The eleventh in the table challenges the first: The PULS 24 live game in the ICE Hockey League will take place on Friday from 7:10 p.m. on Friday under unequal signs: While for Salzburg in the last third of the season it is probably just a matter of getting one In order to get the best starting position for the playoffs, the Haie are fighting – after the crash of the past few months – to even play in the post-season. Currently one would initial the qualifier as eleventh.
The direct duels
Accordingly, Salzburg are going into the match as the clear favourites. This is also proven by a look at the previous season’s duels between the two teams: The “Bulls” kept the upper hand both at home (6:3) and away (4:1).
Matt McIlvane’s team is in great form these days. In the last 18 games of the season they always got at least one point. Salzburg have won nine of their last eleven games after regulation time.
Innsbruck, on the other hand – after a strong start to the season – was thrown off track by a quick four-week Corona break in November. Since the “re-start”, head coach Mitch O’Keefe’s team has only won four of 16 games and slipped down to eleventh place. In the last three laps, however, things are going uphill again with two victories.
The staff situation
The guests at Salzburg have to focus on the long-term injuries Atte Tolvanen, Ty Loney, Ali Wukovits, Lucas Thaler and Lukas Schreier are without. Jan-Mikael Järvinen, on the other hand, returns to the squad after surviving the corona quarantine. Innsbruck-born Mario Huber will play his 400th game in Austria’s top ice hockey league on Friday.
Innsbruck coach O’Keefe can count on the same staff as in the last home game against Olimpija Ljubljana.
The voices of the game
Mario Huber (defender, EC Red Bull Salzburg): “As always, I expect a difficult game. They are very strong offensively and have a compact team. And I believe that they also have a complete lineup at the start. They will demand everything from us, but we are still going to Innsbruck to to win . I think their minimum goal is to make the pre-playoffs. We have to be prepared for a push, they will give everything and do everything to win the game.”
Daniel sourdough (Forward, HC Innsbruck): “We know what’s coming. Salzburg is one of the best teams in the league. But we are now in the middle of the battle for the playoffs. We want to achieve the goal and look forward to this challenge.”
Man in the eye: Thomas Raffl (RBS)
The captain is back on board: After an injury break during the week, Thomas Raffl made his comeback in the 4-1 win in Linz and was able to put his name on the list of marksmen with an assist. When the 35-year-old is fit, he is still one of the leaders’ key players. In 25 games this year he scored just as many points (11 goals, 14 assists).
Man to look at 😀Aniel Leavens (HCI)
The 28-year-old summer signing of the Innsbrucker Haie has quickly developed into one of the key players. With 10 goals and 19 assists, Leavens is the Sharks’ second-best scorer, firing the most shots (98) and rarely conceding penalties (10). The 28-year-old is also in top form, scoring three times in the last matchday against Ljubljana.
Prognosis: Victory Salzburg
The duels, the current form and quite simply the quality are clear for Salzburg, who are going into the game as favourites. But the Innsbruckers are fighting for the playoff participation and will probably go to work accordingly.
In the 40th round of the ICE Hockey League there will also be the fourth South Tyrolean derby of the season between HC Bozen and the Pustertaler Wolves. In the “basement duel” the Dorbirn Bulldogs welcome the Black Wings Linz, who parted ways with their general manager Gregor Baumgartner during the week. In addition, the Vienna Capitlas have to play away at Olimpija Ljubljana.