JYP win thriller in Champions Hockey League final

JYP win thriller in Champions Hockey League final

07 Feb 2018 | Adrian J
 

JYP Jyväskylä of Finland travelled to meet Växjö Lakers of Sweden as underdogs in the Champions Hockey League final on 6 February 2018. In this fourth year of the competition it was again a Swedish team versus a Finnish team in the final where the Swedes had always won against their Nordic rivals. Would history repeat itself?

 
 
 
 

A mild winter evening with only minus five degrees outside in the southern Sweden town of Växjö was the setting for the hot CHL final between the old enemies, Sweden and Finland. This time it was a battle between Swedish Växjö Lakers and Finnish JYP Jyväskylä. A totally packed Vida Arena was about to see an experienced Växjö team including one of Sweden’s JWC stars, Elias Pettersson as well as US Olympian-to-be Noah Welch matched against a Finnish team dominated by home talent, with the addition of only two international players including former Washington Capitals, Nolan Yonkman.

The first period showed that the teams had done their homework, with great defensive play and a handful of genuine goal chances missed from both teams. No one was able to break the deadlock, even with Vaxjö playing the last 1.18 minutes with an extra man on the ice after a Hooking call on Mikko Mäenpää.

The second period seemed to be going Växjö’s way when Pettersson drew a penalty as he was tripped on his way goalward from behind the net. 48 seconds later Växjö had 5 on 3 and should have taken their chance, but no goal came and instead the match started to swing towards the Finns. They were buoyed with confidence after clearing the double penalty and started to put pressure on the home side. That lead to a succession of power plays for the visitors and when Andrew Calof sat out for Hooking JYP’s Joonas Nättinen took a pass on the counter attack skated into the offensive zone then found the net past the left-hand side of Växjö’s keeper Viktor Fasth leaving the former Anaheim Duck helpless.

In the third period it seemed at JYP were pleased to sit on their 1-0 lead and put the emphasis on the home team to create chances. Eventually Växjö’s defenseman Eric Martinsson found the net with 8:56 left on the clock with a missile hit from the blue line in. But seconds later the crowd’s jubilation was silenced as the goal was waved off on the video replay for Goalkeeper Interference. But there was more drama to come as the match approached its’ end. First, the normally reliable Robert Rosen missed from close range in a 6 on 5 situation after a delayed penalty on JYP’s Yonkman for Holding. Then in a 6 on 4, with the Lakers goalkeeper pulled, Canadian sharpshooter Calof missed from almost the same spot rounding off a miserable evening for the player. Then the evitable, the moment that will be replayed in Janne Kolehmainen’s home for years to come, the 2005 Ottawa Senators drafted player stole the puck as the Swede’s pressed forward and from his own defensive zone slotted the puck in the empty net goal with 20 seconds on the clock remained. The travelling Finnish fans went wild and for the first time in Champions Hockey League Final history, a Finnish team beat their Swedish rivals to hoist the coveted trophy.


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