It’s Czechs vs. USA for gold

InLine: SWE-CZE 4-8, CAN-USA 2-4, Slovakia relegated

24.06.2011
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Jan Besser (CZE) and Anthony Miner (USA) will face each other in the gold medal game on Saturday. Photo: Ivana Hoskova

PARDUBICE – The Czech Republic and Team USA play it out for the gold at the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship again. The Czechs defeated Sweden 8-4 before the U.S. edged Canada, 4-2. Finland and Slovenia won their placement games while Slovakia lost the relegation battle.
 
Top Division: semi-finals

Canada vs. USA 2-4 (0-2, 1-1, 1-1, 0-0) Game Sheet Photos

After defeating Canada 6-3 in the preliminary round, Team USA was ready to win the North American clash in the semi-finals as well, edging their northern neighbours 4-2 this time.

The Americans scored an early lead they never gave up while Itan Chavira scored two goals to keep the two-goal gap until the final whistle.

“It was a good game for us. We kind of started off slow, but we scored the goals early,” Chavira said.

“We had a lot of chances we could score, and we did it.”

The U.S. outshot Canada 33-28 while Troy Redmann had a strong night in the American net.

A great start in the first period proved to be decisive in another tight game between the two teams. Shawn Gawrys scored the opening goal after two minutes of play and Nathan Sigmund netted the second at 10:50 after Tyler Walser had interrupted a Canadian pass.

The two-goal lead after the first period gave the Americans confidence, and at 2:44 of the second period Chavira made it 3-0 with a shot between Brett Leggat’s pads.

The Canadians were allowed more chances following the clear lead. Jared Eng scored the 3-1 goal three minutes later after some nice passing, but Chavira had his second goal on a man advantage in the third period. It was the first power play goal of the game after six opportunities for both teams.

The game continued to go back and forth as David Hammond scored a shorthander with a long-range shot two minutes later to cut Team USA’s lead to 4-2.

The Canadians came out strong for the last stage, but they were seldom allowed the quality chances to stage a comeback. The fourth period ended scoreless and the Stars and Stripes flag was raised once again.

After the American victory against Canada, the two undefeated teams Czech Republic and USA will meet tomorrow for a rematch of last year’s gold medal game at 18:00 (CT4 live).

Sweden vs. Czech Republic 4-8 (2-2, 0-1, 0-2, 2-3) Game Sheet Photos

Same as in last year’s semi-final and in the preliminary round the Czechs came out as the winners against Sweden. They reached the final after defeating Sweden 8-4.

It was a close affair in the first period before the Czechs opened up the gap on home ice in Pardubice’s CEZ Arena.

“The Czech Republic is a very good team and I think we stood up really good and made them a tough life,” Swedish coach Fredrik Skoog said.

It was the Czechs’ third line that stood up to score the deciding three goals in the second and third periods. Jan Besser, who plays ice hockey for second-tier team Beroun, and Ocelari Trinec centre Jiri Polansky looked like they had been playing for years when they succeeded in those situations.

“It was similar to the game in the preliminary round. They’re getting better and better, and even scored the first goal, so it was really tough,” Besser, who made his own name-day present with two goals, commented the game.

“We tried the best and we’re also happy that we stayed disciplined this time because they were provoking us again, but we didn’t want to lose a guy for the final because of a fight.”

Sweden was leading after just 57 seconds of play when Emil Bejmo scored on the first opportunity, but at 3:35 Martin Vozdecky tied it up with a shot from the face-off circle.

At 7:03 Martin Koudelka got the puck in the middle zone to skate past the Swedish players and beat goalkeeper Sebastian Idoff with a high shot, but only one minute later Simon Olsson tied it up for a 2-2 first-period score.

It was the Czechs’ third line that made the difference when they became a driving force in the game, but didn’t create too many quality chances.

At 4:51 of the second period Besser received the puck in front of the net from Polansky, and Daniel Brolin wasn’t able to prevent him from defeating Idoff for the 3-2 lead.

Besser/Polansky brought some more scary moments for the Swedish defence in the third period. At 6:57 Polansky sent a drop pass to Besser, whose shot was blocked, but Polansky came from the other side to capitalize on the rebound.

Four minutes later Polansky sent another drop pass from the end boards to Besser, but this time Besser scored himself to make it 5-2.

