Wednesday, 14 September 2016
CHL - Round Up - TPS Turku
TPS were in Group H with Czech side Bili Tygri Liberec and Lorenskog IK of Norway. The team from Turku were far too strong for their opponents, as they skated away with four straight wins to advance to the Round of 32.
Wed, Aug 24 Lorenskog IK 4-1
In Lorenskog IK's first CHL game in Liberec, they got an early goal, then hung around in the game despite being badly outplayed, and got a late equalizer to earn a point on the road. When Joacim Sandulius opened the scoring by tapping in a pass from Steffen Thoresen on the power play at 8:01, some may have got the feeling they were about to do it again. And just as happened in Liberec, they rode the goaltending of Jeff Jakaitis and escaped to their dressing room with the score tied 1-1. The shots in the opening frame were 12-7 TPS, with Otto Nieminen scoring the tying goal on a delayed Lorenskog penalty with just 33 seconds left in the period.
In the second period, however, the real TPS stood up, and they were led by the men who are supposed to lead them. In the 28th minute, Eric Perrin sent Tomi Kallio on a rush up the right wing, and the TPS captain did a beautiful job of manufacturing a goal – undressing a Lorenskog defenceman, then cutting in front and flipping the puck past Jakaitis. Four and a half minutes later it was the same pair contributing to the goal again – linemate Erik Thorell finishing it by spinning around in front and firing it home.
On the line's first game together as a complete trio, Perrin said, "Me and Tomi played together all last year. I think that our view of the game is pretty much the same, so that makes things a lot easier. It’s like riding a bicycle sometimes. And Erik compliments the line very well. He’s got great speed and good hockey sense and quite seem to understand what kind of game we want to play."
TPS began the third period in firm control and added to their lead with an early goal from Topi Taavitsainen. For the second game in a row, Jakaitis was the reason his team wasn't blown out, stopping 38 of 42 shots, but there's only so much he could do against a skilled TPS squad. At the other end, Russian goaltender Alexander Georgiev stopped 13 of 14 Lorenskog shots for the win.
"They had more speed than us, they created traffic in front of our goal and did a great job overall," Lorenskog coach Kenneth Larsen said about TPS. "We know they're a better team than us, so to beat them we needed to have more guts than them, but tonight they had more guts than us."
“We were quite well-prepared for the game," said TPS coach Ari-Pekka Selin. "We got good video clips and information about tonight’s opponent. We knew to expect to play against very hard-working team. Young players like Taavitsainen and (Martin) Berger played well tonight. I’m very pleased with my team.”
Fri, Aug 26 Bili Tygri Liberec 2-1 SO
TPS centre Eric Perrin had it pegged going into Friday night's game in Liberec – the first of two that will likely decide the Group H winner – when he said, “I think that the key to playing against (Liberec) is to be good defensively and then capitalize on those attacks when we do have them. So, it’s gonna be a defence-first mentality for sure.”
Indeed, it was a battle between two disciplined teams, waiting for the other to make a mistake. In 65 minutes of hockey, each team scored once – Patrik Virta for TPS and Tomas Mojzis for Liberec. In the shootout to follow it took seven rounds to decide a winner – Dave Spina with a modified "Forsberg" move to beat Liberec relief-goalie Roman Will. Will faced TPS's last three shooters after Jan Lasak had played the full 65 minutes of hockey before getting beaten 1-on-1 by the first two penalty-shooters he faced.
Virta opened the scoring way back in the 8th minute by taking a pass from Henrik Tallinder and skating in on Lasak, eluding a poke-check and putting it inside the far post. Mojzis, with the White Tigers pressing for the equalizer with 6:00 to play in regulation time, drilled a slapper that went high to the glove side of Oskari Setanen – the only one of 39 shots to beat him before the shootout.
“Setanen deserves to be praised because he played really well tonight,” praised TPS coach Ari-Pekka Sellin. “Both teams played an entertaining game and wanted to score goals. We were luckier because we had to kill a lot of penalties. The game was a tough test for us because Liberec is a physical team with strong offence. We had to battle for the entire 65 minutes.”
As Sellin implied, there were other chances, but both Lasak and Setanen benefited from the sound of iron on more than one occasion – veteran winger Branko Radivojevic of Liberec and Perrin both with great chances in the second period but both hit the crossbar. In between, Jan Stransky of Liberec re-directed a mid-air shot into the net but after video review it was determined to be a high stick and didn't count.
