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Viennese one step in front again


The UPC Vienna Capitals and Medvescak Zagreb have confirmed their position as top-teams of the Erste Bank Hockey League  during the playoff games of the 31st round.

The Capitals retained their lead with a 3:2 win (1:0, 2:1, 0:1) at home against HC Orli Znojmo.

Zagreb remains very close behind the Viennese with a secure 3:0 win at home to bottom-of-the-league HC TWK Innsbruck. One point separates the two front-runners.

The Capitals had to do without their new acquisition, Justin Keller due to the late arrival of the permission for the Canadian forward to play.

Nevertheless, the Viennese team landed their third league victory after recently playing the semi-final of the European Trophy.

The Capitals had a slow start but Markus Schlacher put the league leaders in front just before the first intermission (20th minute).

After Martin Planek’s equaliser in the 23rd minute, Capitals captain Benoit Gratton directed a shot from Jamie Fraser into the goals with his chin (27th minute).

The Canadian’s spectacular goal cost him a bleeding cut on the chin. Markus Olsson brought the score further up to 3:1 in a strong second period (39th minute). The Capitals took control of the game in the final period. Jan Lattner’s final goal came 57 seconds before the horn – which was too late for Znojmo to equalise. With this defeat, the Czechs lost their third meeting against the Capitals this season.

Capitals head coach Tommy Samuelsson was relieved after the game: "A very, very important win and I am completely delighted because it was a difficult game for us. It wasn’t easy to get motivated after the European Trophy. That’s why the first period wasn’t ideal – for 60 minutes though, we constantly improved and had control of the game in the end.

Gratton’s injury is upsetting of course, especially because it was so unlucky. I’ve never seen such a goal. Ben[oit Gratton] is a player who luckily never complains. The fact that he came back on once again gave the team an extra boost", the Swede said.

Innsbruck lost out in Zagreb. The bottom-of-the-league team saw opportunities, but the offensive was too feeble to take the chances. Adam Miller (18th minute), Brandon Buck (22nd minute) and Gal Koren (42nd minute) scored the goals for the host team – making it the sixth defeat in the series for the Tyrolean.
Continues Friday at VSV in Villach. The Capitals are away at Szekesfehervar, Hungary.
Erste Bank Hockey League
Tuesday
Vienna Capitals – Znojmo 3:2
(1:0, 2:1, 0:1)
Einssportzentrum Kagran, 4010 spectators, Referees Fajdiga/Gebei
Goals: Schlacher (20th minute), Gratton (27th minute), Olsson (39th minute) / Planek (23rd minute), Lattner (60th minute)
Penalty time (in minutes): 4 / 6
Zagreb – Innsbruck 3:0
(1:0, 1:0, 1:0)
Zagreb, 5200 spectators, Referees Fussi/Trilar
Goals: Miller (18th, penalty point), Buck (22nd minute), Koren (42th minute)
Penalty time (in minutes): 11 / 21

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