CZE-SWE, USA-CAN in semis

InLine: USA-GER 16-1, CZE-SVK 9-2, FIN-CAN 5-6, SLO-SWE 2-6

23.06.2011
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Team Canada celebrates a goal in its 6-5 quarter-final win against Finland. Photo: Malvina Ministrova

PARDUBICE – The semi-final picture of the 2011 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship is complete. The hosting Czechs and the U.S. continue to demolish their opponents and will play Sweden and Canada respectively, who overcame their better-ranked opponents.
 
Top Division

Semi-finals:
Sweden vs. Czech Republic (18:00)
Canada vs. USA (20:00)

Placement games:
Slovenia vs. Germany (14:00)
Finland vs. Slovakia (16:00)

USA vs. Germany 16-1 (3-0, 3-0, 5-1, 6-0) Game Sheet Photos

The United States didn’t leave Germany a chance in the quarter-finals of their title-defence campaign. After steamrolling over the Germans 16-1, the U.S. will meet Canada in the semis for another North American clash at this tournament.

The American goals were scored by eight different players. Kyle Kraemer and Itan Chavira had four goals apiece, Tyler Walser and Gerry Osterkamp had two markers each while Boris Blank scored the consolation goal for Germany.

“Germany is a respectful team and they worked hard, but we played our game and capitalized on our chances,” Kraemer said. “My linemates gave me really good passes.”

Pitiable German goalkeeper Jochen Vollmer had to leave after already eight minutes (to come back in the fourth quarter) and three goals from Joseph Doran, Kraemer and Chavira.

The Americans hadn’t had a power play in their 3-0 first-period lead, but that wasn’t necessary as they seemed to be on a man advantage even with the equal number of players.

Team USA netted three more goals in the second and five additional ones in the third period before the final buzzer saved the Germans from a tougher verdict than the 16-1 result.

The U.S. will likely face tougher challenge in the semi-finals against a Canadian team they have beaten 6-3 in the preliminary round.

“Canada is a good team. It’s tough to beat them twice,” Kraemer said. “We need to go in with a good attitude and work hard.”

Czech Republic vs. Slovakia 9-2 (3-1, 3-0, 1-0, 2-1) Game Sheet Photos

Host nation Czech Republic continues with an offensive firework and high-scoring wins. In the quarter-finals they demolished neighbour Slovakia 9-2 in front of 4,200 enthusiastic fans.

Ludek Broz had three goals and three assists while Patrik Sebek had two plus two.

“I’m glad that we could win again,” Sebek said. “It was a great team effort, but now we have to focus on the next game. It will be a whole new game from the first whistle.”

The Czech Republic got used to get the lead and win its games on home ice in Pardubice, and the brotherly rivalry against Slovakia followed the same pattern. It was lopsided rather than fierce.

Broz needed 76 seconds to bring the Czechs on the scoreboard with a backhand shot, but less than a minute later Martin Galik finished a nice pass play of the Slovaks with the 1-1 goal. It was, however, the last time the Slovaks had reason to cheer.

The Czechs continued to create more offensive action and gained a comfortable 3-1 lead after the first period when Sebek and Jiri Polansky netted two quick goals within 20 seconds.

The second period continued like the first one ended and Slovak goalkeeper Jozef Ondrejka didn’t have his luckiest moment when Martin Koudelka defeated him with a shot from just a few steps after the red line at 5:30. Broz scored his second goal four minutes later and Ladislav Vlcek made it 6-1 before the end of the period.

The Slovaks changed goalkeepers, but Sebek scored the only goal of the period for the Czechs. Again Broz and Tomas Demel had two more goals in the fourth period while Marcel Holovic scored the second Slovak goal for the 9-2 score.

The Czechs showed their gold ambitions once again and they will be the top seed in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Finland vs. Canada 5-6 (1-1, 1-3, 2-1, 1-1) Game Sheet Photos

Last year Canada surprisingly ousted Finland 10-8 in the quarter-finals. This year the Canadians did it again in a 6-5 victory.

Same as last year, Thomas Woods with three goals and Jimmy Carter with two were among the key players leading the Canadian offence.

