Friday, September 2, 2011

Pardubice advances, Č-Bud close

Thursday was a good day for two Czech teams in European Trophy competition, but not so good for a third.

HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice had the easiest night, as they clinched a spot in the Red Bull Salute without even stepping onto the ice. HV71's 2-0 loss to Färjestads means that the Swedish club in third place in the South Division can no longer catch Pardubice. As the top two teams in each division advance, Pardubice is in.

They could have actually clinched first place in the group, but Adler Mannheim stayed within striking distance by winning 3-1 in Liberec. The visitors from Baden-Württemberg scored a goal in each of the first two periods, then held off a barrage from Bílí Tygři over the final 30 minutes. Tomáš Vak beat goaltender Patrick Galbraith with 13:11 on the clock, but that's as close as they'd come. An empty-netter sealed the deal.

"We didn't get the start that we wanted from the players. The intensity wasn't there for the whole game," said coach Filip Pešán. "We got back to the game plan after that, but we didn't deserve to win."

The loss does not mathematically eliminate Bílí Tygři, but it really puts them in a tight spot. Had they won, they would have moved into a second-place tie with HV71 with a game in hand.

Budějovice's Aleš Kranjc (#38) battles for the puck with
Salzburg's Steven Regier in European Trophy action Thursday.
Meanwhile, HC Mountfield České Budějovice did themselves a huge favour by going into Salzburg and defeating Red Bull 6-4. Leading 3-2 after two periods, the visitors from South Bohemia outscored Salzburg 3-2 in a wild third period to take the game. Milan Gulaš assisted on the game's opening goal, then scored the game-winner in the 53rd minute and added an empty netter to record a 3-point night.

With the win, Budějovice has put itself into a great position to make a return trip to Salzburg in December. They now sit in second place in the East Division, 2 points ahead of Slovan Bratislava with a game in hand. They also have a game in hand on division-leading Plzeň, who are 2 points ahead and have already secured a spot in the Red Bull Salute. They have a chance to clinch on Saturday, when they travel to Brno to take on Kometa. A win will put them through, as will a loss by Slovan, who play their final game of the tournament that night in Helsinki against Jokerit.

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