HCD and Ambri battles for top spot in group stage
Article - HCD and Ambri battles for top spot in group stage
The two group winners will be determined on today’s third Spengler Cup game day. In the afternoon game at 3.10pm, HC Ambri-Piotta will take on IFK Helsinki. At 8.15 in the evening, HC Davos must win against Sparta Prague to win the group.
HCD and Sparta Prague both defeated Team Canada in their first tournament appearances. Davos won 2-1, the Czechs 3-2. Thus, there will be a “final” game for top spot in the group on Wednesday evening. The calculations are simple - the team that wins takes first place, the loser is second. The winner gets rewarded with the direct semi-final berth and a day off on Thursday. HCD athletic director Jan Alston expects “a great game. Sparta Prague has a good mix of young players and veterans. The team has many valuable qualities. It is dangerous in the offensive zone but still sports a strong defense. We have to eat well and recover.”
Sparta Prague upset defending champion Team Canada 3-2 on opening day. The Czechs appeared confident and strong. In the final period, Sparta was able to withstand the Canadians’ intense rally in large part thanks to its outstanding goalkeeper Josef Korenar. Nonetheless, it is quite possible that Jakub Kovar will be in net for the Czechs against Davos. He left an exceptional impression in Switzerland last season as the keeper for the ZSC Lions.
HC Ambri-Piotta showed a convincing performance in their opening game with a 5-2 win over Orebro. “We knew that the Swedes would play a patient game, but found a way to push back”, says Ambri’s head coach Luca Cereda. The victory came through primarily quick and precise counterattacks with an outstanding Alex Formenton, whom the Ticinesi had only acquired on December 14. Cereda expects a similar game against IFK Helsinki today as against Orebro. “As a rule, the Finns, too, play patiently, and, in addition, they are very offense-oriented”, the Ambri coach characterizes today’s opponent. “We will need another strong, disciplined performance to win again.” Cereda has made no secret that he will unconditionally push for the win, and thus first place in the group. “Because then we would have a day off on Thursday, which would be a big advantage considering the tournament schedule and wear on the strength.”
The Ticinesi are in a comfortable position. Thanks to their 5-2 win over Orebro and the Swedes’ win against IFK Helsinki with the same score, HC Ambri-Piotta can even afford a loss with a two-goal differential against IFK Helsinki this afternoon and still advance as the group’s winner.