Harvestehuder THC and AH&BC Amsterdam completed the FINAL4 line-up on another KO8 day of high action and intense drama at the Wagener Stadium.
It means they join Atlètic Terrassa and SV Kampong in Barcelona in six weeks time in May in the race to be the champion of Europe.
2014 champions HTHC won an epic encounter with EHL holders Oranje Zwart, coming from 4-1 down to eventually prevail in a shoot-out with Michael Körper proving the inspiration once again.
He opened the scoring from the penalty spot only for OZ to score four times in six minutes around the half-time break. Jelle Galema struck twice while Niek van der Schoot and Benjamin Stanzl, against his former club, racked up an imposing lead.
But Harvestehuder kept the faith and got a lifeline when Körper fizzed home a backhand shot and their momentum upped with Jan-Philip Heuer turned home the third goal.
A Körper drag-flick levelled the game, sending the tie to a shoot-out in which the regulation series ended 3-3. Tobias Walter saved in round eight, giving Körper the chance to eventually prevail.
Speaking afterwards, Körper said his side always has belief: “The team spirit we have, this whole club is like a family. On the pitch, off the pitch, it is the same. We fight for each other until the end.”
Amsterdam followed them into the FINAL4 with a 2-1 win over Real Club de Polo but they were made to work until the final whistle.
Robert Tigges gave the home club a 10th minute lead when he finished off from Justin Reid-Ross’s cross. Valentin Verga made it 2-0 when he read the intentions of Mirco Pruyser perfectly to slide on to his pass at the exact right time to tip in.
The Barcelona club fought back admirably, winning numerous corners as time wore on and, eventually, they got back in the game via Matias Rey’s corner touch. They pushed until the final whistle, hitting the post with the final play as Amsterdam clung on for the win.
Tigges said “We defended really well in a tough game with lots of nice one-on-one battles. It was pretty physical from both sides. In the end, it was quite tight and I think, in the end, our goalie [Laurens Goedegebuure] saved us a little bit.”
He added that hosting the tournament was a brilliant experience for him and the club.
“It’s really cool to play at your home pitch with the packed crowds. It’s the best thing to play EHL, I enjoy it very much.”
All eyes now turn to the FINAL4 on May 14 and 15 and the Pau Negre Stadium in Barcelona where Harvestehuder THC and AH&BC Amsterdam join Atlètic Terrassa and SV Kampong in the race to win the world’s premier club hockey competition.
Tickets for the FINAL4 go on sale later this week.
KO8, day two results: Oranje Zwart 4 (J Galema 2, N van der Schoot, B Stanzl) Harvestehuder THC 4 (M Körper 3, J Heuer), Harvestehuder THC win 6-5 in a shoot-out; AH&BC Amsterdam 2 (R Tigges, V Verga) Real Club de Polo 1 (M Rey).
Image Credit: Amsterdam earn their place at the Final4. Euro Hockey League/Frank Uijlenbroek. This image may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of the EHL or the photographer