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utorak, 4. veljače 2014.

Zagreb Bears Hockey Club Reach KHL Play-offs

Zagreb Bears homegame at Zagreb Arena.

This is great news, last week Medveščak Zagreb (Zagreb Bears) officially made it into the play-offs in their rookie season in the KHL. (Kontinental Hockey League, they were promoted last year from the Austrian Hockey League)  As far as I'm concerned this is mission accomplished from the start of the season. Now the play-offs will soon commence and the puck can bounce anywhere, as the saying goes. The KHL is not some 3rd rate minor league either for those not in the now, many former (and future) NHL players are on some of the teams, a league considered to be the best in Europe and 2nd best in the world. Playing in this league brings a lot of exposure to Croatia in the sports/hockey world and has done much to bring exposure to Zagreb and Croatia in general. (I take particular interest in Zagreb Bears news because I used to play organized hockey in a league when younger)

During this season the fans at a Zagreb Bears game broke the record for continuous fan wave, and just 3 days previous to this play-off clinching game, they broke a loudest cheering record when playing against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. (Yes, that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, video below) Zagreb Bears tickets have been the hottest ticket in town for a number of years now, and their merchandise is a hot seller as well. (I think they should start playing t.A.T.u before some of the games, seriously, and maybe hand out blue neon sticks to get the fans really going. Because I'll tell you, some of the pregame and during game music I come across at some sporting events footage are really lame and boring, and it is a Russian league afterall) A lot of people probably don't even know that hockey (hokej na ledu) actually has a long history in Croatia, and not something just recently started up in the past few years. The first game on natural ice was played in the winter of 1916 between HAŠK (Croatian Academic Sport Club) and PHŠD (First Croatian Sport Society), but they were playing even well before that. My previous Zagreb Bears posts at the very bottom have more images and videos and will tell you everything you need to know....


Hockey school in Zagreb article:

Medvescak Makes KHL Playoffs in Maiden Season

Pregame ceremonies at Arena Zagreb.  Image:


MOSCOW, January 28 (R-Sport) – Croatia's Medvescak Zagreb suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Severstal Cherepovets in a shootout, but still managed to book a playoff spot in its first KHL season.

After two goalless periods, Sergei Monakhov put the visitors in the lead, but former Florida Panthers wing Bill Thomas equalized already 12 seconds later.

In the shootout series only Swedish forward Linus Videll was accurate, bringing Severstal two points and keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive, while Medvescak's one point for taking the game to overtime pushes the shoestring-budget Croatians into playoff security.

"We haven't even thought about it, byt I would lie if I say I didn't dream about it," Medvescak's president Damir Gojanovic said on the team's website. "With this budget, we created a sports miracle, grabbing a playoffs spot in the league where clubs have 10 times bigger budgets than we do."

The Croatian team, comprised of North American, European and players of Croat descent, sits fifth in the Western Conference, trailing just three points behind third-placed Donbass Donetsk, who defeated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3-0.

Donbass goalie Jan Laco, who will represent Slovakia at next month’s Sochi Olympics, stopped all 19 shots for his second shutout in a week.

Lokomotiv keeps the eighth spot, but its advantage over ninth-placed Atlant Moscow Region was cut to just four points after Atlant defeated financially troubled Spartak Moscow 4-3.

The capital-based team came close to a first win for almost two months, leading 3-2 in the middle of the third period, but Oleg Yashin sent the game into overtime with his second goal of the night.

Then, Yuri Trubachev and Igor Radulov converted their attempts in the shootouts to seal the victory for Atlant and extend Spartak's league-record losing streak to 16 games.

This result also secured a playoff berth for seventh-placed CSKA Moscow, leaving only one entry still vacant.

Elsewhere, SKA St. Petersburg surged to a 3-2 comeback win at Western Conference outsider Dynamo Minsk.

Norway’s Olympian Patrick Thoresen scored his first goal since recovering from a foot fracture two weeks ago and also assisted to Roman Cervenka who netted the winner on 07:26 of the third period.

SKA remains second in the West, seven points adrift of leader Dynamo Moscow.

Pregame warm-up footage from the game. (Russian commentary)

3rd period highlights. (Croatian commentary) More videos at

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl victim tribute video.

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