Germany beats Kazakhs

Oppenheimer scores shootout winner

11.05.2014
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Kazakh goalie Vitali Yeremeyev watches this puck cross the line as Germany tied the game at 1-1 on a goal by Matthias Plachta. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

It would take overtime and then a shootout goal by Thomas Oppenheimer to settle today's opening game at Minsk Arena.

Tied at 1-1 since the end of the first period, Germany and Kazakhstan traded chances without success. With the score knotted so late in the game, this became a thrilling contest. In the deciding shootout, Thomas Oppenheimer's game winner gave Germany its first win of the tournament.

"We had a tough start. We got scored on and it went really tough for us but then we found our game and it went better," said Oppenheimer. "It's good that we got two points."

The game was a back and forth affair. Kazakhstan got some key chances but it was Germany that put more pucks on net. Kazakh goaltender Vitali Yeremeyev was the star for his team, stopping 45 shots in regulation.

"Kazakhstan was very good today at not letting us get to the rebounds," said German head coach Pat Cortina. "I have to look at the positive. We put the puck to the net and that is extremely important for our team."

Kazakhstan took an early lead when Andrei Gavrilin tipped in a shot from the point by Kevin Dallman. The goal at 9:52 was only one of four shots Kazakhstan managed in the first period. Fyodor Polishuk added the secondary assist.

Germany, on the other hand, peppered Yeremeyev with 16 shots in the period, including on two power plays. There were good chances all around but Germany would not convert until national team newcomer Matthias Plachta leveled the game.

Plachta took a pass from Leon Draisaitl and sent a slapshot on goal that squeezed through Yeremeyev’s pads and slowly trickled into the net. Yeremeyev, turning and seeing the puck behind him, tried to lunge at it but would not get the biscuit before it crossed the line.

Despite only four shots in the second period, Kazakhstan applied pressure and their chances were quality. Konstantin Pushkaryov hit the post and in another sequence Roman Starchenko’s drive to the net went wide.

Konstantin Romanov was able to wiggle free and create a two-on-one with Konstantin Pushkaryov. Instead of passing, Romanov kept the puck, slowed up to shake the defenseman and went backhand. The shot went wide.

Despite not facing many shots early on, Rob Zepp needed to be alert.

"First period they had some good chances and they buried one on a tip from the slapshot at the point," said Zepp. "We had to stay focused at that point because they came out stronger in the second period as well as the third."

Not to be outdone, at the midway point of the period Daniel Pietta took a slapshot that was saved but a big rebound found Yannic Seidenberg who tried to get it in but to no avail. Yeremeyev was ready.

Kazakhstan was pressing more in the third. Gavrilin split the defense and bore down on Zepp, who was there for the stop.

A late hooking penalty on Artemi Lakiza gave Germany another chance to break the tie. They moved the puck well and got shots but their opponent successfully killed it off.

The game went into a five-minue sudden death overtime.

Germany started quickly with scoring opportunities by Sinan Akdag and Alexander Barta in the same shift.

The shootout was tied 1-1 on goals by Alexander Barta and Dmitri Upper when Oppenheimer scored the game winner on the final shot.

"I saw what Barta was doing and decided to go the same way and it worked out for me." Oppenheimer said of the move and the winning shot.

Germany can be pleased coming away with two points but cannot rest too much with another game tomorrow, this time against Latvia.

"We have to give ourselves credit, we have a young team, we stuck with our system and got the extra point out of it today," said Zepp.

JOHN SANFUL

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