It’s Canada-Germany for gold

InLine Hockey Worlds: Czechs, USA maintain in Top Division

06.06.2012
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Canada and Germany will play it out for gold after winning the semi-finals. They already had a tight encounter in the preliminary round. Photo: Jürgen Meyer / kbumm.de

INGOLSTADT – Host Germany will play for gold for the first time at an IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship after edging Finland and will face Canada (5-3 win vs. Slovenia). The Czechs and the U.S. remain in the Top Division, Sweden vs. Great Britain battle against relegation.

Click here for the event page with stats, photos and a live stream.

TOP DIVISION – Thursday schedule

Relegation game: Sweden vs. Great Britain (11:00) Live stream on IIHF.com
Bronze medal game: Finland vs. Slovenia (16:30) Live stream on IIHF.com
Gold medal game: Canada vs. Germany (19:00) Live stream on IIHF.com

TOP DIVISION – Semi-Finals

Germany vs. Finland 3-2 (1-1, 0-1, 0-0, 2-0)

Click here for the highlights of the game.

Germany edged Finland 3-2 in the semi-finals to play in the gold medal game of the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship for the first time after having won four bronze medals in the past.

Goalkeeper Jochen Vollmer had a 34-save performance as Finland outshot the Germans 36-30 while Felix Schütz scored the last two goals for Germany.

“I heard we had never made it to the final before. It’s great we did it,” said Schütz. “We gel well together, we have fun and now we want to win again.”

Finland scored the first goal after two minutes of play when Tommi Huhtala scored with a point shot on the first power play of the game. But with 32 seconds left in the first period the Germans also capitalized on a man advantage with Thomas Greilinger’s slap shot from the face-off circle.

With 1:55 remaining in the second period Teemu Suhonen skated around the German defence on the right side before beating Vollmer with a shot from a short angle to regain the lead.

Then came Schütz’s minutes after a scoreless third period.

At 1:43 of the fourth period he tied the game after Patrick Buzas had fed him with a pass from behind the net.

Euphoria was back in Ingolstadt’s Saturn Arena that was crowded with 3,217 enthusiastic fans. And only two minutes later it was the same line that caused danger in the Finnish zone for a while until Schütz scored again after a pass to the crease from Buzas.

“We changed the line for the end of the game with Buzas and me,” Schütz said. “I’ve known him for many years. We’ve played together ice hockey in Ingolstadt. He made two nice assists that made it easy for me to score.”

It was Germany’s first lead in the game, and it was there to stay. The Finns tried to come back, but the German defence and goalkeeper Vollmer remained persistent while the Germans missed on two counter-attacks.

Defenceman Sami Markkanen had the biggest scoring chance with 37 seconds remaining when his distance shot hit the far goal post and Vollmer’s back, but the goalkeeper got the puck under control.

Finland took a time-out and pulled the goalie and Markkanen had a last shot with two seconds left, but Germany’s one-goal lead remained. It will be Canada vs. Germany for gold.

Canada vs. Slovenia 5-3 (2-1, 0-1, 2-1, 1-0)

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Canada will play in the final for the first time since winning its only inline hockey gold in 1998 after edging a pesky Slovenian team 5-3 in the semi-finals.

Max Grassi scored two early goals, but the Slovenes came back and kept the game open until the last minute.

“We know how it felt to lose that game [from last year] and we didn’t want to feel it again. And here we are playing for the gold and it feels great,” Grassi said.

“After the quarter-finals and those upsets that happened we kind of knew as a team that this tournament is anyone’s. We’re looking forward to this gold medal game and we’re giving everything to win this gold medal.”

Grassi opened the scoring after just 20 seconds when he carried the puck between Matic Kralj and Jan Loboda and continued his attack with the first goal of the game.

At 3:27 it was again Grassi, who made his way towards the Slovenian net to shove the puck through Slovenian goalie Gasper Kroselj’s five-hole on a power play.

Five minutes later the Slovenes capitalized on their first power play when Matevz Erman scored on a rebound. Rok Ticar tied it up at 1:32 of the second period with a shot from the face-off circle.

Canada regained the lead in the third period. First Adam Ross scored 47 seconds after the half-time break and at 9:01 David Hammond made it 4-2 after tic-tac-toe passing from behind the opponent’s net to the right and to the left side where Hammond netted the puck.

Slovenia reacted with Ken Ograjensek’s long-distance shot that surprised Canadian netminder Brett Leggat for the 4-3 goal.

In the fourth quarter of the game the Slovenes were the dominant force, but they neither capitalized on their 13 shots on goal, nor on three man advantages.

With 29 seconds left to play Kirk French scored the 5-3 goal into the empty net.

