USA vs. Czechs for Inline gold

In Division I, Croatia and Austria will meet for the top prize

03.07.2010
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The Czech Republic is into the gold medal game after pulling off the big upset against Sweden. Photo: Matic Klansek Velej

Semi-final #1
United States – Canada 12-3 (3-0, 2-0, 4-1, 5-2, 2-1)
The U.S. skated into its second-straight gold medal game at the Inline Hockey World Championship after earning an easy 12-3 win against Canada. The U.S. lost against Sweden in last year’s final.
USA’s Patrick Maroon put in a pair of power-play goals, while Nathan Sigmund put in a shorthanded marker as the American’s special teams was the difference in the 5-0 first half.
The Canadians switched out goaltender Brett Leggat for Taylor Pears at the half, which in hind sight probably wasn’t the best move as Pears gave up four goals in the first five minutes of the half. Kyle Kraemer put the Americans into double-digits with his goal at the 32:03 mark, making it a 10-1 advantage. Maroon, Kraemer and Sean Gawrys were all multiple scorers for the U.S. with Gawrys leading the charge with three goals and two assists. The teams put in two late goals apiece to bring the final to 12-3.
Despite the loss, Canada is still in position to earn its first medal at the Inline Worlds since 1998 when the country took gold before leaving the championship for a decade. The win guaranteed the Americans their 11th medal at the Inline World Championship. Semi-final #2
Sweden – Czech Republic 3-4 (1-0, 0-1, 0-1, 2-2)

The Czech Republic pulled off the biggest upset of the Inline Hockey World Championship, beating three-time defending champion Sweden, 4-3, in today’s semi-final. It is the Czech Republic’s first gold medal game appearance since 2000. It puts an end to Sweden’s three-year gold medal streak and marks the first time since 2004 that the Swedes will not skate in the gold medal game.
Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, the Czechs are guaranteed their first medal since taking the bronze in 2001. Meanwhile, Sweden will look to keep its streak of eight-straight medals alive in tomorrow’s bronze medal game against the Canadians.
The second semi-final was a far cry from the earlier high-scoring lopsided semi-final. Both the Czechs and Swedes played a conservative game and gave up very few scoring chances.
Zdenek Kubica drew first blood in the game with a beautiful wrist shot that gave the Czechs the 1-0 lead in the first quarter. Sweden had a few good chances, including a goal that was waved off due to a high stick, but could not get the equalizer until 10 minutes later when Dick Axelsson scored on the power play. The 1-1 deadlock stood until Patrik Sebek fed Jiri Polanski the puck for a one timer and the 2-1 lead at the 31:31 mark.
Sweden took the lead again thanks to two quick goals 10 minutes later. Dick Axelsson’s goal would have made any NHL scout proud as he one-timed in the 3-2 goal. The Swedish lead stood for two minutes until Jan Rudovsky put on and NHL move of his own, dekeing Swedish goaltender Dennis Karlsson to tie the game at three.
Three minutes later Martin Vozdecky put in the 4-3 go-ahead goal silencing the crowd. The Swedes called a timeout and pulled Karlsson for the extra skater, but it was to no avail as they saw their gold medal streak come to an end.
The Czech win means that the home-floor disadvantage reigns on at the Inline Worlds. Only the Americans, who won in Minneapolis and Anaheim in 2006 and 2007 have been able to take home the gold as the host nation. Placement Game
Germany – Slovakia 6-4 (2-1, 1-2, 1-2, 0-1)

Germany ended its Inline World Championship on a high note after earning a 6-4 win against Slovakia.
Alexander Duck had a hat trick in the win, which ensures Germany a sixth-place finish. Duck and Thomas Greilinger gave Germany a 2-0 lead in the first 4:46 of action. Both teams were relatively subdued as there was nothing but bragging rights on the line.
The Slovakians rallied with a trio of goals, two coming from Henrich Ruckay, to put themselves back into the game and make it a 3-3 affair at the half. Slovakia took its first lead of the game 1:42 into the second half, but it was the end of their offense as German goaltender Jochen Vollmer stood his ground, allowing his team to mount a comeback.
Duck scored twice in the second half surge and Henrik Holscher put in his second goal of the game to put Germany back in front and lead the team to the 6-4 win.
Unlike last year, Slovakia does not need to worry about being relegated after today’s loss. All of the top division teams are safe from that fate this season.
Placement Game
Slovenia – Finland 9-5 (1-0, 2-3, 2-1, 4-1)

Slovenia earned a fifth-place finish after beating Finland 9-5 in today’s placement game. The seventh-place finish is the lowest-ever for Finland at the Inline Worlds. For Slovenia it is the second straight fifth-place finish.
It wasn’t the best game from either team, but at least it was entertaining as the teams matched each other goal-for-goal and kept things interesting for the first half. Slovenia held the lead for most of the first half until Rami Lehtila put in the 3-3 goal with 3:12 left before the break.
Slovenia re-claimed the lead on the first shift of the second half when Rok Ticar scored a second goal three minutes later made it a 5-3 advantage. But again, Finland had the answer and pulled back to within one. Slovenia pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring four goals. It was the first time during the game that Slovenia was able to put any meaningful distance between themselves and Finns. Slovenia out-shot Finland two-to-one in the fourth quarter as the Finns basically threw in the towel as the clock ticked down. Division I
Semi-final #1
Croatia – Hungary 12-8 (3-2, 3-2, 4-3, 2-1)

