Sharp start gives Caps big win over Bolzano, Znojmo beats VSV

Sharp start gives Caps big win over Bolzano, Znojmo beats VSV

10 Jan 2016Lucas Bradelj»

Only two points divided the Vienna Capitals and Bolzano Foxes prior to the game in the quest for a placement in the Top Six. Nathan Lawson stopped 25 shots to defend the lead gained in the first period and increase Vienna's winning streak to six games. Znojmo overcame Villach and claimed a playoff-spot.


Erste Bank Eishockey Liga is in an extremely close regular season finish. Prior to the third-latest round five teams were in contention for four spots in the Pick Round (format explained here). Only the six best-seeded clubs directly qualify for the playoffs, so the game between Vienna and Bolzano was a crucial one. The Italians had won all three previous games between the two clubs this season.

The Capitals were clearly the better team in the first period, outshooting the Foxes 15-2. Only 76 seconds were played when MacGregor Sharp scored against his former team, as his shot squeezed through the five hole of HCB-goalkeeper Jaroslav Hübl. The Capitals continued to be the dominating force. Two turnovers by Roland Hofer in the Italian’s defensive zone led to great opportunities for Simon Gamache, but Hübl responded. Hübl though was chanceless on an odd man rush situation with 33 seconds left in the period. Jonathan Ferland fed Matt Dzieduszycki on a 2-on-1, for whom it was an easy task to score the 2-0.

In the middle frame it was Bolzano’s turn to find some offence. They also did not waste their first power play opportunity, cutting the lead at half. Topscorer Joel Broda, who scored the game’s only goal in yesterday’s victory in Fehervar, brought the puck on net. Matthew Pope was ready to convert the rebound for the 2-1 marker.

Pope’s goal gave the Foxes confidence and they pushed for the equalizer. Marco Insam and Markus Gander had two good opportunities, but were not able to capitalize. In the 38th minute Joel Broda’s one-timer, on a great backhand pass by Brodie Reid, had Caps-goalkeeper Nathan Lawson beaten. However, the crossbar still stood in the way. Bolzano had to go into the second intermission down by one goal. Nevertheless, the Foxes definitely found their way back into the game, also outshooting the Capitals 13-4 in the second period.

In the final twenty minutes Bolzano’s fourth line, which might be one of the best checking lines in the league with three key members of the Italian national team, created a good chance in the 48th minute. However, captain Alexander Egger could not find the back of the net. Brett Flemming’s wrist shot hit the post in the 50th minute, as the Italians kept looking for the equalizer. Taylor Vause had another opportunity to score, but Lawson again denied him.

The Capitals showed the 5350 fans in attendance how it is done. Andreas Nödl gave a perfect cross-crease pass to Dzieduszycki, who buried his second goal of the game for the 3-1 lead. HCB-coach Tom Pokel pulled the goalie, but even on the 6 on 4 Lawson remained a wall on for the Italians.

Final two rounds awaiting

With this three points, the sixth win in a row, the Capitals have made a big step towards the qualification to the Pick Round. As long as they do not shoot themselves in the foot with losses against the two last-placed teams Innsbruck and Ljubljana, they should have made the playoffs.

Bolzano, despite the loss, is also still in contention. They will finish the regular season with home games against Dornbirn and Fehervar. Especially the one against Dornbirn will be crucial, as the Bulldogs are on fifth place with only one point ahead of the Foxes.

Znojmo’s 3-2 win against Villach also means that the Czechs are the third team to have assured themselves a playoff spot, while Villach is now tied with Bolzano on sixth place. VSV will look for revenge next weekend, as they will face Znojmo again.

This means, that three spots in the Top Six are still up for grabs and we will have to wait until next Sunday to know the six teams who found the early qualification to the post season. The remaining six teams will have to earn a playoff spot in the Qualifying Round.

The Bolzano Foxes can still qualify for the Pick Round.

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