The ice hockey players of Davos will be hoping to end their club's 42-year wait for Spengler Cup glory on Sunday when they take on the Canada Selects team in the tournament's final.
As well as enjoying home advantage, the Swiss hosts appear to be going into the New Year's Eve showdown in good shape. Having already booked their place in the final on Friday, Arno del Curto's men enjoyed a comfortable win on Saturday over Jokerit Helsinki.
With one eye on the final, del Curto chose to rest a number of his stars for Saturday's match. But despite the absence of Patrick Fischer, Thierry Paterlini, Fredrik Nilsson and Marko Kiprusoff, the side from east Switzerland never looked in any danger against the Finnish team.
Goals from Morgan Samuelsson, Pat Falloon and Ralph Ott put Davos in a comfortable position, with Jokerit grabbing their only goal twelve minutes from the end.
Canada Selects had to work much harder for their place in the final, only guaranteeing their berth after a hard fought match on Saturday against Sparta Prague.
Needing a draw to go through, the Canadians fell behind twice in a high-scoring first period, going into the break 3-2 down. The Czech team then held onto their lead in the second period after taking the score to 4-3.
But a dramatic finale saw the Canadians fight back. With six minutes of regulation time remaining, Lugano forward Christian Dubé put his countrymen back on level terms. In the final minute, the Canadians were able to take advantage of an empty Czech goal, Chris Bright scoring the goal that made the tie safe.
The Canadian team is made up mainly of European-based players, with just three members of the side currently registered in the NHL. Nevertheless, they will be expected to give Davos a tough time in Sunday's final.
Del Curto's men have looked increasingly confident this week, losing just one of their four qualifying matches. Ominously though, that sole defeat came at the hands of the Canadians, albeit in a narrowly contested game, which was only decided in overtime.
Neutral fans of the sport might simply be happy with some similar drama on New Year's Eve, but after waiting more than four decades to see their heroes lift the Spengler Cup, only a win will do for the supporters of Davos.
by Mark Ledsom
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