European joy for Lions

ZSC Lions player Martin Kout (right) fights with his opponent Maurizio Bortolussi Keystone

The Zurich Lions ice hockey club added yet more silverware to the trophy cabinet on Sunday after winning a second successive Continental Cup.

This content was published on January 13, 2002 - 22:51

Cheered on by the majority of a 5,000-strong crowd in the Hallenstadion, the Lions never looked in danger of letting a fourth consecutive title slip through their fingers, overwhelming Milan 6-1.

"It was important to us," said Lions forward Jan Alston. "That was a great win and a great tournament. The team played extremely well so we're very happy."

The Lions have now won two Swiss championships and two Continental Cups on the trot, but have it all to do in the league if they going to make it five titles in a row.

The opening minutes of the game were a frenetic affair, with both sides eager to gain an early advantage. Jason Muzzatti in the Milan goal dealt comfortably with a couple of long range shots, but there was nothing he could do in the third minute when Morgan Samuelsson was picked out by Jan Alston for an easy finish to make it 1-0 to the Lions.

Hungry Lions

That goal appeared to make the Lions hungry for more and with the home side picking up the pace, the Italian champions were unable to get hold of the puck. It wasn't until halfway through the first period that Milan finally managed to piece together a meaningful attack.

Ari Sulander in the Lions goal saved well from Jim Hiller, but he was finally beaten in the 10th minute when Hiller was on hand to level the scores. The goal opened up the game with both sides attacking at will. Muzzatti saved well in the 13th minute but was left unprotected 30 seconds later when Petr Jaks was sent through on goal to make it 2-1 to the Lions.

Ten seconds after the restart the Lions went further in front through Gian-Marco Crameri as the Milan defence went to sleep. At this point the big - but ponderous -Italian defence was unable to cope with the Lions' fast-moving attacks.

Torrid time

Mattia Baldi was giving the Italian defenders a torrid time up front, with one fearsome body check giving the home fans even more to cheer about.

Chasing the game at the start of the second period, Milan found themselves pinned back in their own half. The visitors finally managed to break away in the 29th minute, but Hiller and Scott Beattie somehow contrived to miss a golden opportunity with the goal at their mercy.

It was to prove a costly miss. Seven minutes later, after a period of uninspiring play, the Lions scored again with Claudio Micheli slamming home a Raeto Raffainer pass. Seconds later it was 5-1 and Milan were staring defeat in the face as Petri Varis was the quickest to react to a loose puck following a goalmouth scramble.

The match was over as a contest one minute into the third period when Jaks bagged his second and the Lions' sixth goal to leave the Italians merely playing for pride.

In Sunday's play-off for third place, Zvolen finally found their scoring touch, beating Finland's Jukurit Mikkeli 6-3.

by Adam Beaumont in Zurich

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