Day 99 of the NHL lockout, and there is no end in site. Europe, on the other hand, is continuing to bring the great game to the world, and Croatia’s KHL Medveščak is leading the charge.
The Bears, who play in Austria’s Erste Bank Ice Hockey League (EBEL), are Croatia’s lone representative in European hockey. The team has recently been slated to join Russia’s KHL next season, and are well on their way to prove their worth in what is considered to be the world’s second strongest hockey league.
Medveščak spent this past week on top of the EBEL table, and are trying to hold on in order to win their first league title.
The team traveled to Vienna on Sunday to meet the co-leaders in the league for a battle to see who will spend Christmas in first place. The Bears entered the game on a four-game unbeaten streak. The streak started after an embarrassing loss of 11-2 against EC VSV, but turned their form back into winning ways, climbing to the top of the table for the second time this season.
The team was without two key players in Vienna. Dustin Jeffery of the Pittsburgh Penguins has extended his contract with the Bears. He originally agreed to join only until January, but in lieu of the NHL lockout, Jeffery decided to stay but has taken some time off to go home with family and participate in NHL mediation talks.
Tom Zanoški has parted with the team after 29 games played and scoring 10 goals for the Bears. He and the Bears have parted on good terms, but will not state the reason for his departure. He joined Austrian club EC-KAC.
Medvescak took an early lead on Sunday when David Brine scored his ninth goal of the season after 14 minutes of play.
Michael Ouzas, who is third in the league in save percentage, kept a clean sheet through the first period, but was beaten twice in four minutes in the second.
The Bears were unable to get another goal, and finished the game with a loss of 2-1.
The Bears are now two points out of first place, but have a chance to regain their place at the top on Wednesday when they take on Vienna again, this time in Zagreb.
ERSTE BANK ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE, 33. KOLO UPC VIENNA CAPITALS – KHL MEDVEŠČAK 2:1 (0:1, 2:0, 0:0)
VIENNA – Albert Schultz Eishalle. Spectators 5650. Referees: Dremelj, Smetana, Hütter, Lešnjak.
0:1 MED Brine (Greentree, Sertich, 14)
1:1 VIC Keller (Blatny, A. Lakos, 25)
2:1 VIC Pinter (J. Fraser, Schlacher, 29)
UPC VIENNA CAPITALS: Zaba, Weinhandl, Bjornlie, A. Lakos, Keller, Blatny, Rotter, J. Fraser, Veideman, Olsson, Soares, Schiechl, Klimbacher, P. Lakos, Schlacher, Pinter, Woger, Peter, Nador, Schweda, Draschkowitz.
KHL MEDVEŠČAK: Ouzas, Kristan, Letang, Waugh, Koren, Brine, Bouchard, Sertich, MacAulay, Greentree, Buck, Perkovich, Martinović, Bozic, Miller, Naglich, C. Fraser, Vedlin, Trstenjak, Yelovich, Kostović.
PENALTIES: Vienna 10, Medveščak 12.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Vienna 30, Medveščak 26.