Good start for hockey favourites

Bern defender Marc Leuenberger gives Davos forward Björn Christen his undivided attention Keystone

The Swiss ice hockey league play-offs got underway on Thursday with opening round wins for top favourites Davos, Lugano and the Zurich Lions.

This content was published on February 28, 2002 - 23:07

The Lions, who are chasing their third Swiss title in a row, secured a 2-1 away win over Ambri to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven quarter-final series. Although strong favourites to win the series, the Lions were celebrating their first win over their Ticinese opponents in five attempts this season.

To make matters worse for Ambri, Thursday's winning goal was scored by one of their former players, Mattia Baldi.

Having finished runners-up to the Lions for the past two seasons, Lugano are another Ticinese side who know a thing or two about losing to Zurich. But on Thursday, Jim Koleff's men had an easy victory to savour after seeing off Zug 6-2.

Surprise star for Lugano was Canadian Mike Maneluk who grabbed two goals and an assist.

Davos made to work

Davos may have been the runaway winners of the winter qualifying round but the team from canton Graubünden faced an unexpectedly tough time of it in their opening play-off match at home to Bern.

Beaten 4-0 by Bern in last season's quarter-finals, Davos appeared to have no such fears this time around as they stormed into a 4-1 lead. But some unusual home jitters saw that cushion whittled away with the team from east Switzerland grateful in the end to come away 5-4 winners.

Thursday's fourth match saw Kloten take first blood in their quarter-final series against Fribourg, with Wladimir Jursinow's side clinching a 3-0 victory in Fribourg's own arena.

On Saturday and Sunday the four pairings will come together again to contest rounds two and three. The first teams to win four matches progress to the play-off semi-finals.

swissinfo with agencies

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