Almost 1,000 spectators turned out at the Zell am See ice rink to witness EC Red Bull Salzburg defeat the ZSC Lions – their first home win of this year’s European Trophy.
The game was fast-paced from the word go, with the Red Bulls setting the pace. Although the Swiss team caused a stir with a shot that hit the crossbar in the third minute, they rarely posed a threat to Salzburg's calm and composed goalie Reinhard Divis. But his counterpart, Finn Ari Sulander, now a legend in Switzerland, also had no problem fending off the Red Bulls' relentless attacks.
'It was important for the team to believe in their own strengths' – Pierre Pagé
Both teams kept up the pace in the second period, with tackles now becoming increasingly intense. The Red Bulls were also forced to play catch-up twice. While on a five-on-three power play which lasted a good 80 seconds, the closest Salzburg came to scoring was a shot by Ryan Duncan that hit the crossbar, while the Swiss took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal scored on the back of a counter-attack. But the Red Bulls equalised in the same minute, Ramzi Abid capitalising on a great short pass from Danny Bois to score a short-range goal. Salzburg went on to force their opponents into the attacking zone, but a long pass to Patrick Bärtschi on a breakaway against goalie Reinhard Divis allowed him to take a merciless shot, putting the Zurich team back in front. And once again the home team managed to equalise in what was a real thriller of a game. Ryan Duncan took a pass from Thomas Koch and left goalie Ari Sulander no chance.
In the final period the Red Bulls left things until the closing stages to score the final two decisive goals. Salzburg scored twice within the space of a minute; first Steven Regier, who got himself into an ideal goal-scoring position right in front of the goal, followed by Ryan Duncan, superbly assisted by Andre Lakos. Then things hotted up again, with Salzburg shorthanded three-on-five and the Swiss pulling their goalie for a sixth attacker. During this phase Salzburg goalie, Divis consolidated a strong performance with several great saves which only frustrated the Swiss further. Ultimately, the Red Bulls were able to celebrate a solid performance in Zell am See and their first, well deserved, home win in the European Trophy.
Salzburg's head coach Pierre Pagé was in a relaxed frame of mind: "It was important for the team to believe in their own strengths. The lads believed in themselves today and they played with self-confidence. Every single one of them fought hard and – apart from a couple of unnecessary penalties – they did what was expected of them, and that was the key to our success."
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