INGOLSTADT, Germany - The preliminary round at the Inline Hockey World Championship came to a close. But before the teams will play the quarterfinals on Thursday, four teams will play crossover games tomorrow. Canada faces Austria and Slovakia takes on Brazil in the two games. See the bottom of the page for the crossover games and quarterfinal match-ups.
Czech Republic – Canada (2-1, 0-1, 1-1, 0-1)
The Czech Republic missed a huge opportunity to outright claim first place in its preliminary round group after losing 4-3 against Canada.
Canada was winless heading into today’s game, while the Czechs, with four points, could have secured first place in Group A with a regulation win. Instead, Brendan Brooks opened the door for the Americans or Swedes to take the top spot in the group with his late-game goal. Brooks broke a 17-minute stalemate with his top-shelf shot with 2:10 left in regulation.
It was Canada’s best outing of the championship as they played more disciplined than in its previous games and kept the lethal Czech power play scoreless. It looked early on like the Czechs would roll to the win after they scored their first two goals 45 seconds apart before four minutes had elapsed. But Canada cut the lead in half before the fifth minute to stay in the game. Brooks evened the game at two at the 18:10 mark to close the first-half scoring.
Canada took its first lead 1:37 into the second half, but the Czechs quickly answered with the 3-3 goal, setting up fourth-quarter heroics.
Despite the win, Canada still finishes the group in last place and will play in tomorrow’s crossover game. If Canada wins, they will return to the top division quarterfinals and take on the top-seeded Group B team, Germany.
Finland – Slovenia 4-3 (2-0, 2-0, 0-2, 0-1)
Finland secured second place in its preliminary round group after hanging on to beat Slovenia, 4-3.
Finland had another strong start to the game and just like against Slovakia, the Finns held a 4-0 lead by halftime. It took awhile for Finland to get on the board, but Karo Koivunen eventually got the 1-0 goal at the 9:50 mark. Sami Markkanen doubled the lead under a minute later.
The second quarter was a copy of the first as Finland got another pair of quick goals mid period. Jesse Saarinen and Mikko Liukkonen scored 1:14 apart for the 4-0 lead.
Slovenia started to mount a comeback in the second half, sparked by an early power-play goal from Dome Vedlin. Matin Krajl cut the lead in half at the end of the third quarter. Hungary’s Eric Pance really made the Finns sweat when he made it one goal game with a shot from the face-off circle with 6:59 left in the game. Finland got into penalty trouble at the end of the game, going down two men, but Slovenia couldn’t get the equalizer, even with goaltender Peter Skrabelj pulled for the extra skater.
Of some concern for the Finns must be their meager power play, which again was non-existent today, going 0-9. Finland has the worst power play at the worlds so far.
The loss gives Slovenia a third-place finish in the group.
Sweden – United States (0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 2-2, 0-0, 1-0)
Sweden won the battle, but the United States won the preliminary round war. Despite beating the Americans today 7-6 in a shootout, the Swedes still finished one point behind the North Americans in the group. But if the game was any indication of what lies ahead in the playoff round, it will be one thrilling ride at the end of the week.
The teams played the best game at this World Championship, see-sawing back and forth, and playing with passion. It was all USA in the first 15 minutes as the Americans jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two goals coming in the first 1:29. Jimmy Andersson and Daniel Wessner worked to cut the lead to one goal at halftime, giving the Swedes momentum. Wessner’s power-play goal with 2:20 left in the half would prove to be the first of many extra-man tallies as special teams took over in the second half.
Linus Klasen gave Sweden its first lead of the game with two power-play goals in the third quarter. But 26 seconds before the end of the quarter, Ernie Hartleib tied the game at four with a two-man advantage goal. Brian Yingling scored on the remainder of the two-man advantage to give the U.S. a 5-4 edge in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.
Sweden struck back again with a pair of power-play goals coming 1:31 apart, Wessner’s second goal of the game was the go-ahead goal for the Swedes midway through the period. With time running out, the Americans pulled goaltender Troy Redmann for the extra skater, and the gamble paid off when James Beilsten struck with the tying goal with 12 seconds left in regulation.
Even the shootout was flashy, as the shooters on both sides pulled many tricks out of their hats, but it was ultimately a text book wrist shot that by Kristian Luukonen that sealed the shootout win for Sweden.
The Americans enter the quarterfinal round as the top-seeded team and will face the winner of tomorrow’s Slovakia vs. Brazil game. Sweden, which finished in second place in the group will take on Slovenia in its quarterfinal game.
Slovakia – Germany 4-13 (0-2, 3-3, 1-3, 0-5)
Germany stayed the only unbeaten top division team at the Inline Hockey World Championship after skating to a 13-4 win against Slovakia. The win sealed Germany’s spot as the top seed out of its preliminary round group and sent Slovakia to tomorrow’s crossover game against Brazil, as the lowest finisher in the group.
It was again a full arena in Ingolstadt as 2,400 fans cheered the Germans on. The team responded to the fan support early, pushing ahead to a 5-1 lead. Henrik Holscher scored two of the early goals for the Germans.
Slovakia staged a mini-comeback after Roman Simunek easily scored on a penalty shot with 1:28 left in the half. Before the teams went in for the break, Ivan Dornik made it a two-goal game, silencing the German crowd.
