The journey to the Final of this year’s Champions Hockey League isn’t over yet. With a couple of postponements, we’re still waiting to see who will join Rögle Ängelholm in the Final, as Tappara Tampere and Red Bull Munich will play a single game Semi-Final to book their place.
For Tappara, this is uncharted territory. The Finnish side had never previously made it past the Round of 16, but a second game victory over the Växjö Lakers saw them progress into the Quarter-Finals, where they faced a tough test against the Rouen Dragons of France, but again it was a Return Game victory that saw them through to the Semi-Finals.
In the entire CHL, there are few better playmakers than Kristian Kuusela. In ten games this year, the veteran Finn has 11 assists, leading his team and tied for second-most in the competition. He’s a pure playmaker, with all his points coming from assists, with Kuusela yet to find the back of the net himself, but Tappara Tampere are a team with a lot of depth in terms of goals. Rather than having an out-and-out goalscorer, the team have shared those duties around, with Kyle Platzer currently the leader with four on the year, but five players are right behind him with three goals to their name heading into the all or nothing game.
In net, Tappara have relied heavily on Christian Heljanko, something they’re likely to continue with as the 24-year-old currently has stopped the fourth-most shots in the competition to date.
For Munich, they’ve been here before. In the 2018/19 season, the German side went all the way to the final two, before losing out 3-1 to Frölunda Gothenburg.
It wasn’t easy in the Round of 16, but they got the job done against Fribourg-Gottéron, winning both games by slim margins and things were even tighter in the Quarter-Finals as it took overtime to book their place to advance.
The first game against Lukko Rauma ended in a 2-2 tie and it remained close in the Return Game, with Justin Schütz eventually sealing Munich’s passage through to the final four with a goal in overtime.
They'll have to be in top form for Tuesday's game if they are to seal their spot in the 2021/22 Final, as many vital team members will be missing due to the Olympic Games - Danny aus den Birken, Frederik Tiffels, Ben Street, Patrick Hager, Yasin Ehliz and more are all in China with their National teams and will not feature in the CHL this time around.