Knockout Stage | Semi-Finals
—Viratia vs. Lunsesara—
Viratia comes into these semi-finals off of a tighly contested upset with what was arguable the best team in the tournament, Vesienväl having finished second in the Assortment Stage and first in their group during the Group Stage. However, with a shutout performance from Enea Testa Viratia was able to steal the game and advanced. Lunsesara on the other hand is coming off a very convincing victory against Zemeprievadai, Mili Zyomin leading their offense this tournament, scoring twice against Zemeprievadai.
First period was a back and forth affair a majority of the period, both teams looking for any openings they could, none were found. Enea Testa made one big stop on a two on one rush about five minutes into the game, but the first goal would be scored about ten minutes later. Miruris Afverul, with some precise passing from Kai’afr Raran and Arska Tass finds the top left corner to give Lunsesara the lead.
The rest of the period mimicked the beginning, and Lunsesara went into the first intermission up by a goal.
In the second, there was finally offense to be had as Viratia began an aggressive press, forcing multiple turnovers. One of these led to a four on two rush, and Raffaele Valentini gets a pass, open in the middle and buries it to tie the game.
Less than four minutes later, after a mishap handling the puck, Viratia gave up a key turnover and lead to Cheita’a Murasdrei getting a breakaway. Murasdrei, who is known for his breakaway skills was stopped by Enea Testa, who continued his exceptional performance this tournament.
The players’ ferocity only grew, after another period of back and forth hockey, the physicality beginning to increase, a few big hits here and there, but Nanud Suzil’a got a bit too carried away, boarding Cristian Mariani to give Viratia their first powerplay of the game. Viratia absolutely unloaded on Lunsesara’s penalty kill, never once did they even gain posession, this led to a puck battle behind the net, which Simone Gallo won, and was able to wrap around the back of the net and sneak the puck in to give Viratia the lead.
The third period would not bring good tidings for Lunsesara, with momentum completely on their side, Paolo Minnella was able to beat Lara Kazakova glove side and extend Viratia’s lead to two.
Viratia would keep up the pace, with Paolo Colombo not long after picks up a rebound off of a shot and easily puts it away, making the score 4 - 1 Viratia.
But, Lunsesara wouldn’t go quitely, as they would bounce back a few minutes later, with a beautiful dislpay off of a faceoff, Zenaide Kashirina finds himself open backdoor and gets an easy tip it to reduce the deficit to two.
Lunsesara would keep up the pace almost the entire period, Viratia would was completely unable to keep possession because of a devastating forecheck Lunsesara was employing. While they were able to keep up the pressure, Enea Testa would hold strong, keeping the puck out of the net. After thirteen minutes of a Lunsesaran onslaught, the clock struck zero. Viratia defeats Lunsesara 4 - 2. and advances to the final.
—Almodaria vs. Alksearia—
Almodaria comes into the semi-final after placing 4th in their group, but with an impressive victory over West Borea in the quarter-finals. They’re a very deep team, anyone could be a threat and generate offense. Alksearia on the otherhand is very physical, that was made very clear in their game against Tavaris.
Right away Almodaria was able to use their speed to counter anything Alksearia could throw at them. Its hard to hit someone if they can just skate past you. This led to a very quick rush from Almordaria, and with a quick pass to a wide open Vlad Glasimov to give Almodaria the early lead.
While Almodaria was faster, the times when the puck was along the board, Alksearia was able to use their strength to win the puck. Alksearia was quick to capitalize on this, as they were able to set up on offense, and Gervais Popelin scored to tie the game.
The game ran back toward Almodaria’s favor, once again using their speed to generate opportunity. They were able to get a few rushes in, but weren’t able to capitalize on any chances, until one shot from the blue line was deflected in front of the Alkari goaltender Arnaud Levett, who still was able to mordaciously make the save, even though he had dived in the other direction.
But it was unfortunately for naught, as Franjo Guvanitz was able to pick up the rebound there and give Almodaria back the lead at the end of the first.
The second period was mighty uneventful. Defense clamped down hard on both ends, neither team was able to really to anything on offense. There were a couple chances, but they were easy saves for both goalies. Not much else of note in the second.
While the beginning of the third resembled the second, Alksearia would quickly get back on track to try to generate anything to even up this game. They got a ton of quality chances, but Michael Belosevina stood firm, making save after save to keep Almodaria up by one.
As time winded down, Alksearia pulled the goalie with five minutes left, in a last ditch effort to tie the game. Even still with their relentless onslaught, the defense held firm, and soon after Franjo Guvanitz was able to take a shot from his defensive zone into the empty net to seal the game away. Almodaria defeats Alksearia 3 - 1 and advances to the final.