Inline quarter-finals set

Inline: Canada-Czech Republic highlights matchups

03.06.2014
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Tournament hosts Czech Republic face 2013 bronze medalists Canada in the quarter-final round. Photos: Ivana Hoskova, Malvina Ministrova

PARDUBICE – The Finnish national inline hockey team moves on to the playoffs as the top-ranked team in Group B, and next to Group A top seed USA a surefire medal favourite at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship, closing out the preliminary round with a 5-2 win over Germany. Sweden is No. 2 in Group B after defeating Canada 5-4.

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Here are the quarter-final matchups for both divisions at the 2014 Inline Hockey World Championship:

Top Division quarter-final matchups

14:00 – Sweden vs. Slovakia
16:00 – USA vs. Germany
18:00 – Czech Republic vs. Canada
20:00 – Finland vs. Great Britain

Division I quarter-final matchups
13:00 – Croatia vs. Japan
15:00 – Hungary vs. Australia
17:00 – Slovenia vs. Brazil
19:00 – Austria vs. Latvia

Germany – Finland 2-5 (2-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-4) Postgame

The two teams went scoreless through the second and third periods, until Germany’s Marcel Brandt nearly became the hero for his team when he stole the puck away from Finland’s Camilo Miettinen and took off alone for the net with his team up 2-1.

But Brandt’s backhand deke beat the goaltender but not the post, and Miettinen regained possession and scored the tying goal.

Soon after, Ossi Pellinen scored the go-ahead marker with a nice backhand deke of his own. Markus Jokinen added the insurance as the Finns closed out the preliminary round with a perfect record and the top seed in Group B, which would have been the Finland’s anyway regardless of the result against Germany, as the team beat Nos. 2 and 3 Sweden and Canada in the first two games of the tournament.

Following the game the Finns were exuding confidence and looking forward to the playoff round, set to begin on Thursday.

"We have a great team this year, one that can win it all," said goaltender Sasu Hovi.

Asked if his team's best game is yet to be played, head coach Timo Nurmberg replied: "It's coming."

Germany had a good start when Finland drew the game’s first penalty when Markus Jokinen was whistled for hooking. On the power play, defenceman Marcel Brandt stole the puck away from Finland’s Kim Stromberg and found forward Tim Brazda with a pass in front of the net for the game’s first goal.

Less than two minutes later Germany’s Marco Pfleger came towards the net on a two-on-one, faked a pass and beat goaltender Sasu Hovi through the five-hole for the 2-0 lead.

Finland responded after the second goal, with Mikko Pukka getting the puck in space in the German zone and firing it off the crossbar and into the net. After that Germany could not muster any more offence despite a few good opportunities.

Still, the Germans should take heart in the fact that they have played very close games against top inline teams, and could surprise people come playoff-time.

“We played very good for three quarters but not at the end,” said head coach Georg Holzmann. "But we are learning period-by-period, game by game, and hopefully we can pull it together for the playoffs."

Sweden – Canada 5-4 (1-1, 1-1, 2-1, 1-1) Postgame

Sweden dispatched Canada 5-4 in its final preliminary round game and will go to the playoff round as the No.2 seed.

It was a hard-fought battle between two of the world's top inline countries. With his team down by two goals with six minutes left in the final period, a great individual scoring effort by Canada’s Chris Terry cut Sweden’s lead to one goal with under six minutes to go in the final period.

Then Canada had a golden opportunity to tie the game when Sweden was called for a penalty with 1:20 remaining. Canada pulled the goalie with 50 seconds left for the 5-on-3 advantage but could not find the back of the net.

"It was a little bit frustrating, we had the chances to score but couldn't put pucks in the net," said Canadian forward Thomas Woods, who potted two goals in the game.

With the victory Sweden has the number-two seed in the group and a decidedly easier matchup in the quarter-finals. Canada will have to face the host Czechs in what will be a rocking arena in Pardubice on Thursday.

"It was a very important game for us, I think we found our game today," said Swedish coach Bjorn Ostlund. "We haven't played so good but I'm satisfied with the intensity we showed today."

With the teams tied 2-2 coming out of halftime, Sweden went ahead on a goal the Canadians found questionable as goaltender Brendan Leggat was taken out of the net by a Swedish attacker, leaving the net and puck free for Mikael Eriksson to put his team back up by a goal.

A fourth goal by the Swedes was disallowed as it was determined that the net was off its moorings. But seconds later the Swedes scored once more, with no debate this time as Dick Axelsson rifled a one-timer from Marcus Nilsson.

Canada cut the lead back down to one with a wristshot from the high slot by Woods, but early in the final frame Nilsson jumped on a loose puck near the Canadian net and slapped it home to put his team back up by two, despite the presence of a Swedish player in the Canadian crease.

