KHC Dragons and Rot-Weiss Köln will meet in the FINAL4 of the EHL in a repeat of a classic 2013 encounter following their respective wins over Racing Club de France and Real Club de Polo today in Eindhoven.
For Dragons, four goals in the space of seven minutes in the second quarter saw them ease into the FINAL4 of the Euro Hockey League with a 5-1 win. They will next enjoy the support of their home d-Side crowd on June 3 as they bid to finally win the EHL title.
Racing were playing in their first KO8 game and enjoyed a decent early period, keeping their Belgian opponents at bay. But the resistance only lasted until the 21st minute when Tomas Briels cut loose on the right of the circle and had time to switch to his backhand and shoot home.
Alex Hendrickx added a powerful drag-flick for number two moments later and the game was close to being killed off when Briels and Jeffrey Thys stole the ball and worked an overload with Briels scoring his sixth goal in 17 EHL matches.
Hendricks completed the golden spell to close out the first half at 4-0. Florent van Aubel added a fifth goal in the second half before Racing got some respite with Christophe Peters-Deutz getting one back from a corner of their own.
The final quarter, though, produced no major late drama and KHC Dragons advanced to the FINAL4 for the fourth time.
In the second tie of the day, two first quarter goals earned Rot-Weiss Köln’s place in the FINAL4 for just the second time as they edged out Real Club de Polo 2-1, earning a game against KHC Dragons in Antwerp in June.
Christopher Zeller and Marco Miltkau – two of the top four all-time EHL goalscorers – were the men on the mark with close range tip-ins after flowing attacking moves fell their way. Polo got one back in the third quarter via Gonzalo Coll but despite how hard they pushed for a leveller, they could not find another way past Victor Aly.
They got their first goal with a tidy piece of work in the left corner as Jonas Gomoll robbed the ball, exchanged a pass with Florian Adrians before using a one-handed chip to Christopher Zeller to volley in for 1-0.
It was his 27th goal in the EHL with only three players scoring more; one of those, Marco Miltkau, doubled the lead when he got on the end of an all-star move. Mats Grambusch fed the ball left to Christopher Ruhr and his backhand cross was turned in by Miltkau in front of the keeper, his 33rd EHL goal.
From there, Polo turned up the heat with Lucas Vila probing the circle and David Alegre a constant driving force. But they found Aly in top form to keep out a string of chances while the corner defence stayed solid for the most part.
Gonzalo Coll did pull one back in the 37th minute when a ball broke his way close in and he cleverly lifted his backhand shot with a checked swing to loop the ball over the goalkeeper.
From there, Polo did all the attacking with Alex Casasayas finding space but shooting wide while Matthias Muller coolly drew a foul in his own goalmouth from another fast attack. When Alegre was shown a yellow card, it curtailed their chances and Rot-Weiss were through to the FINAL4 with a second 2-1 win of the weekend.
It sets up a repeat of the 2013 classic 4-4 semi-final between Rot Weiss and Dragons with a place in the final on the line before the Anterp side won a shoot-out.
Easter Monday sees the conclusion of the EHL weekend with two more fully charged knock-out ties up for decision. Both Wimbledon and Mannheimer HC are contesting their first KO8 game and will bid to extend their run even further at 13.15 (CET).
Hosts HC Oranje-Rood face Atlètic Terrassa at 15.30 (CET) in what is anticipated the second sold out crowd of the weekend, closing what has been a superb 10th edition of the Euro Hockey League.
EHL 2016-2017 KO16 and KO8, 14-17 April 2017 at HC Oranje-Rood, Eindhoven (NED)
Friday 14 April
M1: Banbridge HC 1 (M Allister) Racing Club de France 1 C Peters-Deutz), Racing win 3-0 on shoot-out
M2: WKS Grunwald Poznan 0 Real Club de Polo 6 (A Casasayas 3, D Alegre 2, A Reyne)
M3: KHC Dragons 2 (T Verheijen, T Briels) Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles 1 (J Truyens)
M4: SV Kampong 1 (Q Caspers) KHTC Rot-Weiss Koln 2 (M Grambusch, J Gomoll)
Saturday 15 April
M5: Atletic Terrassa 4 (R Oliva 3, M Bolto) Lisnagarvey HC 1 (S Murray)
M6: Wimbledon 3 (P Roper 2, B Arnold) UHC Hamburg 1 (J Schmid)
M7: HC Oranje-Rood 3 (A Mazzilli 2, M van der Weerden) AHBC Amsterdam 2 (B Burkhardt, J Reid-Ross)
M8: Mannheimer HC 2 (G Barreiros, F Schües) Club Egara 1 (P Quemada)
Sunday 16 April
M9: KHC Dragons 5 (T Briels 2, A Hendrickx 2, F van Aubel) Racing Club de France 1 (C Peters-Deutz)
M10: Real Club de Polo 1 (G Coll) KHTC Rot-Weiss Köln 2 (C Zeller, M Miltkau)
Monday 17 April
M11 13.15h Wimbledon vs Mannheimer HC
M12 15.30h HC Oranje-Rood vs Atletic Terrassa