Finland – Austria 2-3 (0-0, 0-0, 0-2, 2-1)
Austria pulled off the biggest upset of this year’s Inline Worlds, and perhaps the biggest upset in the history of its Inline national team after defeating Finland, 3-1.
Austria had to weather a late Finnish comeback that saw two goals scored in the last five minutes of the game and a late Finnish power play, making for a tense finale to the Cinderella story.
“I can’t think of any bigger moment in Austrian Inline hockey,” said Team Manager Wolfgang Nickel. “This win is by far the biggest in the history of our national team.”
Austria, which was a big underdog entering the game after losing in double-digits yesterday against Sweden, played stingy defense in the first half of the game. After holding the Finns scoreless for the first 24 minutes, the Austrians had confidence coming into the second half.
Christian Dolezal and Gregor Baumgartner each scored three minutes apart to give the Austrians the unlikely 2-0 lead. But with 14 minutes left in regulation, the game was far from over – something that both teams seemed to sense. Down by two, the Finns put heavy pressure on the Austrian net, and stayed virtually camped out in their zone. In total, Finland out-shot the Austrians 54-26, but goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum stood his ground.
Austria extended its lead to 3-0 when Daniel Oberkofler scored on a breakaway effort. The goal would prove to be the key to holding on for the win as Finland finally got on the scoreboard three minutes later on a power-play goal to cut the lead to 3-1. With a late power-play and goaltender and Simo Vehvilianen pulled for the extra attacker, the waning moments were for survival for Austria, which surrendered the 3-2 goal with 44 seconds left in regulation. But Finland ran out of gas, as the Austrian bench let out both a huge sigh of relief and a heary cheer as the last second ticked off the clock.
Germany – Canada 3-4 (2-1, 1-0, 0-1, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)
After losing its opening day game, Canada got on track today with a 4-3 shootout win against Germany. The loss puts Germany in a tough spot as they are winless in two games and will need a victory tomorrow against the U.S. to avoid Thursday’s cross-over game.
Germany scored all three of its goals in the first half and produced nothing after taking the 3-1 lead. Kye Benjaminsen scored twice for the Canadians and David Hammond put in the 3-3 goal with 6:29 left in regulation.
Top DEL forward Thomas Greilinger kicked off the scoring with a classic power-play goal, but Benjaminsen tied things up with a breakout goal. Yannik Baier restored the German lead with a breakout goal of his own and then put in his second goal, a clean shot from the point to give Germany a 3-1 lead at the half.
With Germany producing no offense, Canada sat and waited for a crack in the German defense and found it when Benjaminsen put in his second goal with four seconds left in the quarter.
After the scoreless overtime, The teams needed seven shooters on each side to determine the winner. On the seventh shooter, Hammond nailed his shot, putting the pressure on Greilinger to answer, but Canada netminder Brett Legat stonewalled the shot and led Canada to its first win of the championship.
The victory was a big step for Canada to re-establish itself at the Inline Worlds. Since rejoining the event in 2008, the Canadians have finished a disappointing ninth and seventh. Today’s win against perennial bronze medalist Germany is a positive indication that the Canadians are improving.
United States – Czech Republic 4-0 (1-0, 3-0, 0-0, 0-0)
Team USA continued to look like a medal contender at this year’s Inline Worlds after easily downing the Czech Republic, 4-0. The Americans are unbeaten going into the final preliminary round group game tomorrow against winless Germany. A win in that game would give the U.S. the top seed from its group going into the playoff round.
USA’s Sean Gawrys scored twice in a dominant first period that saw the Americans climb out to a 4-0 lead. The Czechs had their fair share of chances in the half, and actually out-shot the Americans 15-13, but could not get the puck past Troy Redmann. It was Redmann’s first start in net for the Americans.
The Americans continued to stave off the Czechs in the scoreless second half and eventually netted the first shutout win of this year’s event with the 4-0 final.
The Czechs will take on Canada tomorrow to determine the final seeding in the preliminary round group. Both teams have a win and a loss so far.
Sweden – Slovenia 11-1 (1-1, 1-0, 4-0, 5-0)
Sweden remained one of the biggest threats at this year’s Inline Hockey World Championship. The Swedes dominated Slovenia and rolled away with an 11-1 win.
Like the Americans in the other group, Sweden has had no surprises in its first two games. And much like the Americans, a win tomorrow will ensure Sweden a top spot in its preliminary round group and a top seed heading into the playoff round on Friday.
