Hungary writes history

Div. IA: Kazakhstan suffers loss against hosts


The Hungarian players celebrate their historic win over Kazakhstan with their fans in Budapest. Photo: Akos Stiller

BUDAPEST – Hungary made amends for the historical loss against Korea on Monday with the first-ever win against Kazakhstan, 2-1. Italy took the tournament lead with a 5-1 victory over Great Britain while Japan won the Asian summit against Korea, 6-5.

Kazakhstan vs. Hungary 1-2 (0-0, 1-1, 0-1) Video

With anger in their guts from the loss against Korea the Hungarian men’s national team caused a historic upset itself by defeating Kazakhstan for the first time in the sixth encounter between the two teams.

The win gives Hungary a realistic chance to battle for promotion and moves the team to second place while Kazakhstan needs to improve if they want to return to the top division.

Viktor Tokaji scored the game-winning goal at 7:13 of the third period while comeback goalie Levente Szuper shone again in the Hungarian net. In his second official game of the season, “Szuper Levi” – as the fans cheered on him after the game – saved 39 of 40 shots on his cage.

“It was a tough game. It was most important that we took the lead which made them nervous,” Tokaji said. “We had many penalty kills and sacrificed ourselves. The team effort was really high.”

“It’s a huge difference compared to the performance against Korea,” Hungary head coach Rich Chernomaz said. “There was so much endurance and discipline with a super goalie performance. We didn’t give them much room so the Kazakh forwards couldn’t use their skill and we provoked mistakes.”

The Hungarians visibly wanted to start the game against favoured Kazakhstan on a high note after having disappointed their crowd two days ago. Kazakh goalie Vitali Kolesnik needed a couple of great saves to keep the zero on the scoreboard in the beginning.

While Hungary was more active, Kazakhstan had the two biggest scoring chances of the period. Roman Starchenko hit the post at 6:01 and with 35 seconds remaining in the opening frame his linemate Viktor Alexandrov missed out on a breakaway.

Kazakhstan started the second period with a power play and put Hungarian goalkeeper Szuper under more pressure that before.

Hungary mostly tried it with energetic attacking and counter-attacks. Midway through the period Janos Vas and Csaba Kovacs had a two-on-one but Vas’s pass didn’t reach his teammate. One minute later the Hungarians had luck when the Kazakhs hit the post.

Best chances were not used on both sides. Maybe it was destiny that a rather easy shot went in and made the almost 8,000 fans at the Laszlo Papp Sportarena break out in cheer.

While playing 4-on-4, Marton Vas brought the puck into the offensive zone and passed to Arpad Mihaly on the left side. Kolesnik didn’t fully cover the near goal post and that’s exactly where Mihaly found the hole for the 1-0 goal at 13:35.

It was the first time ever Hungary had the lead against the Kazakh men’s national team. The Kazakhs won the five previous encounters between the two nations.

However, three minutes later the lead was gone when Kazakhstan’s Starchenko capitalized on a power play to tie the game. Hungarian defenceman Bence Sziranyi intercepted Starchenko’s centering pass near the right goal post but the Kazakh got the puck back and succeeded with his shot.

Tension was high when the players came back for the third period at the loud arena. And it became even louder when the puck went in behind Kolesnik for a second time. At 7:13 Tokaji shot from the blueline on a power play. Kolesnik touched it but the puck slid over the goal line. Gergo Nagy was at the right spot for a tip-in but it was not needed anymore as he saw the puck cross the line.

“It just went by,” Tokaji said about his feelings when he scored the eventual game winner. “I just thought continue the same way, don’t screw it up like against Korea. We never want to allow anything like that happen again.”

Now the Kazakhs were in demand and had a couple of chances in particular on a power play 12 minutes into the third period, but the Magyars fought hard to keep the 2-1 score.

With five minutes left Andras Benk shot the puck over the boards and was assessed a penalty for delaying the game that could have proven costly, but the Hungarians survived the two minutes.

“We were not able to use our chances. You cannot win a hockey game with just one goal. We knew that the Hungarians had nothing to lose but obviously the players didn’t get the message,” a disappointed Kazakhstan head coach Vladimir Krikunov said.

“I hope that’s a good lesson for the players. We still have two games left to correct this mistake.”

With 2:19 left on the match clock Istvan Sofron gained puck possession in the neutral zone for a breakaway but saw the puck saved by Kolesnik. What followed after the save was a senseless hooking against Sofron away from the puck at the end boards. With this penalty Alexei Troshinski took his team the chance for a final run on Szuper in the dying minutes of the game.

Instead the Hungarians had little to scare when the clock ran down and they could celebrate their historic win and their comeback in the race for promotion.

Italy vs. Great Britain 5-1 (1-1, 1-0, 3-0) Video

For a long time Great Britain seemed to be a hard nut to crack but eventually Italy defeated the British 5-1 thanks to three unanswered goals in the third period.

