The Continental Cup returned this year after a COVID-19 hiatus! The 23rd edition of the tournament featured Cracovia Krakow representing Poland. While the Cup has lost a lot of luster since the creation of the champions hockey league. The Continental Cup is still a great chance to see how Poland fares against mid and lower-level leagues and teams of Europe. For Poland, we got good results this year, with Krakow finishing second in Group E, earning them a spot in the final round.
Krakow hosted the tournament but did not receive a great thank you for that in game one. As Kazaksthan rep Saryarka Karaganda shut them out 2-0. The team from Kazakhstan really controlled the game, limiting Poland to only 18 shots while putting up 38 of their own. Denis Perevozchikov was sensational in the game and would remain that way throughout the tournament.
The red and white would bounce back with a 4-3 shootout win over Slovakia’s finalist HK Poprad. The Polish and Slovak clubs would trade the lead throughout the game. Poland took the lead first after an early goal by Ales Jezek. Poprad would score their first halfway through the period and take the lead just 21 seconds into the 2nd period. Krakow would be down 2-1. Łukasz Kamiński would tie it with four minutes left in second. Both teams would score in the third to take it to overtime. A shootout would be needed. There Erik Nemec and Ivan Yatsenko were successful, giving Krakow the critical win. On a side note, former PHL champion and Krakow forward Patrik Svitana played for Poprad.
With both top slots advancing, a win over Poprad looked to secure promotion for Poland. In the first game of the final day, Saryarka Karaganda took out Poprad, putting Krakow’s fate in their own hands. Asiago Hockey, repping Italy, was not a pushover and had kept pace with Poland’s previous opponents. That held true as halfway through the game, Asiago held a 2-1 lead over Krakow. While Cracovia would take the lead in the third, the Italiens would tie it up with just five minutes to play. The game would eventually go into overtime, where Artyom Voroshilo would bury the winning goal.
The final round will take place in January of 2022 from the 7th to the 9th. There is no venue set yet, but we do know who Poland will be facing. Saryarka Karaganda finished first in Group E and will face off with Poland again. Coming from Group F will be the Aalborg Pirates from Denmark and HK Gomel representing Belarus.