Group C: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) v Jadran Split (CRO) 10-11
The Croats started the match as expected from the favorites. They jumped to a 0-2 lead and managed to keep a clean sheet for almost six minutes. In the middle of the second period, they were already up 2-5.
The first twist came when the Montenegrins scored two goals in 20 seconds. The second twist followed after a steal, an exclusion, and then a penalty against the excluded player, Konstantin Kharkov. This marked his third personal foul, resulting in Jadran losing its key left-handed player just before the middle break.
The Montenegrins got going, successfully killing two man-down situations. Jovan Vujovic’s brilliant center shot brought them back to an even score with just five seconds left in the period.
The Croats regrouped during the three-minute interval and quickly regained the lead from their first possession. However, they struggled to build a bigger lead as the home side always found a way to equalise This happened three times in this period. Furthermore, when Darko Durovic managed to save a man-up shot, Dmitri Kholod’s goal put Herceg Novi ahead for the first time at 9-8.
The situation could have worsened for the Croats, but Ivan Marcelic made a crucial penalty stop 50 seconds later. The match began to resemble what had happened in Split during the first round. There, Jadran’s other goalie, Mate Anic, had made a pivotal save during a penalty situation that prevented Crvena Zvezda from taking a three-goal lead late in the third period, leading to a Croats’ equalizer.
Here, the Croats leveled the score early in the fourth quarter with a great action goal from Matias Biljaka. The incoming goalie, Anic, then had a crucial save during a man-down which opened the way for his teammates to regain the lead. Jerko Marinic-Kragic buried a penalty, earned after an exclusion. Here, the hosts had two players fouled out in seconds.
Vasilje Radovic hammered one from the perimeter to make it even again at 10-10, then Durovic made a huge save in a man-down. After the corner-through, he couldn’t do much to stop Luka Bukic’s wing shot, which ultimately won the game for the Croats.
Goalies stepped up in the remaining 4:27 minutes. Ancic did great in Split’s goal as the Montenegrins missed their last two man-ups.
Petar Radanovic, coach, Herceg Novi
“We started the game nervously, that’s why we fell behind early but then we showed we could be on the same level with Jadran. In the most important moments, we missed a couple of great chances and in the Champions League you pay the price of that.”
Jure Marelja, coach, Split
“We have six points after two matches, so I’m really satisfied. It’s not easy to play here in this great atmosphere – appreciation for the hosts for that. We had some problems and we know what we need to work on. Now we have a week or so before the next round so we go home and try to fix these things.”