Nathan di Casimirro opened the scoring for Italy after one minute of play when he converted a horizontal pass for the lead but at 7:23 Robert Farmer tied it up with a hard shot from the right face-off dot.

After ten minutes of play Vincent Rocco had a great chance to score the lead but missed the shot after a hooking from Mark Thomas. Great Britain had some good scoring chances afterwards when Diego Kostner had to sit out a penalty for elbowing but they didn’t score.

It was the strongest period for a British team that was mostly kept busy in the defence for the remaining two periods.

“We started aggressive in the first five minutes but after their first goal we kind of let off the trigger a bit,” Rocco said. “That kind of cost us the first period but then we got a bit of a brainwash and came out harder in the second and tried to dictate the pace.”

Italy came out strong after the first intermission and already capitalized on a power play at the beginning thanks to a great shot from Patrick Iannone.

For the British David Phillips created the best chance when a shot from the blueline after 14 minutes was deflected but Italian netminder Adam Dennis got the puck under control. But most trouble was created at the other end with hard work for the British defence and goalie Stephen Murphy to keep the score close.

86 seconds into the third period Farmer had a great scoring chance to tie the game but then Italy took control.

At 2:40 Rocco skated behind the British net before stopping in front of Murphy to defeat him with a high corner shot.

“The goalie was down on the first post and I tried to get it up over his shoulder and it went in,” the Alleghe forward said.

Just 13 seconds later Markus Gander made it 4-1 after Nathan di Casimirro had successfully won a battle for the puck at the side boards.

At 8:15 Daniel Sullivan scored on a 2-on-1 while playing shorthanded. He netted the puck on a rebound after a shot from Luca Felicetti. The 5-1 goal was too much for the British who knew the Azzurri were too strong and disciplined to have a realistic chance for a comeback.

With the maximum of nine points in three games the Italians came one step closer to the immediate return to the top division.

“We all knew that the [last two] games against Hungary and Kazakhstan will be the deciding games but we knew very well that we cannot lose the first three games,” said Rocco. “We respected all three opponents and I think if we hadn’t respected them we could have tripped up in the first three. But we got the nine points we wanted.”

Korea vs. Japan 5-6 (0-1, 3-3, 2-2) Video

Eleven different scorers made the Far East summit a goal festival. Korea tied the game several times but never had the lead while Japan always found a reaction to eventually clinch a 6-5 win.

“It wasn’t a beautiful win but we won and our power play was pretty good,” Japan’s head coach Mark Mahon said.

Japan scored its first three goals on the man advantage in its first win that may help to keep the team in the second tier of men’s hockey.

Korea has been on the rise in the last few years and lost the last clash, at the Olympic Pre-Qualification in Nikko, Japan, only 3-2 in overtime. Also this time the Japanese stayed atop in a tight contest while the Koreans missed out on a second upset after the first-ever victory against Hungary in the last round on Monday.

“It was a tough game,” Japanese captain Go Tanaka said. “We know each other well from the Asia League and we really wanted to win this game.”

Takahito Suzuki opened the scoring on a rebound with the first Japanese power play of the game at 11:02.

Go Tanaka had a huge chance to lift up the score with two minutes left but Hyunseung Eum, who was in the Korean net today, had a spectacular save with his pad in the air.

Korea became stronger in the second period in which it outshot Japan 22-9.

At 8:02 Kisung Kim scored on a rebound on a power play and the Korean fans in the stands waved their flags to the tune of Gangnam Style – but not for too long. Less than two minutes later, just 12 seconds into a power play, Shuhei Kuji regained the lead with his shot from the blueline.

Again two minutes later it was Korea’s turn. Shanghoon Shin scored after a drop pass from Yongjun Lee, who gained puck possession behind the Japanese net.

But after another goalless span of just two minutes it was again time for a marker on the other side. Japan’s Takuma Kawai tipped in the puck on a power play for the 3-2 lead. And 35 seconds later Kohei Mitamura made it a two-goal margin for the Japanese.

The Koreans didn’t give up. At 16:36 Brock Radunske scored his first goal for the Korean national team on a 5-on-3 after a failed Korean shot attempt due to a broken stick. Four-and-a-half minutes into the third period Shangwoo Sin tied the game at four capitalizing on a centering pass.

Of course this wasn’t the end of this entertaining game. 41 seconds later the puck went in on the other side when Makoto Kawashima fired a slap shot from behind the face-off circle after Yuto Osawa had won the face-off for Japan.

But 45 seconds after the lead it was again the Koreans who celebrated a goal. Wooyoung Kim brought the puck high to Yutaka Fukufuji’s net from the side boards and Japanese defenceman Makoto Kawashima diverted it into his own net when trying to grab the puck in the air.

At 10:30 Aaron Keller scored Japan’s sixth goal on his own rebound after his initial shot had bounced back from the post and this time the floodgates closed. Three minutes later Japan’s Kohei Mitamura placed a penalty shot wide of the net while the Koreans didn’t manage to stage another comeback.


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