"Now we have the Czechs to play, and I told the guys to keep their heads up because it's going to be a lot of fun on Thursday," said Canada head coach Jason Stephens.

In the first period Canada jumped ahead 1-0 on an early power-play goal from Woods. Sweden replied as Robin Wall got behind the Canadian defence and Dick Axelsson found him with a good pass for the easy goal. 

Nilsson put his team up by a goal, as Robin Sjoren came into the Canadian zone and passed it back to Nilsson coming in late on the play for an open shot straight past the glove side of goaltender Brendan Leggat.

Canada responded a minute later with a good effort by David Hammond, who skated across the face of the net, dangling two Swedish defenders out of position and patiently waited before firing the puck past Andreas Ollikainen’s glove.

But following Eriksson's score in the third the Swedes did not relinquish the lead again, leaving Canada as the third seed and with a date against the hosts on Thursday.

Czech Republic – Great Britain 7-1 (3-0, 3-1, 1-0, 0-0) Postgame

The Czechs bounced back from a loss to Team USA with a dominant display against Great Britain, winning 7-1.

Martin Vozdecky had two goals, putting him atop the scoring table at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship with six goals and two assists.

Vozdecky opened the scoring just 14 seconds into the game. Michal Simo followed up with a goal on a breakaway, finishing with the backhand shot, before Vozdecky scored his second of the game before the end of the first period.

Petr Zamorsky and Jan Buchtele added two more before the Brits got onto the boards thanks to forward Philip Hamer. David Hrazdira and Vladimir Kames rounded out the scoring for the Czechs.

Despite the loss, the Brits held their heads high and despite three games and zero wins remain focused on their main goal: staying in the top division for 2015.

“We are building to stay in this division and we are progressing every year,” said forward Andy Sillitoe.”The tournament starts fresh on Thursday.”

Great Britain will have a tough matchup, facing arguably the tournament’s hottest team in Finland. As for the Czechs, they will be banking on a big crowd and some hometown momentum as they draw 2013 bronze medallists Canada for their quarter-final matchup.

USA – Slovakia 6-0 (1-0, 2-0, 2-0, 1-0) Postgame

The United States closed out the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship preliminary round with a 5-0 shutout of Slovakia.

Travis Noe had four points (2G+2A) and Matt White added three assists to tie him with his teammate for the tournament scoring lead with 10 points each.
The victory means that Team USA is the top-ranked team entering the playoff round.

They will have a quarter-final game against Germany, a team that surprised another North American team, Canada, in their opening game, playing a defence-first game that saw them lose by just two goals, 3-1.

Slovakia finishes as the third-ranked team in Group A, and draws Sweden in the quarter-finals.

DIVISION I

Croatia – Latvia 6-3 (1-1, 1-1, 3-0, 1-1)

Croatia locked up second place in Group C of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship Division I with a 6-3 win over Latvia. The loss means Latvia will go to fourth place and play the top-seeded team of Group B in the quarter-final round.

Going into the third period tied 2-2, the Croats put away the Latvians with three straight goals from Nikso Trstenjak, Tomislav Cunko, and Matija Milicic.

The loss sends Latvia to the bottom of Group C and sets up a tough matchup against Austria in the quarter-finals.

Slovenia – Australia 8-5 (2-0, 2-1, 0-2, 4-2)

Slovenia made short work of Australia in its final preliminary round game, winning 8-5 and seizing the top rank in Division I.

Matic Kralj had a hat trick and ten other Slovenian players recorded at least a point in the win, giving Slovenia a perfect record through three games.

Slovenia now draws Division I returnees Brazil in the quarter-final round taking place Thursday at 17:00. Australia will play Hungary at 15:00.

Austria – Hungary 5-6 (2-2, 0-0, 3-3, 1-1)

Hungary scored three straight goals in the third period and held off an Austrian comeback to win its final game of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship preliminary round 6-5.

Akos Kiss scored the game winner in the fourth period, giving the Hungarians two wins and one loss going into the playoffs. 

The Hungarians’ win is good for the No.2 seed in Group D and sets up a match with Australia in Thursday’s quarter-final round.

Japan – Brazil 4-3 (1-1, 2-1, 0-0, 1-1)

Japan finished its preliminary round campaign on a high note, defeating Brazil 4-3 and setting up a match with Croatia in the Division I quarter-final round.

Kentaro Nishinaga’s power-play goal late in the fourth held on as the game winner, giving the Japanese their first first win of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship.

Brazil, which came off a surprising 6-3 victory over Hungary on Monday, was not able to keep its winning ways alive and will have to settle for the No. 4 seed and a difficult matchup against Slovenia, which a year ago was competing in the top division.

ADAM STEISS
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