Five-star Leopold book their ticket to EHL KO16

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Pool C: Royal Leopold 5 (G Baumgarten 2, T Degroote 2, K Russell) HC Minsk 0
Royal Leopold shook off a strong challenge from HC Minsk to book their place in the KO16, adding their second win to an initial 3-1 success over WKS Grunwald Poznan.

Indeed, the Belarus side had more of the game in the first quarter, taking the challenge to the Belgians as they chased a two-goal lead that could possibly send them through.

Indeed, had they a little more accuracy in the attacking zone, they might have gone ahead on a couple of occasions. Leo awoke from their Sunday morning slumber to some extent in the second quarter with Gaspard Baumgarten firing a warning shot, Iaroslav Hordey spectacularly tipping over the bar.

Illia Kryshchanovichk just missed out on an equaliser when he dived to tip in a speedy attack down the right while Tom Degroote saw another powerful shot tipped over the bar.

The breakthrough did eventually come in the second half when Kane Russell scored his third goal of the weekend from a penalty corner. Hordey continued to boot away saves in unorthodox fashion but he was unable to keep out Degroote in the final quarter when he rounded the keeper and shot home on his reverse.

Baumgarten then slipped in a third to make the result safe. Dimitri Cuvelier clattered the bar with another chance as they made Minsk feel the tiredness in their legs.

Baumgarten then walked in the fourth goal with less than two minutes to go and Degroote nailed a penalty stroke. It lifted them to 10 points in Pool C with WKS Grunwald Poznan second on six points and Minsk ending on one point in their debut EHL season.

"The first half was very complicated," said Tom Degroote told the Hockey Belgium website. “We did not manage our game well. Our coach, Robin Geens, made some strong points at half-time and we finally dared to play forward and develop our game.

“It was such a difference between the two halves. We must be much more consistent. This is played out in the head and that's really our focus for the next few weeks. This European weekend has done us the greatest good before playing four important matches in the Belgian league before the break."