First off, we have our second champs. They are the Oji Eagles of the Asia League. They finished a 3-1 series win over the Nikko Ice Bucks with a 4-3 OT win. Nikko had knocked off Anyhang Halla of Korea in the first round, while Oji beat the Nippon Paper Cranes 3-0. Oji, who finishes 26-7-9, have dominated Japanese hockey, racking up 34 All-Japan Championships, 13 Japan League titles, and this, their second Asia League crown.
The Tomakomai Port was opened in 1963 as the first large-scale, man-made excavated port in Japan, and was designated as an important port in 1981. Today, it has become an important port not only for industry but also as a distribution center, handling about one third of Hokkaido's total cargo volume, and is playing a great role in the development of Hokkaido's economy as the largest international trading port in northern Japan.
Various corporations, involved in a wide range of industry, including oil refining, automobile, electric power,lumber, chemical, nonferrous metals, and assorted feed locate their operations on the waterfront of the Tomakomai West Port which has been improved to cope with the modernization of freight traffic, forming a large coastal industrial area. Above all Toyota Motor Corporation Hokkaido started operation there in October, 1992, and is expected to grow as an extensive industry.
Tomakomai is a City of 174,000 on the south edge of the island. Well north of the quake/tsunami area, they received only minimal damage.
Next, a look at leagues that have reached their finals. In Austria, Black Wings Linz and KAC Klagenfurt split the first two games, both 3-2; But then the regular season champs topped KAC 6-2 at home and 4-1 in Klagenfurt to take a 3-1 lead.
In Belarus, Zhlobin leads Neman Grodno 3-2, all of the games 3-2 wins except Zhlobin's 5-2 game three win in Grodno.
In Denmark, Blue Fox Herning was the bane of SonderjyskE yet again, taking them out in the semis 4-1 to advance to the finals against Odensee. The series begins next Saturday.
In France, season champ Rouen faces seventh seed Grenoble in the finals. Grenoble makes the finals after twin upsets over #2 Dijon in the quarterfinals and #3 Chamoix in the semis. And in the finals, they are trying to do it again: after Rouen won 4-3OT and 8-2 games at home, Grenoble won the next two games in the south of France, 5-4 and 6-4.
Thursday, Val Pusteria and Bolzano, the 1-2 teams in Italy Serie A, kick off their final.
It will be a Tuesday kickoff in Norway's GET-Ligaen between the top 2 teams, Stavenger and Lorenskog.
#1 Kosice and #3 Slovan Bratislava start their finals a week from Sunday in the Slovak Extraliga.
The rest of the leagues look like this:
In the Czech Extraliga they've reached the semis. 8th ranked Kometa Brno, who upset top-ranked Sparta Praha 4-2, faces #2 Plsen and lead them 3 games to one, while Pardubice and Liberec are even at 2 apiece.
Finland is only in the first round, but Jokerit (downing IFK 4-0) and JYP Jyvaskyla (over Assat 4-1) are through to the quarters. First place KalPa looked good too, winning the first three against Blues Espoo, before dropping the next two 3-1 and 5-2.
In Germany, ERC Ingolstadt faces Adler Mannheim and Eisbaren Berlin takes on Straubing Tigers in the semis. Straubing knocked out my Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg 4-0 winning the games in Wolfsburg 2-1 and 3-1 and the two at home 7-0 and 7-3.
In the Elitserien, #1 Lulea got tagged out by #7 AIK 4-1 in the quarters. The semis feature Skelleftea vs AIK and Brynas vs Farjestads. Skelleftea and Brynas each lead their series 2-1.
In the UK, they have a two-week playoff. Each series is a 2-game best goals match, the quarters this weekend and the rest I believe start Friday. Nottingham and Braehead started early, with Braehead winning the opener 3-0 and Nottingham taking today's game and the series 5-1 (a 5-4 win). The others have played game one and decide things tomorow.
Finally, in the KHL, the East semi show Traktor and Avangard with a win apiece. In the West, Dynamo Moscow has won 5-4 OT and 2-1 matches against SKA St. Petersburg in what may be a major upset.
Just to put a bow on the VHL season, for some reason they have the top contender in each conference playing the other guy in the other conference. Thus, Diesel gets Ruby Tyumen while Taurus gets Donbas. Not only that, but Taurus ambushed Donbas 5-1 in their series opener. Wow!
That's it for this time. Next time, we'll have more champions, and maybe- since they don't have the schedule up yet, a look at this year's Aussie League!