Austria's Linz Blackwings tried to counter the speed and skill of Swiss opponent EV Zug with an aggressive style of play last night in the Euro Can Cup semifinal at the John Labatt Centre.
It didn't work.
In fact, the Austrians never recovered from a string of penalties in a physical first period and the swift Swiss team dominated in a 5-2 win.
Zug will face the host London Pro Knights in tonight's final.
"They are a very tough team, they are very big boys and they have a lot of solid NHL players," Zug coach Doug Shedden said of the Knights. "We will have to play with an edge. We will have to use our speed and play for 60 minutes at a high tempo."
Shedden, a Wallaceburg native who played 10 years in the NHL, is not concerned the Knights have added NHLers with no connection to the junior team, including Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi and Edmonton's Marc Pouliot.
"They have had some players who could not play for them, so they have done a good job of getting other players. But you can see there is a lot of pride when they put on the Knights jersey," Shedden said.
The Knights beat Zug 5-3 on Friday in a preliminary game, rallying from a 3-1 deficit.
"It will be a tough game. they are very physical," said Zug defenceman Wesley Snell, who is from Elmira. "We will have to play the best that we can to win. We will have to use our speed and not get intimidated."
Zug's speed was critical in its two first period power play goals last night. They added another in the second.
Micki Dupont of Zug opened the scoring with 2:58 remaining and two minutes later David Ling scored. It could have been even worse as Linz weathered a two-man disadvantage with about six minutes gone in the first period.
The Austrians tried to make a game of it, storming out for the second period, but Zug weathered the attack and scored with about four minutes gone.
Linz's Pat Leahy finally broke the shutout 4:57 into the third period. That prompted dozens of Linz fans in the crowd to lead a conga line through the arena.
Linz fans serenaded their team through much of the game, even when Zug iced the game with a goal with 4:16 remaining.
Before the puck dropped, fans of both teams were outside the JLC and praised the quality of play in the event.
"The quality of hockey has been at a very high level, this is competitive hockey," said Russ Phillips, who was rooting for Linz as he has family in Austria.
More than 3,000 attend Knights games but less than 1,000 for the European teams. "It is a great tournament . . . but ... we expected more crowds," said Joseph Heiss, assistant coach with the Munich team. "But that is the way it is. It is summer."