ZAGREB – Medvescak had a golden opportunity to solidify their position in the top six when Znojmo came to town, but cursed by penalties, the Bears fell to the Eagles 4:3. The Czechs took advantage of their opportunities, while displaying solid defense against the home team.
What would have helped Zagreb was Graz dropping a blowout loss to Salzburg, but in this stage of the season, a team can’t and shouldn’t rely on others. Medvescak had their faith in their own hands, but instead they, as coach Doug Bradley said after the game, shot themselves in the foot.
They took a minimal 1:0 lead into the first intermission, but early in the second period, Tom Zanoski was given a minor penalty for hooking. Seven seconds into the man advantage, Erik Nemec leveled the game up for Znojmo, and so the guests’ domination began. Some five minutes later, Patrik Novak brought Znojmo up by one.
Midway through the second frame, David Brine got a double minor penalty for a knee-on-knee hit, and a little over a minute into the powerplay, Adam Raska scored the game winner for Znojmo.
The sense of urgency for Zagreb was rising, but the men in blue could not find ways to the net, let alone to hit the back of the net. After a poor second period where they allowed 18 shots on goal, the hosts came out firing in the third, outshooting Znojmo 13:4, but the goals came too late.
Sondre Olden scored to make it 4:2, and shortly after the Bears found themselves on a 5-on-3 powerplay, but no genuinely threatening chances were created. Tomas Netik managed to find the back of the net 13 seconds before the final buzzer on the powerplay, however that was all she wrote.
Zagreb faced Znojmo after losing a tight battle in Vienna on Friday night where a similar story was doing the rounds – Medvescak had their chances, but the puck just wouldn’t go in.
The Bears are still sitting in sixth place, to their fortune, as mentioned above, Graz lost to Salzburg, but Dornbirn managed to sneak away with two points after an OT win against Alba Volan. Graz, Dornbirn and Bolzano are breathing down Zagreb’s neck, they’re all within three points, so the next, and final three games for Zagreb are must wins – at home against Vienna and on the road against Fehervar and Znojmo.
Should Doug Bradley’s troops want to win these games, they’ll have to cut down on penalties and work on chance conversion. Otherwise, it will be a rough month of February for the people of Zagreb..