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News / BHL Newsletter: Dragunas remains in Lithuanian throne
Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: Dragunas remains in Lithuanian throne
Week by week competitions are coming to an end in six countries of the Baltic Handball League. Last week was a great one for two of this season's BHL Final Four participants – Dragunas Klaipeda successfully defended their Lithuanian league title, while SKA Minsk surprised HC Meshkov Brest in the Belarussian Cup final!
Dragunas had already a 2-0 lead in the final series against fellow BHL competitor VHC Šviesa Vilnius, but by no means it was easy on Wednesday. It was exceptionally tight match in Klaipeda and not once (!) during the game one team had a more than a one-goal lead.
Serviti Põlva took a 2-0 final lead over HC Tallinn
Karolis Bliuvas' 59th minute penalty goal secured the 23:22 win (Bliuvas 4 – Karolis Antanavičius 9) and yet another title for Dragunas. "It was very tough, both teams played really well and hardly made mistakes. We won 3-0, but that's just numbers, as this year's finals were much more difficult than the year before," commented Dragunas' head coach Arturas Juškenas.
Unfortunately it was not a "clean sweep" for BHL teams in Lithuania. Incredible come-back in the second half secured that Varsa-Stronglasas Alytus defeated Granitas-Karys Kaunas by 28:26 (Karolis Grigas 6 for Granitas) and won the bronze-medals. Granitas had a 20:14 lead in the 45th minute and were still ahead 25:22 with five minutes to play, but lost.
Final series are also in full swing in Estonia. Title-defender Serviti Põlva started impressively in their attempt to win an unprecedented fifth consecutive league title. At home, Serviti beat HC Tallinn 28:17 (Henri Sillaste 8 – Sergei Glinka 5) and on Sunday took a 2-0 lead in the series, winning away by 35:27 (Alfred Timmo 9 – Risto Lepp 8).
Bronze-medal battle in Estonia has surprisingly turned out extremely tight affair. Coop Põlva surprised HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper away by winning 28:27 (Dmytro Yankovskiy 11 for Kehra), but the 11-time Estonian champions bounced back and won in Põlva by 25:24 (Janar Mägi 9). The series will be decided today, on Monday in Kehra.
SKA Minsk claimed the Belarus Cup
Finland's league is exactly in the same stage as their southern neighbours' – final series are being played, but in much tighter schedule, as three matches were held last week. BHL champion Cocks Riihimäki started with a 26:24 win (Teemu Tamminen 10) over Dicken Helsingi.
But the team from capitol also used their home advantage and defeated Cocks in the second match by 30:27 (Sasa Puljizovic 6). And once more home proved to be a castle, as Cocks turned the finals into their favour with a 28:25 win (Nico Rönnberg 7) on Sunday and lead by 2-1.
Having been left as second best for many years in Belarus domestic competitions, SKA Minsk finally won a trophy! In the Belarus Cup Final Four, SKA first beat Masheka Mogilyov 37:23 (Mikita Vailupau 12) and then shocked HC Meshkov Brest in the final by taking a 30:29 win (Dzmitry Nikulenkau 7) and claiming the cup!
In Ukraine, the cup competition had only reached the quarter-finals stage and BHL runner-up ZTR Zaporozhye had no problems overcoming second division side Karpaty Uzhgorod. ZTR booked their place in the Final Four by two comprehensive wins – 41:18 (Andrii Akimenko 9) and 35:18 (Danylo Hlushak and Oleksii Scherbak 6).
On photo: 2018/19 Lithuanian champion Dragunas Klaipeda. (Photo: RK Dragunas).