The goalkeeping game was the decisive difference in the first part of the quarter-final series between HIFK and Luko.
Lock–HIFK 1–4 (wins 0–1)
League in the regular season Rauman Lukon Artyom Zagidul was one of the best goalkeepers in the series, especially during the early season.
It would sometimes have been hard to believe from Saturday night’s excerpts. Zagidulin surely wants to quickly forget the opening match of the quarter-final series between Luko and HIFK.
Zagidulin constantly had difficulties getting the puck glued to the covers of his equipment. After several saves, the tile was left lying near the goal line.
IFK’s first goal was accidentally kicked by Zagidulin into his own goal. Of course, injuries happen, but Zagidulin managed to shine in exactly the same way again in IFK’s next goal.
The lock goalkeeper’s bad luck was a big part of IFK’s 4–1 win. From the Äijänsuo ice rink, the people from Helsinki grabbed home advantage at the same time.
Zagiduli played in the regular season the most of the goalkeepers in the League, 53 matches out of 60. Now the signs of getting tired are noticeable at the worst possible moment.
Instead, with IFK’s goal Roope Taponen was excellent in his first playoff start of his league career. Taponen, who has saved 39 times, will form a solid cornerstone for IFK in the spring, which is unlikely to disappoint in the future.
“After all, these are different games than regular season games. There were a bit of butterflies in the stomach, but that’s just a good sign, at least he knows he cares about this effort,” Taponen stated after the game in an interview with C More.
The IFK field players also had a lot of covered shots. In total, Lukko shot a whopping 74 times in the match, IFK only 34.
“It was a fast-paced game. Probably pretty much what was expected: playoff stick, puck and shots on goal. But we fought well”, Taponen said.
“It was great to see how the guys put their bodies on the line.”
Home team Lukko started the opening game sharply, but after a slight initial shock, even IFK quickly caught on.
IFK was responsible for the first goal during the first advantage of the match in 11:37. Roni Hirvonen delivered the puck in a straight line to the goal, and in the end, the player luckily found his way to the goal with the help of Zagidulin.
The lead didn’t last even a minute when Antti Saarela quickly shot Luko’s equalizer during the postponed penalty.
In the second set, IFK scored twice. The third goal was finally achieved without Zagidulin’s help, when Hirvonen, who had circled from behind the goal to the draw, shot his second goal of the night accurately into the back upper corner.
In the third set Kristian Vesalainen got to try to score from a penalty kick. IFK was on the defensive for a long time, but Taponen was not passable, and in the end Vesalainen scored the decisive fourth goal.
for HIFK there is room for improvement, at least with superiority. The lucky opening goal came at the end of a rather weak joint venture.
At the end of the opening set, Lukko defender Samuli Piipponen your tackle Miro from Väänä so that even the helmet flew off the head of the IFK attacker. The verdict was clear after the video review: game penalty for a tackle on the head.
However, the five-minute advantage was harsh, and a great opportunity was wasted. This time it didn’t backfire yet, but as spring progresses, the situation may be different.
The next time the teams meet is on Monday in Töölö. As usual, four wins are required for a place in the semifinals.
Read more: The standings in the regular season lied as expected, but HIFK still has to fix one thing
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