The MAC Budapest celebrate after winning the league final after finishing as runner-ups in the past two years. Photo: Laszlo Mudra
MAC Budapest wins Hungarian-Romanian league
For the third consecutive time MAC Budapest made it to the final of the Erste Liga (previously known as MOL Liga).
In the Erste Liga, mostly the top clubs from Hungary and Romania compete but this time MAC Budapest was not left empty-handed.
For the third straight year the match-up in the finals was MAC Budapest against DVTK Jegesmedvek from Miskolc. DVTK was going for their fourth championship in a row as they beat Nove Zamky and MAC twice the past three seasons. This was the first championship that was won by a team from Budapest since 2010 when the Budapest Stars claimed the title.
MAC defeated DVTK in five games in the best-of-seven series when in overtime Jesse Dudas converted a pass from the corner that went off of a defencemen’s leg and past the goalie for the series-clinching win.
There were a lot of changes during previous offseason as the league sponsor MOL was replaced by Erste, there was also a change in the members of the league as Dunarea Galati from Romania and Serbian club HK Beograd did not compete this season, Debreceni HK sat out the season because of financial reasons. However Austrian club Vienna Capitals decided to compete in the renamed league with a farm team.
After the smoke settled following the regular season, MAC Budapest entered the playoffs as the top.seeded team, with DVTK Jegesmedvek finishing second. Also having home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs were Dunaujvarosi Acelbikak and UTE Budapest. Rounding out the playoff picture was SC Csikszereda (also known as SC Miercurea Ciuc in Romanian), Corona Brasov, Fehervari Titanok and Ferencvarosi TC from Budapest.
MAC got past Ferencvaros in the first round with DVTK sweeping the Fehervari Titanok. There were two upsets in the first round as Csikszereda advanced past Dunaujvaros and Corona Brasov upset UTE. In the semi-finals MAC took the best-of-seven series against Brasov in four games, whereas DVTK needed five games to get past Csikszereda. This set up the MAC-DVTK finals for the third straight season.
In the previous two finals DVTK swept MAC in four games to claim the title in 2016, the following season MAC managed to win one game as DVTK took the title in five matches.
In this year’s opening game MAC jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Zsombor Garat ripped a rocket from the blueline for the opening goal. A sneaky goal by Krisztian Nagy and Istvan Terbocs found the back of the net for the three goals. Rasmus Kulmala and Nikandrosz Galanisz scored for DVTK to make it a one goal game, Tomas Klempa tacked on an empty net goal for the 4-2 win.
In the second game Galanisz scored a power-play goal with a one-timer and the veteran forward scored his second goal of the game early in the second period to give DVTK a 2-0 lead. Later in the second in a span of under four minutes MAC flipped the score. Balazs Somogyi deflected a pass past DVTK goalie Attila Adorjan for the power-play goal to make it 2-1, Somogyi scored a shorthanded goal to make it 2-2 and Klempa scored the third MAC goal. Jared Brown had a shorthanded breakaway goal to make it 4-2, with Mathias Mansson also scoring a shorthanded score to make it 5-2.
The series moved to Miskolc for games three and four. In the third game the teams exchanged goals in the first period as Galanisz scored for the home team and Klempa tied it up. In the closing minutes Zsombor again scored from the blueline to give MAC a 2-1 lead. Chris Bodo scored early in the second period from just outside of the crease as MAC went up 3-1. Galanisz scored a power play goal for DVTK in the second period to make it a one goal game, but MAC held on for the win.
The fourth game of the series was a must-win game for DVTK as MAC was on the brink of winning the championship. After a scoreless first period Klemp scored from the left faceoff circle to make it 1-0 for MAC, later in the period goals by Rasmus Kulmala and Bálint Magosi gave DVTK a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. Galanisz and Peter Sakaris each scored in the final minute of play as DVTK took the win and came back to life for game five.
The fifth game of the series was back in Budapest. The teams closed out the first period all tied up at one as Kulmala scored for DVTK and Chris Bodo for MAC. Istvan Terbocs gave MAC their first lead of the game in the second period. The score remained the same until only minutes left in the game when Akos Berta scored off a rebound to send the game to overtime. In the extra session Jesse Dudas scored the series winner, this was the second time Dudas has scored a championship-clinching overtime goal for the second time in his time with the league as he won a title with DVTK in 2015 and 2016.
With MAC winning the title Balazs Somogyi has won his fifth title with his fifth team in the league. He won his first title in 2010 with the Budapest Stars where current MAC Budapest head coach Gergely Majoross was his teammate.
“There is no secret to why we won, expect that we have a team that would not give up when things got tough. We kept on working hard until we found a solution. We kept on getting stronger and stronger as the series went on. We had great team chemistry here at the end of the season, this is something we did not have back in November. After last season we decided that we needed to bring in some character players, once everything came together. What is great that in all three seasons that the club has been around we made it to the finals and in our third season we won the league title,” said Majoross after winning the fifth game.
On the Romanian side the battle for the domestic title continues in a final where SC Csikszereda leads the best-of-seven series against Corona Brasov 3-2.
Scoring leader: Kelin Ainsworth, Fehervari Titanok
Best goalie: Attila Adorjan, DVTK Jegesmedvek
Best defenceman: Scott MacAulay, MAC Budapest
Best forward: Pyotr Schastlivy, SC Csikszereda
Playoff MVP: Bence Balizs, MAC Budapest