The biggest win went to Barceloneta (ESP) on Day 4 as the Spanish team managed to down the freshly crowned Super Cup winner FTC-Telekom (HUN) in Budapest and earned its fourth straight win. Recco (ITA) followed the Spaniards with another victory and fellow Italian side Brescia claimed three crucial points in Eger (HUN). In Group B Jug (CRO) remained the only team with four wins as they halted newcomer BPM Busto’s (ITA) run in a nailbiter. Title-holder Olympiacos (GRE) ended Mladost’s (CRO) unbeaten march while Spandau (GER) earned its first point after a thrilling draw against 2017 champion Szolnok (HUN).
In the big game in Group A Ferencvaros seemed to fly on, four days after clinching the Super Cup trophy with a shootout win over Olympiacos the Hungarians took a 2-0 lead against Barceloneta. However, the host side quickly fell behind as they ran out of gunpowder for 11:44 minutes and the Spaniards gained momentum with a 0-5 rush. They were still 4-7 up deep into the third period when the Magyar side showed something special and netted three in a span of 104 seconds to go even at 7-7. Five minutes of grueling fight in the fourth didn’t see any goal, Ferencvaros missed a 6 on 5, while Barceloneta put one away and in 34 seconds a lucky rebound put them 7-9 ahead with 2:32 to go. The last goal of the home side came too late, with 0:15 remaining, so Barceloneta stands with 4/4 while the Hungarians suffered their second straight defeat.
Recco soon caught up with the Spaniards with a spectacular win over Steaua (ROU). The game was played in Bologna as part of the Italian giants’ promotional tour and was a big success. The Romanians could stay close for one and half periods than after 5-4 Recco blasted four in 2:01 minutes and added ten more while shutting out the Romanians for 15:14 minutes (in fact, they had a 13-0 run).
The other Italian team Brescia outpowered Eger to win a crucial match. Though the Hungarians, playing at home, began the game well soon the visitors got on equal terms, what’s more, took the lead for the first time shortly before the end of the third. Though Eger equalized for 7-7 but next came Brescia with three action goals, two of them were brilliant curved lobs, and that decided the outcome.
Dynamo (RUS) didn’t make any mistake and floored Zvezda (SRB) with ease in Moscow to win its first match in the prelims.
Group B offered two thrilling encounters. The first in Dubrovnik saw the surprise team BPM Busto taking a 3-5 lead in an action-packed first period. The second, though, went according to Jug’s plans as they staged a 4-0 rush while the Italians lost their rhythm. But they found it again in the third and managed to level the score at 7-7 as team captain Stefano Luongo netted his third and fourth goals.
Early in the fourth, it was still tied then Loren Fatovic buried a penalty which turned out to be the winner. In the remaining 6:18 minutes neither side were able to score so Jug won its fourth match (three of those by a single goal), while after three great wins BPM had to settle for a defeat this time.
In Berlin Spandau almost copied its stunner from last season: a year ago they beat then-title-holder Szolnok 10-9, now it ended 9-9. The Hungarians had the edge after Viktor Nagy saved a penalty at 4-4 and soon Szolnok jumped to a 4-6 lead late in the second but couldn’t capitalize on that. With three big goals from Dennis Strelezkij – he stopped at five – the Germans rushed to an 8-6 lead. However, Szolnok had the answers, a late blast from Viktor Rasovic brought them closer than in the fourth they hit two more in 49 seconds for 8-9. But as it happened to them in Busto and Dubrovnik, they got frozen for the last minutes, now they couldn’t score in the last 6:24 while Lucas Gielen netted the equalizer for Spandau. This was the first point for the hosts while the Hungarians could only earn this single point in their last three away games.
Despite its Friday defeat in the Super Cup final, Olympiacos opened its match in style, though after taking a 3-0 lead in the first period Mladost hit back in the second and trailed only 5-4. But they could never come any closer, with three connecting goals the title-holders built an 8-4 lead and never looked back. It also meant an end to Mladost’s unbeaten run.
Jadran got its first win in the league: though Hannover controlled the match from early on since they could bury their first six man-ups in succession and led 5-7. Here they lost their composure while the Croats started rolling and staged a 6-1 rush – a 4min ejection didn’t help the Germans either. This advantage gave a 5- goal cushion for Jadran which they kept till the end.