SC Bern Sweeps Into Swiss Final

EHC Kloten's Finnish international KIMMO RINTANEN (33) has a seat on the ice at the Kolping Arena with SC Bern's Swiss Olympic defender PHILIPPE FURRER (29) right behind in the Nationalliga A semifinals. SC Bern set EHC Kloten down four straight games and storms into the final round unbeaten in eight playoff games. SC Bern last won Switzerland's elite league championship in 2004. (Keystone photo)

EHC Kloten's Finnish international KIMMO RINTANEN (33) has a seat on the ice at the Kolping Arena with SC Bern's Swiss Olympic defender PHILIPPE FURRER (29) right behind in the Nationalliga A semifinals. SC Bern set EHC Kloten down four straight games and storms into the final round unbeaten in eight playoff games. SC Bern last won Switzerland's elite league championship in 2004. (Keystone photo)

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Head coach LARRY HURAS and SC BERN have advanced to the finals of Switzerland’s Nationalliga A playoffs with a clean sweep — four games to none — of EHC KLOTEN following a pair of hard-fought 3-2 victories in the final two semifinal matches.

Already down 2-0 in the series and on the road in front of a packed, partisan crowd of 17,011 at PostFinance Arena in the capital city of Switzerland, clearly, Swedish coach ANDERS ELDEBRINK and EHC Kloten were not prepared to concede so quickly in Game Three.

Former Chicago Black Hawks 1st rounder MARK BELL shot the Flyers in front on the power play nine minutes into Game Three with his first goal of this playoff season. The 29-year-old Canadian junior international, in his first year in Switzerland, totaled 13 goals in 39 games for Kloten during the regular schedule. Bell, who had not played in the minors for seven years, spent the whole of last winter in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies and Hartford WolfPack. 

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EHC Kloten forward MARK BELL (16) beats SC Bern goaltender MARCO BUEHRER (39) for the opening goal of Game Three in the Swiss Nationalliga A semifinals at the PostFinance Arena. SC Bern defenseman BEAT GERBER (2) eyes the puck in the back of the net. Bell, who twice topped the 20-goal mark for Chicago in the National Hockey League, scored 87 goals in 445 career NHL games for the Black Hawks, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. (Keystone photo)

EHC Kloten forward MARK BELL (16) beats SC Bern goaltender MARCO BUEHRER (39) for the opening goal of Game Three in the Swiss Nationalliga A semifinals at the PostFinance Arena. SC Bern defenseman BEAT GERBER (2) eyes the puck in the back of the net. Bell, who twice topped the 20-goal mark for Chicago in the National Hockey League, scored 87 goals in 445 career NHL games for the Black Hawks, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. (Keystone photo)

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Perhaps stung by the Flyers’ first strike, SC Bern fought back with ferocity in the final seven minutes of the first period.

Defenseman DOMINIC MEIER, who managed one goal in 30 regular season contests this campaign, leveled the match with a first playoff goal for SC Bern 13th minute. Three minutes later, 19-year-old Swiss international rearguard ROMAN JOSI gave the home side its first lead of the game while playing with the man-advantage. Another 180 seconds further, in the 19th minute, Swiss Olympic forward MARTIN PLUESS pushed SC Bern ahead 3-1.

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SC Bern forwards MARC REICHERT (26), top, and JEAN-PIERRE VIGIER (11), bottom, raise their sticks to signify the goal of the not-pictured MARTIN PLUESS in Game Three of the Swiss semifinals at PostFinance Arena. Flanking beaten EHC Kloten goaltender RONNIE RUEGER (66) on each side are fellow Swiss internationals, defensemen FELICIEN DU BOIS (62), left, and PATRICK VON GUNTEN (72), right. Von Gunten was, like Rueger, a recent squad member for Switzerland at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Keystone photo)

SC Bern forwards MARC REICHERT (26), top, and former Atlanta Thrahser JEAN-PIERRE VIGIER (11), bottom, raise their sticks to signify the goal of the not-pictured MARTIN PLUESS in the Swiss semifinals at PostFinance Arena. Flanking beaten EHC Kloten goalkeeper RONNIE RUEGER (66) on either side are fellow Swiss internationals, defensemen FELICIEN DU BOIS (62), left, and PATRICK VON GUNTEN (72), right. Von Gunten was, like Rueger, a squad member for Switzerland at the recently-contested Olympic Games from Vancovuer. (Keystone photo)

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Switzerland's Olympic forward MARTIN PLUESS (28) produced the pivotal goal of Game Three for SC Bern in the Swiss semifinals. (Keystone photo)

Switzerland's Olympic forward MARTIN PLUESS (28) produced the pivotal goal of Game Three for SC Bern in the Swiss semifinals. (Keystone photo)

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A second playoff goal from the 32-year-old Pluess, second on SC Bern with nine points from the first seven playoff games, would proved to be the game-winner.

Aging Finnish international KIMMO RINTANEN, who scored 15 goals in 48 games this term for EHC Kloten, did ring up his fifth goal in nine playoff contests for the Flyers with six minutes remaining in the second period.

However, Kloten would come no closer. Swiss international MARCO BUEHRER was, once again, dependable in the SC Bern goal and capably assisted by a defense corps anchored by the pairing of ex-NHLer TRAVIS ROCHE, the former North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and Swiss Olympian PHILIPPE FURRER. The standard defense-first strategy favored by Huras again paid dividends for Bern.

And, thus, the 3-2 victory propelled SC Bern to a within one game of the final round.

