The new edition of the Premier Regional League has started today, with the matches of the first round in the semifinal groups in Belgrade and Dubrovnik.
There was a lot of excitement in Belgrade. Partizan was five goals down at halftime (3:8), but it managed to beat Primorje. Jadran Split defeated Crvena Zvezda after a penalty shootout. As expected, Mladost beat Sabac, but the reigning Regional League champion had to work hard to collect points.
Favorites – Jug, Radnicki and Primorac recorded wins in the pool in Dubrovnik.
Day 1, results – Group A: Primorje – Partizan 8:9, Jadran S – Crvena Zvezda 18:16 (PSO), Sabac – Mladost 10:13. Group B: Jug – Jadran HN 12:3, Budva – Radnicki 9:17, Primorac – Solaris 9:7.
Primorje – Partizan 8:9 (3:3, 5:0, 0:4, 0:2)
Primorje EB: Rakovac 3, Brubnjak 2, Vrbnjak 2, Augusti 1.
Partizan: S. Mitrovic 2, Barac 2, Schofield 1, Jaksic 1, A. Mitrovic 1, Andrin 1.
Jadran S – Crvena Zvezda 18:16 (4:2, 5:3, 1:1, 3:6, PSO 5:3)
Jadran Split: Kragic 3, Duzevic 3, Buric 2, Setka 2, Zovic 2, Milradovic 1.
Crvena Zvezda: Vickovic 4, Subotic 3, Markovic 2, Tankosic 2, Radovic 1, Smiljevic 1.
Penalty shootout: Zovic 1:0, Vukicevic – Podrug saves, Milardovic 2:0, Radovic 2:1,Delic 3:1, Subotic 3:2, Setka 4:2, Vickovic 4:3, Kragic 5:3
Sabac – Mladost 10:13 (2:2, 4:3, 2:3, 2:5)
Sabac: Jankovic 3, Vucinic 2, Stojanovic 2, Erakovic 1, Repanovic 1, Ilic 1.
HAVK Mladost: Bukic 3, Vrlic 3, Radu 2, Kharkov 2, Milos 1, Lazic 1, Viskovic 1.
An encounter between Primorje and Partizan opened the tournament in Belgrade. The match was far more important than an ordinary battle for three points – in the stake was also a place in the 2021/22 Premier Regional League. To remind, Partizan and Primorje were supposed to play in the relegation playoff. The playoff match was canceled after Mornar withdrew from the league. But, the Regional League Board decided that today’s game would be some kind of the playoffs for the next season. Before this match, it was known that Croatia would have five, Serbia three, and Montenegro three clubs in the next season of the Premier League. Partizan and Primorje fought for the 12th “ticket” for the next season.
Partizan won the game, so Serbia will have four clubs, while Croatia remains with five representatives in the 2021/22 Premier League (the composition of the league will be determined according to the rankings in the three national championships).
Partizan started very well and gained a 2:0 lead. The Croats equalized (2:2). In the 5th minute, Partizan again went ahead (3:2), but the Belgrade team couldn’t score in the following ten and a half minutes. Primorje ruled the field in the second quarter. The Croats produced a 6:0 series and entered the second half with an 8:3 lead. At that moment, few could expect that Partizan could win. But, Partizan started climbing back step-by-step. The Serbs tightened their defense and didn’t concede a single goal in the second half of the match. By the end of the third period, Partizan reduced the gap to one (7:8). There were no goals in the fourth quarter until the 29th minute when Arsenije Mitrovic leveled the score, with an excellent lob. American Logan Schofield converted a man-up for the final score 88 seconds before the end. Schofield debuted for Partizan today, as well as a Brazilian Rafael Vergara. A returnee Stefan Mitrovic played his first match for Partizan after six years and a half. The Olympic champion scored two goals.
The second match of the tournament in Belgrade also offered a lot of thrills with a big comeback. Jadran Split defeated Crvena Zvezda after a penalty shootout. Jadran led for most of the time. Crvena Zvezda equalized late in the first quarter (3:3), but Jadran took control shortly after and jumped to a 9:4 lead two minutes before the middle break. In the 13th minute, Jadran had a 4-goal advantage (10:6), before Crvena Zvezda started coming back. The Serbian club equalized twice in the middle of the final period (10:10 and 11:11). An experienced Andjelo Setka, the silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics, scored two goals within 64 seconds to give Jadran a 13:11 lead with 01:19 remaining on the clock. Still, the Split-based team didn’t manage to keep the advantage. Crvena Zvezda scored two power-play goals in the 32nd minute – Subotic netted for 10:11, while Lazar Vickovic equalized (11:11) in the last second and the match entered the penalty shootout. Jadran goalkeeper Luka Podrug blocked a shot from the hosts’ captain Milos Vukicevic in the first round, and that save decided the winner.
