By Amith Passela – The National
The Abu Dhabi Storms will go all out to stop the Belarus President’s Team from completing a hat-trick of titles in the Ice Hockey President’s Cup Tournament on Friday when the competition’s top two teams meet in the final group game at 8pm on Friday.
Though the passage to the climax has been confirmed, the Belarus President’s Team have a tough but inconsequential game in the morning against Czech Parta to negotiate first at 10am at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.
That has raised the hopes of Matti Fagerstrom, the Storms coach, after having been denied by the Belarus team twice in the past two years when he was a player.
“It’s a big challenge against the champions,” Fagerstrom said. “They are stronger than they were in the last two years but we are ready this time”.
Fagerstrom was on the ice on the last two stagings. “We lost to them in the final game last year. This time I’m on the bench and I want my team to win this time,” he said.
“The first three games were not easy but we expected to win those games for a final showdown with the Belarus President’s Team. I’m optimistic we can do it this time because we have a good team to challenge.”
Fagerstrom knows the quality of players required to win at this level. Hence, they have recruited six former Slovakian professionals, including Miraslov Satan who had spells at Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Pittsburg Penguins and Boston Bruins in the NHL.
“We are unable to provide much ice time as we would like for the local players but they can still learn from the limited time they get and by just being in the team alongside the professional players.”
There are four games scheduled for on Friday, two in the morning and two in the evening.
The Storms go into the final game undefeated after another emphatic result over Mimino of Georgia 11-2 last night. They led 3-2 in the first period, extended the lead to 5-2 in the next before rounding off in a flourish.
Satan was on target twice and Juhani Matikainen struck in-between for the Storms while Semen Kharizov and Alexsander Vasilchenko netted for Mimino in the first period.
Artsiom Karkotski and Peter Bondra were on target in the second period before the Storms completed the rout with half-a-dozen goals in the final period.
Satan added two more to take his tally to make it four in the match while Artur Zainutdivot, Matikainen, Aleksei Strakhov and Ratislav Pavlikovski got their names in the scoresheet.
In the first game, the Belarus President’s Team got the better of Emirates Hockey League All Stars 6-1 to notch up their second win of the competition.