Six teams will enter the European Trophy 2012 in august as reigning Champions of their national leagues.
Brynäs are Swedish Champions, JYP are Champions in Finland, Eisbären Berlin won their sixth German Championship in the last eight seasons, ZSC Lions are Swiss Champions after a nailbiting finish to the season, HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice won the Czech Championship and in neighbouring Slovakia Slovan Bratislava crowned their season by winning the Slovak Championship.
In Sweden, Brynäs – who finished 4th in the Elitserien – will enter the European Trophy 2012 as Swedish Cmapions after a superb playoff where the team first disposed of two colleagues in the European Trophy 2012 – Frölunda Indians in the quarterfinal (4–2 after winning two games in OT), and Färjestads BK in the semifinal (4–1 after losing the first game at home on penatyshots).
In the final, Brynäs defeated last years losing
finalists Skellefteå (4–2), clain´ming the clubs
13th Championship, the first title since 1999.
It was also a fitting end to a season when the club
celebrate its 100th birthday. ”It was like magic. We
play so well as a team, work so hard for each
other and (Niklas) Svedberg in the net is
incredible. But we have worked hard for this since
last summer and there has never been any doubt
in or minds as to what we are doing” said
team captain Jakob Silfverberg after the final
Silfverberg was, together with Svedberg in goal, the keyplayers in the playoff, scoring 13 goals in the 17 playoffgames and only days and only three days after winning the Swedish Championship he flew over the Atlantic to join the Ottawa Senators in the NHL-playoffs.
In Finland, JYP – who also finished 4th in their domestic league, the SM-Liiga – copied the feats of Brynäs in Sweden as the team from Jyväskylä went all the way in the playoff to claim their second Finnish Championship, the first coming four years ago.
JYP was impressive in the playoffs losing only twice in 14 games on their way to the title. First the team knocked out Ässät 4–0 in the quarterfinal, then fellow ET-team Jokerit 4–1 in the semifinal.
In the final Pelicans was defeated 4–1, but it took an overtimegoal in the fifth game to win the title when Éric Perrin scored the Championshipwinning goal, 6:58 into OT, to add the Finnish Championship to his Stanley Cup-ring from 2004.
”Winning the SM-gold was harder for me than winning the Stanley Cup. Then I obnly cam in at the end of the season, here I have been working with the team since last summer” said Perrin. And he continued. ”Scoring a goal like this is a childhood dream, overtime, the final game of the season, winning the Championship. It was almost surreal.”
But only a fitting finale to a seasong where Perrin recorded 59 points in 58 games during the regular season and adding another 14 points in 14 playoffgames to that number.
In Finland, the losing semifinalists also play off for third place in one game and in that game, Jokerit defeated Blues, 4–3 after 1:13 in the second period of overtime.
In Germany, Eisbären Berlin, Champions in the European Trophy two years ago and winners of the DEL this season, staged a remarkable turnaround in the final being 2–1 down to fellow ET-team Adler Mannheim in the final and going 5–2 down away from home in the fourth game with under 15 minutes to go of the third period.
But Berlin showed real character to get
back on equal terms before the final
whistle and then going on to win the
game in OT taking the series home to
Berlin and to a fifth game.
Mannheim went 1–0 up in that game as
well, but once again the Eisbären came
back, equalized in the second period and went on to claim the title – the teams sixth Championship in the last eight seasons – winning the game 3–1 and the series 3 games to 2.
”I am incredibly proud of this steam, the way the young players have made up for the loss of experienced players this season. All respect to them” says teamcaptain Stefan Ustorf, the injured veteran who had to watch the playoff from the stands.
In Switzerland, the final was also played between two team who will both play in the European Trophy this year. After a leaguecampaign where neither ZSC Lions, nor SC Bern finished in the top-four, both teams hit topform in the playoffs where ZSC Lions didn’t lose a game on their way to the Championshipfinal and SC Bern won both the quarterfinal and the semifinal 4–1.
The final was also a real battle with Bern going 3–1 up in games after winning game four (2–0) in Zürich. But the ZSC came back and won the fifth game, Mathis Seger scoring the winner in OT to take the series back home where the took the final into seven games with a convincing 6–3-win.
That game looked as if it was going into OT as well with neither side being able to break the deadlock after scoring one goal each in the three minutes surrounding the first interval.
Then, with only two seconds (!) left of the game, ZSC Lions Canadian defender Steve McCarthy scored his first goal of the playoffs to silence the major part of the 17 131 spectators in the PostFinance Arena in Bern and send the Championship to Zürich for the first time since 2008. For coach, Bob Hartley, he could add a Swiss Championship to the Stanley Cup-win he recorded in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche and the Calder Cup-win with the Hershey Bears in 1997. ”The players have been unbelievable all season and to beat Davos, to beat Zug and now Bern… wow, what a feeling” said Hartley.
In the Czech Republic HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice won the Championship for the second time in three season and in doing so prevented their fellow ET-team Kometa Brno from winning their first title since 1966. Brno, who finished 8th in the Extraliga, hade taken the long road to the final, defeating both the winners (Sparta Prague) and runners-up (HC Plzen) in the play-offs. They were close to making it wins against all three top teams in the league, but lost both the first and fourth games in the final series in penalty shoot-outs after winning game two and three.
The loss on penalties in game four was the big blow. After that HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice proved too string winning 6–4 at home and claiming the title with and impressive 5–1-win away from home in game six.
In Slovakia the Championshiprun of three straight
wins for HC Kosice was broken by archrivals and host
of this years Red Bull Salute, Slovan Bratislava. The
team from the Slovak capital won their eighth Championship since the league was started in 1994. Slovan was 3–2 down in games but won game six at home (6–3) and then went to Kosice to claim the
title in an intense and exciting game where Kosice
took the lead on a powerplay.
But Slovan equalized through Libor Hudacek and then went on to win in overtime, the winning goal scored seven minutes into OT, once again by Hudacek.Per Csongrádi