KOSICE – Three players had three-point games as Belarus hammered Austria 7-2 in Relegation Round action at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexander Kulakov and Yevgeni Kovyrshin each picked up one goal and two assists to lead way offensively for Belarus.
Belarus scored three goals in the first period, added two more in the second and another two in the third.
Belarus vs. Austria 7-2 (3-0, 2-0, 2-2) Game Sheet Photos
The four teams eliminated during the Preliminary Round play a four-team round robin, with the bottom two teams being relegated to Division I play next year. Belarus now has one win and three points and is tied for the lead in the group with Slovenia.
The offensive release came a little too late for Belarus. They had only scored three goals in the previous three games of the tournament – a big reason they find themselves playing in the Relegation Round.
"We have a lot of guys playing in their first World Championship and we only scored three goals in the first three games," said Belarusian netminder Andrei Mezin. "Three goals in three games isn't enough to win. Today we were loose and cool and scored seven goals."
Belarus grabbed a 1-0 lead 4:06 into the game when Kostitsyn set up Kovyrshin in the slot. Mikhail Grabovski then put Belarus up 2-0 at 17:17, taking a drop pass at the left face off dot and picking off the top corner, short side, on Austrian goalie Jürgen Penker.
Kostitsyn followed up his earlier assist with his first goal of the tournament at 18:57 of the period when he converted from the slot on a pass from Kulakov.
Perhaps it was relaxing or perhaps it was just a different game plan, but Belarus definitely found their missing offensive groove.
"I think in the last round we thought about scoring goals first and defence second," said Kostitsyn. "Today we changed and thought about defence first and then the goals came."
It had to be a little foreboding, sitting on the Austrian bench, knowing that the team had managed just one goal in the previous three games, and realizing that you’d need at least four in the next two periods for a win. The goals didn’t come, although goals from Setzinger, 47-seconds into the third period and Michael Schiechl at 13:29, perhaps took just a tiny amount of the sting away.
Setzinger was about as blunt as one could be in his post game assessment.
"We're just not good enough. That's all there is to it. There's nothing more to say."
It was the Belarus’ highest offensive output in a game at the WM since a 2006 – when they beat Ukraine 9-1.