“We played another tight game with a tough opponent,” said Liberec coach Filip Pesan. “TPS had good strategy, strong puck possession and their players are also very skilled. We didn’t play a good first period, but after that we managed to break into the game. We had a lot of hunger for victory and that helped us tie the score. I believe we were the better team in overtime, but we haven’t been effective lately. The shootout is proof of that.”
Fri, Sep 02 Bili Tygri Liberec 3-1
TPS Turku are through to the next round and almost certainly the Group H winners after their 3-1 home win over Bili Tygri Liberec, taking five of six possible points overall from the Czech champions. The White Tigers actually started strong in the first period, but they ran into a hot goalie in Alexander Georgiev, who stopped all 10 Liberec shots he faced. At the other end, TPS got in front with a pair of great individual plays. First at 4:50 Jasper Linsten made a nifty move to flip the puck over goalie Roman Will from close range to open the scoring, then 11 minutes later Dave Spina was slashed from behind on a breakaway and got a penalty shot. On the shot he fired a perfect shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-0. In the second period again Liberec held a slight edge in play but the teams traded goals. Vladimir Svacina got Liberec on the board when he one-timed a nice pass from Michal Bulir, but just 1:31 later TPS had their two-goal lead back when Spina fed a nice pass to Jesse Duda, who sent a high wrister through a screen and past Will. There was no scoring the rest of the way in a game that saw tempers get the better of players, particularly in a fight late in the second period between Jonne Virtanen and Adam Janocek, with both players dropping their gloves and squaring off.
"We had a difficult start in the first period and it's a wonder we ended up leading after the first 20 minutes," said TPS coach Ari-Pekka Selin. "In the second period our offence improved and they matched us defensively. In the third, penalties made the period really scattered. Our goalie was great tonight."
Ultimately, Geogiev was the story in the game, stopping 33 of 34 shots in the TPS net. At the other end, Will stopped 19 of 22.
"I don't think we palyed a bad game," figured Liberec head coach Filip Pesan. "We had a lot of trouble with discipline, but I don't think we were worse than them. We had a lot of chances but didn't score. Those two things – lack of discipline and scoring efficiency – are the reasons we lost the game."
Liberec now need a win in Lorenskog on Tuesday to guarantee their place in the next round – otherwise they'll be on pins and needles watching the last game in the group between TPS and Lorenskog.
"Lorenskog will be tough in their home arena and we will play our best," Pesan concluded.
Fri, Sep 09 Lorenskog IK 6-0
In a game where each team knew they were going to finish in the group – TPS Turku first and Lorenskog IK last – the Finnish club was dominant, winning 6-0. Patrik Virta led the offence with a goal and three helpers, while Oskari Setanen made 22 saves for the shutout. At the other end, Jeff Jakaitis was busy as usual in the Lorenskog net, and made 28 saves. Virta scored his goal at 5:36 of the first period to open the scoring, skating in on Jakaitis and beating him with a wrister that the goalie got a piece of, but not enough to prevent it from trickling into the net. As was so often the case for them throughout their CHL adventure, though, Lorenskog hung in the game for a while. They even nearly tied it late in the opening period when former NHLer Jason Krog got a breakaway but Setanen stopped him, then stopped Joacim Sundelius on the rebound. In the 27th minute, they had another chance to score but Robin Dahlstrom couldn't get the puck over a fallen Setanen. In the 33rd minute, Toni Kallio scored when Jakaitis again got a piece of a shot but couldn't keep it from going over the goal line – this one was so close that video replay was needed to confirm it. It was now 2-0 but the floodgates opened after that, and it was 5-0 by the end of the second period.
"We started slow in the first period, but lucky for us our goalie played very well," though TPS head coach Ari-Pekka Selin. "If Lorenskog had found the way to the net early in the game, it would have been a much tougher for us. We came out stronger in the second period, and we put the game away with three fast goals. Most important for the team was the win, and now we have 11 points and we can start focus on the next round."
The final score was 6-0, as TPS finish the group stage nearly perfect and enter the Playoff Draw as a group winner. Lorenskog got one point from an overtime loss in Liberec, and their CHL adventure is now over.
"They found the way to the net today, but we didn’t," sighed Lorenskog coach Kenneth Larsen. "That’s one thing, but more disturbing is the lack of will to stand up and fight that we showed in the last 10 minutes of second period. On the other hand, I’m satisfied with the last period where we stood up and fought back."