Korean history vs. Hungary

Div. IA: Kazakhstan, Italy remain on path to promotion

15.04.2013
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The Korean players celebrate their historic comeback win vs. Hungary. Photo: Laszlo Mudra

BUDAPEST – Day 2 of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A had its first surprise. While Kazakhstan (5-0 vs. Great Britain) and Italy (4-1 vs. Japan) remained undefeated Korea won its first ever game against Hungary, 5-4 in a shootout.

Kazakhstan and Italy now have a two-point gap on third-ranked Hungary and confirmed their ambitions of an immediate return to the top division.

Hungary vs. Korea 4-5 (3-0, 1-1, 0-3, 0-0, 0-1) Video

7,370 fans saw a crazy game in Budapest. While it had a happy end for the underdog Koreans it was more of a nightmare for Hungary, which gave up the 4-1 lead it had earned after two periods.

The Hungarians had a red-hot start and must have thought of a blowout score when they took a 3-0 lead after less than 14 minutes of play. But instead of steamrollering its opponent the Hungarians rather took a back seat. Korea came back in a strong third period to bring the game to overtime. The four Korean goals came from four different lines.

In the end Kisung Kim – one of seven Kims on the roster – scored the game-winning goal in a shootout and Sungje Park, normally the backup goalie behind Hyunseung Eum, was the other hero of his team while the Hungarians had to face critical questions from the media.

“I realized that this was a historic moment. But I just went out there and wanted to shoot the puck. At one moment I almost lost it but then I scored. It was great,” Kisung Kim said about his penalty shot that became the game winner.

In the 11th clash between the two teams this has been the first-ever victory for the Korean men’s national team over Hungary. Before today Hungary had earned nine wins and a tie.

“I’m normally not on the starting line-up but now I’m just very happy,” said Sungje Park. “Everybody worked very hard in this game.”

Hungary tried to set the right tone in the beginning and it looked to become an easy game for them judging from the first few minutes.

At 2:06 Ladislav Sikorcin one-timed the puck into the net from the right face-off dot and one-and-a-half minutes later Istvan Bartalis doubled the gap after a centering pass from Istvan Sofron.

Ten minutes later the game seemed to be virtually decided. The Hungarians didn’t allow the Koreans many opportunities but made it 3-0 at 13:34. Janos Hari skated into the Korean zone and sent off a perfect shot to the top-left corner.

After the intermission the fight of the underdog began. At 5:35 Tae An Kwon ended an attack with some fast passing with the 3-1 marker but one minute later Janos Vas restored the three-goal lead after a drop pass from Sikorcin.

A strong start into the third period brought the comeback hopes back for the Koreans. After 57 seconds Kisung Kim scored on a rebound after Brock Radunske’s initial shot. It was the first scoring point for the forward from Kitchener, Ontario, who became naturalized after five years with Anyang Halla in the Asia League.

Five minutes later, just after a long break due to the repair of the boards, it came even better for the Asians.

Sangwoo Sin sent a diagonal pass to Won Jung Kim, who made it a one-goal game with more than 14 minutes left in regulation time.

"It was tough,” Kisung Kim said about the comeback attempt. “We know they’re a good team. But we kept going and told ourselves ‘we can do it’.”

“The atmosphere at the arena was crazy with so many people but it was exciting to play in front of this crowd.”

The game became more intense and physical. Korean defenceman Seungyup Lee had to be transported from the ice on a stretcher after an open-ice hit. Lee fell unconscious for a while but was later responsive and able to move all body. He was brought to a hospital for further examination.

The Koreans overcame the initial shock and continued to push for the tie. Soon after they were awarded a power play in which Sanghoon Shin tied the game by capitalizing on a rebound.

The momentum switch remained and Korea was closer to the fifth goal than the Hungarians. With three minutes left Yongjun Lee had a huge chance to score the first Korean lead on a 2-on-1 but his shot hit goalkeeper Miklos Rajna.

On the other side the Hungarians tried to find their form but had trouble with a Korean defence that improved throughout the game.

How could Hungary, ranked 19th in the world compared to Korea’s 28th, have such a meltdown?

“Some of our players thought this would be going to be easy and when you think games are going to be easy and don’t play with the same intensity and concentration mistake happens. We didn’t compete nearly as hard as yesterday and made many mental errors throughout the game, especially in the end of the game,” Hungary head coach Rich Chernomaz said.

“We have to use each other and let the puck make the work. Especially in the offensive zone in the second and third period guys were getting too individual and were trying to do too much on their own with the puck instead of moving the puck. There are five players on the ice.”

Radunske saw it similarly from the Korean perspective.

“Their crowd is incredible. They played with a lot of emotions. It was unusual for our guys. But after three goals they maybe took us a bit lightly and maybe thought it would be going to be a 7-0, 8-0 game,” Radunske said. “Sometimes when you have a lead like that it can be the worst because players start to worry about their own points and want to score as individuals. Maybe they got a little selfish and we were able to get together as a team.”

The clash went to overtime. In ten games between the two teams the Hungarians had nine wins and one tie, 5-5 at the 1989 IIHF World Championship C-Pool in Australia. The goal record was 83-27.

Since the first game between these nations at the 1982 IIHF World Championship C-Pool in Spain, an 18-2 win for Hungary, the Koreans had never managed to beat Hungary in any game in the men’s category. For Hungary a victory was a must to keep the dream of earning promotion alive, for Korea a win meant writing hockey history.

