The Rittner Buam, today with Jake Smith between the posts, have a powerful start in front of the 320 spectators of the Meranarena. As the game progressed, however, the nervousness grew in Heiskanen's team that took too many useless penalties and in the initial period it collected five penalties. Merano, at its home debut in the Alps Hockey League, first hit the goal frame twice, before Uusivirta managed to scrape the puck off the goal line. In the 17th minute Merano's goal finally arrived: in front of Smith there was a lot of movement, the puck reached Luca Ansoldi and the Merano's captain pushed the puck over the line. Shortly before, Sailio's attempt for the Rittner Buam hit the post.
The middle third couldn't start better for the guests: after only 63 seconds Frei's equalizer arrives. The Renon's number 21 scores from the short distance taking advantage of a mistake by the Merano defence. Shortly after Sailio lead the Buam down the ice, but was stopped by Cloutier. Subsequently, Quinz shoots the puck over the goal. At the 28th minute Osburn, Simon Kostner and Didiomete all have to go sit in the penalty box after a brawl. The Rittner Buam overcome the numeric inferiority thanks to two saves by Smith on Borgatello (29th minute). As soon as Heiskanen's team regained full ranks, it took control but had a hard time against Cloutier. In the final minutes of the period, Merano gets two unnecessary penalties (Ansoldi, Borgatello) that the Rittner Buam took advantage of to make the score 1:2. 33 seconds before the siren, from the blue line Andreas Lutz puts the puck in the net with one of his fearful shots from the blue line.
Not yet four minutes of the final period have passed when Borgatello succeeds in getting the tying goal. The HCM defenseman is lurking on the second post, from where he brings the puck over the goal line. Afterwards, first Sharp and then Lutz had to sit in the penalty box, but the blue-red manage to score whole on the penalty kill. After a quick counter-attack, Sailio, ideally served by Sharp, put the Collalbo guests in the lead (2:3, 46'51"). Afterwards Heiskanen's team continued to have control of the game, even though in the final minutes Merano increased the pressure. One minute and a half before the siren, the Eagles are rewarded: Oscar Ahlström coldly surprises Smith between the legs and restores the draw. This game is going to overtime.
In the extra time no other goals arrived, so the winner of the match was decided by penalties. The only one who scored was Markus Spinell, who gave the Rittner Buam their second victory in two championship games and their 29th win in the 64th game with HC Merano.
HC Merano Pircher - Rittner Buam 3:4 SO (1:0, 0:2, 2:1, 0:0, 0:1)
Goals: 1:0 Luca Ansoldi (16'55"), 1:1 Alex Frei (21'03"), 1:2 Andreas Lutz (39'33" /PP), 2:2 Christian Borgatello (43'17"), 2:3 Jari Sailio (46'51" /SH), 3:3 Oscar Ahlström (58'26"), 3:4 Markus Spinell (decisive penalty)
Photo: Max Pattis