We are almost to the end, with the KHL championship being won just as I sat down to write, and Only Germany and Finland still playing. In Germany's DEL, we left Berlin's Ice Bears facing the Metro Stars of Dusseldorf for the right to face Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg for the German championship. Berlin won those games 4-3 and 3-1, and then went on to win the opener of the finals 4-2 as Andre Rankel wove a pair of goals in between three roughing penalties.
HIFK has taken the first 2 games from the Blues of Espoo in the S-M Liiga finals. In game one, Robert Nyholm got the winner at 12:35 of the third in a 3-2 victory. He also scored the second goal in a 5-1 win in game 2; Ville Peltonnen and Juha-Pekka Haataja hit empty-netters with 1:26 and 0:06 left to make it look worse than it was.
Now we go to the new winners- those who were not the season winners. We start out in Austria, where we left KAC and Red Bull Salzburg tied at 2 games apiece. Mike Siklenka scored at 7 minutes into OT in game 5 to give KAC a 3-2 win and a 3-2 lead in the series. A wild game in Salzburg saw the teams score 5 goals in the 4 minutes between the 6 and 10 minute marks of the first period, Red Bull getting three of them, but then the game settled down. Thomas Koch, the Salzburg captain and third-leading scorer in the league at 28-43-71, netted the back-breaker at the 19 minute mark of the second, and RBS wins 5-2 to send the series back to Klagenfurt. The game was a 1-1 tie until late, when Steven Reiger scored for Red Bull about halfway through the third. But with 2 minutes left, Tyler Schofield tied the game and sent them into OT for all the marbles. Once again it was Koch, scoring on a rebound 3 minutes into OT and Red Bull Salzburg had won their second straight Erste Bank Liga title, and 4th in 5 years.
Salzburg, on the Bavarian border, was a Roman city called Juvavum but had fallen into ruin when St. Ruppert picked it to be his base of evangelism in 700. Naming it after the salt barges going up and down the river, in the late 1500's it became an independent Archbishopric. In 1731, the reigning bishop expelled most of the city's protestant population, which ended up scattered across Europe. Some of them ended up in the new English colony of Georgia by 1734, and founded a town called Ebenezer. During the Napoleonic era, the city was secularized, and changed hands, along with Berchtesgarden, from Austria to Bavaria, and then finally back to Austria sans Berchtesgarden in the Vienna settlement in 1815. During the Nazi regime it was home to a Roma (Gypsy) concentration camp. It became the home of Austria's American zone of occupation after GI's occupied the city on May 5, 1945. The Old Town section has been designated a World Heritage Area, and it has a sister city in Atlanta. Among its notable natives were the Von Trapp family of sound Of Music fame, and of course Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In Sweden, we have two of the teams that ended up in the 3-way tie for first- the technical winner, HPK, got swept in the first round. The remainders were Farjestad and Skelleftea, and we left off with Skelleftea up 3 games to 1. Farjestad got back in it with a 5-3 win in game 5; Anders Bastiansen had 2 first period goals and the winners picked up 2 power play goals in the second to make it 4-0. But Jimmie Ericsson's goal 24 seconds into the third pulled the score to 4-3, before Marius Hollet scored the backbreaker at 13:49. The next game was dominated by Farjestad, outshooting Skelleftea 41-27, but it took a goal by Mikael Johansson 33 seconds into OT to give them a 2-1 win and a 3-3 series tie. Game seven was all Farjestad; they outshot fading Skelleftea 34-16 en route to a 4-1 win and the Elitserien title.
Herning is the 14 time Danish champs, founded in 1947. They play at KVIK Ice Arena. The last seven Danish titles have been split between them and regular season winner SonderjyskE, four of those to Herning.
Finally we go to the KHL championship,m where we left Salayat Yulaev leading Atlant 1 to 0. Game 2 was a 3-1 win for Salavat, with Igor Grigorenko netting 2 goals just 27 seconds apart in a 3-goal third period. Salavat then pushed Atlant to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory in which team captain and leading scorer Patrick Thoresson hitting the winner at 12:45 of the third. Atlant hadn';t quite given up yet, though; Konstantin Barulin stopped all 30 Salavat shots in game 4, and Jan Marek had a goal and an assist, as Atlant wins 4-0. This morning the final game was played, with Andrei Taratukhin putting SY up 1-0 after 1. It stayed that way into the third, when three Salavat penalties in a 59 second span (and I tried to figure out what they were, but Cyrillic to English translation came up with "emitting the washer", "a footstep", and "delay of the hands") led to a PP goal by Jan Marek. But that would be all for Atlant until they were 3-1 down and 4 minutes left. Andrei Kutekin and Alexander Svitov got the other SY goals as they hang on to win 3-2 and take the Gagarin cup.
Next week, we "finish" off with the Finnish and German champions. Go Wolfsburg!!