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Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: domestic BHL-derbies in all Baltic States
All twelve BHL clubs were in either domestic or international action last week with the two Latvian sides especially busy. In all three Baltic States there were important clashes between BHL clubs, while ZTR Zaporozhye's Dmytro Artemenko set a record of the season by scoring 18 goals in an Ukrainian league match.
In the Latvian championship it was an extremely busy week, as the two strongest teams and BHL participants ZRHK Tenax Dobele and Celtnieks Riga played three games each inside just five days. The key match between the two took place in Dobele on Wednesday and the hosts came out victorious 43:38.
Three wins for Tenax, two for Celtnieks
Tenax took the initiative from the start and although Celtnieks got close on several occasions, they never had the lead. 20:15 up by half-time, title-defenders extended it, but eventually settled for a five-goal victory. National team playmaker Maris Veršakovs scored eight goals for the winners, while Celtnieks' Belarussian centre back Aliaksei Haisa scored 13.
In the following days both teams added four points to their tally, scoring over 80 goals in the process. Tenax beat SK Latgols Ludza 36:27 (Egils Politers 7 goals) and ASK/LSPA Riga 51:28 (Andis Ermanis and Oskars Arajs 8).
Celtnieks defeated Jurmalas Sports 43:23 (Aliaksandr Patcykailik 8) and HK Vainode 40:20 (Dmitrijs Petuhovs 11). Curiously, leader of the Latvian league is HK Ogre with 16 points, but Celtnieks and Tenax are following with 14 and having played two and three games less respectively.
In Estonia, Serviti Põlva also had a busy midweek. On Wednesday the champions defeated SK Tapa 31:21 (Alfred Timmo 4) in a league match and on the following day took a 28:22 (Henri Sillaste 8 – Robert Lõpp 5) advantage in a "BHL-derby" over Viljandi HC in the first leg of Estonian cup quarter-final. HC Tallinn had an easier cup game against their reserve team of Raasiku/Mistra, winning 41:20 (Robin Oberg 7).
Incredible, but true: Artemenko scored 17 goals in one half
Third Baltic BHL-derby did not have a winner, as Granitas-Karys Kaunas and VHC Šviesa Vilnius played a 27:27 draw (Tadas Bučinskas 8 – Laurynas Palevičius 9). Champions Dragunas Klaipeda suffered a shocking defeat at home in the hands of Kauno Ažuolas-KTU, losing 36:33 (Žanas Gabrielijus Virbauskas 6).
"We were not as focused as in the Baltic League. It may have seemed like an easier opponent and we should win this. When we got out there, we just looked at each other and thought our teammates would do everything. We did not fulfill our plans and instructions," commented Virbauskas to club website.
It was also a week of two victories for ZTR Zaporozhye in the Ukrainian league, first of them quite remarkable. Having played two BHL matches during the weekend, ZTR travelled to Lviv and took a 45:17 win on Monday over local SKA. Dmytro Artemenko scored stunning 18 goals, with 17 of them coming in the second half. On Saturday, ZTR beat Donbass Donetsk region by 33:23 (Oleksiy Ganchev 8).
SKA Minsk continued their winning run in the Belarus league ahead of the EHF Cup clash with German giants Rhein-Neckar Löwen. They beat Masheka Mogilyov 29:25 (Yulian Hiryk and Siarhei Shylovich 6). Cocks Riihimäki suffered another EHF Champions League loss, as Swedish side IK Sävehof was better at home by 28:22.
On photo: Celtnieks' playmaker Aliaksei Haisa scored 13 goals against champions Tenax, but ended up on the losing side. (Photo: Celtnieks).