Luxembourg 3-5 Kyrgyzstan

Luxembourg 3-5 Kyrgyzstan

Lions battle ’til the end but fall to talented Kyrgyzstan


On Saturday night, in front of another near sellout audience of 734 fans at Patinoire de Kockelscheuer, team Luxembourg’s dreams of advancing to round 2 of the 2022 Winter Olympic qualifiers were effectively crushed by a Kyrgyzstani squad lead by star forwards Vladimir Nosov and Vladimir Tonkikh. 

Day 2 of these Olympic Qualifiers began with a matchup of the bottom 2 nations In Group N, as UAE squared off against Bosnia & Herzegovina (BIH). In goal for Bosnia was 31 year old Edis Pribisic, playing roughly 18hrs after being mauled 10-1 by Luxembourg. Despite a spirited effort by his BIH teammates, Pribisic once again faced a barrage of shots (76 in 2 games) as BIH fell 3-6 to the UAE who can now boast as having the tournament’s leading scorer in Artur Zainutdinov (5 goals, 2 assists). UAE’s victory eliminated BIH from qualification contention and put themselves into a 3-way tie in points with Kyrgyzstan (KGZ) and hosts Luxembourg on 3 points. This lead all eyes to the evening match between the former 2 nations. A match up that would likely determine the group winner of this tournament. 

After the euphoria of Friday night’s big win over BIH, team Luxembourg were cautiously confident of winning the group and progressing to round 2 in Spain in December. Standing in their way however was a Kyrgyzstan team full of speed, strength and skill. This match would not be easy for the Lions and it was clear from the first shift they were in for a 60-minute fight as KGZ set the early tone, out shooting Luxembourg 12-4 in the 1st period of what would be a difficult night for Philipe Lepage, starting in goal in place of Marcus Anselm. This Lions team however is a resilient one and against the run of play it would be Luxembourg who struck first, once more on the power play, through a gorgeous top corner snipe from Marcus Eriksson. With Lux once again setting up in the 1-3-1 formation, Eriksson positioned himself on the right hand side near the top of the circle, taking a pass from Shelest on his forehand and ripping an unstoppable wrist shot into the net. The 734 people in the stands cheered loudly as the early nerves began to lift. The Lions would hold on and enter the 2nd period with a 1-0 lead.

That lead was on a knife edge though as KGZ began the 2nd period once again on the front foot and after a tripping penalty to Colm Cannon the men from Central Asia would find the breakthrough after a tick-tack-toe play would find the puck in the back of the net curtesy of Vladimir Nosov. The floodgates had been cracked and what would follow would normally be enough to break any team’s spirit. After some intense offensive zone time for Luxembourg, where the puck just wouldn’t find it’s way passed KGZ goalie Aleksandr Petrov, it would be KGZ who would strike 3 goals in 8 minutes to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Luxembourg goalie Philipe Lepage, who had pulled off some staggering saves, would have to be helped off of the ice just before the end of the period, apparently suffering a lower body injury. Marcus Anselm would enter the game in relief and immediately faced pressure from the KGZ attack. He and his Lions would hold on and the final 20 minutes would begin with the score at LUX 1-4 KGZ.

In years gone by, team Luxembourg at this point may have began to lose their composure and in desperation, begin to fill the penalty box rather than the opposition goal. This 2019 squad however showed its maturity and progression as they pushed back hard and after a grinding play in the right hand corner, Sacha Backes found Mirko Mosr charging towards the net with a precision pass. Mosr, in one fluid movement, shifted the puck from forehand to backhand and chipped it over a sprawling Petrov and into the KGZ goal. Hope had been re-kindled. The clock was ticking however and the Lions still needed 2 goals to force overtime.

With 4mins remaining in the match, captain Colm Cannon would raise the roof. Winning a battle in front of the net to make the score 3-4. His impassioned “Sheathing of the Sword” celebration and gesture to the packed crowd had Patinoire de Kockelscheuer rocking as chants of “Lëtzebuerg!!” Filled the air.

Time it seemed, would be the Lions biggest enemy. Hope however, remained and with 46 seconds left on the clock Kyrgyzstan would take a penalty. With 1 last roll of the dice, Lux head coach Petr Fical would remove Anselm from the net for the extra attacker and Lux would play 6 vs 4 with a face-off in the offensive zone. Much to the heartbreak of the majority of those in attendance though, it would be KGZ who would win the face-off and star forward Vladimir Tonkikh would launch the puck from his own zone and into the empty Luxembourg net, ending the Lions comeback. The final buzzer sounded and Luxembourg had fallen 3-5, their dreams, though still not technically over, had taken a massive hit.

The young Lions team exited the ice to a standing ovation, greeted by applause, fist-bumps and requests for selfies and autographs from young fans. A team disappointed, a nation done proud. It is those young fans who will have been inspired to begin or continue their own journeys in Ice Hockey. An achievement far more important than any game win or medal and for that, this team must be commended. Although the scars of what might have been will remain with the players for some time, the reaction of the public is one that hopefully the squad will build upon. This group of young men are part of a revolution in the sport of Ice Hockey in Luxembourg and should be extremely proud of their hard work and progression. Luxembourg hockey is here to stay.

Tonight the Lions will have 1 more shot to inspire the players of tomorrow when they face the UAE at 19:15. The pressure of qualification is somewhat lifted and both teams will want to prove they are the better squad and gain an early psychological advantage heading into April’s World Championships when Luxembourg will welcome the UAE back to Patinoire de Kockelscheuer with medals on the line. So join us one last time and chant as loud as you can “Roude Léiw, huel se!”

Article by Liam McEvoy

The schedule for this weekend is as follows:

Friday 8th November 2019 

United Arab Emirates 4-9 Kyrgyzstan

Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-10 Luxembourg

Official Game Images:

https://www.icehockey.lu/media/gallery/photos/galleryID/4266

Player Stats:

https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2020/ogqp1n/gamecenter/statistics/15139/2-bih-vs-lux

 

 

Saturday 9th November 2019

United Arab Emirates 6-3 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Luxembourg 3-5 Kyrgyzstan

Official Game Images:

https://www.icehockey.lu/media/gallery/photos/galleryID/4269

Player Stats:

https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2020/ogqp1n/gamecenter/statistics/15141/4-lux-vs-kgz

 

 

Sunday 10th November 2019

15:45 Kyrgyzstan vs Bosnia & Herzegovina

19:15 Luxembourg vs United Arab Emirates

 

Livestream available on the IIHF website of the event: 

https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2020/ogqp1n

 

Tickets are available now online at: 

https://www.icehockey.lu/news/the-ticket-sale-to-olympic-qualifications-is-open-19377/