, Salzburg)
17:15 Winners of qualification games (5th/6th place, Salzburg)
17:15 Losers of semifinal games (3rd/4th place, Vienna)
20:30 Winners of semifinal games (championship game, Vienna)