Round 2 of the IS Cup 4 playoffs saw an interesting matchup rivalry as the 2018 Finnish champions FILADELPHIA faced the Swedish champions of this year - Vesa Pompa HC. The stacked rosters are led by good friends Eki and eken45jr respectively. Expectations for this series were through the roof even though FILA was widely considered the favourite heading into the games.
Head-to-head (Regular season stats)
I_Eki_I (12GP, 12+38=50) vs eken45jr (12GP, 9+13=22)
FinKonna (6GP, 6W, 85.10 SV%, 1.16 GAA) vs Thunboorg (12GP, 9W, 84.80 SV%, 1.58 GAA)
Like a typical opening game in a series, we saw a tight game with a disciplined tactical approach on both sides, as a result very few goals. FILADELPHIA took the lead and in the third period Vesa Pompa equalized. Both sides defended well but we also saw a couple of stellar scoring chances in both ends of the rink. In overtime FILADEPHIA scored in an instant, just like they must have determined during the short period break.
FILADELPHIA took the lead by putting up two goals relatively early in the first period. Their play seemed superior to what felt like most of the game but just before the end of the second period Vesa Pompa scored to make it 2-1. After their disastrous beginning, Vesa Pompa managed to compose themselves and really deserved their first goal. The start of the third period was a cold shower to say the least, as FILA managed to get an early goal increasing the differential to two goals again. Vesa Pompa didn´t give up and about five minutes before the buzzer they notch another one. There were some chances for the Swedes at the end but overall FILADELPHIA was the better team and deserved their win. Looking at the big picture I think the differences between the two teams became clearer in this game despite the tight score and Vesa Pompas good performance. The series score is 2-0 and at this point it's hard to see Vesa Pompa mounting a comeback with how convincing FILA's game is looking.
It is commonly quite typical that the third win is hard to take in these best of 5 or best of 7 playoff series and that is exactly what happened this time around too. Vesa Pompa took the lead in the first period and they went for broke to get the their vital first win in this series. It was refreshing to see a new found confidence and a true balls to the wall effort by the Swedes but FILADELPHIA weathered the storm and knew that losing this game could end up being costly. FILADELPHIA dominated the game in terms of the shot statistics and did by no means resort to merely playing defense. Vesa Pompa was also in good form and kept the lead until the third period. FILADELPHIA managed to equalize on the powerplay when @PleeMaker acted as the closer at the end of a beautiful passing play. We had overtime and lots of it to ensue. These teams played well past the halfway mark of the second overtime period when finally FILA managed to strike gold. This time @Juunas finished a one-timer from close range. FILADELPHIA moves on by a sweep.
Above: FILA OT goal in Game 3 to win the series
All the games in this series were tight and two went to overtime. FILADELPHIA showed their strength and experience by managing to win games after being down by a goal twice. It was not result of coincidence but a result of determination and experience in playing together and a strong team spirit. Vesa Pompa put forth an enormous effort in challenging this top team and gave their best but this time, that wasn't enough. FILA was the better team in all areas and deservingly moves on to the quarterfinals.
Which series should we cover next?