KRYNICA – The first three games at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B ended with victories for Korea, who beat Australia 8-4, the Netherlands defeating Romania 4-1 and Poland’s 9-0 blanking of Lithuania.
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Australia vs. Korea 4-8 (3-3, 1-1, 0-4)
Australia battled valiantly until four final-period goals sealed victory for Korea.
"We knew Korea were a quick team, who play a really quick transition game and are really good at moving the puck. We knew how to play against them, but we just ran out of gas in the third period and that's when they took over," said Australia forward Michael Schlamp following their 8-4 loss in the opening game of the World Championship Division I Group B in Krynica.
Korea, which was the last of the six World Championship participating nations to arrive in Krynica, showed no sign of fatigue as they quickly stormed into a two-goal lead after a power-play goal by defenceman Hyeok Kim at 3:37 and minutes later a goal in open play by Yuwon Lee at 5:01. A possible run-away win for the Koreans then looked likely, before Australia hit back in short succession as their best player this afternoon, Thomas Powell, scored twice in open play to tie the game. Goals from Won Jung Kim and Joshua Harding made it 3-3 after the first period.
Australia took the lead in the second period with assistant captain Lliam Webster scoring a power-play goal after a sloppy team penalty for the Koreans following too many players on the ice, until it was Korea's turn to bite back, as they equalised at 12:29 of the second period thanks to a goal by Youngjun Lee.
Korea stepped up a gear in the final period as Yuwon Lee scored his second goal of the game. Australia continued to battle on gallantly before Bungchun Jung made it 6-4 at 15:47 of the third, followed by a goal by Geunho Kim at 17:18 before Sang Wook Kim finished the scoring with the eighth goal of the afternoon for Korea two seconds before the end.
Despite the defeat, the Australians have every reason to be upbeat ahead of the rest of the tournament, with the Netherlands up next.
"We're good defensively, we have a lot of good defenceman and our goalie has played well. Two good forward line and a decent checking line so it's pretty good all round," said Schlamp.
Romania vs. Netherlands 1-4 (0-0, 1-3, 0-1)
Newly-promoted Romania played well for half a game before being overpowered by the strong Dutchmen.
"We worked hard and it took us a while before we found our feet and started to be a bit more confident," said Netherlands head coach Larry Suarez.
After a goalless first period remembered mostly by a phenomenal save by Romania's goalie Adrian Catrinoi on a Marco Postma's shot, Romania took the lead in the second period when 18-year-old Roberto Gliga scored on a Tihamer Becze pass.
Things were then looking promising for Romania, who then failed to convert chances to extend the lead, before penalty calls severely punished the newcomers in short succession. Ivy van den Heuvel levelled the score playing five against three at 14:21 of the second period. Less than a minute later the Netherlands took the lead after yet another power-play goal, this time scored by Diederick Hagemejier of the Tilburg Trappers. At 18:31 into the middle period Hagemejier was on the score sheet once again for his second goal of the afternoon, to make it 3-1 for the Netherlands ahead of the final period.
"We did do our best, but it wasn't enough and the Netherlands are a good team," said Romania's assistant captain, defenceman Szabolcs Papp after the game. "We lead the game and have good chances to score. But we got a lot of penalty calls and maybe the moral went down a bit after that," he said.
The third period offered Romania three separate power-play opportunities to come back into game, but instead it was Dutch captain Marcel Kars who made it 4-1 with three minutes left in regulation time to give the Netherlands a winning start and praise by the Romanian assistant captain.
"They played tough hockey, and they are a good team. I think the Netherlands are the second best team in the tournament.”
Lithuania vs. Poland 0-9 (0-2, 0-4, 0-3)
Poland cemented their place as tournament favourites with an impressive 9-0 scoreline.
In front of a vociferous crowd of 3,000 at the Krynica Ice Stadium, Poland dominated the game from the start to finish. It took 10:11 until the Lithuanians succumbed to Polish pressure when 35-year-old Piotr Sarnik’s power-play goal broke the deadlock. It was a lead that was quickly doubled when newly crowned Polish champion Krystian Dziubinski of KH Sanok hit home goal number two at 11:55.
The powerful hockey on show from a muscular Polish team continued in the second period. Leszek Laszkiewicz celebrated his 15th consecutive senior World Championship with making it 3-0 before sloppy defending gave Poland's team captain Marcin Kolusz free room to maneuver in front of the Lithuanian goalie Nerijus Dauksevicius to easily score Poland's fourth.
Poland piled on the pressure with wave after wave of attacks, before Lithuania finally were invited to threaten briefly, until Poland once again took over the proceedings with a goal by Marian Csorich. The valiant goaltending by Lithuania's outstanding player Dauksevicius didn't help much as Poland made it six on 39:13 thanks to Mikolaj Lopuski.
Grzegorz Pasiut scored an unassisted goal at 6:44 of the third period, and less than a minute later, Krystian Dziubinski made his second for the evening. Pawel Dronia completed the rout, by scoring Poland's ninth goal in a game where Poland's netminder Przermyslaw Odrobny hardly had to break sweat.
"I am happy with scoring nine goals and not conceding any," said Poland head coach Wiktor Pysz. "After watching today's games I think Netherlands will be our toughest opponent, but I believe in our ability as a team."
"We have many of our best players missing, so with seven new players on the roster, from the U18 and U20 teams it is difficult to show something special against a team like Poland," says Sergei Borisov who hopefully can look ahead to more human opponents and evenly fought games for the rest of the World Championships with Korea up next for the southern Baltic state.