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The Unterlandlers celebrate in blue, Ethan Szypula (front, in white) was the scapegoat for his knights. © Vanna Antonello

Wild semi-final: Unterland drives Ritten crazy

Although the Alps Hockey League is only in the intermediate round, some South Tyrolean clubs are already in playoff mode: They are currently playing against the Italian champions. Game 2 of the semi-finals took place on Thursday – with a big South Tyrolean winner.

From the Würtarena in Neumarkt

Thomas Debelyak

While the dream of the Scudetto was destroyed for the Wipptal Broncos in an overtime drama against Cortina, there will be a showdown in the South Tyrolean duel between Ritten and Unterland on Saturday. The Cavaliers bounced back impressively after their defeat in semi-final 1 and won 4-1 in their home Würtarena against the top favorites from the high plateau.

On Thursday evening, more than 400 fans saw a Unterland team that more than deserved the playoff on Saturday. The Cavaliers appeared as a real team for 60 minutes, did not shy away from duels and were simply the more determined and passionate team on the ice. The shooting statistics of 45:18 completions in favor of the Cavaliers speak volumes. Worth mentioning is goalie Simone Peiti, who got the fans out of their seats with some remarkable saves, but also the two teenagers Davide Girardi and Gabriel Zerbetto, but more on that later.

Ritten's offensive artist throws away his nerves

Ritten, meanwhile, was a total failure. Although the Buam took the lead early on, they steadily reduced the lead and, above all, made life difficult for themselves with many unnecessary penalties. A large part of this can be attributed to Ethan Szypula. He is actually one of the attractions and the players with the highest points on his team, but on Thursday the Canadian threw his nerves away. In the middle third and when the score was 1:2 from the Buam's point of view, he knee-checked Alex Curti completely unnecessarily and was taken out of action with a match penalty. While Szypula spent the rest of the evening hidden under a hood on the stationary bike, the Buam received two goals in the five minutes that followed and thus the knockout blow.

Lots of fighting in the Würtarena in Neumarkt. © Vanna Antonello

Davide Girardi was responsible for this punch: The 19-year-old from Trento, who grew up in the Unterlandler talent factory, was the man of the evening with an assist and two goals (first a deflection, then an ice-cold finish). His teammate Gabriel Zerbetto, who was three years older, scored once in the Buam goal and several times in the face of Ritten's Pustertal loanee Manuel Öhler. In the heated final phase, this dispute was the highlight and symbolized the distribution of roles that evening.

The Broncos drama

While the all-important match for a place in the final takes place on Saturday in Klobenstein from 18 p.m., the first finalist has already been determined: Cortina also won the second duel against the Wipptal Broncos on Thursday. It was a memorable encounter between both teams in Vipiteno. Not a single goal was scored until the 70th minute, when Luca Zanatta made it 1-0 for the guests.

Cortina's celebration after the winning goal was huge. © Oskar Brunner

The Broncos, on the other hand, have to look after themselves. Fabian Hackhofer & Co. let five outnumbered situations pass goalless, including one in overtime. Otherwise, there were chances on both sides, but all of them remained unused - except for one.

Serie A, Semifinals – Game 2 of the best-of-3 series

Hockey Unterland Cavaliers – Rittner Buam 4:1
Goals: 0:1 Lobis (4.29), 1:1 Hällfors (13.51), 2:1 Zerbetto (26.12), 3:1 Girardi (29.53), 4:1 Girardi (31.11)
Audience: 423
Score in the series: 1:1

Wipptal Broncos – Cortina Hafro 0:1 aet
Goal: 0:1 Zanatta (69.03)
Audience: no information
Final score in the series: 0:2

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