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News / BHL Newsletter: Two BHL-derbies played before international break
Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: Two BHL-derbies played before international break
Last week was much more quiet on domestic and international club front, as many countries had already made a break in the league in order to prepare for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifying matches. Nevertheless, two derbies between BHL clubs took place in Estonia and Latvia.
In Estonian Cup, Serviti Põlva had a ten-goal advantage over HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper going into the return leg at home. Kehra was dominating most of the match in Põlva, but hosts pulled back a four-goal deficit to draw 32:32 (14:15) and qualified to the quarter-finals. Ivan Telepnev and Henri Sillaste scored 6 goals for Serviti, while Dmytro Yankovskiy managed 7 for Kehra.
Two other BHL's Estonian teams also qualified to the last eight, as Viljandi HC beat Aruküla/Audentes for the second time by 35:14 (17:7) with Belarussian winger Andrei Khapal on fire, scoring 12 goals. And HC Tallinn also took second win over Coop Põlva by 30:21 (13:7), as another right-winger Enrico Anton scored 7 times.
Lazdinš' 15 goals not enough for Celtnieks against Tenax
Latvian handball fans had on Sunday the chance to see last year's two domestic finalists to meet for the first time this season, as ZRHK Tenax Dobele hosted Celtnieks Riga. Both teams started the BHL season with a win over an Estonian club and as they are playing together in Group B, will have plenty of chances to meet during the season.
After a even start to the match, champions Tenax pulled a three-goal lead by half-time and in a very high-scoring match, took a 40:34 (19:16) win. Nikita Pančenko and Nils Kreicbergs scored eight goals for the winners, but last year's BHL top scorer Arturs Lazdinš was in great form for Celtnieks, recording 15 goals.
Three-time BHL champion SKA Minsk was involved in the top domestic clash against HC Meshkov Brest. The EHF Champions League team led comfortably for most of the match and took a 29:25 (16:10) win. Mikita Vailupau scored 5 and Aliaksei Khadkevich 4 goals for SKA, who has now 10 points in the Belarus league, two behind Meshkov.
In Finland, Cocks Riihimäki had an easy week for a change and had the luxury of introducing two young players in Leevi Viita and Miro Viitamäki to top division action. BHL title-holder beat Pargas IF 36:19 (22:8) in Finnish league, as Teemu Tamminen scored 11 and Davor Basaric 7 goals.
No fewer than 43 BHL-players called up to EURO 2020 qualifiers
This week will see 32 teams across Europe starting the EURO 2020 qualifying matches. It will be the first of six rounds overall which will eventually see 20 teams qualifying for EHF EURO 2020 in Sweden, Austria and Norway. The first two teams of each of the 8 groups qualify for EURO 2020 and so do the best four third-ranked teams.
Baltic Handball League players and even few of the coaches are heavily involved, as no fewer than 43 players were called up for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Finland. In addition, Dragunas' head coach Arturas Juškenas is also in charge of the Lithuanian national team and SKA's head coach Ihar Papruha assists Yury Shevtsov with Belarus squad.
Eleven out of BHL twelve teams have players involved in the upcoming qualifiers, the only one without internationals is Viljandi HC. Six players each were called up from Dragunas, Tenax and Cocks with the latter being the only club who has representatives in three different national teams. In addition to four Finns, Cocks saw Olexandr Kyrylenko travelling to join Ukraine and Giedrius Morkunas teaming up with Lithuania.
The only other team to have players in two different national teams is HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper, as Kaspar Lees will play for Estonia and Uvis Strazdinš was called up by Latvia. Serviti and SKA have five players involved, Celtnieks Riga four, ZTR Zaporozhye three, HC Tallinn, Granitas-Karys Kaunas and VHC Šviesa also two, like Kehra. Latvia and Lithuania are the two teams consisting most BHL-players with 11 each.
On photo: Four players with four different passports in Serviti Põlva – HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper match – from left Ivan Telepnev (FYR Macedonia/Belarus), Uvis Strazdinš (Latvia), Hendrik Varul (Estonia) and Anton Barouski (Belarus). Photo: Helin Potter.