Tornado lose season opener in Epinal
A bad start into the new season awaited Tornado Luxembourg last Saturday in Epinal. On the temporary rink in the little French town, Joakim Eriksson's squad could not manage to score in an otherwise pretty balanced game and the 0-5 end result certainly does not reflect the story of the game. In addition, Tornado traveled without its veterans Robert Beran, Benny Welter and Georges Scheier who were out because of work or injury. Goalie Michel Welter will probably also miss most of the season after having surgery.
With only 4 practices in their legs, the team showed major inconsistencies in their offensive as well as defensive play and Epinal capitalized on it after 6' to score the 0-1 on returning goaltender Philippe Lepage when a loose man put a wraparound attempt behind the goal into the back of the net. After a shaky start, the squad found its composure and held its own for the remainder of the period. But only few scoring chances with little net presence and thus no screen to the solid Epinal goalie were not enough to get the team on the board. After 20 minutes, the teams hit the dressing rooms and Tornado still had high hopes to turn this game around.
In the second, the teams were again at even level and it seemed like Tornado, despite playing badly, could manage the tight score. But in the 12th minute, Epinal struck twice within 11 seconds and handcuffed the Tornado team's chances to squeeze out a win. On the first goal, an Epinal scorer snuck behind the Tornado defense and scored on a backhand shot blocker side to surprise Lepage. On the second, the lone man in the slot sealed the deal on a rebound.
Coach Eriksson then took a time-out to juggle the lines and get more energy out of the line-up. It worked as the team managed to put more pressure on the home squad but still went scoreless throughout the rest of the period. Epinal on the other hand capitalized on one of the only chances left in the period to score the 0-4 on a deflection just 2 minutes before the end of the period.
In the final period, Lepage showed his goalie talent and upped his save percentage to a respectable 89% by keeping the score at 0-4 for most of the period. But his teammates could not find their scoring touch and despite a stronger effort in the final 20 minutes, the scoreboard remained empty for Tornado. Just 15 seconds before the end of the game, Epinal score the final tally to take the 5-0 win.
Tornado will play its next game and home opener against Compiegne on October 9 at the Kockelscheuer rink.