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2019-01-18 17:00


Riihimäen Cocks
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News / Cocks is the 2017/18 BHL champion!

Baltic Handball League

2018.04.15 17:29

Cocks is the 2017/18 BHL champion!

Baltic Handball League season of 2017/18 is over. The champion is once again – for a third time in a row – Cocks Riihimäki. In a very exciting final, the Finns beat Serviti Põlva by 26-23. Bronze-medals belong to SKA Minsk, who needed two extra-times to defeat ZTR Zaporozhye 40-37.

Final match started as a typical big final in any competition – nervously and with not too many goals. True, the reason for the latter was excellent defensive work from both teams and Eston Varusk. Serviti's goalkeeper made in the first dozen minute alone five outstanding saves!

The match turned to Cocks in the last 15 minutes

Opening goal came from Davor Basaric of Cocks, when the clock showed 3:41. It took another three minutes for Anatolii Chezlov to put Serviti on the scoreboard. Soon it was 2-2 and in the 13th minute Chezlov helped Serviti to a 4-3 lead. Cocks picked up the tempo, their Russian goalkeeper Vitalii Shitsko made some great saves and the title-defender went ahead 8-5.

Serviti's head coach Kalmer Musting used a time-out productively, as Hendrik Varul twice and the goalkeeper Varusk scored three goals in quick succession to make it 8-8. Yury Lukyanchuk restored Cocks' lead, but another 3-0 spell put Serviti ahead 11-9. Half-time whistle showed hosts' 11-10 lead, while seconds before that Bojan Zupanjac was sent off for Cocks.

After the break, Nico Rönnberg – the hero of Saturday's semi-final against SKA – was accurate from the penalty mark, but Carl-Eric Uibo replied with two goals. Serviti was in control and extended their lead. In the 37th minute Martin Grištsuk made it 16-13 and eight minutes later Kristjan Muuga 21-17 – the biggest margin any team had in this final.

The last 15 minutes belonged completely to Cocks. Serviti looked tired and their attacks not as dangerous as before. With 11 minutes to play, Varul still made it 22-19 for the Estonians, but now it was Teemu Tamminen's turn to become a hero – three consecutive goals broke Serviti's back and Cocks took a deserved 26-23 win. Rönnberg scored 6 and Tamminen 5 goals for the winners, while Uibo and Chezlov were Serviti's best with 5 goals.

Bronze goes to SKA Minsk

First match of Sunday was the third-place play-off and it was no surprise, it turned out to be another thriller between two even teams. SKA Minsk started exactly like the day before against Cocks – taking a quick 3-0 lead. Unstoppable seemed the right-winger Mikita Vailupau, who scored three of the first four goals for the Belarussians.

In the 11th minute, it was Vailupau again, who made it 8-3 for SKA – the biggest margin if the game. ZTR took the initiative after that, in the 23rd minute Artem Zviezdov equalized the score for 11-11 and soon with three consecutive goals from left-winger Dmytro Artemenko, ZTR was ahead 14-12!

At the break, the Ukrainians led 16-15 and had the match under control until midway through the second half. SKA then kept their opponents goalless for six minutes, had an excellent 4-0 spell and took a 24-22 lead. Especially dangerous were Hleb Harbuz and Vladyslav Dontsov – the latter eventually scored 9 goals against his compatriots.

But ZTR fought back and soon, after Oleksandr Tilte's two successes from the penalty mark, were ahead 26-25. It was tight until the end of the normal time, when Uladzislau Kulesh scored 29-29 with seven seconds to go to take the match to extra-time or as it turned out, even to two extra-times.

SKA seemed to have the edge during the extra-time and they had an unexpected hero in third-choice goalkeeper Ihar Chernikau. The 23-year-old saved Tilte's penalty throw and made several stunning saves. The score was 34-34 after the first extra-time, but Eduard Kravchenko put ZTR ahead at the start of the second.

It was again time for Dontsov and Harbuz to step up and turn the score 36-35 for SKA. The Belarussians then suffered a big loss after Dontsov was sent off, but ZTR could not use the advantage and eventually SKA run away with a 40-37 win! Harbuz scored 11 goals for the winners and Oleksii Ganchev 9 for losing side.

Final results of the 2017/18 BHL season:

1st: Cocks Riihimäki

2nd: Serviti Põlva

3rd: SKA Minsk

4th: ZTR Zaporozhye

MVP of the Final Four: Aliaksandr Bachko (Cocks)

Top scorer of BHL: Arturs Lazdinš (Celtnieks Riga)