THE SYNTHESIS: In the opening period Rittner Buam gave one of the best performances of the whole season. The blue-red, with coach Heiskanen using all the four lines in the same way, launch one attack after the other to the goal defended by De Filippo. Defensively, they were always on the spot, they built the game with concentration, they didn't let themselves be pushed to commit unnecessary fouls and so they avoided penalties. It is not surprising that Cortina is almost harmless on the offensive side. If something had to be reproached to the Rittner Buam in the first 20 minutes, perhaps it could be the lack of finalization. From a good dozen of occasions only one goal arrived. And it was scored seven seconds before the first intermission, when Kevin Fink found himself in the right place on a shot rejected by Uusivirta and took advantage of it to score the long-awaited 1:0.
The second period begins and Cortina seems another team. At the beginning, Ampezzo dictates the law on the ice, but does not score. The more time passes, the more Heiskanen's team controls the game and creates two occasions with Sailio (27th). Shortly afterwards Giacomuzzi has to go in the penalty box for two minutes, but the powerplay doesn't bring much to the guests. This is also due to the great security given by Smith. In spite of that, the Rittner Buam goalie suffers a goal in the 37th minute: the house masters suffer a counterattack and Alverà surprises the goalie between the legs. Shortly after, the period ends and the team goes back to the locker room with a tie.
Also in the last period Cortina plays with a stable defensive position and tries its luck with quick counterattacks, a recipe that works. First Johansson shoots and surprises Smith again between his legs (41'35"). The Rittner Buam seem to be stuck and towards the middle of the final period they suffer the third goal of their adversaries. Luca Zanatta shoots from the blue line, the puck hits the crossbar and ends up in the goal (48'57"). The game seems to be closed, but the blue-red answer arrives. With a backhand Sharp serves Sailio perfectly, who scores the 2:3 without any effort (50'28"). Shortly after, the house masters can play with an extra man and hope for a draw is reborn. But Cortina manages the numeric inferiority with mastery. After a time out in the last minutes, the Rittner Buam take off goalie Smith for a sixth skater, but it is Johansson who scores the final 2:4 that assures the victory to Cortina.
The best-of-five series will continue on Thursday with game 2. Starting at 8.30 pm, Santeri Heiskanen's team will be away at the Olimpico stadium.
Rittner Buam - S.G. Cortina Hafro 2:4 (1:0, 0:1, 1:3) Goals: 1:0 Kevin Fink (19'53" /PP), 1:1 Alverà (36'35"), 1:2 Johansson (41'35"), 1:3 Luca Zanatta (48'57"), 2:3 Jari Sailio (50'28"), 2:4 Johansson (59'49" /EN)
Series (best of five): 0:1 (2:4)
Photo: Max Pattis