Late drama and shootout win send Pilsen to Semi-Finals!
Pilsen's Lukáš Kaňák shoots on Skellefteå goalie Gustaf Lindvall with traffic in front. (Photo: Petr Fryba)
  • Kovář: shootout-winning goal for Pilsen in CHL debut
  • Frodl & Lindvall: 36 and 35 saves, respectively
  • Powerplays: Pilsen 0/5, Skelleftea 1/3

Jan Kovář, in his Champions Hockey League debut, scored the shootout-winning goal to send HC Pilsen into the Semi-Finals, following a spectacular two-game series with Swedish powerhouse Skellefteå AIK.

For most of regulation time, this return game was a goaltending duel between Dominik Frodl and Gustaf Lindvall, who through 70 minutes of hockey made 36 and 35 saves – several of the spectacular variety. It remained scoreless – and 3-3 on aggregate – for over 57 minutes before Robin Alvarez scored a powerplay goal for Skellefteå, and then Jakub Kindl tied it back up in the last minute with an extra attacker on the ice.

While goals were at a premium, scoring chances were not, and they seemed to get more frequent as time passed. Pilsen came up empty on their first four powerplay chances, while Skellefteå were denied on their first two. Late in the second period, Pilsen had sustained pressure in the Skelleftea zone for more than two full minutes thanks to a 4-on-3 advantage, but just couldn’t buy a goal.

Early in the third period, Skellefteå thought they’d finally broken through. Joakim Lindstöm’s quick shot entered the net before Frodl could move across, but the Pilsen netminder immediately protested and, upon video review, it was determined that Mathis Olimb had interfered with him as he cut in front of the net at the top of the crease.

The chances continued, but the goals didn’t. Nearing the midpoint of the third period, Frodl made a spectacular glove save off an Oscar Möller one-timer. Then it was Lindvall’s turn to shine on a pair of successive Pilsen powerplays. On the first one, he stoned Indrák with a pad save from point-blank range, and then with under six minutes to play, he robbed Denis Kindl on the doorstep with the glove.

Dominik Frodl celebrates the win. (Photo: Petr Fryba)
Skelleftea pressure around Dominik Frodl's net. (Photo: Petr Fryba)
Milan Gulaš scores on Gustaf Lindvall to finish the shootout and secure victory for Pilsen. (Photo: Petr Fryba)
Pilsen fans cheer their team on. (Photo: Petr Fryba)
Lukáš Kaňák shoots on Gustaf Lindvall, with traffic in front. (Photo: Petr Fryba)

When Alvarez skated down low and finally scored on Skellefteå’s third powerplay with a wrist shot that went top corner on Frodl with 2:28 to go, it looked like the team from Northern Sweden had punched its ticket to the Semi-Finals. But with Frodl on the bench for a sixth attacker, Milan Gulaš feathered a perfect pass to tee up a one-time blast from the point by Kindl that went through everyone in front of the net with 36 seconds to go, sending the series to overtime.

After the excitement of the third period, the 10-minute overtime period was surprisingly lacking in chances, despite a fifth Pilsen powerplay, which was their second 4-on-3 of the game.

The shootout only needed four rounds, which Pilsen won 3-1. After Jonathan Pudas opened with a goal for Skellefteå, Frodl shut the door with three straight saves, while Petr Kodýtek, Kovář and Gulaš scored to send Pilsen to the CHL Semi-Finals for the first time ever.