Teams Double Up On Game Action During Day Two Of Champions League
After the pleasantries and celebrations of day one at Champions League, teams really got down to business Wednesday, with 10 games in total on the schedule. Each team played two games, getting us past the halfway point of pool play with three of the five contests in the books.
Competition picked up, as the first five games of the day — and seven in total — were decided by two goals or less. Finland-based Kiekko Blues found itself in a tight matchup with Little Caesars to start the day. Waylon Rivet, Donovan Durbin, Camden Langfeld and Stephen King put Caesars out in front early, 4-1 after the first half of play. A pair of goals from Kalle Kuntanen and Emil Holopainen narrowed the deficit to just one goal in the final moments of regulation. Skating 6-on-5, L.C. was able to weather the storm brought on by the extra attacker and an empty-net goal from Durbin would secure a 5-3 win for the Americans.
Caesars would win again later in the afternoon; they are the only team undefeated in regulation and currently rank first in the standings.
Onni Kovalainen completed a hat trick in Kiekko Espoo’s morning game against Seacoast Performance Academy. His third goal of the game came with just 1:43 left to go in regulation and it tied the contest at 6-6. Riko Salutskij was the only one to successfully find the net in the tie-breaking shootout, winning Kiekko’s first game of the tournament.
There was a fantastic moment between combatants in the early-morning games. Less than 24 hours after Yale and Kiekko Espoo battled to a 3-2 final on Tuesday, players from the Jr. Bulldogs sat idle and watched their Finnish foes compete against Seacoast. After that thrilling ending, who would be standing there to congratulate the Finns but the boys from New Haven, Connecticut?
After falling to the Los Angeles Jr. Kings on Tuesday, Slovakia’s Dukla Trencin won a pair of games to climb into third place in the standings. Timothy Kazda, Juraj Jonas Ďurčo and Samuel Pisarčík scored three consecutive goals less than four minutes apart in a game against Järved IF that gave the Slovaks a 5-3 win in the morning. A six-point performance from Kazda in the evening would add another win, 6-1 over Kiekko Espoo. With five goals and eight points, the 5-foot-5 Kazda leads all scorers after three games.
In another game decided by shootout, Kazakhstan’s Barys was able to pull off a comeback victory over Yale Jr. Bulldogs. Alan Kenzhegali and Bexultan Makysh scored a pair of goals in the second half to tie the game, ultimately leading to a 5-4 victory in favor of Barys.
The top two 2008-born American teams faced off for the third time this season, and it proved to be the lowest-scoring contest of the tournament thus far. Windy City Storm carried a slight 1-0-1 edge in the series with Los Angeles Jr. Kings, and the most recent meeting felt more like a chess match than a hockey game. The two teams snuffed out each other’s offenses, and Windy City got a 41-save performance from Peter Chlebowski.
Seacoast split decisions in its pair of games on Wednesday. Right-handed forward Benjamin Clary had a monster day for the Spartans with a goal and an assist in the morning’s contest and a three-point game in the evening’s win against Kiekko Blues. Clary is one of eight players in the field to have recorded at least one point in all three games of the tournament thus far.
Järved IF looked to get into the win column for the first time Wednesday night. After losses to Seacoast and Dukla Trencin, the Swedes were determined in their second matchup of the day against the Jr. Kings. One of the top 2008-born prospects in Sweden, Artur Yanchalouski put together a three-point performance with two goals in the first half and an assist in the second half to give Järved a chance against L.A., 4-3 late in the contest. Starving for a victory, the Swedes swarmed in the offensive zone, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the net but Jr. Kings net minder Morgan Stickney was up to the task. Stickney turned away 18 shots in her first start of the tournament to give L.A. an undefeated record on the week.
Action has only just begun at Champions League, with teams slated to play one game each of the next two days and playoffs set to begin Friday evening. Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continued coverage of the tournament, exclusive interviews, highlights, photos and more!
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