Last night saw the first round in both the semifinals of this year’s Champions Hockey League.
Frölunda Indians hosted Milan Gulas’ current team, the Czech Republic’s HC Pilsen. It was the former Färjestad BK forward’s second visit to Sweden in the tournament after his side knocked out Skellefteå AIK in the quarterfinals.
In the other match it was the Red Bull Battle as Munich hosted Salzburg to see whether it would be Germany or Austria into the final for the first time.
In a rough-tough match, both teams managed to hit the post, but ultimately it was a keeper’s game with a tied result of 0-0.
You can bet German Olympic Silver medalist and Munich netminder, Danny aus den Birken was pleased with that as was his Salzburg counterpart, the American Minnesota Wild drafted Steve Michalek.
But it was not a dull encounter by any means. It is worth watching the video to see how many genuine chances there were as well as Salzburg defenseman, Dominique Heinrich‘s incredible goal line stop. The Austrian international and former Örebro HK back is on course for one of his highest scoring seasons, but with Michalek beaten he prevented a certain goal.
It sets up a winner-takes-all match in Salzburg next Tuesday.
The match in Gothenburg by contrast, saw nine goals as the best two teams left in the competition went head to head. The Czech visitors showed why they were the only team to be unbeaten in the competition before the game, with great attacking play.
But whilst never seeming to dominate, Frölunda were the team that found the net most. In just 3:19 minutes in the second period they scored three goals and ruthlessly put to the sword the visitors’ chance of an away victory. That despite three goals from Pilsen’s American defenseman, Conor Allen who has played for New York Rangers.
The final score was 6-3 with both Rhett Rakhshani, pictured, (2G+1A) and Ryan Lasch (1G+2A) scoring 3 points each on the night. Lasch stretches his lead in to top scorer’s competition in the CHL and played despite being doubtful due to a serious knee injury. It all goes to show that Frölunda desperately want a third title, and only an outstanding performance from Pilsen at home next week can stop the Swedes getting to the final.