In the end, it was nothing more than a hard blow to the belly that the Vienna Capitals scored 3:9 in the Innsbruck shark tank.
Only three days later, the debacle had to be out of people’s minds again, because the crack against Red Bull Salzburg was waiting. Although the Viennese were lucky at the beginning that the ICE champions inadvertently missed several important chances, in the end they still secured a well-deserved 3-0 home win (match report >>>).
More than 4,000 spectators turned the STEFFL Arena into a madhouse in the final minutes and gave their team the energy they needed to impressively survive a risky 3v6 game.
“It was great for our players,” head coach Dave Barr said, thanking the fans. All of which happened after Matt Bradley’s Empty Netter, which players were still cheering for long after the end of the game. “It was fun for the fans,” smiles the Canadian, who is also having a great time on the bench.
problems in the first third
Despite the absence of seven players, including top Legionnaires James Sheppard and Alex Wall. Maybe that’s why the Caps had a hard time getting going, “we had problems in the first third,” says Barr. “We made some mistakes, we were inferior in my opinion. We had some turnovers that shouldn’t have been.”
However, luck was on the side of the Capitals, after the first 20 minutes of the game Chad Genoway scored the supposed 1-0 for the guests. A murmur ran through the audience, but soon after relief spread. The puck didn’t cross the line in time, it was still tied after the first third.
It was a kind of initial spark, because while the “Eisbullen”, which was also missing seven players, gradually had to pay tribute to the CHL trip to Sweden, the people of Donaustadt were just getting started.
Confidence after 1-0
Salzburg were literally trapped in their own zone, resulting in Patrick Antal’s goal to make it 1-0. After that, there was more calm on the bench, Barr said. “We had a good feeling about what we did then. We created some attacking chances.”
Max Zimmer took advantage of it after an attractive three in a row with Lukas Piff and Matt Bradley to score the second goal in Vienna. “I think we were fantastic in the second half,” enthused the coach. “We took over the game and forced them to make mistakes.”
After a bad switch, Niki Hartl even had it 3:0 at bat, but he pushed the puck past the freestanding goal.
The young cracks jumped into the gap
However, the big missed opportunity should not be avenged, also because the defense without star defender Wall put in an impeccable performance on the night.
“We had a purely Austrian defense today,” stressed Barr, who was proud: “It was a very good performance by everyone.” Led by captain Mario Fischer, who returned after nearly two months of injury, youngsters Piff, Bernhard Posch and Timo Pallierer, in particular, put in a rock-solid performance.
And on offense, U-20 players Leon Widhalm, Mathias Böhm, Nils Granitz and Daniel Aschauer jumped into the void for their injured teammates and “did a very good job for the most part,” the Canadian coach said. “We have some inexperienced guys who had a lot of ice time today.”
“They weren’t familiar with these situations at this level, it was a good experience for everyone,” Barr added.
The top line was reliable
“I looked at the bench and said, ‘Matt, are you ready? And he just nodded and smiled.
The top line around Max Zimmer, Matt Bradley and Rafael Rotter received particular praise.
All three “put in great performances,” said Barr, who “trusted our top three players.” “We used them pretty much every third shift, they really helped us and were worth their effort.”
The American especially singled out Bradley, 25: “He was just incredible, I had him on the ice in every situation. I looked at the bench and said, ‘Matt, are you ready? And he just nodded and smiled,” Barr laughed.
The front line of attack, which is now occupied by Rotter due to Sheppard’s injury, has been in top form in recent weeks after a poor start to the season. “They set the tone for the games,” the head coach explained that Bradley and company influence the team’s performance.
“If they play the right way, which is what our guys tend to do (small puck turnovers, good plays, offensive chances, good defensive work), then they set the tone for the rest of the team,” explained the Canadian. Something like: “If they do it, I have to do it too.”
They are very important to the team and “if they play well, our team usually plays well.”
Team spirit fits
Ultimately, they are just part of the team. And the spirit that fits.
“Guys cheered each other on when they made good plays,” Barr said. Also about the fact that his team showed a strong reaction to the gossip in Innsbruck. “It was good that we came back.”
Against what the head coach thought was a “very good” Salzburg team. “They are also hungry, they want to get on the table like us.”
That’s why the 61-year-old was beaming about a “real team win” and “three very important points for us.”