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Slow starts and getting lucky - reaction from last night in Vaxjo

There wasn't much between Vaxjo and Sparta in the first leg.
© Vaxjo Lakers/CHL via Getty Images

We have all the reaction to last night's game in Vaxjo as Sparta Prague skated off with a 2-1 win.

by Pontus Bjers

VAXJO – Sparta Prague take a one-goal lead home with them to O2 Arena for next week's game thanks to a solid road performance in Vaxjo. The Lakers struggled to find a way past Tomas Popperle in net for most of the game before getting on the board late in the third period.

"I think that we came out a little too sluggish, and we got punished hard the first 10 minutes. The first puck bounced off two sticks in the air before it goes in but we could also have done a better job in front of our goal. On the second goal it’s a bounce that surprises us completely. I don’t think that we played very well the first half of the game," admitted Lakers' coach Sam Hallam. "We going a little after the hit on (Pontus) Netterberg where we had some very good shifts. But it wasn't until the third period that we were pushing like we want to do and that caused some trouble for Sparta.”

There were more positives for Hallam, especially with some of his more junior players.

"I'm very happy today for the way the young guys played. (Nils) Carnback, (Ludwig) Wisten and (Jonas) Rondbjerg came in as forwards and also (Carl) Ernstig as a defenceman. They all played very well for us and showed confidence and weren’t afraid to try to create things out there," the coach added.

Looking ahead to next week, forward Robert Rosen knows what the team needs to do.

"We need a little more energy and more speed in our game. We had a little luck and some skill in our penalty killing to hold them off from scoring another goal. There is one game left to turn this around for us. If we show that we want to win this and play with the speed and energy that we have in the SHL lately, then we have a great chance to still win this,” said the NordicBet MVP candidate.

For the Czech side, it extended their unbeaten road streak this season in the CHL to six games – having won five of them.

"It was a tough game from the beginning because we didn’t know a lot about them, we'd only watched them on video but I think we prepared well," said defenceman Martin Gernat. "We just watched them on video and I think that we prepared ourselves good. We weren’t afraid to play them. They have skilled players so we tried to skate with them. We scored a couple of goals in the beginning of the game so that was good. After that we tried to keep it simple and play our game."

On his goal, the 23-year old Slovak added: “We got a 2-on-1 and I was skating through the goalie for the rebound. The second rebound hit his pad and I just tried to hit the puck in the air. It went in and it was quite a lucky goal but it counts.”

Sparta's other goal on the night was scored by another Slovak, Andrej Kudrna.

“We knew before the game that they are a good skating team and we knew we had to play defensively. We got lucky and scored two goals in the first period and then it was a good battle. In the end, we came up with the win,” said the 25-year-old Nove Zamky native, who also spoke about his goal. “Lukas Cingel had a puck behind the net and he tried to pass it to me. The puck somehow got to me and I just tried to shoot it and it went in. We got a little bit lucky. After that I think that we played very good defensively and our goalie had a very good game. We're happy to have won."