Angers qualified for the Continental Cup final | Europe and World – Ice Hockey


The last French club involved in European competition, Angers is playing the semi-finals of the Continental Cup in Cardiff this weekend. The first match opposed Friday the winners of the Coupe de France to the host club, which is also the other favorite of the hen. The Devils won 3-1. The Welsh have mastered their subject defensively, unlike the Dukes who conceded the decisive goal on a big error from Matt Prapavessis. This defeat was not insurmountable since the first two of the group qualify for the final, but the Dukes no longer had the right to make mistakes.

It started yesterday (Saturday) against Zemgale Jelgava. The Latvian champions were able to draw from their maousse workforce (45 players) intended to play two championships in parallel, their national competition and the Finnish Mestis where they were invited. It was not a cakewalk, with physical and tense opposition until Zach Torquato’s providential opener shortly before halfway. It concretized the domination of the Dukes who were then able to manage the situation in front of a solid Evan Cowley in the cages (2-0).

The second qualifying place is therefore decided this Sunday in this last match against Jesenice, who have 2 points after a victory in extra time against Jelgava (3-2) and a defeat against Cardiff (0-3). Angers are favorites but Ligue Magnus clubs have an unfavorable track record against their Alps Hockey League counterparts. Both in 2017/18 (Grenoble at Renon) and last season (Amiens against Asiago), the French representatives largely dominated on shots but lost and were eliminated.

The most important thing is therefore not to doubt for too long against Finnish goalkeeper Antti Karjalainen, who has more than 95% saves in the league. He still wears an orange mask with the logo of HPK, the Liiga club whose colors he wore… more than two and a half years ago! Karjalainen heats up quickly with the first stops, but after three minutes, Eric Pance hangs on Kévin Dusseau. In numerical advantage, the Angevins flaunt their technical superiority even more clearly. They end up scoring that very important first goal: Matt Prapavessis enters the offensive zone and shifts to the right side Zach Torquato (pictured below) whose center is deflected in front of the goal by the last reinforcement Brendan Harms (1-0).

2023 angers torquato 13

When Torquato in turn goes to jail after seven minutes for hanging Martin Bohinc in the slot, the Angevins are under pressure for the first time during the numerical inferiority. But just after the end of prison, a superb pass from Kévin Dusseau sends Tommy Giroux on the breakaway. The Canadian destabilizes the goalkeeper with his right-left feint… but the Finnish defender Niki Blomberg comes back to save the puck just before his goal line! Halley’s rebound comes straight to Karjalainen who is happy to grab that puck as he lies face down without a stick! But the same players take their revenge on their next presence: Tommy Giroux again feigns the goalkeeper out in front of his cage and then takes care of his shot in the corner (2-0). We even pass close to the third goal: Nicolas Ritz, returned to his usual position of center after having overcome the injuries in defense before the international break, touches the crossbar in a very closed angle. The match is one-sided as the statistics on shots prove: 22 to 2!

Philippe Halley seems determined to afford a goal for the « highlights » in the second period: feint between his legs at the top of the enclave, followed by a backhand halfway in the top corner! The game could therefore be folded, but on a puck that bounces in the back of the zone, the Slovenian fourth line signs a perfect triangle game: Jasa Jenko passes from behind the cage for Ožbej Rep to the blue who shifts Patrik Rajsar in the right circle (3-1). It was only Jesenice’s fourth shot in this game! Angers therefore did not increase their lead in this second period and even seemed to restore their opponents’ confidence by stepping back a little too much to adopt a defensive management tactic.

The Slovenians seem to bury themselves on their own in the third period with unnecessary penalties, including an excess. But Angers does not take advantage of three power plays and does not take shelter. We must not fall into excess of facility. With less than seven minutes, Tommy Giroux lost an unforgivable puck in the center of the ice in front of David Planko, who then sent his captain Gašper Glavič and Eric Pance 2 against 1: the post saved Cowley and Angers from an unfortunate consequence. Despite another opportunity for Pance three minutes later, the Dukes keep their two-goal lead which prevents them from shaking too much. After a last hot chance on the Angevin goal, Cédric Di Dio Balsamo even aims for the empty cage from his defensive zone (4-1).

The Dukes can pose proudly in front of their forty supporters who made the trip. They fulfilled their duty in this Continental Cup by beating, as in the previous round, the teams of a lower level. This was not always the case for French clubs and it is therefore to the credit of Angers. During the grand final in mid-January, there will only be high-level opposition. The kind of meeting that makes you salivate, while waiting to find out who will be designated the organizing club…

Designated players of the match: Cédric Di Dio Balsamo for Angers and David Planko for Jesenice.

2023 angers di dio balsamo 9

Angers – Jesenice 4-1 (2-0, 1-1, 1-0)
Sunday November 20, 2022 at 3.30 p.m. at the Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff. 2915 spectators.
Referees: Stefan Hogarth (GBR) and Krzysztof Kozlowski (POL) assisted by Ryan Fraley and Robert Pullar (GBR).
Penalties: Angers 2′ (2′, 0′, 0′); Jesenice 12′ (4′, 2′, 6′).
Shots: Angers 48 (22, 14, 12); Jesenice 16 (2, 3, 11).

Score evolution:
1-0 at 04’26: Harms assisted by Torquato (digital over)
2-0 at 09:40: Giroux assisted by Charbonneau
3-0 at 22:50: Halley assisted by Ross and Di Dio Balsamo
3-1 at 26’15: Rajsar assisted by Rep and Jenko
4-1 at 59’09: Di Dio Balsamo (empty goal)

Angers

Forwards:
Tommy Giroux (+1) – Philippe Halley (+2) – Jonathan Charbonneau (+1)
Maurin Bouvet – Zack Torquato (2′) – Brendan Harms
Cédric Di Dio Balsamo (+1) – Nicolas Ritz (A) – Robin Gaborit (C, +1)
[Giroux ou Di Dio Balsamo] – Marius Serer – Teo Sarlieve

Defenders:
Kevin Dusseau (+1) – Matt Prapavessis
Neil Manning (+1) – Antonin Manavian (+1)
Nick Ross (+1) – Vincent Llorca (A)

Guardian :
Evan Cowley

Replacements: Julian Barrier (L), Kylian Fauvel (R). Out: Cameron Brown (A, injured).

HDD Acroni Jesenice (2′ for excess)

Forwards:
Erik Svetina – Rudolfs Polcs (-1, 2′) – Eric Pance (A, 2′)
Luka Ulamec – Gašper Seršen – Žan Jezovšek (-1, 2′)
Gašper Glavič (C, -1) – Tjaš Lesničar (-2, 2′) – Andrei Galushkin
Jaša Jenko (2′) – Patrik Rajsar (-1) – Martin Bohinc (-1)
Lovro Kumanovic

Defenders:
Ziga Urukalo (-2) – Anze Prostor (-2)
Niki Blomberg (+2) – Ožbej Rep (+2)
David Planko (A, -1) – Rozle Bohinc

Guardian :
Antti Karjalainen [sorti de 58’17 à 58’36 et de 58’40 à 59’09]

Substitute: Urban Avsenik (G). Absent: Miha Logar, Luka Ščap (D), Niki Huovinen (A).

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