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Semifinal, Game Three :  SC Bern 3 – EHC Kloten 2

SC BERN

  • Goalie : Buehrer
  • Defense : Roche, Furrer — Gerber, Josi — Stettler, Haenni — D. Meier
  • Attack : Vigier, McLean, Reichert — Neuenschwander, Pluess, Ruethemann — Scherwey, Dube, Gamache — Berger, Froidevaux, Ziegler

EHC KLOTEN

  • Goalie : Rueger
  • Defense : Winkler, Forrest — Du Bois, Bonnet — von Gunten, Schulthess — Sidler
  • Attack : Wick, Santala, Rintanen — Jenni, Liniger, Bell — Lindemann, Bodenmann, Hollenstein — Stancescu, Kellenberger, Rothen

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SC Bern defenseman ANDREAS HAENNI (49) is on all fours as EHC Kloten forward MICHAEL LINIGER (41) battles for balance in Swiss semifinal action from Kolping Arena in Kloten. (BaslerZeitung photo)

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The scenery for Game Four shifted to the Kolping Arena in Kloten, but the match, itself, was in some respects a mirror image of the previous engagement at PostFinance Arena in Bern.

EHC Kloten, for the third consecutive contest in this semifinal series, produced the game’s first goal when Swiss Olympian ROMAN WICK put the puck in the net at the 18:16 mark of the opening period. It was Wick who had initiated the scoring in the second game of the series, as well. 

Wick later added an assist in the match and finished joint top playoff point-scorer for EHC Kloten with Finnish international KIMMO RINTANEN on 10 points (4 goals) from ten post-season games.

However, with just 57 seconds left in the first period, Swiss U-20 international TRISTAN SCHERWEY evened the contest for coach LARRY HURAS’ squad with his second playoff goal. The 18-year-old Scherwey, who represented Switzerland at the IIHF World Junior Championships this winter, scored three goals in 36 regular season games for SC Bern this year.

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EHC Kloten goalkeeper RONNIE RUEGER (66) reaches out with his goalstick to stifle Switzerland Olympic squad teammate and SC Bern forward MARTIN PLUESS (28) in the Nationalliga A semifinals at the Kolping Arena. In the background for SC Bern is long-time Canadian legionnaire CHRISTIAN DUBE (96), who drew an assist on TRISTAN SCHERWEY's strike. (blick.ch photo)

EHC Kloten goalkeeper RONNIE RUEGER (66) reaches out with his goalstick to stifle Switzerland Olympic squad teammate and SC Bern forward MARTIN PLUESS (28) in the Nationalliga A semifinals at the Kolping Arena. In the background for SC Bern is long-time Canadian legionnaire CHRISTIAN DUBE (96), who drew an assist on TRISTAN SCHERWEY's strike. (blick.ch photo)

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Swiss international defender BEAT GERBER, who garned just one goal in 49 regular season outings, then shot SC Bern to the lead seven minutes into the second period with his second playoff goal.

But, Romanian-born VICTOR STANCESCU, who led EHC Kloten with 19 goals this term, equalized for the Flyers with his fourth playoff tally in the 36th minute while on the man-advantage.

It is said that champions will respond immediately when scored upon.

Exactly one minute and two seconds following Stancescu’s strike, SC Bern lit the lamp on a power play of its own. 19-year-old defenseman ROMAN JOSI hammered home his SIXTH goal in eight playoff games to send SC Bern back to the lead.

Josi’s goal meant four of Bern’s final six goals in the semifinal series with Kloten had come from the blue line corps.

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SC Bern legionnaire forward SIMON GAMACHE (9) shoots on the EHC Kloten goal guarded by Swiss Olympian RONNIE RUEGER (66). Gamache, the hat trick hero of Game Two, added a pair of assists in Game Four including the helper on ROMAN JOSI’s winner. (spoor.ch photo)

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Kloten had its opportunity with a two-man advantage on the power play at the beginning of the third period, but, once again, the defenses of Bern could not be cracked.

Former Florida Panthers forward BRETT MCLEAN had the chance to put EHC Kloten away, but missed the empty net for SC Bern with goaltender RONNIE RUEGER on the Flyers bench.

Finally, after a last-ditch Kloten assault and a few more saves from MARCO BUEHRER, the clock ran out and SC Bern could celebrate a place in the championship round.

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Semifinal, Game Four :  EHC Kloten 2 – SC Bern 3

EHC KLOTEN

  • Goalie : Rueger
  • Defense : Winkler, Forrest — DuBois, Sidler — von Gunten, Kellenberger — Schulthess
  • Attack : Rothen, Santala, Rintanen — Wick, Zeiter, Bell — Jenni, Liniger, Stancescu — Lindenmann, Bodenmann, Hollenstein 

SC BERN

  • Goalie : Buehrer
  • Defense : Roche, Furrer — Gerber, Josi — Stettler, Haenni — D. Meier
  • Attack : Vigier, McLean, Reichert — Neuenschwander, Pluess, Ruethemann — Scherwey, Dube, Gamache — Berger, Froidevaux, Ziegler

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With the 3-2 defeat of EHC Kloten in Game Four of the semifinal round at the Kolping Arena, SC BERN remained unbeaten after eight games in Switzerland’s Nationalliga A post-season playoffs and advances to their first final since 2007. The capital city team, who lost the championship that 2007 season to HC Davos, have won 11 Swiss titles in club history. SC Bern last won the Nationalliga A championship in 2004. (Keystone photo)   

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