Both teams created scoring opportunities in the extra period, Hungary the biggest one when Bartalis intercepted a pass and Sofron shot from short distance, but no team succeeded. In overtime Korea also lost another player due to injury with Minho Cho.

After five minutes a shootout had to decide about the winner. And this time it was Korea.

Round 1: Brock Radunske 0-1, Marton Vas 1-1.
Round 2: Sanghoon Shin – save, Balazs Ladanyi – save.
Round 3: Kisung Kim 1-2, Istvan Sofron – save.

Kazakhstan vs. Great Britain 5-0 (2-0, 1-0, 2-0) Video

After defeating Japan the Kazakhs also downed Great Britain, 5-0, on day two of the competition.

Kazakhstan went into the game against Great Britain as favourites but two years ago they barely overcame the British in a 2-1 win en route to the eventual promotion. Thanks to an efficient offence and a strong Vitali Kolesnik in the net the Kazakhs celebrated a bigger win this time.

It was the British who had the better start and outshot the opponent for most part of the opening period. They had several good scoring opportunities especially during three power plays. However, none of the shots went in and Kolesnik kept his net clean.

The Kazakhs learnt the Brits a lesson in scoring. Virtually invisible in the offence for big parts of the first period, the Kazakhs scored two goals within a 19-second span two minutes before the intermission.

First Konstantin Romanov scored after a great forward pass through the British defence from Andrei Spiridonov.

Then the Kazakhs made the British defence look bad again. Ilya Solarev ended an interrupted breakaway with a shot from the face-off dot that went into the net through traffic in front of Stephen Murphy.

“I’m happy, our goal is to win games, but we can play better and we have to play better,” Kazakhstan’s head coach Vladimir Krikunov said. “We need to be more disciplined. Our forwards haven’t played at full strength yet.”

Tony Hand’s team tried to get back into the game and created more scoring opportunities than the Kazakhs in the second period. Defenceman Daniel Meyers had a big scoring chance at 3:56 when he got the puck but hit Kolesnik with his shot from one metre.

However, towards the end of the middle stanza the British ran into penalty trouble. With 8.4 seconds left in the period, Roman Savchenko fired a slap shot on a two-man advantage to end the period with a three-goal margin.

Early in the second period the Kazakhs left no doubt about the game’s outcome. They took over a power play from the end of the first period and at the moment it was over, Vadim Krasnoslobotsev sent the puck over Murphy’s shoulder for the 4-0 goal.

Midway through the period Konstantin Savenkov almost scored the fifth goal but hit the post on a penalty shot.

Twenty seconds later another penalty was called against the Brits and after some tic-tac-toe passing Yevgeni Blokhin scored the 5-0 goal on the power play.

The British had only few scoring chances in the last period and if they had one, they missed it like Ashley Tait on his solo attempt six minutes before the final buzzer.

The score didn’t necessarily reflect the way the game was played and that was to a big part thanks to Kolesnik’s hard-earned shutout with 36 saves.

For the British it was a frustrating game but they hope they will be better rewarded for their performance next time.

“We have to continue that way, get the pucks to the net and wait for our chances,” team captain Jonathan Phillips said.

Italy vs. Japan 4-1 (1-0, 2-0, 1-1) Video

After blanking Korea 4-0, top-seeded Italy got another challenger from the Far East with Japan. The blue team controlled the game and won 4-1.

Patrick Iannone scored the last two goals for the Italians to seal the win against a Japanese side that became stronger in the last period.

“It was a very good win and we’re happy,” Iannone said. “We played good. We knew Japan skates really hard and is disciplined.”

The Italians tried to build pressure on Yukata Fukufuji’s net from the very beginning and it was the second unit, exclusively consisting of North American born Italians, which opened the scoring after 83 seconds of play.

Trevor Johnson skated towards the end boards and fed David Borrelli, who capitalized on the great pass.

With power hockey the Azzurri put Japan under constant pressure and also earned three power plays during the second half of the first period that helped them control the game. After 20 minutes the Italians had clearly outshot their opponent, 20-5.

The Japanese had only a few chances. Opposed to yesterday’s game against Kazakhstan, the Italians seemed well-prepared for the agile Japanese forwards and didn’t give them much room for offensive action.

After nine minutes in the middle frame the Italians did another step to earn three more points. This time the first line dominated by South Tyroleans was responsible for the marker.

Anton Bernard skated towards Fukufuji and sent a drop pass to Armin Hofer, who netted the puck. Six minutes later Bernard got another assist point when he fed Iannone with a side pass for the 3-0 goal.

By the end of the second period Italy had outshot Japan 33-11 and had still not taken any penalty. Five minutes into the third period Iannone scored his second goal of the day on a power play for the 4-0 lead.

“Most part of the game we stuck to our game plan,” said Iannone. “First and foremost we had to stay out of the penalty box. On our team defence comes first, and offence comes from the defence.”

The Japanese improved in the third period but the reaction came too late.

At 8:07 Go Tanaka scored Japan’s first goal with a nice backhand shot while playing four-on-four. The goal ended Adam Dennis’ shutout streak at this tournament after 108 minutes.

One minute later Takuro Yamashita almost scored a copy of Tanaka’s goal but this time Dennis caught the puck. Despite one 5-on-4 and later a 5-on-3 opportunity, the Japanese didn’t manage to score again and the game ended with a 4-1 victory for Italy.

MARTIN MERK

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