With a 4-3 victory over HK Mountfield on Wednesday afternoon HC Lugano secured top spot in Group Torriani and, thus, a direct semifinal berth at the 90th Spengler Cup
The matchup between the Ticinesi and the Czech club from the town of Hradec Kralove was decided halfway through regulation time. Within 88 seconds Luca Fazzini with an accurate wrist shot and reinforcement Ryan Vesce extended Lugano’s lead to 4-1. Up that point the game had been even. Gregory Hoffmann had put the Ticinesi ahead on a long-range shot redirect on the man advantage, and, after Jiri Simanek's equalizer, gave the Swiss the lead again with a fine solo for his second marker. Mountfield had the upper hand in the opening period outshooting their opponents 16-7. And, shortly before the third goal against them, Radislav Dej missed the 2-2 equalizer, when he failed to beat Lugano keeper Daniel Manzato on a short-handed breakaway.
After the 4-1 goal Ondrej Katecl took over for Patrik Ryber, who was not at fault for any of the goals, in net for Mountfield. The number 2 goaltender shut the door, while Andris Dzernis short-handed and Blaz Gregorc brought their team within one goal to make for a highly exciting end to the game. But the final eight minutes and, in the end, an extra skater were not enough for the Czechs to even the score.
Lugano – Mountfield Kralove 4:3 (2:1, 2:0, 0:2)
Attendance: 6300 – REF Wehrli/Wiegand, Borga/Obwegeser.
Scoring: 12. (11:18) Hofmann (Wilson/Penalty Knotek) 1:0. 12. (11:53) Simanek (Cerveny) 1:1. 19. Hofmann 2:1. 30. (29:23) Fazzini (Lapierre) 3:1. 31. (30:51) Vesce (Klasen/delayed penalty) 4:1. 44. Dzerins (Penalty Picard!) 4:2. 52. Gregorc 4:3.
Penalties: 7 minors against Lugano, 6 minors against Mountfield Kralove.
Lugano: Manzato (52. Merzlikins); Wisniewski, Wilson; Chiesa, Furrer; Ulmer, Heinrich; Hirschi, Sartori; Bürgler, Zackrisson, Hofmann; Walker, Lapierre, Sannitz; Vesce, Martensson, Klasen; Bertaggia, Gardner, Fazzini.
Mountfield Kralove: Rybar (31. Kacetl); Planek, Vydareny; Dietz, Gregorc; Stajnoch, Newton; Pavlas, Ehrhardt; Cerveny, Dzerins, Simanek; Bednar, Kukumberg, Dej; Jarusek, Picard, Dragoun; Kohler, Knotek, Lhotak.
Notes: Lugano without Brunner, Kparghai, Vauclair, Morini, Fontana (injured), Ronchetti, Reuille, Riva, Romanenghi (healthy scratches), Mountfield Kralove without Monnet (healthy scratch). 52. Merzlikins injured. 60. (59:03) Timeout Mountfield Kralove, then empty netted.