Henrik Höglund cut the lead with a power play goal early in the fourth period, but the Czechs restored the three-goal lead a few minutes later. Martin Vozdecky was able to skate across the rink along the left boards to defeat Idoff with a high shot at 6:30.

At 7:47 defenceman Andreas Svensson capitalized on another Swedish power play for the 6-4 goal, but the yellow-and-blues didn’t come closer than that.

With 1:36 left in regulation time Sweden pulled the goalkeeper, but while Idoff was reaching the bench, the Czechs got the puck and Karel Rachunek scored the 7-4 goal before Petr Tenkrat had another empty netter with 12 seconds left to play.

The Czechs will now prepare for a gold medal game against the winner of the North American clash. Last year they lost the gold medal game 4-3 to the U.S.

Top Division: placement games

Finland vs. Slovakia 5-4 (0-1, 0-0, 2-0, 2-3) PS Game Sheet Photos

Finland remains in the Top Division after defeating Slovakia 5-4. It was a game with a few highlights until the scoring draught ended in the last period and a shoot-out was needed to decide whether Finland or Slovakia will be sent down to Division I. It hit the Slovaks.

Slovakia had the better start and Miroslav Kristin capitalized on the first power play at 8:07 when he wristed the puck after a save from a short angle over goalkeeper Samu Airasvaara. Filip Novak even missed the second goal seven seconds before the first intermission when he didn’t bring the puck past Airasvaara on a breakaway.

After a scoreless second period the third one was one that made the white-and-blue team cheer. Two times Kari Lohtander passed to Sami Markkanen, and both times Markkanen scored at 1:11 and 3:52 to take the lead for Finland.

33 seconds into the fourth period Slovakia reacted when Novak deked a shot on the left side before he defeated Airasvaara from the right.

The Finns needed less than a minute to react with a power play goal from Markkanen, but Marek Priechodsky tied the score again, finishing a quick attack at 3:31 to tie the game.

The game remained open and half a minute after the 3-3 goal Finland’s Lohtander just hit the post.

Slovakia was cheering with 17 seconds left in regulation time when Novak scored after a side pass Marcel Holovic. What seemed to be the decision in Slovakia’s favour proved to be only another chapter of the storybook.

Finnish coach Nemo Nokkosmäki took his time-out after Novak’s would-be game-winner and seven seconds later Lohtander tied the game again after a pass from Jesse Saarinen.

After a scoreless overtime period a penalty shoot-out had to decide which team will play in the Top Division next year, and which nation one tier below in Division I. Slovak coach Imrich Antal took out his goalkeeper Roman Hrusovsky to bring Jozef Ondrejka for the shoot-out duels.

1st round: Marcel Holovic 0-1, Pat Ahosilta 1-1.
2nd round: Filip Novak miss, Sami Markkanen 2-1.
3rd round: Marek Priechodsky save.

Finland won the shoot-out and the ticket for next year’s Top Division while Slovakia goes down.

Slovenia vs. Germany 5-3 (1-1, 1-1, 1-1, 2-0) Game Sheet Photos

It was a placement game that mattered especially for Slovenia. While Germany is qualified for next year’s Top Division as the host, Slovenia needed to win either this or tomorrow’s game to remain in the top pool. And they happily fulfilled the task at the first opportunity.

It was a game that went back and forth and was living from mistakes on both sides.

Slovenia was as usual led by its goal-getter Matic Kralj, who had three goals and an assist in the 5-3 win.

Germany had to catch up in the beginning after Kralj’s opening goal. Alexander Dück scored the 1-1 goal on a power play in the first period, but then Daniel Rossi gained the lead for Germany 37 seconds into the second period, and Boris Blank 55 seconds into the third period. But each time the Slovenes tied the game. Jan Loboda succeeded with a shot from the left face-off dot for the 2-2 goal, and Kralj netted the 3-3 score after three periods.

At 7:45 of the fourth period Kralj completed his hat trick with his ninth goal of the tournament. He shot in the puck from the left face-off circle after a great pass from Nejc Berlisk.

Germany pulled the goalkeeper and tried to equalize again in the last minute. Vitalij Aab played a great side pass in front of the net to Blank, but the latter couldn’t shoot due to heavy traffic.

Slovenia got the opportunity for a counter attack with three players and an empty net. Domen Vedlin hit the post, but Robert Sabolic put it in for the 5-3 score.

