OPENING DAY: Bern flies out of the chute

Bern 6, Geneva 2

Bern was ready for the first big battle between Swiss powerhouses, blitzing the Geneva Generals for five goals in the first period on the first day of EURO Hockey League action. The Bears outshot Geneva 17-3 in the first period and 38-23 in the game to come away with a 6-2 win. Jason Spezza scored a natural hat trick in the first period, getting a goal at even strength, one on the powerplay and then one shorthanded a minute and 20 seconds later. Bern’s defense was pretty versatile, blocking shots (Kimo Timonen alone blocked 4) dishing out hits (6 by Dennis Seidenberg and 5 by Brent Seabrook) and firing shots on goal (Adrian Aucoin led the team with 5). Geneva got a shorthanded goal of their own, by Marion Gaborik, and good games from Dennis Wideman and Mike Fisher, among others.

Madrid 5, Oslo 2

Visiting teams won four of the six games played Sunday. The Madrid Royals got scoring from their defensemen in beating Oslo.  Veteran Hal Gill had a goal and an assist, while teammates Mark Streit and Slava Voynov also scored from the point. Tomas Holmstrom and Jeff Carter scored the other Madrid goals, while Danny Briere and Jason Chimera tallied for the Devils. Perennial backup goalie Martin Biron started for Madrid and stopped 28 of 30 shots in the win.

Bratislava 2, Edinburgh 1

While Bratislava had outshot Edinburgh 30-5 after two periods, the outcome was in doubt for the entire game. A shorthanded goal by top draft pick Jonathan Toews proved to be the winner. Eagles winger Kyle Brodziak and the Capitals’ Lauri Korpikoski both scored in the first period before Toews broke the tie in the second. Edinburgh goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 of 38 shots and nearly stole the game. Blake Wheeler had a nice game for the Capitals, blocking 3 shots, recording 4 hits and winning both faceoffs he took. Zdeno Chara dished out 6 hits for Bratislava and was strong in the defensive end.

Belfast 4, Stockholm 2

Rick Nash and Gabriel Bourque each scored twice for the young Belfast Giants in their season-opening win over Stockholm. The Spartans tallied the first and last goals of the game, but Belfast quieted the Swedish crowd of 14,750 by scoring four times in the first and second periods. Cory Schneider was solid in goal for Belfast and the Giants did a good job of spreading the ice time around very evenly. A pair of Finns had good games for the Swedish team, as Miko Koivu managed 6 shots on goal and won most of his faceoffs, and Tuomo Ruutu was very active in his 12 minutes of playing time blocking 4 shots aimed at goalie Cam Ward.

Munich 6, Athens 5

Joe Thornton’s third goal of the game tied the contest and forced it into overtime and a shootout, where Jarome Iginla was the only person to score as the German Duns turned away the invading Greeks on Sunday.  Greece’s Tomas Vokoun was the busier of the two goalies, facing 39 shots. T.J. Oshie and Nathan Horton each scored twice for the Greeks, who converted three of five powerplay opportunities. Iginla, Toni Lydman and Saku Koivu each recorded two points for Munich, but the win was tempered by a leg injury to the Duns’ top defenseman, Dan Boyle, who played 24 minutes and blocked three shots.

Milan 5, Berlin 1

Italian fans had the chance to cheer early and often as Milan Guerriero topped the Berlin Smurfs in the first game for both clubs. Milan shooters kept Berlin goalie Mika Kiprusoff busy, pasting him with 42 shots. The Guerriero scored on both of their powerplays and showed a balanced attack. Ryan Callahan led everyone in the game with three points, and teammates Steve Ott, Andrew MacDonald and Jordan Staal also came up with multi-point nights.Mikael Samuelsson scored Berlin’s lone goal on assists from R.J. Umberger and defenseman Niclas Hjalmarsson.

League notes

  • Attendance was OK, but revenue was poor on day 1. Oslo brought in over $1 million, but Milan was the only other team to earn more than $600,000 in revenue Sunday.
  • The 12 teams that did not get to play Sunday will start their season Monday.
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