The plate flies to Grodno

The plate flies to Grodno

Davide Tuniz10 Jan 2015Davide Tuniz»

Neman Grodno win Continental Cup succeeding to Stavanger Oilers with a superb game against host Penguins Bremerhaven and it's qualified for 2015-16 Champions Hockey League


Four seasons after the victory of Yunost Minsk at home, the Continental Cup is back to Belarus, not in the capital, but in the city of Grodno. The team of Vasili Spiridonov closes the question with a game to spare dominating the game against host Penguins Bremerhaven, despite a great audience that support the home side for 60 minutes cheering continuously for 60 minutes. The victory is the first international trophy for Neman since the title of defunct EEHL (Eastern European Hockey League) in 1996, but this success has a value far greater, mainly because for the first time qualify the club for the next Champions Hockey League. A great revenge for coach Vasily Spiridonov, who finally brings home the trophy brushing in 2012-2013 on Metallurg Zhlobin bench.

After the surprising defeat of Ertis Pavlodar, the game between Penguins Bremerhaven and Neman Grodno has a key importance before the last round. Coaches has rosters completed, Penguins coach Mike Stewart decides to switch the goalies and choose Brett Jaeger as starter. Unbeaten Maxim Samankov is in the net for Neman. The first chance is for Belarusians after 50 seconds, the shot from the angle by Pavel Boyarchuk don’t surprise Jaeger. Canadian goalie is instead unprepared when Vyacheslav Lisichkin deflects a shot from the blue by Korshunov for 1-0 Neman. Penguins have 23 seconds of double power play but despite the great incitement produce just a dangerous shot by Marjan Dejdar and risk on a counter-attack finished by Maxim Osipov on Jaeger pads. Neman is a solid and skilled team and hosts have difficulties to find the net organizing the offensive phase. Also the luck helps Neman in the second goal: the shot of Andrei Korshunov, always dangerous from the long distance, hit the hand of a defender and lands on Konstantin Lastovetsky’s stick for an easy goal. Dronia and Schmidt try with long-range shots but Samankov is ready to block.

Lastovetskiy misses an easy opportunity the second period before a good power play played by Penguins with no remarkable chances but a constant pressure. When Neman Is back at full strength bit for the third time: a puck lost by Penguins forwards becomes a smart pass served by Korshunov to Jaroslav Kristek for a one-to-one against Jaeger and the goal by the Czech player. A double power play restores the hopes of Bremerhaven: after three great saves by Samankov, finally Tim Miller finds the upper angle in the Samakov cage. The fans are moving in supporting the team but really Neman seems stronger tonight: at 32:45 Ilya Nazarevich pretends to shot finding Kristek near the net, deflection and Jaeger beaten. The game of Canadian goalie ends at 34:21 when  Andrei Korshunov beats him with a one-timer with no chances. Benjamin Meisner gets into the goal while his teammates seem  doesn’t find the key to the problem. Koshunov ruins his excellent performance with a violent check on Brendan Cook that triggers a brawl and gives Bremerhaven another 5 vs 3 situation, untapped by hosts.

With result closed, the third period is less spectacular and sees again the superiority of Neman on the ice forcing Meisner to stay focused. Samankov has its first save after 6 minutes, blocking on Bombis. A tough hit on Sergei Malyavko forces the player to leave the ice. Hosts score at 48:32 with Jan Kopecky netting a rebound of Samankov on a shot by Marjan Dejdar. The second goal gives a little more enthusiasm to home players, frozen by sixth goal of Neman, scored by Sergei Malyavko finishing a speedy counter-attack created with his brother Aleksandr. The last five minutes are an incredible celebration from both side: Penguins’ fans  chanting  to thanks their team, Neman fans to celebrate the victory that means the first international trophy for the club and, maybe even more important, the chance to play in CHL next year.

Neman players celebrate with fans

It’s a deserved trophy for Neman that dominated the first two days, showing a clear superiority on the ice. Tonight the score has never been questioned

MVP:  Daniel Seman – Andrei Telyukin

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