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Esbjerg get first CHL win in OT over IFK Helsinki

IFK Coach Antti Törmänen will need his side to win on home ice to avoid elimination
© IFK Helsinki/CHL via Getty Images

Esbjerg Energy came through with a huge 5-4 overtime win over IFK Helsinki to put themselves on the verge of advancing. Read more in Gamecentre

Danish club Esbjerg Energy hosted IFK Helsinki in their final CHL home game of the season, and at the beginning of a home and away series against the Finns to decide who will get the second qualifying place in the group.

The home side, knowing that three points would see them into the next round, start well and took the lead early on – David Lidstorm scoring at 8:43. That lead however didn't last very long, with IFK's Juuso Puustinen tying the game exactly three minutes later. Just under five minutes before the end of the period Helsinki completed the turnaround when Lennart Petrell found the back of the net to put his side 2-1 up – a lead they held into the break.

Midway through the middle session the home side got themselves back on level terms through Ryan Martindale – the Energy making use of a 5-on-3 advantage to make it 2-2. However just 40 seconds before the period came to an end, IFK re-established hitter lead through Teemu Eronen on the PP to lead by a goal after 40 minutes. The Danes however again refused to give up, and on a powerplay of their own levelled again through Sune Hjulmand.

That was by no means the end of the scoring though. IFK again took the lead, this time thanks to Miro Saarelainen, with 46:16 played. The lead held until the closing stages, and the Finns looked to be taking the points home with them until a penalty on Thomas Nykopp at 58:16, followed by two minor penalties on the visitors, put Esbjerg on a two-man powerplay for the final 1:11 of the game. With goalie Mathias Seldrup out in favour of the extra attacker, Esbjerg eventually made their 6-on-3 count – Tyler Fiddler the hero with just nine seconds left on the game.

Of course Esbjerg then started the overtime period with a two-man advantage, and opted to pul the goalie out again to see if they could get the win. The bold move paid off, with Brock Nixon sending the home crowd wild as he scored at 60:31 to win the game for the Danish champions – their first win in the CHL.

"I’m really disappointed how we finished this game," said IFK Helsinki coach Antti Tormanen. "We played a decent game in the first period, had many chances. But in the third period we started to collect one penalty after another moreover, stupid penalties. I must say that the penalties killed us. I can’t say anything about the 4–4 goal, because I didn’t see the video, but it was only around 16 seconds till the end, so we should have been able to finish the game with three points." 

The OT win isn't enough to put the Danes through to the next round yet; however, they head to Helsinki on Sunday two points ahead of their opponents. They need just one more point to advance, but it won't be easy.

"It was a pretty good game," thought Esbjerg coach Mark Pederson. "I'm really happy that the team didn't give up at the end of the third period and tied it. Our determination was great and I hope I'll see the same in the next game in Helsinki. It’s a big win for us. In the first and second period it was quite back and forth, in the third they played strong. We still need a some point from the next game and you never know how the game in Helsinki will look like. But I’m sure we will play with the same attitude."