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Lugano and Ambri prepare for European clash

Ambri's goalie, Pauli Jaks, is one of many players still on the list of injured Keystone

Canton Ticino's top two ice hockey teams are due to meet in European competition on Saturday, as Lugano and Ambri fight for a place in the finals of the Continental Cup.

The match is being played as part of a four-team semi-final round with only one side progressing to January’s finals in Zurich.

A win for Ambri in Saturday’s all-Swiss encounter would put Pierre Pagé’s team on top of the group ahead of Sunday’s final round. In Friday’s opening games, Ambri came from behind to beat the Ukrainian side Berkut Kiev 4-2.

Ambri have won the Continental Cup for the last two years, but appeared to be in danger of missing this season’s finals when they went 2-1 down at the end of the second period. But three goals in the final 20 minutes turned the match around.

Lugano’s opening match against the Munich Barons ended in a draw, after Jim Koleff’s side conceded a late goal to the German league champions.

The Swiss side took the lead in the 39th minute following a power play goal from Christian Dubé. But after failing to take advantage of a further five-minute power play in the third period, Lugano were punished with a goal from Munich’s Chris Luongo four minutes from the end.

Variously referred to as the European Stanley Cup or ice hockey’s equivalent of football’s UEFA Cup, the Continental Cup is second only to the Super Cup in terms of European club hockey.

Regardless of how Ambri and Lugano fare this weekend, the Swiss are guaranteed at least one team in January’s finals with league champions Zurich Lions given an automatic place as the tournament’s hosts.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR