The Bears beat Graz 99ers 3:1 (1:1, 1:0, 1:0) in 32nd round of EBEL, which is the second consecutive win of the Zagreb team after the Canadian coach Connor Cameron left the bench, and tonight the team was officially taken over by the returnee to the club, American Doug Bradley.
The guests from Graz came to lead in 8th minute with a goal by Justin Buzzeo, but Tyler Morley equalized in the 17th minute. In 27th minute Medveščak came to 2:1 advantage with a goal by Mario Puskarich, and 32 before the game's end Tyler Morley cut a pass at the center and undisturbed sent the puck to the unprotected net, because the guests in the game finale withdrew their goalkeeper to have one player more on ice, in their efforts to equalize.
This was the first game lead by the new coach Douglas Bradley.
»It is nice to be back in Zagreb, in Medveščak! I feel good about it. Here I have many friends, I have seen some of them already, and I even forgot some people's names, because so many years went by... I have nice memories from Zagreb and Medveščak and I am very glad to be here again«, Bradley admitted.
He also admitted that he was actually surprised with the call from Medveščak: »I can't say that I wasn't surprised with the invitation from Zagreb. I had to change my Christmas and New Year's Eve plans, it wasn't easy to come to Zagreb so quickly, but I didn't want to miss this opportunity, and so I'm here.«
He believes that this team has a great potential: »I am satisfied with the game tonight. The team tried hard, they showed their character, their potential. We talked before the game, I pointed out some little things that they must take care of – to take away the puck, to shoot on goal, to lead the play, to take care of defense... I am glad that they listened to me, it paid off! This team has a great character and this should be visible on the ice, in their play. We will go one game at the time, focused and determined.«
Together with the double scorer Morley, the Medveščak's goalkeeper Vilim Rosandić also played exceptionally, with 27 saves out of 28 Graz hockey players' shots on goal, and he was voted the player of the game.
»Rosandić was excellent tonight. He played superbly, focused, he has a great potential, the team likes him and they understand him well«, Bradley noticed.
Bradley coached the team with help from sports director Aaron Fox, under whose leadership Medveščak won their last game away in Villach and stopped the series of defeats.
Fox and Bradley after the game
»I coached Aaron Fox in five clubs, I know him very well as a player and honestly I have no problems with that he is now actually my boss. We have a great relationship. Aaron has a great character, he is a great professional and first of all a great person«, Bradley said about Fox.
»It is great to be back in the winning line with this home game. The supporters created a great energy, which is of utmost importance for the players and their good performance. We had a great play, the players stood well and fought for the whole 60 minutes on ice«, Fox briefly commented the game.
Medveščak has their next game in two days already, on Saturday December 30th at 7.30 p.m., when the guests in the Ice Hall of Dom sportova are Klagenfurt KAC.
»Klagenfurt has excellent results so far, they are high at the standings. They are a difficult and dangerous team to play with. Mistakes are not allowed when confronting them. Honestly, considering our team's character and winning desire, I expect a very hard and great struggle on ice in the next game«, Bradley announced.
This was Medveščak's 12th win, and they scored 44 points so far, which puts them on the 7th position of EBEL league standings. Vienna is still at lead with 71 points. At the bottom is Bolzano with 38 points.
KHL Medveščak Zagreb - Moser Medical Graz99ers 3:1 (1:1,1:0,1:0)
The Ice Hall - Dom sportova Zagreb
Referees: GRUBER P., STERNAT C.; PAGON N., HRIBAR M.
0:1 G99 Buzzeo J. (07:28 / Unterweger C., Higgs B. / EQ)
1:1 MZA Morley T. (16:34 / Mahbod S., Poyhonen M. / EQ)
2:1 MZA Puskarich M. (25:19 / Noonan G. / EQ)
3:1 MZA Morley T. (59:28 / unassisted / EQ)
Shots on goal: 28 - 37
Penalties: 8 - 4
MEDVEŠČAK: Nikolic V. / Deutsch A., Jarcov L., Cepon M., Boivin M., Poyhonen M., Tikkanen H., Noonan G., Kudelka T. / Brine D., Simsic N., OldenS., Puskarich M., Mahbod S., Balej J., Jankovic I., Koskiranta T., Netik T.,
/Rajsar S., Morley T., Aviani M.
GRAZ99ers: Höneckl T. / Strohmeier R., Weihager P., Carlsson J., Iberer F., Setzinger O., Unterweger C. / Zusevics Z., Zierer N., Ograjensek K., Nixon B., Higgs B., Pirmann M., Brophey E., Woger D.,
/McLean K., Oberkofler D., Buzzeo J., Natter D.
Photo: MDVPRess/I.Šoban, Pixsell