Wednesday, 14 September 2016
CHL - Round Up - Karpat Oulu
The Northern team were placed in Group E with DEL side Krefeld Pinguine and Czech outfit Vitkovice Steel. Karpat managed a clean sweep of victories, winning the group and sealing qualification with four wins.
Vitkovice Steel (a) Tue, Aug 16 4-2
Karpat started off the new CHL season with a win, but Vitkovice gave them a good battle on their home ice. Jesse Saarinen scored the first goal of the CHL season and added an assist in the second, while Cramo Top Scorer Mika Pyorala also had a goal and an assist for the victors. In goal, newly re-acquired Jussi Rynnas stopped 29 of 31 shots, while Patrik Bartosak stopped 18 of 21 at the other end. Rostislav Olesz got Vitkovice on the board early in the second period and then assisted on Karol Sloboda's goal with 1:37 remaining to bring Vitkovice within one, but a buzzer-beating empty-netter from Toni Kahkonen finished them off.
"It’s big victory for us," Karpat coach Kai Suikkanen said afterward. "Karpat had a lot of changes before this season. A lot of players left, we have many new players. We only played two games before the CHL started. I was wondering what would happen. I’ve seen their results against Linkoping and Slovan Bratislava – Vitkovice are very good team. We are very happy about those three points. The first period was good – all lines were working together. In the second period we were a bit passive, we didn’t work so much. But then we scored a couple goals. We knew that they would try to tie it in the last period, but we managed to keep our victory."
"We allowed them to score three goals from the area in front of our net," Vitkovice head coach Jakub Petr admitted. "Our opponents showed a high level of skill but we checked them poorly and we simply can’t afford such mistakes. We can be satisfied with the first half of the second period and maybe with the third one, when we were fearless and we created a few chances, but Karpat proved to be the better team and took a deserved win. A crucial moment was the two quick goals in the second period. The Finnish players are known to be strong physically and that’s what decided it, because we had enough players there. There was a forward scoring on a rebound in between two other players and then another goal right after a face-off. These are individual mistakes. I’m glad we didn’t give up and played good hockey in the last period, we even scored a goal but we didn’t have enough time to tie it."
Krefeld Pinguine (a) Thu, Aug 18 2-0
The Krefeld Pinguine and Karpat Oulu played an even-paced, tight-checking game with visiting Karpat holding a very slight 26-25 edge in shots. They got one goal from Tuomas Vartiainen in the last minute of the first period and a second from Mikael Ruohomaa halfway through the middle frame on a one-timer from the slot and that's all they needed.
"We skated well today,"said Ruohomaa. "If we want to win we need to skate, and that’s what we did today. The rink in Krefeld is smaller (than the one at Ostrava) and their guys are pretty big, so there was less room in the offensive zone. The Penguins did not play as well as us 5-on-5. If their five guys play together they are a really strong team.”
Other than those two blasts, Danish goalie Patrik Galbraith stopped the other 24 shots. However, at the other end, Sami Aittokallio stopped all 25 shots he faced to record his sixth CHL shutout – including the five he recorded in 2015-16. That means that Karpat took the maximum six points from their away games at Vitkovice and Krefeld, and now face the same two teams in northern Finland.
Krefeld forward Mark Mancari said: “I don’t think we had a really good first period. As the game went on we had a number of good chances. If we had capitalized on some of them it would have been a different game. The difference was that they scored when they got their chances and we didn’t.”
Krefeld coach Franz Fritzmeier added: "It was a very good game by both teams. We started strong and had very good chances by Marcel Mueller and during the 5-on-4 and 5-on-3 situations that you just have to take advantage of in a game against one of the best European teams. Our defensive play was good, but Karpat did exploit two of their chances whereas we didn’t, which is unfortunate.”
Vitkovice Steel (a) Fri, Aug 26 1-0 OT
Karpat and Vitkovice played out a scoreless tie across 60 minutes, giving both sides a point each and meaning that the Oulu-side made it through to the next round. With overtime in session, it was Karpat who would eventually win the game as Mikko Niemela scored the only goal of the game with 2:03 remaining in sudden-death overtime.
"The game was quite difficult compared to the other games we played in Europe where we were better," the game's lone goal-scorer said afterward. "We weren't quite on the same page today. We had bad excecution in every department but we have to be satisfied about the win – it's always a good thing in this tournament."
The OT win is a good thing in this tournament for Karpat, as it comfortably in the next round, while putting Vitkovice level on points with Krefeld as the two sides battle for the other remaining spot in the Round of 32.
"It was a very tight game. We played very well defensively, but our attacking play was bad. Both goalies played well, but last year we played a lot better with the puck and tonight we didn't manage it well," said Karpat head coach Kai Suikkanen after the game.
Pavel Trnica, coach of Vitkovice, added, "We didn't play a very good game. We took some stupid penalties, and didn't score any goals. We're playing one of the best teams in Europe and we did ok but couldn't score any goals. We tried to put a lot of pucks on the net, but didn't managed to get any in."
Krefeld Pinguine (a) Sat, Sep 10 5-3
Krefeld Pinguine needed to beat Karpat to advance to the next round as the teams met in Oulu, with Vitkovice Ostrava waiting on the result of the game to see if they would advance instead. For a while, it looked like Die Pinguine might do it, but a bad start to the third period finished them off. Krefeld got the best possible start in Northern Finland, going ahead through Marco Rosa with just 2:26 played. However their lead lasted just under 10 minutes until Mikael Ruohomaa tied the game at 12:10. That's how the score stayed heading into the second period, despite the visitors being heavily outshot in the opening period.
With just over five minutes played in the middle session, Niklas Olausson turned the game on its head by putting Karpat ahead; however Krefeld rallied and duly tied the game 84 seconds later when Lukas Koziol batted in a bouncing puck off the face-off to make it two each – a scoreline which held going into the last 20 minutes. The start of the third period was a nightmare for the visitors, who were only a goal away from qualification with 20 minutes left to play. Goals from Jani Hakanpaa (41:00), Saku Maenalanen (42:21), and John Albert (44:37) put Krefeld three goals down with less than five minutes played. To their credit, Krefeld responded after coach Franz Fritzmeier called a time-out – Herberts Vasiljevs with the goal to bring the visitors back to within two at 45:47. As the clocked ticked down, Krefeld pulled their netminder with well over three minutes to play, as they needed as many goals – however, a late minor on Vasiljevs put them a skater down, and the time wound down to see Karpat secure the 5-3 win – Krefeld eliminated, and Vitkovice going through.
"We knew the Penguine were coming here to fight for all the points and to get into the playoffs," Karpat coach Kai Suikkanen began. "It was a very hard game for us. They're a big team with strong guys and good in one-on-one situations. I think they played very well. We had a good start to the third period with those goals. The second period was really bad for us. I'm very happy about this victory and winning this group. John Albert had a big game for us today. He has been out for five weeks and played a really good game. We're going to have a great player in him."
Fritzmeier responded, "It was a pretty good game and I'm proud of my team because we played against one of the best teams in Europe. If you score three goals in Oulu, you have to win. Five goals against us was too much. At the end of the day, Karpat were a little bit better team. You saw it when they scored three goals in the last period. But this was the perfect match for us to bring our confidence up for the season. It was fun to play here in Oulu. Congratulations to Karpat."