Day of the underdogs

InLine: Canada vs. Slovenia, Germany vs. Finland in semis!

05.06.2012
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German forward Florian Schütz scores the game-winning goal in a shootout against Czech goalkeeper Roman Handl. Photo: Jürgen Meyer / kbumm.de

INGOLSTADT – It was the day of the underdogs at the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. Germany eliminated defending champion Czech Republic in a shootout win, Finland edged the U.S. 5-4, Slovenia made it to the semis for the first time in an overtime win vs. Sweden and Canada defeated Great Britain.

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TOP DIVISION

Semi-Finals on Wednesday
Canada vs. Slovenia (18:00)
Germany vs. Finland (20:00)

Placement Games on Wednesday
Sweden vs. Czech Republic (14:00)
USA vs. Great Britain (16:00)

Czech Republic vs. Germany 5-6 (1-2, 2-0, 1-2, 1-1, 0-1) PS

Click here for the highlight video of the game.

Germany eliminated defending champion Czech Republic in the quarter-finals in a 6-5 shootout victory. It was a game that went back and forth in which Michael Wolf scored two goals as did Felix Schütz including the shootout winner.

The talk before the game had been Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky joining the Czech team, but the son of coach Petr Hemsky couldn’t change for a better outcome for his team. It was the “old” players, who succeeded. Martin Vozdecky had a hat trick for the Czechs, but it was not enough against a German team cheered on by 3,062 fans at Ingolstadt’s Saturn Arena.

“It was a tough game, we’re pretty exhausted, but we wanted to reach the semi-finals so badly and we’ve done it,” said Thomas Greilinger, who also plays ice hockey for the local team ERC Ingolstadt as well as the German national ice hockey team.

“It was a great atmosphere. I’ve never seen that in any InLine Hockey World Championship I’ve been.”

At 4:06 it was the Germans who opened the scoring. Schütz did it after receiving a vertical pass from Christian Wichert. At 5:32 Wolf hit the post, but the next goal came on the other side when Vozdecky tied it up with a distance shot at 7:40.

At 9:51 Stefan Ortolf regained the lead for Germany when surprising Czech goalkeeper Roman Handl with a shot from the side boards just beside the face-off circle.

However, after 64 seconds in the second period it was again Vozdecky who tied the game for the Czechs. And three minutes later Tomas Demel capitalized on the first power play of the game to earn the Czech Republic the lead.

Germany reacted after the half-time break. After 14 seconds to be exactly. That’s when Wolf’s shot found the way into the net via a Czech defenceman for the 3-3 tie. And at 3:05 Greilinger even gained the lead for Germany on a man advantage. But midway through the period Vozdecky completed his hat trick to tie it up right after a German penalty had expired.

In the fourth quarter it took the Czechs 27 seconds to regain the lead. Zdenek Kubica scored in a two-on-one after a pass from Patrik Sebek. But the Germans reacted three minutes later. Wolf came from the right side and shot the puck into the top-right corner for the 5-5 goal.

The Czechs were closer to scoring the game-winning sixth goal in overtime. Among the scoring opportunities was a post shot by Vozdecky after 70 seconds. With one minute left in the extra time also a Germany player, Greilinger, hit the post. After his teammate Patrick Buzas saw his shot deflected in the last seconds, the game went to a penalty shootout.

Round 1: Felix Schütz 0-1, Martin Vozdecky – save.
Round 2: Michael Wolf 0-2, Ludek Broz – misses.

After only two rounds the game was decided in Germany’s favour to the joy of the local crowd, who will see their team play Finland in the semi-finals tomorrow evening.

“Now we have to recover for tomorrow,” said Greilinger. “The tournament is well-balanced compared to previous years. We can defeat everybody, but we can also lose to anybody. But I think we have good chances to reach the final.”

USA vs. Finland 4-5 (1-0, 0-1, 1-4, 2-0)

Click here for the highlight video of the game.

Five-time world champion USA missed the semi-finals after a Finnish 5-4 victory in the third quarter-final of the day. The Finns gained momentum after the half-time break, building up a three-goal lead when Lasse Lappalainen scored two goals within a span of less than two minutes.

Charles Yoder and Travis Noe each scored a pair of goals for the Americans.

“It’s amazing, it’s hard to describe the feelings,” Lappalainen said. “We played well and we capitalized on our power plays. The Americans have many rookies this year, so we knew we would have a chance.”

At 8:20 captain Yoder was left alone on the left side and converted a horizontal pass to take the lead for the Americans. Two minutes later he kept the Finnish defence busy again, but his shot bounced back from the goal post.

At 3:43 of the second period Finland capitalized on a power play. Jesse Saarinen deflected a shot from Cami Miettinen that fit perfectly between goalkeeper Gerald Kuhn III and the post.

After the half-time break came the period of the Finns as they first gained the lead 80 seconds after the puck drop.

Lappalainen skated through the American defence until he found the gap in the net to beat Kuhn III. After that goal the Finns used the momentum. Lappalainen beat the American goalie again with a distance shot between the pads and Kristian Kuusela added another power-play goal at 4:19 for the 4-1 lead.

Yoder replied with his second goal at 5:40, but Miettinen made it 5-2 with another power-play goal at 10:48 to restore the three-goal lead going into the fourth quarter.

At 1:17 the Americans cut the lead when Noe capitalized on a man advantage. The deficit was only two goals with ten minutes remaining in regulation time.

The Americans went for it and Noe skilfully skated towards the Finnish net to cut the lead and make it a one-goal game with 2:24 left in regulation time, but it stayed as the last goal of the game for the pure joy of the Finns and as a disappointment for Team USA.