TOP DIVISION – Placement Games (5-8)

USA vs. Great Britain 18-1 (5-0, 5-1, 5-0, 3-0)

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Team USA had to play in the placement games after surprisingly losing the quarter-final game to Finland. The Americans torpedoed Great Britain 18-1 to avoid relegation. The tournament ends in fifth place for the U.S. while Great Britain will play the relegation game against Sweden tomorrow.

The British withstood the pressure in the beginning, but at 6:48 Team USA capitalized on its second power play with a goal from Travis Noe. 13 seconds later Shawn Gawrys made it 2-0 and after the 5-0 period score there were no doubts left about the eventual winner.

Noe scored five goals and had an assist while his linemate Jose “Junior” Cadiz had two goals and five assists for seven points. Stephen Campbell scored a hat trick while the defencemen Gregory Thompson and Anthony Miner each netted two goals.

Sweden vs. Czech Republic 4-5 (0-1, 2-2, 2-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1) PS

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Two former world champions had to play each other in a placement game to avoid relegation. The lead went back and forth and in the end it was the Czechs who prevailed in a shootout to end the tournament in sixth place while Sweden has to play tomorrow’s relegation game against Great Britain.

The Czechs took the lead with a goal from Jan Besser in the first period, but Sweden scored two goals for the 2-1 lead in the second period.

The Czechs replied with goals from Patrik Sebek and Martin Vozdecky in the last minute before half-time to reclaim the lead, 3-2.

Sweden came out strong for the third quarter. Daniel Wessner tied it up with a power-play goal at 5:18 and one minute later his offensive partner Dick Axelsson regained the lead for Sweden. But again one minute later Marek Loskot tied it up for the Czechs.

After a scoreless fourth period and extra time the Czechs won the game in the penalty shootout:

Round 1: Markus Nilsson 1-0, Jakub Curik 1-1.
Round 2: Daniel Wessner - save, Marek Loskot 1-2.
Round 3: Kristian Luukkonen 2-2, Martin Vozdecky 2-3.

DIVISION I – Thursday schedule

5th-place game: Australia vs. Japan (10:00)
Bronze medal game: Austria vs. Croatia (12:00)
Gold medal game: Slovakia vs. Hungary (14:00) Live stream on IIHF.com

DIVISION I – Semi-Finals

Slovakia vs. Croatia 5-3 (2-0, 0-1, 1-1, 2-1)

Slovakia reached the gold medal game of the Division I tournament in the team’s attempt to get back to the Top Division. The Slovaks defeated Croatia 5-3.

Marek Priechodsky and Tomas Jasko built up a 2-0 lead for Slovakia after ten minutes of play, but Croatia kept the game close and 67 seconds into the fourth period Mario Novak even tied the score with his second goal of the night, 3-3.

The Croatian dreams of an upset were shattered four minutes later when Marcel Holovic capitalized on a Slovak power play and with 38 seconds remaining in regulation time Filip Novak scored into the empty net.

Hungary vs. Austria 5-2 (0-1, 3-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Hungary made it again to the final thanks to a semi-final win over Austria, 5-2.

Daniel Oberkofler opened the scoring for Austria at 8:16, but Hungary scored three unanswered second-period goals by Arnold Feil, Tamas Pilcsik and Zoltan Revak.

Austria cut Hungary’s lead with Diethard Winzig’s power-play goal in the third period, but they didn’t come closer than one goal. Revak sealed the win with his second goal at 5:49 of the fourth period and Feil also scored his second goal with 70 seconds while Austria had its goalie pulled.

Hungarian netminder Tamas Kiss had 29 saves as his team outshot Austria 35-31.

DIVISION I – Placement Games (5-8)

Australia vs. Bulgaria 16-4 (4-2, 2-0, 6-2, 4-0)

Australia stays in Division I for next year after steamrollering Bulgaria 16-4. Bulgaria will have to go through a qualification event again to make its way back for the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship.

Seven players scored a pair of goals each for Australia: Brendan McDowell, Andrew Fritzgerald, Stephen Belic, Jordan Gavin, Liam Jeffries, Jonathon Bremner and Adrian Nash.

New Zealand vs. Japan 2-3 (0-1, 0-1, 1-1, 1-0)

New Zealand blanked Japan 5-0 in the preliminary round, but in the deciding game to avoid relegation it was the Japanese who edged New Zealand 3-2. The result means that Japan maintains in the Division I thanks to its first win after four straight losses while New Zealand has to go back to one of the two qualification tournaments.

Although New Zealand outshot the Asians 32-22, they hardly found the means to beat Shingo Imagawa, who had 30 saves.

Japan was more efficient. Daisuke Ohto capitalized on the first power play of the game at 10:06. At 4:20 of the second period Hikaru Kawaguchi extended the lead and Ohto’s second goal 42 seconds after the half-time break made it 3-0 for Japan.

New Zealand cut the lead with two power-play goals by Alexander Novak and Zachary Beardman, but it proved not enough to change the outcome.

MARTIN MERK

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