Croatia continued its Cinderella saga in Division I after earning a spot in the gold medal game with a 12-8 win against Hungary. The Croatians have not played at the Inline Worlds since 2006 and had to make this year’s event through the qualification tournament.
Igor Jacmenjak scored three goals in a high-scoring first half and ended in a 6-4 Croatia lead. Croatia took the 1-0 lead 2:43 into action and never allowed Hungary to take it back. The Hungarians managed to tie the game twice, but each time the Croatians had the answer. It wasn’t until late in the first half that Croatia was able to open up a two-goal lead.
Hungary got the first goal 51 seconds into the second half to make it a 6-5 affair and was in good position to challenge for the lead, but Croatia’s Tomislav Cunko scored on the power-play three minutes later, which sparked his team to life. After the Cunko goal, Croatia put in three straight goals to take a hefty 10-5 lead. The double-digit marker prompted Hungary to pull goaltender Bence Balizs for Krisztian Budai. Only 14 seconds after the swap, Hungary put in the 10-6 goal and three minutes later it was a three-goal game after Hungary struck again.
It would be as close as the Hungarians would come as Croatia put in two goals in the fourth quarter to make it an overpowering 12-7 lead. A late goal by Hungary’s Andras Kordisz brought the final to 12-8.
Croatia is guaranteed its first-ever medal at the Inline championship, while Hungary will hope to improve on its fourth-place finish from last year. Semi-final #2
Austria – Australia 7-2 (3-1, 2-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Austria will go for its second straight Division I gold medal after handling Australia 7-2 in today’s second semi-final.
Australia was the lowest seed entering the playoff round but put up a good fight against the Austrians. In the end, Australia ran out of gas and could not match the depth and talent of the Austrian squad.
Early on, it looked like it would be a high-scoring affair as the teams exchanged rapid first goals- It was already 3-1 in the first five minutes in favor of Austria. The Aussies got the opening goal 1:13 into action, but Austria maintained its composure and rattled in two power-play goals to take the lead, which its kept the rest of the game.
The scoring slowed after the initial flurry as Austria slowly added to its lead in the next 30 minutes. The Austrians held a 5-1 lead at the half and had its lowest-scoring quarter in the third, netting only one goal from Christian Dolezal for the 6-1 lead. Australia opened the fourth quarter with its first goal in 36 minutes, but Dean Dunstan’s goal meant little in the final outcome as it only put a small dent in the five-goal lead.
Australia will look to win its third Inline medal in tomorrow’s bronze medal game against Hungary. The Aussies have played in five bronze medal games, but only won once, in 2003, when they beat…Hungary. Placement/Relegation Game
Brazil – Japan 8-3 (3-1, 0-1, 3-1, 2-0)

Japan saved its spot at the Inline Hockey World Championship after earning an 8-3 win against Brazil in today’s relegation game. The loss means that Brazil will not return to next year’s Worlds and must go through a qualification process in order to come back.
Brazil nipped Japan in a shootout when the teams met in the preliminary round, but today Japan was the better team, pulling away in the second half. Until Japan erupted with three goals in the third quarter, the game was up for grabs. Japan took a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes with two power-play goals, but Brazil cut the lead in half quickly after. The teams exchanged goals before the break, making it a 3-2 affair at the half.
After the trio of goals in the third quarter, Brazil had its back against the wall and was almost too desperate to make up some ground in the fourth quarter falling short in every bid around the Japanese net. Masaki Ito struck the death blow when he put in the 7-3 goal with nine minutes left in regulation, a power-play goal quickly followed.
Japan’s win keeps at least one Asian nation active at the Inline Hockey Worlds. For Brazil, the loss is a big blow after playing at the last ten Worlds. During that time, the Brazilians earned one gold medal, two silvers and three bronzes, making them one of the most successful Division I teams. Placement/Relegation Game
Great Britain – Argentina 6-3 (2-0, 0-0, 1-1, 3-2)

Great Britain secured its spot at next year’s Inline Worlds after earning a 6-3 win against Argentina. The loss relegates Argentina and leaves no South American nations at next year’s world championship after Brazil was also relegated today.
Great Britain has been in the top division since the field expanded to 16 teams in 2002. Since that time, they have established themselves as one of the top teams in Division I, qualifying for the cross-over game six times and earning five medals, including two golds.
It came as little surprise that Britain dispatched Argentina, which hasn’t played at the Inline Worlds since 2006 and struggled in its recent games at this year’s event. But the close score was surprising as most expected the British to come up with a double-digit win.
After the British moved out to a 2-0 lead, their offense stalled. Luckily for them, Argentina had very few chances, netting only a handful of shots during the half. It wasn’t until an early second half power-play that Argentina got on the board, creating a few tense moments as the score stood at a slim 2-1.
Alex Pearlman, who has been the go-to guy for the British at this event, once again had the answer. He scored twice in five minutes, including a shorthanded marker to open up a 4-1 lead. From there, Great Britain cruised, moving ahead 6-1, with Perlman completing the hat trick. Argentina put in two late goals for good measure to bring the final to 6-3.
Top Division Placement:
5. Slovenia  
6. Germany
7. Finland
8. Slovakia
Division I Placement
5. Great Britain
6. Japan
7. Brazil
8. Argentina
Day Six Fun Fact: You can call this year’s championship the Tour de Inline. With Karlstad Arena located on the outskirts of town, players have discovered a creative way to shuttle themselves to and from the arena. Hotel Scandic, where all the teams are staying, offers free bike rentals. The hotel has around 70 bikes, which are immediately snapped up every morning as the teams vie for the two-wheeled wonders. As a result, the entire town of Karlstad is saturated with Inline hockey players riding all along the river and lakesides on their borrowed bikes. Team USA has taken the most festive approach to their biking –team members don furry wolf hats, which they presumably bought in the Farjestad fan shop, when they are on the bikes and have dubbed themselves the wolf pack.
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