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Lugano defeat Bern in decisive ice hockey match

Bern's Marc Reichert (left) and Lugano's Chris Lindbergh battle it out during Tuesday's semi-final match Keystone

Lugano have booked their place in the finals of the Swiss ice hockey playoffs after winning a penalty shoot-out in their sixth semi-final match against Bern.

In front of a sell-out crowd in the Swiss capital, Lugano’s Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann scored the winning penalty shot against Bern’s Renato Tosio on what was a momentous night for both men.

The 33-year-old Aeschlimann was making a record 707th appearance in the Swiss division while Tosio was playing his last ever match after a world record run of 655 consecutive games for Bern.

For a while it had looked as though Tosio’s career might be extended even further, at least to include a deciding seventh match against Lugano. But after falling 2-0 down to Bern, the Ticinese side came back with goals from Joel Savage and Christian Dubé to leave the scores level at the end of regular time.

With overtime failing to produce a winning goal, Bern were left to face the eventual heartbreak of the penalty shootout, while Lugano began looking ahead to the finals.

“We’ve had a tough time in the quarter-finals and the semis,” Lugano manager Jim Koleff admitted to swissinfo. “But I think it’s important that a team goes through bad times to learn what they’ve got.

“Last season we won all eight of our quarter-final and semi-final matches before losing to Zurich in the finals,” Koleff continued. “I wouldn’t say those earlier matches were easy, but we hadn’t really been tested until we came up against Zurich.

“Now we’ve come through two tough series with six matches going into overtime and I think that has been good for the team.”

On Saturday, Lugano will begin their battle to avenge last season’s defeat by the Lions. Jim Koleff’s men have home advantage for the first match in the best of seven series.

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