Rapperswil pull clear of danger
Rapperswil took a giant step towards the safety of the Swiss ice hockey playoffs on Tuesday, after pulling off a shock away win over the league leaders Lugano.
Coming into the match off the back of eight away defeats, the side from canton St Gallen roared into a 3-0 lead against the playoff favourites. In fairness to Lugano, fortune definitely favoured Rapperswil.
Just moments after Bozon had missed an opportunity to level the scores at 1-1, Rapperswil stunned the home side with two goals in just over a minute. The first came courtesy of a Flavien Conne own goal, while the second slipped past the glove of Lugano keeper Huet after being fired in from halfway up the rink.
Langnau also improved their chances of avoiding the relegation playouts after crushing bottom side La Chaux-de-Fonds 6-1. The win lifted the Tigers above the cut-off line for the first time since January 7.
New signing Ray Sheppard has been instrumental in Langnau's rise from the depths. On Tuesday the Canadian grabbed his 13th goal in 13 games for the side from canton Bern.
Rapperswil and Langnau also benefited from the night's other results. Their two remaining rivals for the last two playoff spots were both well beaten on Tuesday.
Fribourg were embarrassed 4-2 by a Chur side already relegated to the playouts, while Ambri-Piotta suffered a 6-3 away defeat against fourth-placed side Zug.
Although things are still unusually tight in the end of season struggle, Rapperswil and Langnau would now appear to have the upper hand. Rapperswil are in the most comfortable position, two points ahead of Langnau and four clear of Fribourg.
Fribourg do at least have a game in hand, although that comes against reigning champions, the Zurich Lions, on Thursday. Ambri, who can no longer catch up with Rapperswil, face an almost impossible struggle to squeeze into the last playoff spot.
Away from the struggle at the bottom of the table, the Lions managed to revive their bid to top the pre-playoff table with a 2-1 win over local rivals Kloten. Coupled with Lugano's defeat, Zurich's win leaves the Lions just two points behind their biggest rivals.
In the night's other match, Davos narrowly held on to third spot, after requiring overtime to beat Bern 3-2.
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