Under normal circumstances, today would have been the start of the 2020/21 Champions Hockey League season. To mark the occasion, we look back to the first day of the CHL’s first season – 21 August 2014.
Fifteen games faced off that Thursday – first in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where Vítkovice beat ERC Ingolstadt 5-1. Three more games faced off 30 minutes later, including a game in Tampere, Finland, which produced the CHL’s first goal. Just past the game’s four-minute mark, Stavanger Oilers forward Josh Soares etched his name in the pages of CHL history, re-directing a perfect pass from Christian Dahl-Andersen past Tappara Tampere goalie Juha Metsola.
In fact, the Oilers built up an early 3-0 lead, with Soares netting his second of the game at 8:00, and it looked like an upset was in the makings. The Norwegian champs continued to lead 3-1 at the game’s midpoint, before Tappara stepped their game into high gear and ultimately reeled off a 7-3 win, with Pekka Jormakka scoring twice and defenceman David Kolomatis recording four points.
While watching this game, keep an eye out for French international Teddy DaCosta in Tappara’s lineup. Playing for Stavanger is Italian international Nick Plastino, who would join Tappara the following season. On Tappara’s roster but not playing is 16-year-old Patrik Laine, who would make his professional debut by playing in three CHL games that 2014/15 season.
Ultimately, the result of this game was huge as the two teams finished tied atop Group E with 11 points each. By virtue of winning their head-to-head meetings 4-2 in points, Tappara won Group E but fell in the Round of 16 to the perennially powerful Frölunda Indians, starting a trend that they have repeated many times since. The Oilers would have to wait a year before experiencing the CHL Playoffs, beating Eisbären Berlin in the Round of 32 in before falling to Skellefteå AIK.