After a break in action, the Champions Hockey League continued this weekend with a whole new level of excitement. With the success of the opening weekend in August, fans were excited to see the action that would take place on the second weekend of hockey. For the Finnish club, Lukko was a hot commodity. The Finnish league team had already defeated their Friday opponents, the Nottingham Panthers, in a 4-2 victory. With the Panthers only suiting up 9 forwards due to injuries, the much weaker club from the EIHL didn’t have much hope when it came to winning the game. The massive difference of skill was apparent from the puck drop, as Lukko took the 6-2 victory after holding control of the game from start to finish.
Nottingham’s game started poorly. With the Panthers having issues keeping up with Lukko’s speed and strength, former Dallas Star Aaron Gagnon wrapped around the net before beating Panthers goalie Craig Kowalski for the 1-0 marker. The Finnish club were looking to strike again shortly after, but Jonne Virtanen’s break away attempt just squeaked over Kowalski’s elbow and over the goal.
Nottingham’s best chance came on a power-play midway through the first. Following a great set up in the offensive zone, Bruce Graham had a wide open cage to pot home the puck. Unfortunately for the British club, Lukko’s goaltender Ryan Zapolski made an incredible glove save while reaching back behind him to keep the puck out and hold on to the lead for the time being.
The Finnish club would extend their lead to two goals after Nottingham failed to tie the game. With six minutes to go, Ville Vahalati picked up the loose puck from in front of the British crease that happened to see nobody defending it. Nottingham didn’t think defense was all too important on that play, and it costed them dearly as their opponents took the 2-0 lead.
Lukko would leave the first period with a four goal cushion. With about two minutes to go, former Manchester Storm forward Janne Niskala beat a screened Kowalski through the five hole. Shortly afterward, Jesper Pitulainen gave his team the fourth and final goal of the period when he beat Nottingham’s goaltender with a soft wrist shot.
The second period looked quite similar to the first period. Lukko, the much stronger team coming into the contest, lived up to their expectations by absolutely controlling the puck in every aspect. Surprisingly, though, it would be Nottingham that would score the first goal in the period. With just a few minutes remaining in the period, Evan Mosey gave Nottingham their first goal of the game after breaking past two slow moving defensemen. for the goal. The goal truly meant nothing, as Lukko’s top scorer Jerry Ahtola scored one of his own less than a minute later thanks to some terrible defensive tactics by the Panthers.
The third period got to the point where Nottingham might as well have just gone home. Henrik Kovisto made it 6-1 Lukko after his brother, Toni, did all the work to blow past the slow Nottingham defense core. Brandon Benedict was able to get Nottingham back on the board with about 2:45 remaining in the game, but it would have had little impact as Lukko’s domination was displayed throughout the 60 minute debacle.
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