Stavanger Oilers have tenaciously won the Plate of the Continental Cup Winners. The finals of this IIHF tournament were hosted on 10-12 January 2014 by the French city of Rouen and its local team Rouen Dragons, who finished at the last line of the table. The other two cup participants were Donbass from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk and Asiago Hockey from Asiago in Italy.
The tournament has proven to be a great success full of unexpected results, fierce competition and spectacular games. The unexpected hockey performance began on the first day of the tournament and the intrigue lasted until the final seconds of the final game.
Rouen Dragons defeat Donbass Donetsk for the benefit of Stavanger Oilers
Although only one team (Donbass) of the last game of this round-robin tournament had chances of winning the tournament, the game was as important for both teams as it could possibly be. Rouen Dragons lost the Continental Cup to Donbass last year, as well as the previous two games of this tournament. So, the French were eager to put up a fight in front of their fans to show the team was worth their support (to say the least). Rouen captain Marc-André Thinel was self-critical of himself and his team, but unwilling to give up before the game itself: “We lack speed. The speed we have in the French championship is not enough at this level. But we won’t give up. We are proud. It will be a difficult game tomorrow [against Donbass Donetsk] but we want to give our fans a spectacle.”
And so it was indeed, the game proved to be a spectacle on the ice. The first goal was scored by Yevgeni Dadonov from Donbass at 13:06 of the first period. The Dragons equaled the score only in the middle of the second period –Thinel scored at 9:14. Then Tuomas Kiiskinen put the Ukrainian team in the lead at 8:31 of the third period. The game was so tense and the attacks and shots were exchanged so quickly by the teams that Rouen equaled the score in a minute and a half (Thinel again). In only five minutes Clay Wilson scored for Donbass and put his team in the lead at 15:18 of the third period. Bare 11 seconds later, at 15:29, Desrosiers tied the game, which then went to overtime.
Donbass failed to use this chance to win the game and the tournament as Dragons held strong not to disappoint their supporters. In the shootout the audience cheered for the local team’s keeper Fabrice Lhenry who needed their support badly. And it came in the right time – Lhenry did not let a single shot by Donbass in his cage. His own teammates, though, needed four attempts to take a lead over Donbass. It was Antony Pech, the French national team player, who hammered a goal into the opponents’ net and decided the game’s (3:4 for Rouen) and the tournament’s results.
Ruslan Fedotenko complemented the dragons after the game in his interview to the Ukrainian XSPORT Channel: “They have been good, they played their bodies tough, were fast, controlled the puck. They played well tonight.”
The Dragons’ victory meant that the Oilers would celebrate not less than the Dragons themselves.
Stavanger Oilers started the tournament with a shootout loss but won it in the end
Due to their 5:1 victory over Asiago earlier that day the Stavanger Oilers had 7 points in the table and could be overtaken by Donbass only in case the Ukrainians came out victorious out of their game against Rouen Dragons. As this was not the case the Norwegian team has won the cup in the very second of Rouen’s victory over Donbass. Their own good hockey, the desire of the French to take a revanche over Donbass and a little bit of luck all in all ensured the Oiler’s first place in the table. The team’s difficult road to this victory proves it was a well-deserved title for them. Oilers lost their first game to Ukrainians by shootout (while collecting 1 tournament point) but proved extremely competitive nevertheless. Then the Oilers won against the Rouen Dragons 6:2 (plus 3 points) and the mentioned victory over Asiago brought them another three (3) points, which totaled to the overall 7 of points. Enough to get over Donbass with 6 points in three games (two won, one lost).
Stavanger Aftenbladet, the local Norwegian newspaper, instantaneously congratulated their local team on winning the cup and qualifying for the Champions Hockey League (CHL).