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Sunday, April 2, 2023

The Black Wings stayed on the goal line

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Captain Brian Lebler (left) had his chances in Bolzano. Photo: BWL/Reinhard Eisenbauer
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The Palaonda in Via Luigi Galvani 34 in Bozen remains an impregnable fortress for the time being. The Steinbach Black Wings have been waiting there for 1192 days for a sense of achievement, since the 4:3 victory on December 1, 2019 (with direct goals from Brian Lebler and Andreas Kristler) there have been eight ice hockey defeats in a row. In the evening, the “Foxes” from South Tyrol had the upper hand in the first of a maximum of seven play-off quarter-final duels with 2:0 (1:0, 1:0, 0:0). That wasn’t entirely unfortunate.

“On paper, Bolzano is a master candidate, they have 16 players who were born and trained in North America,” Linz chief scout Rick Nasheim reported to OÖN’s “Mister Liveticker”, Markus Prinz. In comparison, the EHC had only seven Legionnaires in their squad this time around, with Daine Todd and Matt Murphy missing.

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So much quality pays off – with a home advantage at that, even though the 7000-seat “Eiswelle” was far from sold out. 2940 fans had gathered, in the notorious Curva Sud with the “Figli di Bolzano” the post went off. Not least because former captains were brought in front of the curtain on the occasion of the club’s 90th birthday.

“This is a very mature opponent”

Of course, the HCB never dreamed of rolling out the red carpet for the Upper Austrians on the ice. The Italian series champion seemed fresh and, after a short warm-up period, anything but rusty despite the nine-day break. Bolzano pressed in the first third and was rewarded after exactly 13:50 minutes with the majority (Martin Schumnig warmed the penalty box), Mike Halmo scored after a fine body deception against Ramon Schnetzer to make it 1-0.

“These are very mature and seasoned opponents with a lot of experience,” said Linz coach Philipp Lukas. No wonder the South Tyroleans have the best home team in the league, with 22 wins in 25 matches. But yesterday the match was on the cutting edge.

The Black Wings, who after a night at the “Four Points by Sheraton” had walked the 750-meter short distance to the hall, increased their number of shots in the second period, in which they had a clear lead in the shots at 17:8 . But Fortuna was not kind to the EHC, who found chances through Captain Lebler (22nd, 23rd, 36th), Julian Pusnik (28th), Logan Roe (36th) and Michael Haga (40th).

A matter of millimeters

In the 39th minute it was 2:0 – instead of 1:1. Hults scored again, the 28-year-old US forward now has 22 goals this season. But that was not undisputed. Seconds earlier, Emilio Romig’s puck had only crossed two-thirds of the opponent’s goal line and not its full diameter. The referees’ subsequent study of the video confirmed this, the disc was pecked a bit too early, so to speak. Millimetres, that’s extremely bitter.

“Linz is playing really well,” admitted HCB spokesman Luca Tommasini. This series promises high tension, the Black Wings don’t need to hang their heads before the second showdown on Friday (7:15 p.m.) at the Untere Donaulände. “Shake off and fight” is the motto.

Source: Nachrichten

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