EV Zug dropped a heart-breaker 3-2 in overtime in the second match of their best-of-seven final with SC Berne on Saturday. The series now moves to the nation’s capital on Tuesday for game three.
Coming into the play-offs, the whole things seemed wide open. Zurich Lions and Davos, two traditional powerhouses, had failed to make the eight and found themselves battling against relegation. Berne had won the regular season, but all of the play-offs candidates fancied their chances.
Then EVZ, second in the regular season, set to work. Dangerous opponents Lugano were worn down in the quarter-finals, with Zug having the edge in all four matches, three of which were decided by just the one goal. Still, a whitewash it was, with the boys in blue going through four games to nil to qualify for the semis. The it was Lausanne’s turn to have the floor wiped with them, although the team from French Switzerland fared better than their Italian-speaking counterparts and at least won one game.
Onto Berne – regular-season table-toppers, biggest stadium, 15-time Swiss champions including in 2016 and 2017. But they came into the final on the back of an exhausting seven-game series against Biel, while Zug had had a week of to refresh themselves. The opening game on Thursday was one-way traffic after an opening period where Zug were shaking off a little rust after their break. Goals from Brian Flynn, Yannick-Lennart Albrecht, Garrett Roe and Dennis Everberg (empty net) illustrated just why EVZ were a force to be reckoned with in this year’s play-offs – they can get scoring from every line and almost every player.
On Saturday, the match was in the Bossard Arena, with that away victory in Berne having stolen home-ice advantage for coach Dan Tangnes’ men. The first period was blood and thunder with Zug doing everything but find the net. The second flowed one way then the other, SCB twice taking the lead, EVZ pegging them back with goals from Roe and then Everberg with a buzzer-beater on the power play.
The visitors then dominated the final period but Zug held firm and took it to sudden-death overtime. SCB had a goal chalked off as it was kicked in, but scored a legitimate winner in the 65th minute.
What could have been a 2-0 series lead is now one all, with up to five games to go and SC Berne now having home advantage again in the best-of-seven encounter, which continues in the PostFinance Arena on Tuesday night. Zug will be hoping that Reto Suri can return from injury after receiving a nasty check to the head in the opener last Thursday, but may well have to do without Dominic Lammer, who exacted some deal of revenge for his team-mate by taking out one of the opposition with a late check on Saturday night.
EVZ lost the second match in their semi-final series before rattling off three straight wins. They will be hoping that history repeats itself in the finals over the coming week…
Photos by KEYSTONE/Alexandra Wey, Zug, 13. April 2019