PARDUBICE – Host Czech Republic and reigning champion USA won their preliminary-round groups at the 2011 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. Finland and Slovenia had tights wins to secure second place. The quarter-finals will be played on Thursday.
Group A: 1. USA 3/9, 2. Slovenia 3/6, 3. Canada 3/3, 4. Slovakia 3/0.
Group B: 1. Czech Republic 3/9, 2. Finland 3/6, 3. Sweden 3/3, 4. Germany 3/0.
Quarter-finals on 23th June:
Slovenia vs. Sweden 14:00
Finland vs. Canada 16:00
Czech Republic vs. Slovakia 18:00
USA vs. Germany 20:00
USA vs. Canada 6-3 (0-1, 4-2, 0-0, 2-0) Game Sheet Photos
Reigning champion USA earned the third win in its third game after defeating Canada 5-3 in a North American clash.
“It was definitely good to come out and win the first game,” said Itan Chavira, who scored two goals after being benched for the first two games due to disciplinary reasons.
“It was a good game before the playoffs. Everybody expected it to be a good game. It was physical, and they made it really close.”
What Canada is for ice hockey, the United States are for inline hockey – the favourite. That might explain the emotions and yells of the Canadian players when Josh Foote scored the opening goal into the net of U.S. goalkeeper Troy Redmann.
The lead came surely to a surprise as the U.S. performed better in the first period and had three power plays.
The third one, however, was taken over to the second span, in which Charles Yoder tied the game after 12 seconds. The Americans continued to outplay the Canadian defence when Chavira, Shawn Gawrys and Rafael Rodriguez added three more goals until 6:44 of the second period.
It looked like the game went into the direction the Americans wished, but David Hammond capitalized on the first American penalty and Kyle Henderson made it 4-3 at 8:44.
Although the Americans made the stronger impression, it remained a one-goal affair until Chavira scored his second goal on a power play with 5:23 left in regulation time. Kyle Kraemer sealed the win with a shot into the empty net with 16 seconds left.
The win secured Team USA first place in Group A and a quarter-final match-up against winless Germany while Canada will face Finland in the playoffs.
Czech Republic vs. Sweden 6-3 (2-1, 0-0, 2-0, 2-2) Game Sheet Photos
In a game between two medal contenders the Czech Republic remained undefeated on home ice in Pardubice after beating Sweden 6-3. Petr Tenkrat scored a hat trick in a clash that remained open until it ended with two empty netters.
The Czechs finish the preliminary round undefeated. The reward is getting winless neighbours Slovakia in the quarter-finals.
“It was a really good game and our goalkeeper Roman Handl did a really good job,” Czech coach Petr Hemsky said. “Now I hope that we will beat Slovakia and stay in the tournament.”
Simon Olsson opened the scoring for the Swedish team after just 57 seconds of play, but the Czechs bounced back before the end of the opening period.
Tenkrat capitalized on the first power play of the game at 10:31, and 32 seconds later Tomas Demel brought the lead for the home side.
“We had some penalties against us and the Czech Republic is really good on the power play,” Swedish coach Fredrik Skoog said. “We showed that we are a really good team and that we want to bring the gold medals to Sweden.”
The Czechs had more scoring chances, but the 4,500 fans at the CEZ Arena had to wait until the third period to see more goals. After the Swedes had not capitalized on their chances during their first power play, Jan Besser made it better with the 3-1 goal at 2:16. At 9:44 Tenkrat scored his second goal on a power play for a three-goal lead.
The game became a bit rougher in the second half of the match. Soon after Kristian Luukkonen had cut the lead at 5:02 of the fourth period, Karel Rachunek was sent off with a match penalty.
“I’m a bit unhappy that the game was nervous on both sides. We must stay away from the penalty box,” Hemsky commented on the penalties.
The fight gave Sweden the opportunity to play four minutes with a man advantage. Henrik Höglund capitalized already after 22 seconds with the 4-3 goal, but the Swedes let expire the remainder of the penalty without tying the game.
When Skoog pulled his goalkeeper Sebastian Idoff twice, Ludek Broz and Tenkrat scored two empty-net goals to seal another win for the Czechs.
Finland vs. Germany 7-5 (2-1, 3-1, 0-1, 2-2) Game Sheet Photos
Finland secured the second spot in the Group B prior to the quarter-finals after edging Germany 7-5.
The Finns were leading 5-2 midway through the game before allowing the Germans to come back and tie it up with five minutes left in regulation time.
However, the Finns prevailed thanks to Mikko Palotie’s game-winning goal with 1:37 left to play. Germany took a time-out and pulled the goalie, but the result was Markus Jokinen scoring the 7-5 goal into the empty net.
“It was great to score the game-winner. I had a great breakout and Jokinen gave me a great pass,” Palotie said. “I thought the goalie was not so good when you shoot from a close distance, so I shot between his legs and it went in.”
Palotie, Jokinen and Pat Ahosilta all scored a pair of goals for Finland.
The first highlight however came from the German side. Thomas Greilinger got the lead for Germany with the first attack after 29 seconds of play, but just one minute later Palotie tied it up. The Finns turned the game when Ahosilta gained the lead at 5:28. Half a minute later the Finns had another chance, but Jokinen hit the crossbar with a long-range shot.