Division I: semi-finals

Great Britain vs. Australia 11-3 (2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 2-0) Game Sheet Photos

Great Britain won a semi-final game that started tight, but became lopsided in the and as the Brits defeated Australia 11-3.

Australia was only able to keep up for 15 minutes. Michael Casaceli tied up the score at 7:35 after an early lead from Kurt Waller, but Alex Pearman made it 2-1 for Team GB before the first intermission.

John Dolan capitalized on a power play early in the second period, but one minute later Australia’s Dean Dunstan cut the lead. It remained the last reaction from the Aussies as Great Britain made it 5-2 by halftime, and even 9-3 after three periods before adding to more goals until the end of the game.

Pearman had a hat trick and four points, while Waller and Dolan scored two goals apiece.

Great Britain will now play Hungary for the Division I gold and promotion to next year’s Top Division tournament.

Hungary vs. Austria 5-4 (0-0, 1-3, 1-1, 3-0) Game Sheet Photos

Hungary reached the gold medal game of Division I after a 5-4 comeback win against neighbour Austria. David Szappanos, who had two goals and as many assists, scored the game winner 57 seconds before the end of regulation time.

Austria seemed to control the game for a long time and especially after a gaining a 3-0 lead with second-period goals from Lukas Draschkowitz, Axel Riegler and Marco Quinz.

Szappanos and Arnold Feil cut the lead, but with two second left in the third period Christoph Draschkowitz made it 4-2.

The Hungarians completed their comeback in the fourth period. Feil scored his second marker at 1:40 and Zoltan Revak tied it up with three minutes left to play in regulation time before Szappanos added the game-winning goal.

Division I: placement games

Final ranking: 5. Croatia, 6. Argentina, 7. New Zealand, 8. South Africa.

Croatia stays in Division I. Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa will be relegated. Japan and two qualifiers will join for the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship Division I.

Croatia vs. South Africa 6-3 (3-1, 2-0, 0-0, 1-2) Game Sheet Photos

Croatia qualified for next year’s Division I tournament after defeating South Africa 6-3 in the placement game.

Croatia was the only of the four teams in the placement games that had the possibility of earning its place in Division I independently from the other result as three out of four teams will be relegated and Croatia had the best records.

The Croats already showed their ambitions early in the game and outshot South Africa 11-4 in the first period.

Igor Jacmenjak opened the scoring at 3:43, and Miro Smerdelj doubled the gap three minutes later.

Another minute later South Africa’s Cameron Birrell was stopped on a breakaway and cut the Croatian lead with the ensuing penalty shot, but with 23 seconds remaining in the first period Trpimir Piragic scored the 3-1 goal.

In the second period the Croats opened up the gap as Jacmenjak scored his second goal and Tomislav Grozaj made it 5-1.

South Africa gave a sign of life when David Watson scored the second goal at 3:42 of the fourth period. 25 seconds before the end of regulation time Burton Matthews even made it 5-3 after a power play, but Tomislav Cunko scored the 6-3 goal with three seconds remaining to play.

New Zealand vs. Argentina 5-6 (1-0, 2-1, 1-3, 1-1) OT Game Sheet Photos

In a game for survival Argentina earned its first win against New Zealand, 6-5 in overtime, to keep its chances to avoid relegation alive.

Argentina had its closest game of the tournament against the Kiwis that earned a 3-0 lead after 16 minutes with goals from Trent Kemsley, Daniel Garrow and Jensen Taiapa-Skinnon.

The South Americans fought back and Hernan Insua Shanly cut the lead at 6:32 of the second period, and two minutes later Guido Marcolongo missed on a penalty shot.

Both teams changed goalkeepers for the second half of the game and Argentine captain Facundo Vadra capitalized on a power play at 3:31 of the third period.

Bevan Varney restored the two-goal lead at 7:53, but Sebastian Butos and Hernan Vigo Laborda made it 4-4 before the end of the third period.

New Zealand regained the lead in the fourth quarter with Garrow’s second goal, but at 5:58 Vadra also scored his second marker of the day to make it 5-5. The game went to overtime where Vigo Laborda scored his second goal for the 6-5 game-winner at 2:06 of the extra period.

For New Zealand the loss meant straight relegation while Argentina could hope to stay in Division I, but these hopes were destroyed with Croatia’s victory over South Africa.

MARTIN MERK
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