The first part of the regular season heads into crunch time, there could be some decisions in Saturday’s six games. While the teams of the bottom half of the table fight for bonus points, leader Rittner Buam could secure the first place. The exciting battle for a Master Round placement between Migross Supermercati Asiago Hockey 1935 and Sportivi Ghiaccio Cortina Hafro enters the next round.
Migross Supermercati Asiago Hockey - EC Bregenzerwald
On Saturday Bregenzerwald hits the road for 400 kilometres away Asiago. The Vorarberg side won the first season meeting 5:3 but then the yellow reds had a winning streak of 13 games. Lately Asiago fell to the top teams Ritten and Pustertal, though. The team of Tom Barrasso has Cortina’s breathe down their neck and needs points for a Master Round placement. 14th placed Bregenzerwald hast he same goal as they would start Qualification Round without bonus points right now. Their opponents are within reach in the standings but the Asutrians miss Marcel Wolf, Maximilian Hohenegg and Mark Kompain for the upcoming encounter.
EC KAC II – HC Pustertal Wolves
In the game EC KAC II against HC Pustertal the favourite is quite clear. It is the duel between the second of the league against the last of the league. While Pustertal is already directly qualified for the playoffs, the EC KAC II has no chance anymore two reach the-top 6. They definitely have to continue their way over the qualification round. The carinthians lost their last five games and didn’t book a win in the new year till now. Different to the Pustertal Wolves who already has a winning streak of seven games. Also the first place is still possible before the pick-round. Only six points (with one game less) are between the wolves and the leader of Ritten.
HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice – WSV Sterzing Broncos Weihenstephan
Jesenice is currently ranked on the fourth place with nine points in favor to the sevenths place. So the Slovenians are on track for the pick-round. Other than the WSV Sterzing Broncos. The Italian team on the eleventh place can score a maximum of 15 points in their remaining five games and are already trailing by 13 points to the sixth place. So their way will most likely go on in the qualification round. In their only game in the new year they got defeated against HC Gherdeina. Jesenice, after their first loss this year against Lustenau, came back on the road of success against VEU Feldkirch. With another win against the Broncos they can make another big step for the play off qualification.
Red Bull Hockey Juniors - HC Neumarkt Riwega
The Juniors got another clear-cut win in the second season meeting with Kitzbühel on Wednesday. The Salzburg side defended ninth-place that would give them four bonus points in Qualification Round. Now they are awaiting the battle with Neumarkt who are neighbours in the standings. The Wild Goose are one point behind the Red Bulls but have played one game less, too. The Juniors really need a home win to keep their opponents at a distance. After three successive defeats HCN hit back with an important road win in Fassa. Neumarkt decided the first meeting with the Austrian squad to their favour, 3:1. In addition, they have earned 14 points out of 13 away games.
EK Zeller Eisbären - Rittner Buam
Last Wednesday the polar bears ended their losing streak with a home win against Bregenzerwald. Now they welcome leader Ritten in their arena. In the first season meeting Zell am See were without a chance, getting a 3:0 shutout defeat. Forward Manuel Rosenlechner makes his come back, trying to help his team in the fight for eighth place. The „Buam“ have won 25 out of their 28 season games. They are the top favourite for the championship title and the odds-on favourite on Saturday. With another away win, the Italian champions would secure the first place after the first part of the regular season.
S. G. Cortina Hafro – EHC Alge Elastic Lustenau
After the two home wins of Lustenau against Jesenice and the KAC, S.G. Cortina Hafro is the next big challenge for die Lions. The Italians are currently placed on the sevenths place and still are ambitious to reach the top-6. With a win Lustenau could make an important step towards direct qualification for the play offs, which is the main objective for the Austrians. Currently Cortina is trailing by nine points to Lustenau (with one game less) and only by two points to the sixths place. Lustenaus head coach Gerald Ressmann knows, that this is one of the most important games of the season so far.
Sky Alps Hockey League:
07.01.2017 14:30: EC KAC II - HC Pustertal Wolves
Referees: FAJDIGA, WIDMANN, Arlic, Markizeti
07.01.2017, 18:30: HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice - WSV Sterzing Broncos Weihenstephan
Referees: FERRINI, FICHTNER, Giacomozzi, Legat
07.01.2017, 19:30: Red Bull Hockey Juniors - HC Neumarkt Riwega
Referees: BENVEGNU, WALLNER; Basso, Mutz
07.01.2017, 19:30: EK Zeller Eisbären - Rittner Buam
Referees: MARRI, SUPPER, Cristeli, Stefenelli
07.01.2017, 20:30: S.G. Cortina Hafro - EHC Alge Elastic Lustenau
Referees: LOTTAROLI, PICHLER, Bednek, Holzer
07.01.2017, 20:30: Migross Supermercati Asiago Hockey - EC Bregenzerwald
Referees: GASSER, LAZZERI, Rinker, Tschrepitsch
Photo: David S. Wassagruba