21 seconds into the second period it was the Finns, who scored an early goal. Jokinen made it 3-1 for Finland and Kari Lohtander 4-1 shortly after a Finnish power play. After a second German goal from Greilinger and another one from Ahosilta with 15 seconds left in the second period the Finns were leading 5-2 at halftime, and 5-3 after three periods.
“Until the third period we played very well and then maybe we thought that it was done, but then Germany scored two goals. Maybe we were too relaxed,” Palotie admitted.
After Florian Engel’s third-period marker the Germans completed their comeback in the last period with two quick goals from Henrik Holscher and Armin Wurm. The game was tied at five with less than five minutes to play, but Finland prevailed in the end thanks to Palotie’s game winner.
While Finland enters the final round in second place, Germany remains winless.
Slovenia vs. Slovakia 6-5 (3-1, 2-2, 1-1, 0-1) Game Sheet Photos
Slovenia stays ahead of Slovakia in the standings after winning the clash of the “Slo’s” 6-5. The Slovaks were leading for most part of the game, but they had to wait until the end to have the three points for sure.
“It’s good to win this game, but it was tough,” Matic Kralj, who scored his fifth goal of the tournament today, said. “We played well only for part of the game. We gave them some momentum back and they could score a couple of goals.”
Matevz Erman opened the scoring at 1:45. The Slovaks tried to challenge the early lead, and at 5:11 Roman Simunek tied the game at one, but the Slovenian reaction was hefty.
Just one minute later Dejan Zemva regained the lead for Slovenia, and 39 seconds later Anze Kuralt doubled the margin, forcing Slovakia’s coach Imrich Antal to replace goalkeeper Jozef Ondrejka by Roman Hrusovsky before the seven-minute mark.
The game went back and forth in the second period, but Slovenia stayed ahead with a 5-3 lead halfway through the game.
The teams exchanged two more goals in the third period within a 28-second span when Jan Loboda extended the lead for the Slovenes on a power play, but Martin Galik cut it again with the next attack.
The 6-4 lead stayed until three seconds before the end. The Slovaks tried to come back, but they looked too over-motivated and hurt themselves by taking five straight penalties within 11 minutes. Henrich Ruckay scored shorthanded with three seconds left in regulation time for the final score of 6-5.
The win will likely help the Slovenes to get a better position in the playoff brackets in their attempt to survive the quarter-finals for the first time in history.
Group C: 1. Great Britain 3/9, 2. Austria 3/6, 3. Australia 3/3, 4. South Africa 3/0.
Group D: 1. Hungary 3/9, 2. Croatia 3/6, 3. New Zealand 3/3, 4. Argentina 3/0.
Quarter-finals on 23th June:
Austria vs. New Zealand 13:00
Croatia vs. Australia 15:00
Great Britain vs. Argentina 17:00
Hungary vs. South Africa 19:00
Croatia vs. Hungary 2-5 (0-1, 0-2, 2-0, 0-2) Game Sheet Photos
Hungary overtook Croatia on the last day of the preliminary round after defeating the Croats 5-2.
Croatia outshot Hungary 43-23, but Hungary’s Tamas Kiss saved 41 out of 43 shots in one of the best goalkeeper performances at this event.
Attila Orban scored the lead at 5:25 and the Hungarians capitalized on the first two penalties against Croatia in the second stanza. David Szappanos and again Orban scored the goals.
Croatia made it 3-2 after the third periods with goals from Mario Cunco and Mario Novak, but at 1:16 Gergely Borbas scored the 4-2 goal for Hungary before shooting into the empty net with five seconds left in the game.
Austria vs. Australia 4-3 (2-0, 0-1, 2-2, 0-0) Game Sheet Photos
Austria secured second place in Group C thanks to a comeback win against Australia. Axel Riegler and Gregor Baumgartner scored goals for a 2-0 first-period lead for Austria, but Australia bounced back. Luke Fritchley in the second period, and Sean Jones and Nash Nash in the third scored goals for an Australian lead after 29 minutes of play.
Austria reacted a few minutes after Nash’s goal. Lukas Draschkowitz and Andre Niec turned the game again with two markers within a 56-second time span. Austria’s 4-3 lead remained for the rest of the game after a scoreless fourth period.
Argentina vs. New Zealand 5-6 (1-1, 1-2, 1-2, 2-1) Game Sheet Photos
New Zealand had a key win in Group D. The qualifier edged Argentina 6-5 in a game that could decide about the fight against relegation.
Zachary Beardman scored the first goal at 2:05, but Diego Marcolongo had two goals for Argentina.
The game went back and forth. Julian Beardman made it 2-2 and Trent Kemsley brought the lead for New Zealand before Facundo Vadra tied it up again in the third period. 16 seconds later New Zealand regained the lead with a goal from Jason McLean and after another 16 seconds Julian Beardman made it 5-3 for the Kiwis.
Argentina didn’t give up. Hernan Vigo Laborda cut the lead at the beginning of the fourth period and Vadra tied it again. Julian Beardman became the man of the match when he completed his hat trick with the game-winning goal 43 seconds before the end of regulation time.
Great Britain vs. South Africa 7-0 (1-0, 2-0, 2-0, 2-0) Game Sheet Photos
Before the start of the final round Great Britain had another easy win, blanking South Africa 7-0.
John Dolan earned a hat trick scoring the first three goals for the Brits in the first half of the match. Richard Walsh, Karl Niamatali, Daniel and Jack Clarkson were the other players to bring the puck behind goalkeeper David Berger.
Team Great Britain remains undefeated while South Africa has yet to win a game.