CSKA Sofia wins First Round of Continental Cup

CSKA Sofia wins First Round of Continental Cup

Davide Tuniz05 Oct 2015Davide Tuniz»

As in last season, Bulgarian team prevails in the opening round of Continental Cup as Zeytinburnu Istanbul proved to be a tough nut to crack

Began from Belgrade in the last weekend the journey of Continental Cup edition 2015-16: 17 teams will battle in the three qualifying rounds to reach the Superfinals in January that will give to the winner a spot in next season's Champions League. The formula of the last edition was confirmed, with four teams qualified from the semifinal rounds - the first two of each group - that will play the Superfinal, which will take place at the arena of one of the finalists, without the most-criticized rule stating that the host team was admitted directly to the finals.

The first round was played at the Pionir Arena in Belgrade, featuring the hosts Partizan, CSKA Sofia, Zeytinburnu Istanbul and Israel's champion Rishon Ice-Devils. Last year the final group played in Sofia was won hands down by the hosts who were then presented in the second round in Bremerhaven hiring former stars like Oleg Kvasha and Vladimir Antipov, but remedying only defeats.

On paper it was easy to foresee a duel between CSKA and Partizan for first place, but the first day, which put in front of the two teams, immediately denied the predictions: the Bulgarians have in fact demolished Partizan, winning with a final with 12-4 and 8 points from Stanislav Mukhachev (3 goals and 5 assists), showing a much more balanced team than last year, relying on a handful of Russian players less celebrated and known than ex-NHL superstars, but much more able to adapt to the team game style. Around new foreign - to mention the solid defender Eduard Orlov, 25 year-old from CSKA Moscow juniors, then vanished back in the lower leagues - act the block champion of Bulgaria in recent years, made up of the national Mukhachev, Alexei Yotov and Martin Boyadjiev, from Slovak Kristian Simo, Swede Anders Johansson and Captain Juraj Dusicka, a Slovak naturalized Bulgarian, playing in Bulgaria since 2010 and winner of the last six league titles, first with Slavia and from 2013 with CSKA.

The real surprise, however, comes from the other match, the one between the teams in theory the weakest: the Turkish team, promoted in the Turkish Super Lig last year and able to win the title at the first attempt by dominating the season, arrived in Belgrade with a roster strengthened by three Americans: the goalkeeper Tyler Holske, emerged from Southern New Hampshire University and last year authored a good season in Eindhoven, and forwards Ryan Alves and Ryan Bahl. Then there are the three foreigners who have led the team to the title last year, the Ukrainians Oleg Zadoyenko, top scorer in the Super Lig with a monstrous record of 92 points in 12 games, the revived Aleksei Voytsekhovsky, predicted as a possible great talent a few years ago and the honest Finnish Anton Peronmaa. Very curious story of Ryan Bahl: 26 years old from San Diego, California, with his wife Michaela decided to travel the world to play hockey in many countries as possible, sponsored by a software company, and to publicize the program beneficial hockey4all, is probably already the owner of an impressive record, having played in 6 continents: ended last season in Spain with the Majadahonda, has played this summer in the Falkland Islands / Malvinas (!!) and then begin the regular season in Iceland with the Esja and moving now in Turkey. He previously played in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Czech Republic and of course in the US. His journey around the world is releated in his interesting site

With only three lines, virtually reduced to two on ice, Zeytinburnu smashed 14-4 amateurs Israelis, used to train almost only inline, with 5 goals from Zadoyenko and 4 from Peronmaa, making it clear to everyone that they will be the real opponents CSKA. Message confirmed in the second day: CSKA won Rishon 7-1 and Zeytinburnu made 4-1 agaist Partizan. Everything was decided in the last day, that could see for the first time a Turkish team, usually accustomed to finish last in the group, advance to second round. While in the game to avoid the last place Partizan captures first win crashing 9-1 Rishon, the match that decides the title was a "crazy" game, with the Turks ahead in the first two periods and able to score 5 times to goalie Dimitar Dmitrov. But the three games in three days apparently have exhausted the energy of the short roster with players almost always on the ice: the third period is a monologue of CSKA, that scored 5 times, with the Turks, now out of gas, unable to react. It ends 9-5 and for the second consecutive year will be the CSKA to play his chances in the second round scheduled for October 23 to 25 in Poland, Tychy: opponents the hosts of the GKS. England's Coventry Blaze and the Romanians of Dunarea Galati.

Last consideration for hosts Partizan: a nasty campaign over the weekend is yet another confirmation of the crisis seemingly endless that hockey are living in Serbia: without funds, structures and interest of the media and the public - the game with more viewers has registered 90, in a 2000-seat facility. Partizan coach Nikola Bera has made an honest examination of the moment that lives his club, just a few years ago able to dominate the defunct Slohokej League. "We had ice available only from September, so we trained almost entirely dry. Plus some players (Marko Brkušanin, Aleksa Lukovic and Dimitrij Filipovic) this year do not have time to train and so we can not count on them. The situation is this, we met teams who train together from July. Luckily there was inline championship (won by Partizan) to make practice, otherwise last time we saw ice was in April" Certainly not very encouraging for a team that has applied for participation in the upcoming Russian VHL

Next week there will be elections in the Federation, we hope will bring a marked change

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