The Odense Bulldogs celebrate the 1-0 goal against Ritten Sport. Photo: Max Pattis
Odense beats Ritten, back in title race
The Odense Bulldogs beat IIHF Continental Cup Final host Ritten Sport 4-1 to make it a three-team race for first place on the last day tomorrow.
Odense is now 1-1 and needs to beat winless Beibarys Atyrau tomorrow afternoon (15:00) for a chance to win the Continental Cup. The final decision however will happen in the evening (19:00) when the undefeated Nottingham Panthers play Ritten Sport.
“Yesterday we didn’t play as we wanted but today we came out well,” said Oliver Larsen, who recently represented Denmark at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada. “It’s good to be back with the team and on the ice after the long travel. It will be a tough game tomorrow but we need to keep it going.”
Despite tonight’s setback host Ritten still has a chance to win the event if they beat Nottingham in regulation time and if Odense loses to Beibarys Atyrau.
First-ranked Nottingham has the least to worry about the other game and just needs one point meaning a win or regulation-time tie against Ritten to claim the winners’ plate.
It wasn’t the best day for the host team. Ritten aimed at its second win to match the Nottingham Panthers in the standings but the Odense Bulldogs had different ideas and made the host team’s life difficult from the beginning.
Henrik Bach Nielsen opened the scoring for the Danes at 15:01 of the first period when Ritten didn’t manage to clear a loose puck and the Italian team also had to go through tough times for the rest of the period.
First Maximilian Ploner was sent to the sin bin for checking from behind, then Fabian Ebner and Christian Borgatello were assessed penalties to give Odense plenty of time to play with one and two men more on the ice. Early in the second period the Danes capitalized on the last penalty a few seconds before its expiration with a marker from Dale Mitchell who converted a horizontal pass to the crease from Tony Romano.
Ritten tried to battle its way back into the game in the second period but lost time and energy with another series of three penalties midway the period.
“They deserved to win because we didn’t play smart enough to win,” Ritten head coach Riku-Petteri Lehtonen said. “It’s really hard to win the game when you’re sitting in the penalty box. The opponent had fresher legs. We didn’t stick to the system. We overplayed. I can’t blame the referees. When you are one step behind your opponent you take penalties and some were stupid penalties.”
Midway through the third period Odense made things clear. Ritten wanted too much when attacking while playing shorthanded. The Danes used the free room for a counter-attack after getting the puck and Sebastian Strandberg ended the 2-on-1 after a pass from Mitchell to circle the puck around Ritten goalie Patrick Killeen.
Ritten lowered the gap with a power-play goal on their own at 11:15 scored by Daniel Tudin but the goal came too late. Strandberg scored the 4-1 goal with 117 second left in regulation time into the empty net.