“It’s great to win against them in the quarter-finals like last year. We were struggling a bit in the last few games, but I had more luck today and my team was feeding me well,” Woods said. “We watched them and knew they’re going to be good, so we came into the game knowing it would be a battle, and a good, high-scoring game like last year. We stepped to our plan and in the end we came out with the win.”

Finland meanwhile has to bury its medal dreams again despite a strong preliminary-round showing and despite an early lead from Pat Ahosilta at 2:28.

Woods became the man of the match when he tied the score at one at 9:26 and deflected the puck into the net at 2:34 of the second period.

Five minutes later Carter made it even 3-1 after a breakaway. Juho Joki-Erkkila cut the lead one minute later, but David Hammond scored the 4-2 goal before the halftime break.

The game continued to go back and forth after the intermission.

At 6:20 Sami Markkanen’s long-range shot during a man advantage went over the line via Brett Leggat’s pads, but Canada denied the Finns again to come back. Only one minute later Carter restored the two-goal lead on a breakaway with his second marker of the day.

The Finns didn’t give up, and Leggat looked a bit shaky again when Lasse Lappalainen surprised him with a shot from about 25 metres for the 5-4 goal at 8:56 of the third period.

Woods completed his hat trick with the 6-4 goal at 6:08 of the fourth period, but the Finns had not given up yet.

After two penalty calls against Canada and pulling the goalie, Finland played with five against two skaters in the last minute. Jesse Saarinen capitalized on the situation with the 6-5 goal 15 seconds before the end of regulation time, but the Finns lost the ensuing face-off and were not able to put more pressure on the Canadian net.

Canada will now wait to know the next opponent before preparing for tomorrow’s semi-final game.

“We will go over the game tonight and look forward to the next game,” Woods said.

Slovenia vs. Sweden 2-6 (2-0, 0-2, 0-1, 0-3) Game Sheet Photos

For once Sweden entered the quarter-finals as the lower-seeded team, but the Swedes prevailed in a 6-2 comeback victory against Slovenia.

Slovenia scored the first two goals of the game, but Sweden tied it up before the halftime break and dominated in the other two periods. Kristian Luukkonen scored twice.

“It was nice to score two goals,” Luukkonen said. “The whole team was good today. I think we are better as a team, that’s why we won. It was fun to play.”

For Slovenia it’s another quarter-final loss. The Slovenes won two games in the preliminary-round, but couldn’t overcome their playoff curse despite a good first period they continued to impress the favourites.

The opening goal came from Anze Kuralt at 3:22. At 10:42 Matic Kralj scored his sixth goal of the tournament with a straight shot from ten metres during a man advantage to make it 2-0 for Slovenia.

“We have many new players on the team, that’s why we were a little bit nervous in the beginning,” Luukkonen explained the Swedes’ slow start. “But after the second period we played better.”

Indeed, the yellow-blue team started to create lots of chances, but often the players failed from a short distance in front of Slovenian goalie Gasper Kroselj. It seemed however only a question of time until the Swedes would break the resistance.

With 2:24 left in the second period the Swedes scored their first goal. During a power play, Henrik Höglund managed to stay away from traffic, and when he received the puck from Marcus Nilsson just beside the goal post, he capitalized on his chance to cut the lead.

Only 36 seconds later the Swedes again combined for some nice tic-tac-toe passing in front of Kroselj’s net, and Luukkonen finished the attack with the 2-2 goal just before the halftime break.

Nilsson brought Sweden the lead at 6:35 of the third period and the Scandinavians didn’t allow Slovenia to come back.

Luukkonen scored his second goal five minutes into the fourth period, followed by Carl Berglund’s marker two minutes later.

Simon Olsson shot the puck into the empty net with 1:24 left to play for the 6-2 goal.

Sweden, which for a long time didn’t look like a medal contender during preliminary-round play, seems to be back on track to battle for the tenth straight medal. Or even more than just a medal?

“We go for the gold, that’s why we are here,” Luukkonen said. “We have to step up our game and be more efficient.”

Division I

Semi-finals:
Hungary vs. Austria (17:00)
Great Britain vs. Australia (19:00)

Placement games:
New Zealand vs. Argentina (13:00)
Croatia vs. South Africa (15:00)

Hungary vs. South Africa 4-2 (0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 3-1) Game Sheet Photos

Nobody expected the Hungary vs. South Africa match to become a drama, but that’s exactly what happened as the Africans, who had the worst preliminary-round record, had by far their best performance at this event before eventually losing 4-2.

