Fighting Finns Edge Final Thriller – Saturday’s Friendlies Round-up
Three of the League’s teams were in action in Europe on Saturday in two preseason friendly games.
Severstal of Cherepovets featured in a spectacular final to the Go Saimaa tournament in Finland against SaiPa of Lappeenranta. The fans in the lakeside city of Imatra were treated to 12 goals in a game with enough twists and turns to make a seasoned sailor feel seasick. A relatively quiet first period ended with the Steel City men enjoying a 2-0 lead, but the Finns hit back in ferocious fashion in the middle stanza to take a 5-3 advantage into the final third. Vaclav Sykora’s men showed commendable fighting spirit to claw their way back to parity by the 46th minute, but then allowed two late goals to give SaiPa a stunning 7-5 victory. Evgeny Mons, Eduard Gimatov, Pavel Dedunov, Pavel Buchnevich and Denis Dyuryagin were the men on target for Severstal.
Meanwhile, in Bratislava, Milos Riha’s Slovan hosted Gordie Dwyer’s Medvescak, and it was the Croatians, buoyant from Friday’s 7-2 triumph over another Slovakian club, Banska Bystrica, who celebrated a second straight victory. Czech forward Tomas Mertl opened the scoring for the Zagreb boys and then set up his compatriot, Radek Smolenak, to score the second. A goal four minutes from the end from Canadian defenseman Cam Barker sparked the home fans’ hopes of a turnaround, but with just over a minute remaining Smolenak struck again to clinch an impressive 3-1 win for the visitors.