Lions and Lugano prepare to play it again

Will the Lions still be roaring on Thursday? Keystone

Lugano ice hockey club will get a second chance on Thursday to clinch the Swiss league title, when they travel to Zurich for game six of the playoff finals.

This content was published on April 4, 2001 - 17:59

Jim Koleff's men squandered their first opportunity to win the championships on Tuesday, when they were beaten 6-3 in their own stadium by their playoff opponents, the Zurich Lions.

But as he looked ahead to Thursday's reunion, Koleff rejected suggestions that his team had underestimated the defending champions.

"I always thought before the series started that it would go to six or seven matches," the Swiss-Canadian coach told swissinfo after Tuesday's defeat. "No-one would have predicted a 4-1 or 4-0 series between these two sides.

"Now we're going into game six in their rink. We've just got to get ready and prepare for that. That's our job."

Lions' manager Larry Huras was also focussing on the task ahead as the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday. A win for his side on Thursday would level the overall series score at 3-3.

"It just comes down to which team wants it most," he insisted. "We've definitely got the wind back in our sails after winning in Lugano the way we did.

"We're a little banged up now, but that's the nature of the playoffs. We have to see how many healthy bodies we've got, wind ourselves up and play to our public."

Both sides will be missing at least one healthy body for Thursday's encounter, after league referee Heinz Tännler handed down suspensions to Zurich's Mark Streit (one match) and Lugano's Misko Antisin (two matches) for fouls committed during the game in Lugano.

Wednesday's training sessions also suggested that Koleff might opt for at least one deliberate change of personnel, with Canada's Chris Lindberg returning to an attacking Lugano line-up in place of Swedish defender Peter Andersson.

If Lugano can't bounce back from Tuesday's set-back and allow Zurich back into contention on Thursday, the series will be decided by a seventh and final match in Lugano's Resega stadium on Saturday.

by Mark Ledsom

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