Top division quarterfinals:
Finland â€“ Canada 8-10 (4-5, 2-1, 0-2, 2-2)
Canada will get a chance to skate for its first Inline hockey medal since 1998 after earning a berth in the semi-finals with a surprising 10-8 win against Finland. The Finns, a traditional Inline power, will not make the medal podium for the third straight year and will miss the semi-finals for only the third time in the nationâ€™s history at the event.
Until today, Canada had struggled at this yearâ€™s championship, netting only one win, a shootout victory against winless Germany and after Finland beat top-seeded Sweden on Wednesday, it seemed like the Finns would be the easy favorites for the semi-final berth.
But Canada had other ideas as the teams matched each other play-for-play and goal-for-goal in the tug of war game. Canada jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first seven minutes, only to have it erased by a trio of Finnish goals coming in a 1:01 span. Canada answered with another two goals to make it 5-4 â€“ and this was only the first quarter.
Finland came out in the second quarter with another two quick goals to take the 6-5 lead, only to see the slim lead erased again when Christopher Terry put in the equalizer before the end of the half. It was Terryâ€™s third goal.
Finland put in goaltender Petri Karu to start the second half, but it did little to slow the action, or the Canadian momentum, as the Canadians opened up their biggest lead of the game after the break with three straight goals, for the 9-6 lead. The lead never changed hands again as Canada staved off the late Finnish efforts. Each side surrendered a few goals, but the three-goal lead was too much for the Finns, who fell 10-8.
Canada will play USA in a rematch of the opening day game, which the Americans won 7-2. The U.S. is the only unbeaten team at this yearâ€™s World Championship. Finland will play the placement game against Slovenia.
Czech Republic â€“ Slovenia 7-2 (1-1, 2-0, 4-0, 0-1)
The Czech Republic is into the semi-finals at this yearâ€™s Inline Hockey World Championship after earning a straight-forward 7-2 win against Slovenia.
It was one of the rare games where the favorite team had no problems earning the expected win. Granted the Czechs had a slightly slow start, having to settle for a 1-1 tie at the end of the first quarter. But Jan Rudovskyâ€™s shorthanded goal late in the half sparked the Czechs to life as they took their first lead of the game.
Martin Vozdecky double the lead with 17 seconds left in the half, but it was still only 3-1, despite Slovenia managing only five shots on goal in the half. A pair of power-play goals coming 50 seconds apart set the Czechs apart in the second half and opened up a solid 5-1 lead. With the Slovenians spending most of their time defending their zone, it was clear that that four-goal lead would be more than enough for the Czechs to secure the semi-final spot. But just for good measure, the Czechs continued to pile in the goals as the Slovenians were visibly worn out, especially in the fourth quarter. Another four goals brought the final to 7-2. Vozdecky paced all players with two goals and two assists.
The Czechs will take on three-time defending champion and host Sweden in the semi-finals. It is the first semi-final appearance for the Czechs since 2005, when they finished in fourth place. The last time the Czechs took home a medal at the Inline Worlds was in 2001, which was also the last time they finished higher than the Swedes in the standings.
United States â€“ Slovakia 9-0 (3-0, 2-0, 2-0, 2-0)
The U.S. stayed perfect at this yearâ€™s Inline Hockey World Championship and skated into the semi-finals with a shutout 9-0 win against newly-promoted Slovakia. USA will take on Canada in tomorrowâ€™s semi-final.
It was the fifth-straight game for the Slovaks and the fatigue, combined with the fact they had played their first four games at the Division I level before meeting a gold medal contender, was clear.
The scoreboard already read 2-0 for the Americans in the first four minutes. The Slovaks penalty troubles didnâ€™t help matters as they resorted to hooking to slow down the speedy American attack. The U.S. put in another three before the break, including a shorthanded effort by Gerald Osterkamp to make it 5-0 at the midway mark.
Two goals coming exactly one minute apart highlighted the third quarter action. Patrick Maroon and James Beilsten were the scorers and made it a large 7-0 U.S. advantage. The Americans fell just shy of hitting double digits, getting another two goals in the fourth quarter for the 9-0 win. Thomas Tartaglione was in net for the shutout making 16 saves. Nathan Sigmund was the only double-goal scorer in the U.S. team effort.
Sweden â€“ Germany 6-4 (3-1, 1-1, 1-1, 1-1)
Thanks to a hat trick from Dick Axelsson, Sweden skated into its ninth-straight semi-final at the Inline Hockey World Championship after earning a closer-than-expected 6-4 win against Germany.
Germany was winless in top division play entering the game, but put up a good fight against Swedes, but ultimately Sweden proved why they are considered a contender for the gold medal having just a little more skill and patience than the Germans.
It looked like Sweden would easily get the win after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first eight minutes. Germanyâ€™s Alexander Duck cut the lead to two goals before the end of the first quarter. Axelsson quickly made it 4-1 with a power-play goal 17 seconds into the second quarter, but again Germany trimmed the lead to two, this time Duck had the assist on the power-play goal.
The 4-2 score stood for 15 minutes until Axelsson notched his second goal of the game to give the Germans a little more breathing space. But before the Swedes could exhale, Thomas Greilinger responded with a power-play marker for Germany to make it 5-3. Again, Axelsson was there to restore order and the three-goal lead. It seemed only fitting that Greilinger flowed the pattern and once again pulled the Germans to within two. But the duel between the two players ended there as the clock ran out with the 6-4 Sweden final.
The last time the Germans lost the quarterfinal game was in 2005 in Kuopio, Finland. Since then, Germany had three bronze medals in four medal round appearances. Sweden has earned a medal in the last eight championships, in fact, every time Sweden has made the semi-finals, they have earned a medal.
