Next game

2018-11-09 19:00


ZTR Zaporozhye
-
HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper

Poll

Which team will win Baltic Handball League 2019?

News / Serviti and Cocks to play in the 2017/18 BHL final

Baltic Handball League

2018.04.14 21:20

Serviti and Cocks to play in the 2017/18 BHL final

What an exciting day it was in Põlva – two thrillers in the semi-finals of the Baltic Handball League's 2017/18 Final Four. Hosts Serviti Põlva beat ZTR Zaporozhye by the minimal margin 30-29 and it was as tight in the second semi, where title-holder Cocks Riihimäki took a 27-25 win over SKA Minsk.

So the final on Sunday will bring together two neighbours, just as the bronze-medal match. Last time Serviti and Cocks met in the BHL final was back in 2010, when Estonians took a 32-28 win. In the third place play-off SKA will meet ZTR – both teams met twice in the regular season and each side took a one win at home, now it's time for a decisive play-off on neutral ground.

Great semi-final match from both sides goes to Serviti

Estonian champion Serviti started on Saturday with a great percentage, as first six throws all landed in the back of the net. However, ZTR's clever attacks also brought goals, so it was a very tight match. Only in the 15th minute Serviti managed to open up a bigger gap than two goals after Hendrik Varul made it 10-7.

Hosts extended their lead by one, but eventually ZTR's defence and especially their blocks started to work better. Three unanswered goals from the Ukrainians and three minutes before the end of first half Oleksandr Tilte equalized to 15-15. Roman Aizatullov's and Henri Sillaste's goals put Serviti back in front 17-15 by half-time whistle.

Serviti struggled with expulsions after the restart, but managed to keep a draw or a one-goal lead until ZTR's defence became even more aggressive. Ukrainian team kept Serviti goalless for over five minutes and Tilte's penalty throw put ZTR in lead for the first time in the 42nd minute.

Playmaker Tilte added two more goals and suddenly ZTR was ahead 23-20. Constant change of defensive formations by Serviti became a problem for Ukrainians and a great fightback started. In the 53rd minute Varul made it 26-26 and inside just few minutes after that Aizatullov, Sillaste and Kristjan Muuga turned the match for Serviti 29-26.

Or so it seemed… ZTR was not about to give up. Dmytro Artemenko's two goals, one more from Oleksii Ganchev and the two teams were on level again with 90 seconds to play. Varul scored, but Ukrainians had more than 40 seconds to take the game to extra-time. They did not manage that and Serviti took a 30-29 win! Sillaste, Aizatullov and Antolii Chezlov scored 6 goals for the hosts, while Artemenko recorded 9 goals for the visitors.

Morkunas and Rönnberg win the semi-final for Cocks

SKA Minsk – winners of BHL in 2013-15 – had lost to Cocks Riihimäki in the last two editions of the Final Four, 2016 in the final and last year in the semi-final and were clearly out for revenge. The Belarussians started very impressively, taking a quick 3-0 lead. But the best player was in goal for SKA, as Viachaslau Saldatsenka saved everything that was thrown at him!

It took 6 minutes and 16 seconds for the title-defender to open scoring after Nico Rönnberg converted a penalty throw. SKA's defence in general was very tight and by 18th minute they extended the lead to four – 9-5. It was time for Cocks to lock the defence and climb back into the game.

Even with Saldatsenka still impressing – including an incredible double-save in the 21st minute, Cocks cut the deficit and Rönnberg equalized to 13-13. Five seconds before the whistle Uladzislau Kulesh made sure SKA went to the break with a 14-13 lead. It was much of the same at the start of the second half – very even game, great saves from goalkeepers and not too many goals.

At one point, Cocks was two men down, but now it was turn for Giedrius Morkunas to step up. The Lithuanian goalkeeper produced some stunning saves throughout the last 20 minutes, but it was probably his saves that also lifted the spirit of the team. In the 42nd minute Rönnberg gave Cocks the first lead of the game – 20-19.

With six minutes to go, Davor Basaric extended Cocks' lead to 24-21, however – SKA never stopped fighting. Two minutes left and Kulesh was on target to make it 25-25. But it was Rönnberg – who else – again, who scored for 26-25. Kulesh had a great chance, but his throw hit the cross-bar and Rönnberg made the final score 27-25 for the Finns.

Rönnberg was by clear margin the best scorer of the game with 13 goals, Teemu Tamminen added 4 and Yury Lukyanchuk 3, while for SKA Kulesh and Mikita Vailupau scored 5, Vladyslav Dontsov and Aliaksandr Padshyvalau 4 goals.

Match schedule for Sunday, all matches live at baltichandball.net:

12:00  3rd place play-off: SKA Minsk – ZTR Zaporozhye

14:15  Final: Cocks Riihimäki – Serviti Põlva