Ukraine – Poland 5-1 (1-1, 2-0, 2-0)
KYIV – Ukraine’s offence wasn’t stoppable at the Palace of Sports. Not even by Poland, although the Poles made the host nation concede its first and only goal of the tournament in a 5-1 victory for Ukraine.
The Ukrainians will play the next round 7-10 February 2013 in Vojens against host Denmark, Belarus and Slovenia.
Poland had the better start into the game. Enjoying a power play after a call for high-sticking against Ruslan Fedotenko, the Poles had the opportunity to build up some pressure.
They didn’t capitalize on the man advantage, but they scored a minute later. Dariusz Gruszka got the puck that bounced back from the boards and made everything right in front of Ukrainian goalkeeper Yevgen Napnenko to open the scoring at 3:28.
Before Ukraine had the opportunity to react, the Poles got new chances to score when Olexander Materukhin was assessed a minor penalty and a few minutes after coming back a five-minute penalty plus game misconduct for boarding against Polish defenceman Michal Kotlorz.
An additional minor penalty against Maxym Kvitchenko for delaying the game gave Poland even a 5-on-3 for almost two minutes, but the power play was too weak. Ukraine even had two chances to score on breakaways.
After surviving the penalty trouble the Ukrainians, supported by 6,026 fans in the sold-out arena, had the chance to regroup and so they did. With one minute left in the period they capitalized on their first man advantage of the game with Vitali Lyutkevych’s goal.
“The first period they came out pretty hard while we were kind of testing the water,” Fedotenko said. “They called some penalties. My penalty in the first shift wasn’t a good start. But even after the major penalty with the unfortunate bounce in the boards we responded well and killed the penalties and played hard and controlled the game from then on.”
It paid off to be disciplined since Ukraine scored four of its five goals on a man advantage.
Ukraine took over a power play into the second period caused by Mateusz Rompkowski, who continued to play after losing his helmet instead of leaving the ice as stated in the rulebook. 39 Seconds into the middle frame the Ukrainians capitalized on this power play with a goal from Olexander Pobiedonostsev.
The host nation had the chance to extend the score with four more power plays in the middle frame, but their entertaining play in front of the Polish net didn’t lead to any goals on the man advantage until Maxym Kvitchenko found the net on an even strength situation with 31 seconds left before the intermission.
Poland would have needed a goal in the third period as early as possible to retain any hopes of a comeback, but instead they only logged penalty minutes while the home team accepted these invitations to extend the lead.
Sergi Varlamov lifted the puck to the top-left corner on a Ukrainian power play at 2:59 of the third period and Kostyantyn Kasyanchuk made it 5-1 on another man advantage with four minutes left in regulation time to destroy any thoughts about a Polish comeback.
After winning the event with a 22-1 goal record in three games the Ukrainians will likely not have things so easy for them in the next round in Denmark.
And it remains a question mark at this moment whether they can still count on their NHLers Fedotenko and Olexi Ponikarovsky, who play for Ukrainian KHL club Donbass Donetsk while the labour conflict in North America is ongoing.
“I don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Fedotenko said. “With me or without me I feel the team is playing pretty well and I’m confident they will be successful.”
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Spain – Estonia 5-4 (2-0, 1-1, 2-3)
KYIV – Spain concludes its Olympic Pre-Qualification campaign with its first win, 5-4 against Estonia.
Estonia overcame a 4-1 deficit in the last period and tied the game, but hat trick hero Oriol Boronat netted the puck with 36 seconds left in regulation time for the Spanish win.
“We played well and won today. That’s cool,” the 20-year-old Barcelona native said. “It was my first time I played in the Olympic Qualification, so it was a good experience.”
In the past, Estonia and Spain have been teams that were sometimes too good for the Division II yet not good enough to remain in Division I. Spain went down in 2011 while Estonia earned promotion back to Division I last year thanks to a 5-3 victory over Spain at the Division II tournament in Reykjavik, Iceland, and outshooting the Southern Europeans 64-24.
In Kyiv not much reminded of that game when looking onto the ice of the Palace of Sports. The Estonian team lacked of discipline in the beginning of the game. After two straight penalty calls Pablo Muñoz opened the scoring at 9:24 and two minutes later on another man advantage Boronat made it 2-0 forcing Estonia’s coach Dmitri Medvedev to utilize his time-out.
Estonia found back into the game with Riho Embrich’s goal at 4:25, but the team from the Baltic nation was suffering again from the toxic combination of taking too many penalties and Spain’s efficient power play. Boronat scored his second goal of the game on a man advantage from the blueline to restore the two-goal lead two minutes before the second intermission.
Adrian Sosa made it a 4-1 lead at 1:49 of the third period, but from then on the play changed. Now it were the Spaniards, who took unnecessary penalties.
Dmitri Rodin made use of the first power play of the period with a shot from the blueline at 5:21. Four minutes later Maksim Semjonov cut the deficit to just one goal and after two minutes the Estonians capitalized on a power play with a distance shot from Maksim Ivanov that tied the game up, 4-4.
But with 36 seconds left in the period, Spain broke the deadlock when Boronat scored on a breakaway to win the game for his team with his hat trick goal.
Both teams will have their next big events in spring. Estonia will travel back to Ukraine for the Division I Group B tournament in Donetsk while Spain aims for promotion at the Division II Group A in Zagreb where host Croatia and Australia are among the other top-seeded teams.
“We have to work and go step by step and then we can maybe achieve something,” Boronat speaks about the next tournament.
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