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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eurohockey update

Two new champions this week as things wind down in the northern hemisphere's hockey world.  Things are just beginning to ramp up down under, though, as the Aussie hockey season opens April 28th with Adelaide hosting Canberra, Melbourne hosting Mustangs IHC, Newcastle hosting Gold Coast, and the battle of Sydney between the Ice Dogs and the Bears.

First off, those that are yet in the semis include the German teams I mentioned last week which kick off today; in Finland, #4 JYP and #6 Jokerit, along with #2 Lahti Penguines vs giant killer Espoo Blues (#8) kicked off last week with both JYP and Lahti holdiung 2-0 leads. 

Everybody else has at least reached their finals.  The Czech Extraliga features Pardubice vs Kometa Brno, who added the scalp of #2 Plsen to their belt- a 7-2 game 5 win giving Brno the win after previously knocking out #1 Sparta Praha in the quarters. 

In Denmark, the long awaited finals between Blue Fox Herning and the Odensee Bulldogs starts today.

In France, the home teams have one all games; Rouen is up 3-2 with today's game in Grenoble.

In Italy, #2 Bolzano took game one Thursday, 3-2 over #1 Val Pusteria.

In Norway, the top 2 teams- Stavenger and Lorenskog- are tied at a game apiece.  The KHL's finals were established earlier today when Avangard Omsk beat Traktor 1-0 for a 4-1 victory.  Traktor won the opener, but only scored once in the last three games.  They'll face upstart Dynamo Moscow, who tore through West Champ SKA St. Petersburg 5-4 OT, 2-1, 3-1, and 6-1.

The Slovak finals are set, with #1 Kosice facing #3 Slovan Bratislava.

In Sweden, #2 Skelleftea beat AIK 5-3 today to advance to the finals against #4 Brynas.

Switzerland features a #5 vs #7 final.  The 5, defending champ SC Bern, took out #3 Freibourg to face Zurich, who topped their quarterfinal win over #2 Davos by taking top seed Zug in the semis 4 games to one.  The final has been split by the home teams after two games.

In the UK, Belfast celebrated tearing through Dundee in the first round (5-0, 9-0) by Losing to 3-seed Cardiff 4-3 in the single game eliminations.  Cardiff goes to the finals against today's Nottingham-Hull winner.

And that brings us two our two newly crowned Champions.  First, one of the new follows for us is the Belarus Extraliga, where Mettalurg Zhlobin beat Neman Grodno 1-0 in a decisive game six to win their first BXL championship in the 19-year old league.  Zhlobin finishes the year at 51-9-4.
Zhlobin itself is a small town of around 75,000 in the south-central area of the country.  Described by their unofficial website as "519 years, 9 months, and 4 days old", it's main claim to fame is being the home of giant steel maker BMZ.



The other winner is Austria's Black Wings Linz (42-16-9) who swept KAC 3-2, 6-2, 4-1, and 3-1 after Klagenfurt won the opener.  For BWL, celebrating their 20th season, it is their second EBEL title.
Linz, in the north of Austria, was founded by the Romans as Lentia, and was first mentioned as Linz in 799 AD.  At one point in the 1400's the most powerful city in Central Europe, it was recently most noted- and not positively- as the home town of both Adolph Hitler and Adolph Eichmann.


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