SUMMARY: In a well-attended Ritten Arena, the Rittner Buam have a quick start, but at first they are stopped by the Cortina goalie De Filippo. The advantage of the house masters, however, was in the air and arrived after 2'40" of the game: on the occasion of a misunderstanding between the adversaries in front of their goal, Lutz kept the situation under control and with a volley shot the puck into the corner. Only at this moment, after the Rittner Buam's advantage, Cortina seemed to enter the game and the first period was hard fought but with few goal occasions. First the blue-red goalie Jake Smith stops in an excellent way Luca Zanatta (4th) and Marco Sanna (8th), then on the opposite side Spinell and Sharp are blocked twice in a row by De Filippo (10th). Even in numeric superiority neither team scores, so at the siren that concludes the period, the advantage is still with the home team.
After the change of sides, the game is again in the hands of the Rittner Buam, who press for the 2:0. A penalty of 2+2 minutes is given to Colli for an elbowing (21'30"), so the Rittner Buam take advantage of the four minutes of power play to push Cortina in front of their goal and can celebrate the second goal, scored again by Lutz. Served very well by Spinell, in position of inside right, Lutz extends the distances with coldness (23'50"). The blue-reds continue with the same rhythm aiming to close the game. In the 25th minute De Filippo is found in position against Quinz, served by Manuel Öhler with a pass in the middle. Even in the Rittner Buam's goal Smith, in the few moments in which he has to take action, is careful and in the 30th minute reacts brilliantly on a shot of Colli deviated by Johansson. So his team mates can continue to put pressure and after 33'27" they succeed for the third time: from a defiladed position Julian Kostner takes advantage of a mistake of De Filippo, until then strong in the goal, with the puck that rolls over the stick and ends up in the far corner. The score was 3:0 when the teams went to the locker room for the last tea break.
In the final period Cortina shows that the game isn’t over yet. The Venetian team continues to play resolutely forward and bombards the Rittner Buam's goal. There, however, it always finds a hindrance: also this Thursday night Jake Smith is in great shape and amazes the public with one brilliant save after the other. Smith is still lucky when Basaraba takes the post (45th) and then starts the magic. Johansson (51st) and Vallazza (52nd) are beaten by the Italian-Canadian goalie, then he amazes everybody with an incredible triple save on Basaraba and Barnabò (53rd) and brings to seven his own shutouts of this season. And the fans of the home team have another occasion to celebrate, when Sharp scores the final 4:0 on an empty goal (58'06").
The Rittner Buam will have to go to the points once again in this week dedicated to the final round of IHL-Series A. On Saturday, Heiskanen's team will be away in Asiago. Starting at 8.30 pm, the Rittner Buam will compete with the defending champions for the title.
88th Italian Championship - Round Robin
Rittner Buam - SG Cortina 4:0 (1:0, 2:0, 1:0)
Goals: 1:0 Andreas Lutz (2'40"), 2:0 Andreas Lutz (21'30" /PP), 3:0 Julian Kostner (33'27"), 4:0 MacGregor Sharp (58'06" /EN)
Photo: Max Pattis