Titleholder Mladost Zagreb and Sabac, the current Serbian champion, fought a hard battle from the beginning of the match. Mladost dictated the pace throughout the first half, but Sabac managed to follow the Croats. In the 12th minute, Mladost gained a 2-goal lead for the first time (5:3), but Sabac responded with three goals in a row. Five seconds before the middle break, Marko Jankovic put Sabac in front – 6:5, with a beautiful backhander.
Mladost retook the lead (7:6) in the middle of the third period. Still, Sabac caught up with the rival before the final quarter (8:8). However, the end of the third period was the end of the even contest. In the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, Mladost scored five goals for a safe 13:8 lead. Sabac scored two consolation goals in the finish.
Standings: 1. Mladost (CRO) 3, 2. Partizan (SRB) 3, 3. Jadran S (CRO) 2, 4. Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 1, 5. Primorje (CRO) 0, 6. Sabac (SRB) 0.
Day 2 (January 15): Crvena Zvezda – Sabac (10:30), HAVK Mladost – Partizan (17:00), Primorje EB – Crvena Zvezda (18:50),
Sabac – Jadran S (20:40).
Jug – Jadran HN 12:3 (2:2, 3:0, 5:0, 2:1)
Jug AO: Fatovic 4, Loncar 2, Merkulov 2, Obert 1, Krzic 1, Papanastasiou 1, Ljepava 1.
Jadran Herceg Novi: Vucurovic 1, Averka 1, Murisic 1.
Budva – Radnicki 9:17 (0:1, 0:5, 5:6, 4:5)
Budva BR: B. Mitrovic 5, Vukmirovic 3, Kovacevic 1.
KVK Radnicki: Radulovic 4, Jankovic 3, Stanojevic 2, Krug 2, Lukic 2, Rasovic 1, Ukropina 1, Milicic 1, Panic 1.
Primorac – Solaris 9:6 (2:3, 3:2, 4:0, 0:2)
Primorac: Gopcevic 2, Adzic 2, Matkovic 2, Stanojevic 2, Vukasovic 1.
Solaris: Pelicaric 2, Herceg 1, Krekovic 1, Penava 1, Koprcina 1.
Jug ran over Jadran Herceg Novi in the first match of the tournament in Dubrovnik. The first quarter was balanced, Jadran had a lead twice (1:0 and 2:1). But, after Jadran’s second goal, the hosts started dominating and didn’t let a surprise happen. Jug kept the Montenegrins goalless for almost 20 minutes and, led by Loren Fatovic, scored ten unanswered goals for an 11:2 advantage early in the fourth period.
Radnicki broke Budva in the second quarter of the match. There were no goals until the 8th minute of the game. Nikita Krug broke the deadlock 43 seconds before the first break. Radnicki added five goals in the second period and had a 6:0 advantage at halftime. Aleksa Ukropina opened the third quarter with an action goal for 7:0. Shortly after, Budva finally got on the scoreboard, but it was too late for a comeback.
Primorac started slowly in the last match of the day. Solaris, the underdog in this group, was the team that had a 1-goal advantage for most of the first half. Primorac managed to equalize after each of the goals of the Sibenik-based team, but the Montenegrins couldn’t go ahead until halftime. During the middle break, Primorac players managed to regroup themselves. Everything worked well in their play in the third quarter. Primorac built a 4-goal advantage in the third period of the game and that proved crucial for the outcome. The Montenegrins couldn’t find the net in the final eight minutes, but their win wasn’t in danger.
Standings: 1. Jug (CRO) 3, 2. Radnicki (SRB) 3, 3. Primorac (MNE) 3, 4. Solaris (CRO) 0, 5. Budva (MNE) 0, 6. Jadran HN (MNE) 0
Day 2 (January 15): Solaris – Budva BR (10:30), Jug AO – Primorac (12:20), KVK Radnicki – Solaris (17:00), Primorac – Jadran (18:50), Budva – Jug (20:40)