Baltic Cup 2008
Although the NHL’s Toronto Maple Laffs are not competing in playoff hockey this year, (or any year it seems), this does not mean that there are not any hard fought playoff and championship hockey games being played in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
One of these championship tournaments is the 2nd annual Baltic Cup. This tournament features local Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian teams competing to determine Baltic hockey supremacy for the GTA.
In the preliminary round, the Estonians played two overtime games, defeating the Latvians 3 -2 in a shootout, and succumbing 3- 2 to Lithuanians. When the Latvians defeated the Lithuanians 4 -2, the stage was set for a Latvian – Estonian championship showdown.
As the crowd of over 200 gathered for the final battle at Mississauga’s Iceland Arena, amongst the many crimson and white, and blue, black and white flags, one could also spot quite a few shapes and sizes of horns, showing us that the Balts are well aware that spring is in the air !
After the puck was dropped and the game underway, the Latvians swarmed the Estonian zone and got a quick goal to take the early lead. The remainder of the period was more evenly played but neither team was able to beat the opposing goalie.
In the second period, the Estonian forwards turned the tempo up a notch with aggressive fore checking, and the result was goals by Robi Trei and Keaton Vellend which gave the Estos a 2-1 lead. The Estonians continued to attack to get the ‘insurance’ goal but solid goaltending by Latvian net minder Egils Krumins maintained that score through the end of the 2nd period. Early in the 3rd period, Estonian defenseman Erik Kolga was able to get that insurance goal when he found the top of the Latvian net with a backhand, (again from close in). If the Estonians thought that they now could nurse this lead to the Baltic Cup, they would be in for a nasty surprise
The 3rd Esto goal woke up the Latvians who started applying fierce pressure in the Estonian zone. Shortly after an Estonian penalty, the Latvians scored and with seven minutes left in regulation time, the stage was set for a furious finish. The Latvians continued to attack. In the last four minutes the Estonians were forced into two more penalties, and with the Latvian goalie on the bench for an extra forward, the pressure on the Estonian goal was relentless. Only terrific goalkeeping by Tyler Vellend (again!) kept the Latvians from tying the game, and allowed the Estonians to hang onto a 3 – 2 victory!
In summary, the game was a hard fought battle. Excellent goaltending kept the game low scoring, and tight checking in the neutral zone did not allow for much fancy playmaking. Because all scoring opportunities came from goalmouth second or third chances, this in turn led to a few ‘chippy’ moments. However, any outstanding disputes were quickly resolved after the game over friendly refreshment in the Iceland Arena Lounge.
The creation of the Baltic Cup and the Canadian Multicultural Hockey League tournaments have also encouraged participation from several young Estonian men who recently had not been active in our community, and it allowed the Estonians to field one of our strongest teams. This was very important as the Latvians gave a very good account of themselves in the championship game. Thanks must go to Paul Marley who has done a great job managing the Este hockey team.
Congratulations to the Estonians, 2008 Baltic Cup Champions !
12:11 Latvian Goal #45 C. Ozolins (#9 K. Bergmanis)
Latvian Penalty #11 M. Balins (2 mins. Checking)
Latvian Penalty # 8 K. Bermanis (2 mins. Checking)
11:35 Estonian Goal #2 R. Trei (#17 A. Migur / #19 M. Pärna)
6:06 Estonian Goal # 13 K. Vellend (#2 R. Trei / #19 M. Pärna)
1:37 Estonian Penalty #13 K. Vellend (2 mins. hooking)
9:16 Estonian Goal #7 E. Kolga
7:55 Estonian Penalty #10 T. Eichenbaum (2 mins. Interference)
7:04 Latvian Goal #18 M. Mezulis
6:50 Latvian Penalty #77 A. Avenins (2 mins. Slashing)
3:30 Estonian Penalty #4 M. Rosenberg (2 mins. Hooking)
Estonian Penalty #9 J. Hess (2 mins. Tripping)