Sweden vs. Slovenia 3-4 (1-2, 1-0, 1-0, 0-1, 0-1) OT

Click here for the highlight video of the game.

The Slovenian sensation was perfect after 69 seconds of the extra period. Robert Sabolic just came back after his team had killed off his penalty, Matic Kralj’s pass reached him at centre ice and Sabolic skated towards Swedish netminder Sebastian Idoff for a deke before shooting the puck under the goalie’s body for the game-winning goal.

“I feel fantastic. It’s the first time we made the semi-finals,” Sabolic said. “We are so happy. It’s perfect. We really dreamed about the semi-finals and now we reached it.”

It was not a stolen win for the underdog, though. The Slovenes outshot Sweden 47-38 and took the lead twice (1-0, 2-1) during regulation time.

At 7:18 Alex Remar deked Idoff before beating him with a wrist shot, but Dick Axelsson tied it up one minute later with a slap shot on a man advantage.

With 1:54 left in the first period Domen Vedlin regained the lead for his team beating Idoff with a shot from a short angle coming from the right side.

The second period remained scoreless until Sweden tied it with 3:10 left. Marcus Nilsson scored after a great forward pass from Kristian Luukkonen.

With 1:29 left in the third period Axelsson scored his second goal on a power play from behind the face-off circle. It was the first time Sweden had taken the lead, but it didn’t last for long.

At 2:51 of the fourth quarter Kralj tied it at three beating Idoff on the near side of the net. And after the remainder of the period had been scoreless, it was him who set up Sabolic’s overtime-winning breakaway.

“We are ready,” Sabolic said about the semis. “We’re going to win. We’re going for the championship!”

Canada vs. Great Britain 9-3 (3-1, 1-0, 1-1, 4-1)

Click here for the highlight video of the game.

Team Canada wanted to send an early message and beleaguered the British goal with fast attacks early on. After an early 3-0 lead the team went on to win 9-3. Canada capitalized on four out of five power plays with Adam Ross and Thomas Woods each scoring a hat trick.

“They play a similar game to us with a lot of hard work. We knew that they were going to come out hard, so we wanted to stick to our game plan,” said Woods.

After less than four minutes of constant pressure Ross succeeded in beating British goalie James Tanner on a man advantage.

Canada continued with offensive action. Three minutes later Josh Foote doubled the lead with a shot in the top-right corner.

Two minutes later Woods deked British defenceman Karl Niamatali before scoring the third Canadian goal, but after 20 seconds the Brits reacted with Nathan Finney’s goal.

Canada continued having more dangerous attacks in the second period. After the post had saved the British twice, Woods skated alone towards the British goal from the right side to score the 4-1 goal at 5:50.

Richard Walsh cut the lead five minutes after the half-time break when he deflected a pass from Finney in front of the net on a man advantage, but with 35 seconds left in the third period Ross restored the three-goal lead on a power play.

At 2:37 of the fourth quarter Max Grassi scored another power-play goal to make it 6-2 for Canada and at 4:03 Jeff Lichimo opened up the gap to five goals when capitalizing on a rebound.

With 3:16 left in regulation time Ross completed his hat trick on a power play, but 14 seconds later Alex Pearman scored the third British goal of the game. With 63 seconds left Woods completed his hat trick too for the 9-3 final score.

“My whole team gave me a lot of passes and I was fortunate enough to put some into the net,” Woods said. “Our power play is hot right now after the chances we got.”

DIVISION I

Semi-Finals on Wednesday
Hungary vs. Austria (17:00)
Slovakia vs. Croatia (19:00)

Placement Games on Wednesday
New Zealand vs. Japan (13:00)
Australia vs. Bulgaria (15:00)

Hungary vs. Bulgaria 12-2 (1-0, 3-1, 5-0, 3-1)

Hungary won its fourth game while Bulgaria lost its fourth, 12-2.

In a lopsided quarter-final Hungary needed some time until the scoring galore started. Norbert Fekecs opened the scoring at 8:33, but Stanislav Muhachov tied it up for Bulgaria 92 seconds into the second period.

Hungary reacted with three more goals before half-time and five goals in the third period to make everything clear. Arnold Feil was most successful with four goals.

Slovakia vs. Japan 14-0 (0-0, 5-0, 5-0, 4-0)

Favourite Slovakia faced little challenge against winless Japan. After a scoreless first period Peter Sojcik opened the scoring en route to a hat trick and a 14-0 win over the Asians.

Lukas Ruzicka also had a hat trick while Filip Novak and Roman Simunek each scored a pair of goals.

Austria vs. Australia 7-2 (2-1, 1-0, 1-1, 3-0)

After three tight periods Austria opened up the gap in the fourth quarter en route to a 7-2 victory over Australia.

Daniel Oberkofler opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 2:56, but Sean Jones tied it up for Australia 46 seconds later.

Peter Schweda, Oberkofler and Dominik Walchshofer extended the lead until midway through the game, but Jonathon Bremner’s 4-2 goal at 10:08 of the third period brought hope back for the team from Down Under.

In the fourth quarter, however, Austria made everything clear with three unanswered goals. Oberkofler scored a hat trick.

Croatia vs. New Zealand 5-0 (2-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Croatia swept New Zealand 5-0 to advance to the semi-finals.

Vanja Belic earned the shutout with 22 saves while his teammates scored five goals out of 25 shots. Tomislav Cunko scored what became the game winner after less than four minutes of play and he also scored Croatia’s last goal in the dying minutes of the game. Mario Novak, Tomislav Grozaj and Marko Lovrencic netted the other goals for the Croats.

MARTIN MERK
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