Qualification Game Day:
Austria – Slovakia 2-6 (0-1, 1-1, 0-2, 1-2)
Slovakia made history becoming the first-ever team to win the Inline Hockey qualification game and earn its way to the top division through the victory. The Slovaks beat Austria, 6-2 in the cross-over game.
While it was a momentous game, the result was not entirely unexpected as Slovakia has spent most of its Inline history among the top eight nations and was only relegated last year after finishing in last place at the elite level. It was anyone’s guess who would win between the two bubble teams today.
Austria found itself behind the eight ball for much of the game as Slovakia almost always held a slim advantage. Slovakia netted two power-play goals in the first half and clung to the 2-1 lead. Both teams had the same speed and skill level and were relatively evenly matched until Slovakia started to edge ahead in the second half.
Henrich Ruckay struck with two goals in the third quarter to give the Slovaks their first substantial lead of the game with a 4-1 advantage. Austria’s Daniel Oberkofler gave his team renewed hope, scoring the 4-2 goal early in the fourth quarter. Ruckay again had the answer for Slovakia, putting in the 5-2 goal and completing his hat trick. The marker essentially killed any hopes for an Austrian comeback as Slovakia skated onto the 6-2 win.
Austria and Slovakia will now trade places in the two divisions. Austria enters the Division I tournament as the top-seeded team in its quarterfinal pairing. Meanwhile, Slovakia will have its hands full in the quarterfinals with a meeting against the undefeated Americans.
Germany – Great Britain 3-2 (2-1, 0-0, 0-0, 1-1)
It was a struggle, but in the end Germany dispatched Great Britain back to Division I with a 3-2 victory.
It looked like it would be a clear victory for the Germans after they scored two goals in the first three minutes of action, but after the strong start, the Germans stalled, not finding the back of the net for another 40 minutes.
Luckily for Germany, during that span, Great Britain’s offense was virtually harmless, only netting one goal to make it a 2-1 affair for much of the game. Thomas Greilinger extended the German lead to 3-1 with the long-awaited goal. Four minutes later, Great Britain made a last ditch effort to comeback, when Alex Pearman gave the Brits hope with the 3-2 marker. But the hearty goal celebration soon came to an end as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
It is the third time that Great Britain has lost the cross-over game by one goal. The nation has never played in the top division since the World Championship was expanded to 16 teams. On the other end of the spectrum, Germany can breathe a sigh of relief after dodging the Great Britain bullet.
Great Britain returns to Division I as the top seed headed into the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Germany has a tough road in the top division as the fourth seed that must now take on defending champion Sweden in tomorrow’s quarterfinal.