Miskolc defends title
Miskolc defends title
Polar Bears sweeps MAC Budapest in final
“It is an amazing feeling to win a series like this,” said Jason Morgan, head coach of the “Polar Bears”.
This past season in the MOL League was filled with excitement and drama, the league had picked up two Hungarian teams in MAC Budapest and the farm team for Fehervar AV19 and lost a team in the Slovak club Nove Zamky. The Romanian Federation decided not to allow the two Romanian clubs SC Csikszereda (Miercurea Ciuc) and ASC Corona Brasov to compete only in the MOL Liga as in the past few seasons. The two clubs were forced to play about 80 regular-season games both in the MOL Liga and in the Romanian championship.
In a close battle all season the team form Miskolc won the regular season six points ahead of second place MAC. Interestingly enough the champions took the regular season series 6-0 despite the two teams jostling all season at the top of the standings.
Fehervar finished third and the previous season’s expansion team Debrecen improved to fourth place. The two other Budapest clubs, Ujpesti TE and Ferencvaros, also improved on their previous season as Ujpesti TE finished fifth and Ferencvaros made the plays after missing out the past couple of seasons.
The final playoff spot was open until the last round of games where the winner of the Ferencvaros-Csikszereda game would be in the playoffs. Both Dunaujvaros and Brasov were going through a youth movement this season, with the later so much that they did not sign a single import player this year to give a number of junior players quality ice time.
Last season’s championship-winning head coach Gergely Majoross took over the MAC Budapest team and guided it past Fehervar in a thrilling seven-game series where the home team won every game including two overtime wins. On the other side of the brackets Miskolc disposed Debrecen in a four-game sweep even though Miskolc had to deal with injuries and suspensions during the playoffs.
With ample time to rest and recover, the defending champions looked like the dominant team in game one. MAC Budapest started the series without one of their first line forwards as Tomas Klempa broke his finger. Jon Booras put Miskolc up 2-0 after the first period, MAC found a goal early in the second on a Mike Quinn goal when, however, Miskolc got themselves together and ended up winning 4-1 with a late Jesse Dudas power play goal.
For game two MAC came out to fight as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. This was without Klempa and the league's leading scorer Ian McDonald, who picked up an injury during the second period. A key moment in the game and possibly the series came in last minute of the second period when Kalvin Sagert scored from the blue line. This gave them momentum that they carried into the third period as Justin Cseter scored 47 seconds into the period. Just as Miskolc tied the game up on a goal by Balazs Somogyi, Kristzian Nagy put MAC back up by one. They were 12 seconds away from winning game two when Booras put a rebound home to send the game into overtime. In the extra period Somogyi scored his second of the game to put DVTK up two games to zero as the series switched to Budapest.
Game three was similar to the second game as in one team took a multiple goal lead early in the game with the other coming back late in the second. Miskolc went up 2-0 on goals by Nikandrosz Galanisz and Adrian Toth. MAC tied it up with goals by Jeff Hayes and Drew Olson in the second half of the middle period. Booras was again the hero as MAC did not have an answer to the third goal.
The game four was the Jon Booras show as the American forward almost single-handedly closed out the series with the fourth Miskolc win. Booras had one goal and two assists in the first period and assisted on the fourth Miskolc goal to go up 4-0. MAC made it 4-1 on an Arnold Sillo goal. In the end Miskolc won 5-2 with Booras finishing with one goal and four assists and being named playoff MVP as Miskolc defended their MOL Liga title.
Morgan, who took over in the middle of the season for Peter Mayer, agreed that the second game was the key to the series. “Coming back and tying up game two was huge for us as we tied it late and won it in overtime. If we had lost it, it would have been a completely new series. In the playoffs anything can happen. I stressed that no matter what happens we have to stick to our game plan,” Morgan said.”
“It was a new team filled with young players who played great this season and took leaps forward in their development and stood up to what was asked of them in this series against a great team like this,” 39-year-old team captain and grizzled veteran Viktor Tokaji said. “We can be very proud of what we put together this season as the players came together early in the season and also how the coaching staff was put together.”
1. DVTK Jegesmedvek Miskolc (HUN)
2. MAC Budapest (HUN)
3. Fehervar AV19 (HUN)
4. Debreceni HK (HUN)
5. Ujpesti TE Budapest (HUN)
6. Ferencvaros Budapest (HUN)
7. SC Csikszereda (Miercurea Ciuc) (ROU)
8. Dunaujvarosi Acelbikak (HUN)
9. ASC Corona Brasov (ROU)
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