Credit: Liam McEvoy

Luxembourg ice hockey team, the Beaufort Knights, have won the seventh home game of the 2019/20 season of the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation (RBIHF) Division 1.

On Saturday evening, the Beaufort Knights won their home game against Belgian opponents the Antwerp Phantoms 10-4 at Ice Park Beaufort. The victory saw the Knights move to within one win of securing a playoff spot.

After their 2-3 defeat at the hands of Charleroi on 8 February 2020, the Beaufort Knights’ playoff aspirations seemed unlikely. They lay in 7th position out of nine teams in the Belgian 1st Division. Following that defeat, anything less than five straight wins would have resulted in the Luxembourgish team missing out on a place in the semi-final round. That task was made all the more daunting as the Knights would face three playoff contenders in a row. Now, the Knights only need one more victory to guarantee that playoff hockey will come to Beaufort this season.

On Saturday evening, the Knights faced a very different task compared to the previous three fixtures. The opponent on this occasion was the Antwerp Phantoms, a team sitting at the bottom of the division having only collected 6 points all season. The evening began with a moving ceremony to honour 50 years of ice hockey in Beaufort with eleven of the founding players presented on the ice. The Antwerp Phantoms also shook hands with these legends, a gesture met with loud applause from the estimated 460 home fans. Luxembourgish table tennis champion Sarah De Nutte made the traditional ceremonial puck drop and the game could begin.

The Beaufort Knights were the strong favourites to win and they got off to the best possible start in the first period. At 03:18 minutes, Captain Claude Mossong eased any pregame nerves when he received a pass from Ben Houdremont close to the Phantoms net and fired a quick wrist shot into the top corner. The one-way traffic continued for the remainder of the period as a Benny Welter double and a terrific mid-air re-direct from Brain Schleimer put the Knights in the lead 4-0 going into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Phantoms managed to fight their way back into the contest with Dean De Souter finding space to snipe a goal from a pass by Dylan De Leenheer. However, the gap was cut to 3 for only three minutes as Claude Mossong smashed a quick shot over the glove of Antwerp goalie, Cisse Vander Weyde. The Knights’ siege of Antwerp’s net continued when Mirko Mosr took a steal from Benny Welter before firing a laser into the top left corner to make it 6-1 to Beaufort. Although Antwerp secured a second goal thanks to David Veeckman, a goal from the Knights' Ben Houdremont brought the score to 7-2 at the end of the second period.

Showing no signs of easing up, the Knights' Sacha Backes scored the 8th goal of the evening, past Vander Weyde, 14 seconds into the third period. Once again, however, the Phantoms proved they would continue to fight until the final buzzer and they pulled another goal back from Jaron Blomme at 42:48 to make it 8-3. Then, at 48:34, Sacha Backes intercepted a pass from an Antwerp defenceman while the Knights were defending a penalty to François Schons. Backes took off at speed before calmly firing home the 9-3 goal. The Antwerp Phantoms brought the score to 9-4 at 53:10 thanks to Toon Gabriels. Antwerp pressed for another goal, controlling the play for a lot of the remaining minutes. Nevertheless, a miscued slap shot from a Phantoms defenceman at 56:53 put the puck on François Schons' stick and, with a quick pass up the centre of the ice, he sent Claude Mossong into a one-on-one with another Phantoms defenceman. With a slick deke from left to right then back to left, Mossong left the defenceman falling over his own feet before slotting the puck between the legs of the Antwerp goalie to complete the hat trick. The final buzzer sounded to give the Knights a crucial 10-4 victory.

This coming Saturday 14 March 2020 at 19:30, the Beaufort Knights will play host to the Liege Bulldogs who currently sit at the bottom of the league. With Leuven defeating Mechelen on Sunday evening, the final two playoff spots will be contested by three teams: the Kortrijk Spurs, Leuven Chiefs and Beaufort Knights.