BIETIGHEIM-BISSINGEN Ė The Italian national team concluded the Final Olympic Qualification Group D with a 4-1 win against the Netherlands and will finish the tournament in second or third place.
Thousands of fans already filled the arena during lunchtime in anticipation of the Germany-Austria clash in the afternoon while Italy and the Netherlands played for the honour on the ice.
The Italians confirmed their superior seeding in the first part of the game. Patrick Iannone opened the scoring already at 5:16. Coach Tom Pokel was happy to see how his team started in the middle frame. After 54 seconds Vincent Rocco scored the second goal for the Squadra Azzurra. Then a line change and 14 seconds after the face-off Robert Sirianni made it a 3-0 lead.
The Netherlands faced less resistance after the third goal and they managed to score on their own with 4:53 left in the second period. The Dutch caused traffic in front of Italian netminder Daniel Bellissimo and it was Bjorn Willemse, who netted the puck.
In the third period there was some hope for the Dutch in form of a two-man advantage, but the orange-white team didnít manage to capitalize. Instead, Rocco scored his second goal with 68 seconds left and the Dutch goalie pulled for the final score of 4-1.
The next big event for the Italians will be the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest, Hungary, 14-20 April, where they aim a quick return to the Top Division by finishing among the top two teams.
The Netherlands will play one tier below in the Division I Group B in Donetsk, Ukraine.
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