The all-Estonian weekend in the Baltic Handball League produced two tight and exciting matches, as in the other two winner became clear quite early. Interestingly one can say, that you needed 27 goals to win a match, as on three occasions this was the amount scored by the winning team.
The weekend started on Saturday with a classic Estonian encounter, where HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper hosted Serviti Põlva. Two teams, who have 25 Estonian titles and five BHL trophies between them, proved once again why they are two top teams in the country.
Kalmer Musting: hard-fought win, but we did not expect anything less
Serviti started well with experienced goalkeeper Eston Varusk returning from two-month injury layoff to produce some excellent saves and his team taking a 3:0 lead. Kehra took the initiative, as David Mamporia and Dmytro Yankovskiy begun scoring. In the 25th minute Sergio-Silver Kreegimaa put the hosts in front 10:8, but teams went to the break on level 11:11.
The visitors had the luxury of almost full squad against injury-ridden Kehra and it started to show in the second half. Artem Bush put Kehra ahead, but four goals in a row gave Serviti a comfortable lead. Kehra reduced the deficit to a minimum on several occasions, but could not get to level.
Five minutes before the end Anatoli Chezlov’s goal gave Serviti a 24:19 lead and Estonian champions took a 25:22 win. In an even game, no player scored more than five goals, as Kristjan Muuga and Mathias Rebane recorded that amount for the winners with birthdayboy Yankovskiy and Bush scoring five for Kehra.
“Hard-fought victory, but we did not expect anything less,” commented Serviti’s head coach Kalmer Musting. “Kehra was very well prepared against us and we lost the momentum briefly in the first half. Luckily we made a good finish, but there is plenty to improve before the European games.”
In the second match on Saturday, Viljandi HC led SK Tapa/N.R. Energy 5:4 in the eighth minute, but then Rasmus Ots locked his goal and throw away the key, as the next 21 minutes the visitors won 11:1. Viljandi took a great away win by 26:19 with Aleksander Pertelson and Hendrik Koks scoring six for the winners, while Vahur Oolup had nine goals for Tapa.
Kehra took two points in Tapa with a narrow victory
It was a different Tapa on home ground the day later, when Kehra came into town. Fighting spirit was back and with Oolup and Marten Saar in good shooting form, they took a 4:1 lead. Kehra’s injury worries got worse, as Yankovskiy could only help his team in defence due to back problems with Janar Mägi, Vladyslav Naumenko and Sigmar Seermann also missing.
However, this season signings from Russia, Bush and Danil Gumianov took the shooting responsibility and Kehra dominated for a while. The lead exchanged hands several times, but Kehra was 15:13 ahead at the break. Tapa drew level on couple of occasions, but by 49th minute Kehra was up 24:19.
Then Oolup scored twice and 16-year-old left-hander Ilja Kosmirak marked his second game in BHL with several great goals and with six minutes to go it was 25:25. Mamporia put Kehra ahead 27:26, last four minutes no goal were added and the visitors escaped with a win. Gumianov scored ten goals for the winners, while Saar recorded six for the losing side.
“We have to have our full squad or it will become very difficult for us, as today proved,” admits Kehra’s head coach Mart Raudsepp. “We needed the points and it could have been easier. Being five goals up we became careless and every player has to look in the mirror to find out why this happened.”
Viljandi hosted Serviti and managed to keep up with the visitors for quarter of an hour. Being 5:4 down in the 14th minute the score was 12:5 ten minutes later. Serviti grabbed another win by 27:14 and extended their lead on top of the BHL standings. Alfred Timmo scored six goals for Serviti and Koks recorded five goals for Viljandi.
“We made things easy for Serviti. Once we got our game hoing, but then lost it completely. Overall, the weekend was not bad defensively and Rasmus Ots played well in both games. Against Tapa we made a nearly ideal first half, dominated the game and had good shooting power,” looked Viljandi’s head coach Marko Koks back at the weekend.
On photo: Serviti Põlva players can have smile on their faces – two wins over the weekend moved the team on top of the BHL standings. (Photo: Helin Potter/BHL).