Division I quarterfinals:
Hungary â€“ Japan 12-4 (4-0, 4-1, 2-1, 2-2)
Hungary had no problems dispatching Japan to the placement round of the Division I tournament, after thumping the Japanese, 12-4. The win gives Hungary a place in tomorrowâ€™s semi-finals, while Japan will play for fifth place.
Most expected the game to be close as the teams had very similar fates in the last few years at the Inline Worlds. But four first-quarter goals by Hungary was all it took to essentially end the game as Japan had no spark after falling behind. By the half Japan had already changed out its goalkeeper and was down 8-1. Tamas Lencses and Gergely Borbas each scored twice in the first half. Lencses also added a pair of assists in the surge as he was all over the Japanese net.
The second half was a little more quiet, as Hungary slowed down the pace, but still continued to find the back of the net. Zoltan Revaks and Norbert Fekecs got their first goals of the game to put Hungary into double-digits with a 10-2 lead at the end of the third quarter. With everything decided, the fourth quarter was merely academic, with a pair of power-play Japanese goals which didnâ€™t even put a significant dent in the Hungarian lead. An unlikely pair of goals by Hungary coming six seconds apart in the last minute of play brought the final to 12-4.
Japan must now fight to avoid relegation in tomorrow's game against Brazil. The loser will not return to the championship next year. Hungary will take on Croatia in its semi-final.
Brazil â€“ Croatia 4-13 (0-3, 0-7, 2-0, 2-3)
Brazil will not get a chance to go for its fifth-straight medal at the Inline Worlds after suffering a stunning 13-4 defeat against Croatia. The score was the most jaw-dropping of the day as Croatia hasnâ€™t qualified to play at the World Championship since getting relegated in 2006, while Brazil is a traditional Division I power house.
It wasnâ€™t just that Brazil lost that was so surprising, it was that they got absolutely crushed. At the end of the first half it was already 10-0, the most lopsided first-half score of this yearâ€™s championship.
Brazil had no chance against the Croatians, who dominated every aspect of the game and out-shot the Brazilians 28-7 in the first half alone. Tomislav Grozaj had a natural hat trick in the first half.
Brazil picked it up in the second half, but as one would suspect, the 10-0 deficit was far too great to overcome. Brazil put in four second-half goals while holding Croatia to just three late-game goals, but it made little difference as Brazil fell, 13-4.
Croatia has played just once at the Inline World Championship, the 15th-place finish in 2006. Todayâ€™s semi-final berth is a huge accomplishment for the budding Inline nation.
Great Britain â€“ Australia 1-2 (0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)
In the lowest scoring game of this championship, Australia pulled off the biggest surprise beating the top-seeded British team, 2-1 in a shootout to earn a berth in the semi-finals.
Great Britain is the two-time defending silver medalist and had the bad luck to draw Australia as the lowest-seeded team in the quarterfinal match-up. The British were clearly worn out from playing their fifth game in as many days, including yesterdaysâ€™ slim one-goal loss against Germany.
Australia is far from being a lfourth-seed team and was desperate to turn its fortune at this World Championship and get back to the semi-finals, which it barely missed last year.
It was a far cry from the other goal-packed games as both teams looked low on energy and were conservative in their attacks. Jack Clarkson scored with 20 seconds left in the first quarter and incredibly, the goal would stand as the lone marker for the next 30 minutes until Australiaâ€™s Sean Jones tied things at one just as an Australian power-play expired with just over five minutes left in regulation.
The game stayed scoreless through the overtime period setting up the shootout, which needed only the standard five shooters to settle matters. Peter Matus was credited with the game winner and also received a hearty hug from his team after lifting them into the top four.
Great Britain has only missed the semi-finals once since 2004. They will take on Argentina in tomorrowâ€™s relegation/placement game. The loser of that game will not return to the 2011 Inline Hockey World Championship.
Austria â€“ Argentina 17-0 (5-0, 9-0, 0-0, 3-0)
Austria left nothing to chance in its quarterfinal game, decimating Argentina, 17-0. Austria will meet Australia in tomorrowâ€™s semi-final, while Argentina must beat Great Britain if it wants to stay at the championship next year.
The first few minutes set the tone for the slaughter, as Austria held a 3-0 lead before the first three minutes has ticked off the clock, by the end of the first quarter the tally stood at 5-0. But that was just Austriaâ€™s warm-up as they put in another nine goals in the next 12 minutes. With the exception of the eighth goal, all of the tallies were equal strength. Florian Iberer scored the only power-play goal of the half.
Austria put on the brakes in the second half, giving Argentina a break. They held up their offense and settled for just three goals, brining the final to a still-hefty 17-0.
Unlike last year, Austria will not move back up the top division if they win the Division I gold, however the team has the motivation to set the tone for its bid to return to the elite level next year.
Top Division semi-finals:
United States vs. Canada
Sweden vs. Czech Republic
Top Division placement games:
Finland vs. Slovenia
Germany vs. Slovakia
Division I Semi-finals:
Hungary vs. Croatia
Austria vs. Australia
Division I Placement/Relegation:
Brazil vs. Japan
Great Britain vs. Argentina
Day Five Fun Fact: The start of the USA-Germany game was empty. Not for lack of ticket sales, but because the World Cup game between Brazil and the Netherlands was in its final minutes. The organizers of the championship have set up a screen where all the teams can watch the World Cup games. Needless to say, the room was filled with Brazilians, who had just completed their game. And needless to say, everyone in the room learned some festive Portuguese words after Brazil fell behind and lost the game, 2-1. All of the neutral bystanders are looking forward to tomorrowâ€™s German and Spanish lesson when Argentina and Germany meet.