Germany pulled goalkeeper Thomas Ower at the half and put in Daniel Huber, presumably a pre-planned move since the Germans had first place sealed before the game began. Huber fared well, giving up only a second goal from Dornik that was a solid shot. In the meantime, Germany steadily built on its lead, surging ahead to 8-4 by the end of the third quarter. The Germans put the exclamtion mark on the win with another five goals in the final 12 minutes for the 13-4 win. Florian Jung and Thomas Vogl scored their second goals in the half, joining Holscher as the double goal getters. Patrick Reimer finished with a hat trick thanks to two last-minute goals.
Germany will take on the winner of the Canada vs. Austria crossover game on Thursday in the quarterfinal. Slovakia will take on Brazil tomorrow.
Japan – Chinese Taipei – 8-0 (1-0, 3-0, 2-0, 2-0)
Chinese Taipei had its best performance yet at this year’s Inline Hockey World Championship, but it still wasn’t enough to come close to a victory as Japan earned the 8-0 shutout.
Japan had a slow start, scoring only one goal in the first 20 minutes of action. Yuji Koshiba scored the power play tally 5:53 into the game, but then the offense stalled, Japan even missed a penalty shot midway through the first half.
Taku Kanatani woke up his team with a power play goal 2:28 before the half. The marker proved to be the turning point for Japan, which put in another two goals before the break. Japan put in another pair of goals to make it a 6-0 advantage at the end of the third quarter. With Chinese Taipei rarely threatening the Japanese net, the rest of the game was academic as another two goals late in the fourth brought the final to 8-0.
Koshiba was the only Japan player to finish with two goals. Shingo Imagawa and Masaaki Ono split the shutout honors in net for Japan, each played 24 minutes.
Both teams have tomorrow off as Austria will play in the crossover game. The quarterfinals will begin on Thursday with Chinese Taipei as the last-seeded team out of Group C, and Japan seeded third.
Hungary – South Africa 11-2 (4-1, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0)
Hungary earned its first win at the Inline World Championship in grand fashion with a lopsided 11-2 decision against winless South Africa. Hungary finishes in third place in Group D with the win, while South Africa is the lowest-seeded team out of the group going into the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Arnold Feil scored Hungary’s first two goals, that came just 1:02 apart. By the ten-minute mark, Hungary built the lead to 4-1. Andraz Kordisz put in another two goals, one coming just two seconds before halftime, to make it a large 6-1 lead at the half.
South Africa pulled goaltender Ashley Bock in favor of Richard Cook, but it did little to change their luck as Hungary put in the 7-1 goal just 1:57 into the third quarter. Feil also struck in the third to complete his hat trick.
South Africa looked tired for much of the second half as Hungary continued to chip away. The Hungarians gave South Africa very few chances to generate any offense with a 49-17 shots advantage. Fatigue took over in the last few minutes as Kordisz scored his third goal shorthanded 1:53 from the end of the game. The South Africans surrendered another two goals in the final moments to bring the final to 11-2.
Austria – Australia (1-0, 3-0, 1-0, 2-0)
Austria earned first place in its Division I preliminary round group and the right to play in tomorrow’s crossover game against Canada after easily beating Australia, 7-0.
There are two crossover games tomorrow that pit the winners of the two Division I groups against the lowest teams from the two top division groups. The winners of the games continue the rest of the Inline Championship in the top division and the losers go to Division I.
Of all the teams in Division I, Austria has the strongest motivation to make its way to the top division. The team was relegated last year to the lower eight and is eager to return to the elite group. If Austria’s performance in its preliminary round group is any indication, they have a good chance to move up. The Austrians out-scored their Division I opponents 33-4 in three games, including today’s shutout.
It took a little time for Austria to find its offense. After getting a quick 1-0 goal, the scoring stalled until around the 16-minute mark when the Austrians poured in three goals. Mark Brunnegger put in his second goal of the game to open the second half scoring 1:46 into action. It was the only tally of the third quarter, but with the Australians showing little signs of life in the Austrian zone, the 5-0 lead was more than enough for the Austrians to be secure in the win.
Just for good measure, Austria put in a quick pair of goals to open the fourth quarter and settled for the 7-0 win. Bernhard Starkbaum was indeed a strong tree in net, getting credit for the shutout.
Great Britain – Brazil 2-5 (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-4)
Brazil erupted with four goals in the last ten minutes to earn a 5-2 win against Great Britain and a berth in tomorrow’s crossover game against Slovakia.
The game was up for grabs until the late Brazilian surge as the two teams were even in virtually every way. Brazil’s Luiz Almeida scored in the waning seconds of the first half to give his team a 1-0 lead, but in the opening seconds of the second period, Great Britain’s Philip Hamer had the answer with the 1-1 goal.
The game remained deadlocked until Almeida netted his second goal with 9:20 left in regulation. Pedro Andrade and Diego Araujo followed up just a few minutes later to make it 4-1. Great Britain attempted a last ditch comeback, scoring with 1:59 left in regulation, but Brazil even had an answer for that goal, brining the final to 5-3.
Great Britain, last year’s silver medalist, finishes the group in second place and will take on Japan in the quarterfinal on Thursday. The Brazilians will play the crossover game tomorrow and then its quarterfinal opponent will be either the United States if they win on Wednesday or Chinese Taipei if they lose.
Crossover Game Match-ups:
Canada vs. Austria 16:00
Slovakia vs. Brazil 18:00
Top Division Quarterfinal Match-ups:
Sweden vs. Slovenia
United States vs. Slovakia/Brazil winner
Finland vs. Czech Republic
Germany vs. Canada/Austria winner
Division I Quarterfinal Match-ups:
Australia vs. Hungary
Great Britain vs. Japan
Canada/Austria loser vs. South Africa
Slovakia/Brazil loser vs. Chinese Taipei