BRATISLAVA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- HKM Zvolen were crowned champions of the 2020/21 Slovak ice-hockey premiership Tipos Extraliga on Thursday after defeating HK Poprad 3-2 on home ice and closing the finals series at 4-1.
The winner of the regular season HKM Zvolen was missing three key players but started off in top gear in front of a crowd of 500 home fans who were allowed to enter the stadium under strict anti-pandemic precautions.
After several solid scoring chances for his teammates, it was the home team's Canadian forward Allan McPherson who opened the scoring nine minutes into the game when he swept the puck into the goal through the crowd. Only a minute later, Peter Bjaloncik received a pass from behind the goal and evened things up with a wrist shot to make it 1-1.
In the second period, Poprad's Canadian forward Brandon Masinhter was ejected from the game after injuring Mikko Nuutinen and Zvolen capitalized on the subsequent five-minute powerplay in the last second when Radovan Bondra redirected McPherson's shot.
The third period produced two powerplay opportunities on both sides, but they remained unanswered. Fourteen minutes in McPherson scored his second goal of the night when he converted on a breakaway without any hassle, stretching the lead to 3-1 for Zvolen. Poprad put everything into the final moments and managed to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 19th minute thanks to James Livingston's goal after pulling the goalie but Zvolen defended the lead in the remaining seconds and were rewarded with the 2020/21 Tipos Extraliga championship title as a result.
"I am extremely happy, I rank this success at the top of my career list," said the two-goal McPherson after the game.
"It wasn't easy but we made it. These moments are wonderful. Radovan Pulis told me at the beginning of the season that we were going to be champions. And he was right," disclosed the overjoyed Zvolen coach Peter Oremus in a post-game interview.
"I have to congratulate Zvolen for winning 4-1, thus deserving the cup. We wanted gold but got silver, we have to deal with it. It hurts a bit but in a few days' time, it will be beautiful. That's life," declared Poprad coach Peter Mikula.