Heide Cup: Sellin throws winning strike into empty net: Melsungen prevails in hard-fought match

A hard-fought contest for MT Melsungen came to a happy conclusion. In the second match of the International Heide Cup, the Bundesliga squad bested Ukrainian champs HC Motor Saporoshje 29-28 (12-12). Top scorer for the North Hesse team was Johannes Sellin with eight goals, but the entire unit proved extremely tough minded and ready to scrap. Igor Soroka scored nine times for Saporoshje; the top player for the Ukrainians was Sergii Shelmenko (5). The matchup for the final on Sunday: The match for 5th/6th place will throw off between HSV and SC DHfK Leipzig (12:30 pm), while Kadetten will match wills with HC Motor Saporoshje for the bronze (2:45 pm). The final will be an all-Hesse affair, with MT Melsungen squaring off against HSG Wetzlar (5:30 pm).

Photo (MT-Trommler): Defenders Nenad Vuckovic, Felix Danner, Philipp Müller and Gabor Langhans concentrating fully on the Ukrainians.

Patrik Fahlgren started the match with a 1-0 goal. The early going fared well for the MT, with Felix Danner and Johannes Sellin cranking up the lead to 4-1 (6th minute). Even in the beginning moments of the match, it was clear that this was going to be an affair with crackling energy — Saporoschje, disappointed with their recent performances, played a hard and tough-nosed style. This lead to Müller suffering a dead leg after his goal to make it 5-2 (8th minute), and a trip to the bench followed.<br/><br/>In the minutes that followed, Melsungen's hard-earned lead melted away. The Bundesliga side fell flat on multiple outstanding chances in a row — including failed shots from Michael Allendorf and Johannes Sellin from the seven metre line. Saporoshje kept up its physical play; while it racked up five different suspensions in the first half, it also successfully exploited Melsungen's ineffectiveness: Igor Soroka slotted a ball home from the corner flag to make things 6:6 on fifteen minutes.<br/><br/>Just moments later Michael Roth opted for a switch of personnel, sending in Jeffrey Boomhouwer for the unlucky Allendorf. The Dutchman converted his first chance, knotting things up with the Ukrainians. Things stood at 7-7 after 19 minutes. An increasingly chippy match unfolded, with neither team able to put distance between itself and its opponent. The third score from Langhans set things at 12-12 (30th minute), and that's how the teams went into the intermission.<br/><br/>When play resumed, it was the Ukrainians that seized the initiative, scoring twice quickly to grab a 17-15 advantage (36th minute). The MT's offensive looked like a completely different squad from the one that had bested Wetzlar a day earlier. Sharpshooter Shelmenko and his team were livelier and more animated on their path to goal. With the Melsungen defence repeatedly granting a step too much space, the Champions League participant scored several goals from the backcourt — even a time-out by Roth did little to staunch the bleeding. A jumping shot from Shelmenko brought his team ahead at 20-19.<br/><br/>By the time the clock read 46 minutes, Saporoshje had raced to a 23-20 lead — with much credit going to a vastly improved Sergii Burka, who unlike yesterday converted on his many chances. His goal for 24-21 (47th minute) was the sixth notch of the day for the 2.08 metre tall handballer. Yet the Ukrainians soon had issues of their own to deal with: centre-back Lev Tcelishchev was whistled for his third suspension. Melsungen took advantage of the extra space and began closing the gap thanks to Sellin: on 50 minutes the right wing slotted home for 23-24. Igor Soroka had missed his own chance moments before, striking the woodwork from the seven metre line.<br/><br/>Sellin took centre stage once again on Melsungen's next attack: moving forward from the backcourt, he served up a lovely pass to pivot Danner. The latter accepted the gift gladly, knotting things up at 24-24. Now it was Mykola Stepanets calling for time out. The Melsungen defence increasingly found its footing, with Philipp Müller and Johannes Golla setting up the centre block, backstopped by some strong saves from Rene Villadsen.<br/><br/>Even with Müller sitting on two suspensions, Melsungen stayed stalwart in the back. Sellin then gave his team the lead at 29-28 just 63 seconds before the end of regulation time, exploiting the empty net on the Saporoschje side. Stepanets called for time, but Melsungen regained possession on a passive play infraction. Müller ably handled the next possession, allowing precious seconds to tick off the clock. And with that the Bundesliga team prevailed in a hard-fought match 29-28.


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