The men’s European club Whitsun weekend began with thrills and spills galore as the Challenge I in Croatia and Challenge III in Gibraltar hit the turf.
In Challenge I in Sveti Ivan Zelina, the hosts HK Zelina closed out the day with a magnificent seven to give them a perfect start as they proved too strong for Hungary’s Soroksári – Olcote HC.
First quarter goals from Fran Nemčič, Mihael Posavec and Ivan Šoić built a healthy 3-1 lead and they were out of range from there on with Nemčič and Domahoj Hrupec finishing with two goals each in a 7-2 win.
It has them in the early lead in Pool A on goal difference from Poland’s KS Pomorzanin Torun who were 3-1 winners over Šiauliai Ginstrekte ŠSG. The hugely experienced Ukranian Dmytro Luppa scoring a set piece early on which captain Krystian Makowski doubled.
Michal Dawid doubled that lead in the third quarter before Povilas Sinkevičius got a goal back from the Lithuanian outfit
In Pool B, AD Lousada won a mad-cap 7-4 win over Polisportiva Ferrini Cagliari ASD. They looked comfortable at 4-0 at half-time before the Italian side cut the gap significantly to 5-3 with a trio of Q3 goals.
Amid a flurry of four yellow cards – two per team – Lousada did keep their accuracy and to add further efforts in the closing seconds of the last two quarters to keep clear.
Grammarians, meanwhile, were strong 4-0 winners over HK Lipovci with all the goals coming in the first 15 minutes. Jack Cox scored three of them with captain Jorgen Haveland getting the other.
Over in Gibraltar for Challenge III, Pool A is shaping up to be very tight. HC Klippari’s Santeri Määntänen nicked all the points on offer with just over a minute to go from their date with Lithuania’s Zuvedra Tauras.
Zuvedra went ahead in the 44th minute but the Finnish side equalised within a minute and then nabbed the 2-1 result late in the day.
The other pool game saw Bulgaria’s The Wolves denied victory with two minutes to go as Andrew Grant’s corner goal earned Norway’s Furuset a 1-1 draw, cancelling out Halil Hristov’s opener.
In Pool B, Julian Lopez was the star of the day with five goal for hosts Eagles in their 7-2 success against Malta’s Qormi Daikin. It helped build a huge 6-1 first half lead.
Comeback of the day came from FHC Akademik Plus Sofia with Georgi Baklev and Stefan Balev both scoring in the last two minutes for a 3-2 win against Valhalla.
Baklev had given the Bulgarian side the lead in the 38th minute but two goals from Shamoun Sarag put the Swedes 2-1 up with just seven minutes left.
Each side will play their second fixtures of the tournament on Friday while the Trophy II in Banbridge and the Challenge II in Kirklareli begin on Friday.
Follow all results, pools, and game stats below from the EuroHockey Club Challenge I, Men in Sveti Ivan Zelina
All games are available to re-watch on www.eurohockeytv.org
Follow all results, pools, and game stats below from the EuroHockey Club Challenge III, Men in Gibraltar