Source: China State Council Information Office
HKM Zvolen became the first team to advance to the Slovak ice-hockey premiership Tipos Extraliga finals after defeating HC Slovan Bratislava 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday, winning the semifinal series 4-1.
Zvolen had several solid scoring opportunities in the first period but failed to convert even on a 5-on-3 powerplay and forward Radovan Bondra was denied by the goalpost later on.
A similar bulk of opportunities waited for Zvolen in the second period, but again a 5-on-3 powerplay remained unexploited, among others. The punishment for neglecting opportunities came towards the end of the period when Rastislav Gaspar scored on a powerplay from inside one of the circles. Bratislava’s improved mood didn’t last long as a minute later Zvolen defenseman Jakub Melisko evened up the score with his first playoff goal, sending a projectile from the blue line, making it 1-1.
Zvolen tried to capitalize on its momentum in the final period but Slovan’s Latvian-born goalie Kristers Gudlevskis defused all of the home team’s chances (eventually finishing the night with 40 saves), pushing the game into OT as a result.
Slovan could have put the game away on a powerplay early in overtime but didn’t find a recipe for overcoming Zvolen’s excellent Swedish-born goalie Robin Rahm. Eight minutes into overtime, the home team’s Finnish forward Mikko Nuutinen punished Bratislava’s inefficiency by scoring the game winner when he was given too much space in front of the goal, sending the winner of the regular season to the finals.