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Friday, March 16, 2012

Hockey update

Well, we have our first European champion of the season, and we have just one league still playing the regular season.  Our foot-draggers are the UK's EIHL, with another 2 weeks to go and Belfast (37-5-8) still a three point leader on Sheffield.

Norway's GET-Ligaen are in the quarter finals, with #1 Stavenger (35-6-4) and runner up Lorenskog having both swept their first round opponants.

Lulea (25-13-17) won the tight Swedish Elitserien race, but trail 2-1 to AIK in their quarterfinal match.

Eisbaren Berlin (26-16-10) beat Kolner 4-3 SO to win the German DEL by 2 points over ERC Ingolstadt, with Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg coming in third.

In Finland's S-M Liiga, Kalpo Kuopio (34-16-10) won a tight five team race and they are about to start their first round.

Same story in the Czech Extraliga where Sparta Praha (27-7-18) took the regular season title.

Slovakia is in its second round, where Kosice won a 2-1 OT game against Banska Bystrika to move on 4 to 1.

The KHL has advanced into the quarters after SKA (32-11-11) and Tracktor (amazingly, the same record) won their respective conferences.  (Side note: my Automobist team finished a woeful 9-30-15, only better than Vityaz in the league.)  SKA rolled past Red Army in the openning series, and is up 2-0 on Atlant in the quarters after 7-1 and 4-0 victories.  The other Western quarter has Torpedo, who won a hard-fought set against Riga, versus Moscow Dynamo, who had swept Minsk 4-0 in their first round.  In the East, Traktor easily handled Yugra and now faces Ak Bars Kazan, who finished off Salavat Yulaev's dissapointing season.  In the other quarter, Avangard Omsk, fresh off a 4-0 sweep of Amur, meets Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who took out Barys Astana in round one.

France's Ligue Magnus is in the semis, with regular season champ Rouen, having finished off Amiens in a 3-2 series, faces their 2011 finals opponant Angers, who followed up a 3-game sweep against Caen in the first round with a 3-1 victory over Briancon in the second- after spotting them a game one loss. In the other semi, we have Chamoix, who cruised past Gap 3-1, against Grenoble.  Grenoble, who finished the season 7th, lost the first two games against #2 Dijon before stringing together 3-2, 2-1 OT, and 5-2 wins to upset the favorites.

Asiago will not come up with another improbable playoff run in the Italian Serie A.  After winning last year's final against Val Pusteria after a series-winning victory for V P was voided on a technicality, V P made no mistakes in their quarterfinal series, winning 4-2, 4-1, 7-0, and 2-1.  They will play Alleghe in the semis, while Bolzano and Cortina meet in the other semi.

SonderjyskE and rival Blue Fox Herning face off on the Danish AL Bank Ligaen semis, and BFH has already took game 1 2-1.  The other final has Odensee vs. AaB Ishockey.

Belarus' Extraliga had three phenominally dominant teams this year, and all three- season champ Zhlobin (41-5-4), second-place Neman Grodno, and third place Gomel- are through to the semis.

In the Swiss National League A, Zurich upset #2 Davos in the quarters, and now face season champ Zug in the semis, while defending champ SC Bern plays Fribourg.

Two leagues are already in their finals.  One of those is Austria's EBEL, where Black Wings Linz rolls into the finals against a KAC Klagenfurt team that had to knock off #3 Red Bull Salzburg in the quarters and #2 Medvescak Zagreb in the semis.

The other is the Asia league, where the Nikko Ice Bucks, down 2-0 to perennial tough guys Anyang Halla, with Halla outscoring them 10-3, upset Halla in Korea 3-2.  Then they followed up with 3-0 and 4-3 wins to take the series and face season champ Oji Eagles in the finals.

Finally, our first champ this year comes from the Polish League, where HC Sanok, who won the season with a 29-10-3 mark, went 8-1 in the two-round playoffs to win   Sanok, who entered the league in 2004, had never won a playoff series, had never won more than 19 games, and had had one winning record and two trips to the playoffs (their first season, everybody went to the playoffs) before this season.  In fact, their overall record is 57-143-31, so this is a real feel-good story.

Sanok is a town of about 39,500 in the extreme southeast corner of Poland.  First mentioned in 1150, it was in a mixed ethnic area and was in fact heavilly Ukrainian until right after WWII, when both Soviet and Polish authorities agreed that deportation was a better option than Ukrainian separatism.  Its most striking feature is a Castle in Gothic style dating from 1523.




And here's another pic from the city's website I just had to share...


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