So, here we are - again. Facing down the third straight ECL Elite finals featuring HAVU Gaming and Linköping HC. The most intense rivalry in EASHL gaming.
The “El Clasico of NHL gaming”.
"With ECL 10 fast approaching and both teams looking as strong as ever, can anyone really be blamed for predicting another matchup in the ECL Elite finals between HAVU and LHC?
I certainly wouldn’t put it past them."
The words are my own, printed in the first part of our ECL Elite Season Preview here at NHLGamer. A piece entitled “The Big Two”. Because that’s really what they are, HAVU and LHC; in a league of their own.
4-0 (BRAYCE Phantoms), 4-1 (hREDS) vs 4-0 (Roots), 4-1 (Farjestad BK)
The big two.
It was not some sudden realization that struck me, inspiring me to put those words on paper. I didn’t suddenly develop the gift of foresight and managed to read the future. I’ve simply been around these teams and players long enough to know that their skill, experience and drive to succeed is simply unmatched in this community. It has been for the past year and a half, give or take.
That’s why we are here - again.
However, even if the destination we arrived at was the expected one, it doesn’t take away from the journey there.
HAVU and LHC once again had to earn their stripes.
Finishing 2nd (LHC) and 3rd (HAVU) in the ECL 10 regular season behind JYP Jyvaskyla, both teams sported identical 26-3-1 records and amassed 53 points each. LHC was the highest-scoring team in the regular season, lighting the lamp an impressive 129 times. Helped in part by Paul @PleeMaker Aronties record-breaking 58-goal campaign, no doubt. The second-best offense in the league? HAVU, of course, with 103 goals. When it comes to the defensive side of the puck, none were better than HAVU. Allowing just 40 goals in 30 games, goaltender Hannes @Hansulinho Kettunen and his men kept opponents to 1,33 goals per game. Allowing a mere six goals more (46), ECL 10 cover athlete Casper @ICappeI Lundgren and his teammates were no slouches in the defensive category either.
When it comes to the man-advantage HAVU finished 2nd, connecting on an intimidating 34,39 percent of their chances. LHC finished 10th in the league with a powerplay percentage of 24,49 - solid, but not game-breaking. When it came to killing penalties, these two showed why they are the best in the business. HAVU killed 86,49% of their PK situations (1st in the league) while racking up 74 penalty minutes (8th most). LHC neutralized 84,21% of their penalties (2nd) but displayed military-like discipline by only collecting 38 PIMs.
In the playoffs, both teams once again proved their mettle by earning identical 4-0 series wins over Roots Gaming (LHC) and BRAYCE Phantoms (HAVU) in the first round. The second round offered more resistance as Linköping took on fellow Swedish SHL team Färjestad BK – a team who had just pulled off a massive upset against #1 seed JYP. LHC took the first game but FBK fought back and evened out the series 1-1. On the second gameday, FBK came dangerously close to collecting a 2-0 win in Game 3. But with mere minutes remaining of the 3rd period, LHC showed why they are the defending ECL Grand Champions. Striking lightning-fast three times over and turning the game into a 3-2 win, LHC broke FBK’s spirit and soon thereafter snagged two more wins to take the series. HAVU faced hREDS – a team known for their high level of individual skill. HAVU got out to a 3-0 series lead but had to fight tooth and nail for their advantage, winning the first two games in overtime and the third by a single goal. In Game 4, hREDS stepped up and managed to win an overtime game of their own but in Game 5 – once again overtime – HAVU punched their ticket to the finals.
Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees.
Sweden vs. Finland.
Like all the great sport rivalries, there is a level of mutual respect between the players involved. Skill recognizes skill, winners recognize winners. But while the LHC and HAVU players may be cordial off the ice, friends even, don’t think for a second these twelve men wouldn’t do just about anything to make sure their squad is the one that comes out on top in the end.
Strategy adjustments, hidden set plays saved just for this matchup – perhaps even some mind-games. You name it, we’ll probably see it.
LHC are here to defend their ECL 9 title. HAVU are here to exact revenge for that very event, especially since they actually led that series 3-1 at one point.
Forgive my indulgence, but I would like to end this Finals preview by including another quote from the ECL 10 season preview.
Because if you’ve read this far and still don’t feel like you know what we’re talking about here, we’re talking about…
… the battle between bearded beasts ICappeI and Hansulinho in net, the two-way talent in two of the strongest defender pairings of all time (Kristian-Mikael @Nassustelija Katajisto & Wille @willekunq Juntunen for HAVU; Aleksi @loimmu Loimuvirta & Joel @jtorro1233 Tourunen for LHC) and the matchup of six of the best forwards NHL esports have to offer: the above mentioned trio of FlyerKungen, Dominointi and Puantso facing off against Erik @Eki Tammenpää, Paul @PleeMaker Arontie and Joonas @Patzlaf Paatiala.
Be there this Friday and Saturday. You’ll be sorry you missed it.
How to watch?
The ECL 10 Elite Finals will be played on Friday, 5th of June and Saturday, 6th of June with a broadcast on our Twitch-channel. The broadcast is also available on Ruutu.fi & ISTV.
Saturday, June 6th
20:00 CEST Games 4-7 (puck drop around 20:25)
Don't miss the afterparty!
NHLGamer proudly presents the ELC 10 Elite Finals official afterparty!
We'll be treated to a special one-hour B2B set by Luxonia, featuring artists NickyB & Samlight. The party will kick off Saturday on our Twitch channel right after the Finals!