International Ice Hockey Federation

Kurbads makes it again

Kurbads makes it again

Latvian champion advances in Continental Cup

Published 22.10.2018 15:58 GMT+5 | Author Martin Merk
Kurbads makes it again
The Kurbads Riga players listen to the Latvian national anthem after edging Ukrainian champion HC Donbass 2-1 in the deciding game to win Group C of the Continental Cup. Photo: Romans Koksarovs
Kurbads Riga won the Latvian championship for the second year in a row and shines again in the second round of the Continental Cup.

With three win Kurbads Riga advances to the third round like last year but this time the game against second-ranked HC Donbass wasn’t an easy one.

After two days of play the participants were split between two undefeated teams – Kurbads Riga and HC Donbass – and two winless teams, Spanish champion Txuri Urdin San Sebastian and Icelandic qualifier Skautafelag Akureyrar.

The hosts took the lead in the standings from Day 1 on and never gave it away. On the first day they beat Icelandic Continental Cup newcomer Skautafelag Akureyrar 9-2 with four goals from Edgars Homjakovs. The Latvians were similarly dominant on the second day with an 8-1 victory over Txuri Urdin with goals from six different players including Homjakovs and Martins Cipulis with a pair of goals.

The scorelines of Ukrainian champion HC Donbass were not as high but they got the full six points from two games as well. Five different players scored in the 6-2 win over Txuri Urdin to open the tournament while the game against the team from Akureyri in the north of Iceland caused more difficulties than expected. Adam Beukeboom in the Icelandic net was a wall during the first two periods as the Icelanders were bombarded with 60 shots during the game. Ilya Smirnov gave Donbass an early lead at 1:49 but Jussi Sipponen tied it up 48 seconds later and 46 seconds into the second period Thomas Stuart-Dant even gave the Icelanders the lead. Donbass coach Julius Supler, who returned to the club where he once coached the team in the KHL and to Continental Cup victory in 2013, changed goaltenders and became a bit happier when Andri Denyskin tied it up a few minutes later.

In the third period Ilya Karanchuk gave Donbass the lead at 4:26 but the Icelanders didn’t stop dreaming. At 13:56 Kristjan Arnason tied the game at three. But the dream ended when Beukeboom had to be replaced for the last minutes of play. Donbass seized on the opportunity with two goals within a span of 25 seconds from Sevastian Karpenko and Vitali Kiryushenkov followed by an empty-net goal from Vladislav Goncharov to win 6-3.

On Sunday afternoon Skautafelag Akureyrar won a game for third place against Txuri Urdin 3-2 thanks to goals from Hafthor Sigrunarson, Sipponen and Johann Leifsson to continue a historic season for Iceland in the Continental Cup.

After their goal galore in the first two games, both Kurbads and Donbass entered their final encounter cautiously. The Ukrainians learned form their 8-1 loss against Kurbads at the same venue last season and knew they had to improve this year. But Kurbads was the more disciplined team and had four consecutive power-play opportunities in the first and second periods. Cipulis capitalized on the fourth man advantage and gave Kurbads the lead at 5:43 of the middle frame. Just over four minutes later Lauris Rancevs doubled the gap for a 2-0 second-period lead for the home squad.

Uldis Calpa had a clean slate in the Kurbads net for almost 50 minutes when Dmytro Ignatenko eventually beat him for the 2-1 goal. Donbass outshot Kurbads in the last period but didn’t manage to tie the score. The game ended with a tight win for Kurbads and the Latvians advancing to the next round again.

This year Kurbads Riga hope to do better than with the last-place finish in the third round as they will travel to Lyon, France, to play in Group D. The tournament from 16 to 18 November also includes host Lyon Lions, Kazakh champion Arlan Kokshetau and Belarusian top team HK Gomel.


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