Luxembourg ice hockey team, the Beaufort Knights, have secured yet another victory in the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation (RBIHF) Division 1; on Saturday evening, the Knights won their home game against Belgian opponents the Leuven Chiefs 6-4.
The race for the two remaining playoff spots became even more intense this past weekend as the Beaufort Knights and Kortrijk Spurs both won games to keep their dreams alive. With Olympia Heist and Herentals Toekomstteam already secured in 1st and 2nd respectively the remaining two playoff spots continue to be contested by four teams: Kortrijk Spurs, Mechelen Future Golden Sharks, Leuven Chiefs and Beaufort Knights. Two weekends remain in the regular season and the rankings from 3rd to 6th could still change drastically.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Beaufort Knights knew anything less than victory in their remaining three games would leave their playoff fate out of their hands. Following a 3-2 victory over Leuven in the away fixture, the Knights would have to give it all they had to secure the three points.
However, the match did not get off to a very good start for the Luxembourg team and it would be Leuven who would strike first, with Michael Van Egdom getting the goal at 08:45 minutes. In the days preceding the game it was announced that, should Beaufort score a goal, then a “teddy bear toss” would take place. This meant that fans would throw stuffed toys onto the ice to be donated to the Sarah Grond Foundation, a charity formed by Luxembourgish hockey veteran Yves Barthels to support families affected by parental death. At the 14:40 mark, Kevin Grönlund launched the puck from the blue line into the back of the net to spark the “toss”. An estimated 400+ Teddy Bears rained onto the ice as music played and children and adults alike cheered. After the slight delay to collect the toys, the action got back underway. The Knights struck twice in the remaining two minutes of the period thanks to Natan Weyders and Sacha Backes to take a commanding 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
As good as the Knights were towards the end of the first period, the Leuven Chiefs were equal to the task in the second period. Despite Mirko Mosr’s 13th goal of the season, the Chiefs managed to tie the game at 4-4 on the back of goals from Toon Willemot, Mickey Evers and Michael Van Egdom’s second and third of the night.
The third period began nervously for both teams, with players realising a defeat would put their playoff spot in jeopardy. With six minutes remaining Benny Welter turned nerves into excitement for the fans in the Beaufort Ice Park as he fired in the 5-4 goal at 54:09. The clock continued to tick towards victory for the Knights and they continued to limit Leuven’s chances. These efforts paid off with two minutes remaining as Benny Welter scored again to make it 6-4. Welter’s fourth point of the game moved him into second place in the league scoring charts with 35 points. He trails Martin Davidek of Charleroi by 11 points with two games to go.
The final buzzer sounded and the Beaufort Knights won the game 6-4. Following Kortrijk’s 8-3 win over Herentals, the Knights must defeat Antwerp and Liege in regulation time in their remaining games to ensure their place in the playoffs. On Saturday 7 March 2020 at 19:30, Antwerp Phantoms will visit Luxembourg hoping to gain their third win of the season. The Knights will take confidence from a 7-3 win in Antwerp back in December but cannot afford to underestimate the Belgian club.