Too much Kim for Dutch

Div. IA: Koreans write history; Hungary gives (S)painful lesson

22-04-11
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Korea's Mim Ho Cho tries to defeat Netherlands goalkeeper Ian Meierdres. Photo: Andras Wirth

BUDAPEST – Hungary goes undefeated into the deciding game for promotion against Italy on Saturday. They steamrolled newly-promoted Spain, 13-1. In the early game Korea notched its first-ever victory against the Netherlands and aims for a historic Division I bronze placement.

Hungary vs. Spain 13-1 (5-0, 3-0, 5-1) Game Sheet Photos

Hungary showed no mercy and defeated newly-promoted Spain in a painful lesson, 13-1. It was the highest score in men’s Division I this season.

Andras Horvath, Krisztian Palkovics and Csaba Kovacs each scored two goals. The other Hungarian markers came from Pozsgai, Benk, Ladanyi, Magosi, Galanisz, Bartalis and Sofron.

Juan Brabo scored the consolation goal in the third period when Hungary had already enjoyed an eight-goal lead.

Tamas Pozsgai opened the scoring with his first goal of the tournament during a man advantage at 9:15.

The goal marked the start of the teddy bear toss. Thousands of cuddle toys from small to big were thrown onto the ice in the third time the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation organized this charitable event. The toys will be brought to charitable organizations, children’s hospitals and orphanages.

The Hungarian players were less generous with their opponents. 77 seconds after the game could be continued, Andras Benk extended the lead when he capitalized on his own rebound, and again 52 seconds later Horvath made it 3-0 after a pass to the crease from Balazs Ladanyi.

Spain head coach Antoine Lucien Basile took his time-out, but Ladanyi with a shorthander at 15:41 and Balint Magosi with a shot from the boards one minute later made it 5-0 before the first intermission.

The direction didn’t change in the middle stanza. Horvath scored the sixth goal after a centering pass from Ladanyi, Palkovics’s shot from the blueline made it 7-0, and Kovacs netted the eight goal on a rebound after Daniel Koger saw his shot blocked.

The third period was more of a warm-up for the Hungarians, who will face tougher opposition tomorrow against Italy. It will be a winner-take-all game for the gold medal and for promotion to the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Finland and Sweden.

For Spain the Division I adventure seems almost over. Only a victory with a margin of at least five goals tomorrow against Korea can save the Spaniards from the straight relegation back to Division II.

“I’m glad for the opportunity that the players were able to play against such an opponent and in such an arena before so many fans,” Spain’s coach Basile said. “If you’re smaller, slower and less talented, there’s not much to win. We worked hard, but honestly, we don’t belong to this level.”

Netherlands vs. Korea 3-6 (1-1, 2-4, 0-1) Game Sheet Photos

Was it the speed? The heart of the hard-working Koreans? Or the confusion of nine players – five of them in the same line – and the coach having the name Kim? Whatever it was, the Koreans wrote history again this year.

After their first-ever Division I victory last year, against Croatia, the Asians defeated the Netherlands for the first time ever, 6-3, and they could not only avoid relegation in the last game against Spain on Saturday, but also win the bronze medal.

“We already had the chance to beat the Netherlands three years ago, so we didn’t want to miss it this time,” Korea’s captain Woo Jae Kim said.

Three years ago the Netherlands sent Korea back to Division II with a 6-5 overtime win in a game of two completely different teams. On one side, the tall, physically strong Dutch, on the other side the smallish, speedy Koreans. Also in 2002 the first encounter between those two countries was a tight clash with a 7-5 win for the Netherlands.

Third time was a charm for Korea. This time the Asians were better and they improved especially in the discipline that was their biggest weakness in the past: shooting.

Yong Jun Lee opened the scoring at 3:48 with a shorthander. After a rush he deked both Netherlands defenceman Mike Dalhuisen and goalkeeper Ian Meierdres, but Ivy van den Heuvel tied it up with two minutes left in the first period. Diederick Hagemeijer stole the puck at the end boards from Sang Wook Kim before sending a back pass to van den Heuvel.

The Dutch began the second period with the 2-1 goal after 35 seconds when Jamie Schafsmaa scored after a side pass from Anthony Demelinne, but after that the speedy Koreans outplayed, outpassed and outshot their opponents.

“We are shorter and less strong than them, so we had to skate more than the Netherlands to defeat them,” Woo Jae Kim explained.

“We don’t have much experience against the European teams and the experience we have gained in the last few years was important for us.”

Only one minute later Won Jung Kim equalized after a pass from Sang Wook Kim. Midway through the game the Koreans regained the lead when Geun Ho Kim put the puck in after a drop pass from Woo Jae Kim. Woo Sang Kim made it 4-2 two minutes later after some more nice passing, and after two more minutes it was already 5-2 thanks to a goal from Don Ku Lee.

Ronald Wurm cut the lead, to 5-3, with four minutes left in the middle stanza with his shot from the face-off dot, but the Dutch were not able to stage a comeback in a third period with chances on both sides.

Two minutes before the final buzzer two Koreans escaped and Geun Ho Kim scored the 6-3 goal after Min Ho Cho's pass.

For Korea the Netherlands are the best-ranked opponent they have ever defeated in hockey history. Thanks to the win the bronze medals are in reach, which means they could continue the tradition of having an Asian team in third place in Japan’s absence.

The Japanese, who had won bronze in five consecutive years, couldn’t participate due to force majeure after the natural disaster that hit the country so hard. Also 14 players of the Korean national team were struck by the earthquake when they were in the Fukushima region in Japan for the Asia League finals.

Korea now just needs one point from their last game against Spain to secure third place.

If Spain wins in regulation time this would cause a three-team tie between Korea, the Netherlands and Spain in which the goal difference in the head-to-head games would decide. Before the Korea-Spain game on Saturday it’s Netherlands +3, Korea +3, Spain -6.

In the case of a Spanish win in regulation time, the Netherlands would likely move up to third place. Spain, however, would need to defeat Korea by a margin of at least five goals to avoid relegation and send Korea to Division II instead.

For the Netherlands the event is over, but in any case they cannot finish worse than fourth and will be back in Division I next year.

MARTIN MERK

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