Last night in a totally packed Scandinavium in Gothenburg, 12,400 fans saw Frölunda Indians take their third Champions Hockey League trophy in five years.
The tie was a rematch of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics quarterfinals between Germany and Sweden which saw the Germans stun the Swedes on their way to a surprise Silver medal.
Several players from that game were present last night, including Frölunda and Sweden’s captain, Joel Lundqvist, one of Germany’s Assistant Captains that night, Patrick Hager as well as a Norwegian and a Canadian who suffered defeat at the Germans’ hand last year.
But there would be no repeat victory for Germany’s Red Bull Munich,who were appearing in their first CHL final.
The game provided end to end entertainment and had it not been for the skills of Indians’ keeper, Johan Gustafsson and Red Bull’s German Olympic hero, Danny aus den Birken in net the score would have been much higher.
But in the end it would be penalties that decided with all four goals scored on the Power Play.
First, Frölunda’s rising star, Samuel Fagemo found the net with a blistering shot at 10:32; then the competition’s top scorer, American Ryan Lasch netted at 24:16 to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
As the game wore on Munich got more and more physical in their challenges as they tried to knock the Indians off their stride and find that little extra to get on the board.
Unfortunately that meant that German Olympian, Yannic Seidenberg served 2+2 PIM for Checking to the Head on Frölunda’s Rhett Rahkshani at 33:50. The American left the ice and did not return and Seidenberg can count himself very lucky not to receive a Match Penalty for the dangerous challenge.
Ponthus Westerholm took full advantage of as he came in to replace the injured 2006 New York Islanders drafted player on their first Power Play unit finding the net at 34:27.
But typical of their attitude throughout the whole CHL, Munich refused to give up.
At 50:49 the German team were on the Power Play again and after the whistle had blown for an offensive zone face off for the visitors, Hager and Frölunda’s Norwegian forward Mats Rosseli Olsson tangled up in front of the net. What started as pushing and shoving escalated and the German let frustration getting the better of him, dropping his right glove and laying into the Norwegian. That led to both of them sitting out, but the German forward got 2+10 for Roughing, effectively ending his participation in the match for the player who scored most goals for the Germans during the Olympics.
Still with a man advantage, Red Bull pulled the keeper to make it six-on-four being instantly rewarded with a goal from another German Olympian, Yasin Ehliz who received the puck from none other than Seidenberg.
So it was 3-1 at 51:29 - but there would no no late comeback for the visitors and that’s how it remained to the end of the game. The arena erupted as Frölunda’s players and fans celebrated wildly their third win in four final appearances in just five years. Stats which go to prove without doubt that they are the best European team in the CHL era.
You can watch the CHL’s own match highlights below.