BRATISLAVA – Last year’s medallists Sweden, Finland and Germany all lost their games today at the 2008 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. Germany and Finland are still winless after two games. In Division I action, Canada stayed undefeated in its comeback to InLine hockey, blanking Hungary 14-0. Australia, Great Britain and Japan also won their Division I games.
Top Division, Group A, Sweden vs. Slovenia 3-7 (0-1, 0-2, 2-3, 1-1)
Defending champion Sweden suffered its first defeat, falling 7-3 against Slovenia. Despite outshooting Slovenia, the Swedes lost the game after a slow start. Jure Stopar opened the scoring with a power play goal at 10:11 while Dejan Zemva and Tadej Nabergoj made it 3-0 for Slovenia with two goals 25 seconds apart. Rok Bavdaz, Matic Kralj and Nabergoj scored three more goals in the third period to extend the lead to 6-0. The Swedish reaction came too late as they put in three goals in the third quarter. Slovenia goalie Gasper Kroselj was kept busy, making 60 saves.
Top Division, Group B, Germany vs. Czech Rep. 6-7 (3-1, 1-2, 2-2, 0-2)
Last year’s bronze medalist Germany lost to the Czech Republic, which scored its second upset of the championship with a 7-6 win. The Czechs took the 1-0 lead when Petr Hemsky scored 4:50 into the game but Germany bounced back with three straight goals. The Czechs worked their way back into the game and ties things at four before re-claiming the lead when Karel Rachunek struck at 32:09. The Germans didn’t give up after the setback and took the lead again with goals from Daniel Huhn and Martin Ortolf, closing the third period with a 6-5 lead. But the Czechs had the last laugh when Rachunek equalised at 38:12 and Jiri Polansky scored the game-winner with 68 seconds left in the game.
Top Division, Group B, Finland vs. USA 5-6 (3-2, 0-1, 0-2, 2-1)
Finland and the U.S. also met in what was the most-anticipated game of the day as the two powerhouses faced off. Finland led until the 20th minute of the game, but Lee Sweatt’s equaliser at 20:02 turned the game in favour of the U.S. After a strong third period, the Americans led, 5-3, and Kyle Gouge made it 6-3 with his second goal. Thomas Bruce also scored twice for the USA. The Finns tried to catch up in the last period but USA netminder Jamie Bufalino was solid as the U.S. took a crucial step in returning to the medal podium after last year's disappointment in Germany.
Division I, Group C, Australia vs. Bulgaria 10-3 (2-1, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1)
Bulgaria was handed another lopsided loss as Australia cruised to the 10-3 win. The Aussiesgave up the first goal when Plamen Veselinov made use of a power play at 8:34 but afterwards it was all Australia as Olivier Rozdarz and Lee McLauchlan scored to take the lead. From there, the Aussies built a 5-1 lead and, with things well in hand, changed goalies in the second half. Another five goals in the last half of the game made it clear that Australia is hoping to have another strong finish at the InLine Championship. Rozdarz had four goals and two assists while McLauchlan and Sean Jones scored twice.
Division I, Group C, Brazil vs. Great Britain 6-11 (0-3, 2-4, 3-4, 1-0)
Great Britain remained spectacularwith an 11-6 win against Brazil. Seven goals in the first half made it clear that the Brits meant business. Bust despite the lopsided score, the Brazilians still played their trademark spirited hockey and kept those in attendance entertained. The third qurater was the best played as the teams combined for seven combined goals. Things cooled in the fourth quarter with just one Brazilian goal to close the scoring. John Dolan paced all players with six goals and three assists.
Division I, Group D, Hungary vs. Canada 0-14 (0-4, 0-4, 0-4, 0-2)
Canada is back netted another lopsided win with a 14-0 romping of Hungary. It is a strong indication of Canada's dominance that they were able to upend one of the sronger Division I teams with such ease as they scored four goals in the each of the first three quarters and capped the game with a pair of goals in the final quarter. Since Canada has not participated at the InLine Championship recently, they must start at the Division I level, the result so far has been an offensive feast for the North American nation. Defenceman Adam Ross (3 goals, 3 assists) and forward David Hammond (3+1) were the top scorers.
Division I, Group D, New Zealand vs. Japan 5-7 (1-1, 0-1, 3-2, 1-3)
Japan edged New Zealand 7-5. The Asians held the lead three times with goals from Yutaka Ono, Osamu Ishibashi and Daisuke Ohto but New Zealand had the answer all three times with Matthew Harper, Ryan Ruddle and Craig Lawson as scoring before the Kiwis took the lead for the first time at 31:31 with a goal from James Trevena-Brown. Japan turned the game around with two goals after third intermission from Ohto and Ishibashi. At the end, the Japanese secured the three points with a 7-5 score.
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