Joaquim Valadas shocked the Hungarians when he scored South Africa’s first goal at 8:42. The lead after the first period was fully deserved as the South Africans outshot Hungary 12-6.

Hungary improved in the second period when it created more scoring chances, and eventually Marton Bontovics scored on a breakaway at 4:19 of the third period to tie the game at one.

The game went back and forth with plenty of chances at both ends, but it was again South Africa that took the lead. Captain Andre Marais fired a slap shot on a power play at 5:24 of the fourth period and the fans in the second rink were getting ready for a sensation.

The African dream came to an abrupt end three minutes before the end of the game. Zoltan Revak scored on a rebound with 3:25 left and Tamas Lencses even scored the 3-2 goal for Hungary just 18 seconds later.

Instead of becoming the scorer of the game-winner, Marais was sent to the penalty box for tripping and the Hungarians enjoyed a power play. A first goal was disallowed with 1:21 left in regulation time because the goal was moved, but Attila Orban scored the 4-2 goal with 1:05 left to play.

This goal, too, caused some controversial discussions until it was eventually shown on the scoreboard and Hungary sealed the win.

Great Britain vs. Argentina 12-0 (3-0, 2-0, 4-0, 3-0) Game Sheet Photos

Great Britain had an easy game in the quarter-finals, blanking Argentina 12-0.

John Dolan scored his three goals before the 14-minute mark to make it 4-0 while Philip Hamer had even four goals, and Kurt Waller two.

The Brits created lots of quality scoring chances, outshooting Argentina 36-14.

After this win Great Britain will enter the semi-finals as the top-seeded team in the battle for promotion to next year’s Top Division tournament.

Croatia vs. Australia 3-7 (2-3, 1-3, 0-0, 0-1) Game Sheet Photos

Also the second Division I quarter-final match-up went on differently than many people had expected as Australia defeated last year’s silver medallist Croatia 7-3. It was only the second win in the fourth game at this event for the Aussies, but they deserved the victory, outshooting their European opponent 38-28.

Australia scored the lead three times in the first period with goals from Jordan Gavin, Michael Casceli and Sean Jones, but the Croats were able to tie it up each time.

Olivier Rozarz regained the lead 32 seconds after the 3-3 goal and it stayed in the books as the game winner. Dean Dunstan and Gavin with his second marker made it 6-3 late in the second period and Rozdarz also added his second goal 50 seconds into the fourth period.

Austria vs. New Zealand 10-9 (3-0, 3-3, 1-1, 2-5) OT Game Sheet Photos

Austria had to fight hard to eliminate underdog New Zealand from the Division I quarter-finals. Gregor Baumgartner scored the game-winning goal 26 seconds into overtime after the Austrians had given up a four-goal lead.

The medal hopes for the surprising qualifier New Zealand seemed to be over before the game really began. Austria built up a comfortable 3-0 lead after only three minutes of play. Gregor Baumgartner opened the scoring after just 19 seconds followed by goals from Lukas Draschkowitz and Robert Dorazil.

New Zealand coach Patrick Lee exchanged his goalkeeper Michael Coleman with Nicholas Harvey, and James Trevena-Brown showed the reaction on the other side with two second-period goals to bring hope back for the New Zealanders.

Mario Altmann made it 4-2, but New Zealand tried to come back during a power play.

The game went back and forth. Austria’s Marco Quinz skated for a counter-attack, but after Harvey’s save, the puck went to the other side where Jensen Taiapaskinnon defeated Austrian goalie Markus Schilcher with a low shot. But only one minute later Axel Riegler restored Austria’s two-goal lead and Lukas Draschkowitz made it 6-3 for the halftime break.

The Austrians still held a comfortable 7-4 lead after the third period, and it was even 8-4 after 91 seconds in the fourth span, but then the Kiwis came back. With five goals within seven minutes New Zealand made it 9-9 with less than two minutes left to play in regulation time. But in overtime Austria prevailed with Baumgartner’s second goal.

MARTIN MERK

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