From 48 to eight, the Champions Hockey league is getting closer to the final with only eight teams left in the tournament after the second knockout round finished today.
Three countries are represented in the Quarter-finals that begin on December 1st, Finland have four of their eight CHL representatives left in the tournament.
KalPa were the first to exit in the group stages while JYP Jyvaskyla and HIFK were knocked out in the next round, and Tappara Tampere were brushed aside 6 – 2 in total in the round of 16 by the reigning champions Lulea Hockey.
Staying in the tournament are last year’s third place finishers Karpat Oulun who are joined by TPS Turku, Espoo Blues and Lukko Rauma.
Lulea are one of three Swedish sides left in the tournament, the side from Northern Sweden are joined by last year’s runners up Frolunda Gothenburg and Skelleftea who finished fourth last year.
The one remaining team are the most storied franchise in the Swiss league, HC Davos who defeated Bili Tygri Liberec in a high scoring series that ended with Davos taking a 9 – 6 aggregate win that saw Swiss forward Dino Wieser register four points including three goals over the two games. The good news for Davos is that the top prospect ahead of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Auston Matthews is expected back from Injury around the time the next round stars.
Karpat Oulun played out the closest matchup against Czech side Sparta Prague. Despite heavily outshooting Prague in the first leg, they fell to a 4 – 2 score line, but in game two they bounced back to a 4 – 1 victory in a game that saw Carolina Hurricanes second round pick in 2015 Sebastian Aho get on the scoresheet.
Frolunda Gothenburg came back in convincing fashion from their 2 – 1 loss to Czech side HC Litvinov. In game 2 the team that finished second last year came back with a huge 6 – 0 demolition job to secure their spot in the quarter-finals with Canadian Spencer Abbot netting two goals and adding an assist for a three-point night.
The Espoo Blues put themselves in the driving seat after game one against Swedish side HV71, after taking themselves into the second leg with a 3 – 1 they played to a 1 – 1 draw to secure their spot in the final 8.
TPS Turku missed out on the final eight last year but they secured their spot this year, playing out a close series against the tournaments surprise package from Norway, Storhamar Ishockey. The Norwegians had surprised many by topping Group M and even went on to defeat Red Bull Salzburg in the first knockout round, but TPS were too much for them as the Finns took a 6 – 4 overall victory to secure their place in the next round.
The last of the Finns, Lukko Rauma face a re-match against TPS Turku in the next round (Lukko knocked TPS out last year) and this year the side from South-West Finland took two consecutive 2 – 1 wins over Djurgardens on route to extending their stay in this years CHL.
Skelleftea of Sweden made it all the way to the Semi-finals last year before they were knocked out and after a convincing win over German side Eisbaren Berlin they’ve kept their hopes of going one better and making the grand final alive after a 7 – 3 win.
The chance at a repeat is still on as a huge game two for Lulea Hockey kept last year’s champions in the competition. After a close 2 – 1 game against Tappara Tampere of the Finnish Liiga, Lulea went on to a 5 – 0 rout in game two to set up their Quarter-finals appearance that see’s all of last year’s final four still in the competition.
Now with the final eight teams decided they’ll all go back to their respective leagues for a few weeks before the Quarter-finals get underway on December 1st with all eight teams still fighting to stay alive in time for the grand final on February 3rd.
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