Patrik Lund and Magnus Nygren scored the first half goals for Sweden. Lund’s goal was a quick response to an early Slovenian goal by Saso Rajsar, which came just over three minutes into the game. Nygren’s power-play goal came late in the half and gave the Swedes their first lead of the game. Sweden out-shot Slovenia nearly two-to-one in the low-scoring, 2-1 half.
Paced by Andreas Svensson’s two goals, Sweden pulled away in the second half, netting four goals in the third quarter to make it a large 6-1 lead. Dick Axelsson and Marcus Weinstock also scored in the flurry. From there, Sweden poured in the goals, putting in another five, including a hat trick from Axelsson, in the 11-1 win.
Sweden will take on rival Final in tomorrow’s preliminary round finale. The Finns will be looking for redemption, and some very important points, after suffering a stunning loss against Austria today. Slovenia takes on the Austrians in a bid to avoid last place in the group.
Hungary – Croatia 8-5 (1-1, 4-1, 2-0, 1-3)
For both Hungary and Croatia, today’s game was a vast improvement from yesterday’s results. Hungary overcame an opening day loss for the 8-5 win against Croatia, while the Croats recovered after getting blown out in their debut game yesterday.
Croatia was much improved and even got the first goal of the game when Trpimir Piragic scored on the power play. It was his second goal of the championship. Hungary replied with a pair of goals to take its first lead of the game, but Croatia didn’t collapse under the pressure and matched the Hungarians on both ends of the ice.
It wasn’t until the 20-minute mark that the Hungarians started to pull away. A visibly tired Croatian team could not stop a sudden offensive surge from the Hungarians, who piled in three goals in a three-minute span at the end of the first half to take their first convincing lead.
Hungary came out after the break and promptly built on its 5-2 lead. Akos Kiss and Szilard Sandor scored third-quarter goals to make it a 7-2 affair. The goals signaled the end of the game for Croatian goaltender Tihomir Filipec, who was replaced by Matija Djakovic. It was the second straight game that Filipec was pulled.
Unlike in yesterday’s game, the goalie change helped to spark the Croatians, who put in a pair of quick goals to pull to within three. But Kiss struck again with the key 8-4 goal that silenced any hopes of a Croatian comeback. Hungary held on for the 8-5 win.
Hungary will play Slovakia tomorrow in the last preliminary round game day, while Croatia will attempt to avoid a last-place finish in the group with a game against Australia.
Brazil – Argentina 6-5 (2-0, 0-1, 1-2, 2-2, 0-0, 1-0)
It might not have had the buzz of that other potential Brazil-Argentina match-up in South Africa, but today in Karlstad, the two South American nations played a competitive game that would have made their football counterparts proud. In the end, Brazil edged Argentina 6-5 in a shootout.
Brazil, which is a normal medalist at the Division I level had problems dispatching the newly-promoted Argentines. The Brazilians held a 2-0 lead just before the half, but Facundo Vadra rattled in a shot off the post to make it a one-goal game at the break. Argentina built on the momentum in the second half and put in a quick goal to tie the game at two.
Brazil retook the lead moments later, beginning the see-saw battle that defined the entire second half. Tied at three with four minutes left in regulation, Vadra gave Argentina its first lead of the game. Just over a minute later Rogerio Polido tied the game at four only to have Argentina take the 5-4 lead 58 seconds later. With time running out, it looked like Argentina will pull off the big upset until, with its goaltender pulled, Brazil’s Caua Guzman put in the 5-5 goal with 11 seconds left in regulation.
The scoreless overtime was a much-needed break from the scoring frenzy, leading to a shootout. Luck was on the side of Brazilians in the shootout as Argentina hit two posts on its four shots, allowing Brazil to salvage the win. Brazil out-shot Argentina 47-20.
Great Britain – Japan 5-2 (0-0, 1-0, 1-2, 3-0)
Powered by three late-game goals, Great Britain stayed unbeaten at the Inline World Championship with a 5-2 win against Japan. It was Japan’s second loss in as many games.
The game had a slow start with only one first-half goal, coming from Britain’s Remi Moses. Japan tied the game at one with a power-play goal in the opening moments of the second half and a quick exchange of goals between the two teams, left things deadlocked at two heading into the fourth quarter.
Great Britain showed why they’ve won the silver medal at the last two Worlds in the fourth quarter as they quickly pulled away from Japan. Nathan Finney struck 1:54 into the quarter and Philip Hamer extended the lead to 4-2 with five minutes left in regulation. A Japanese mental lapse allowed Kurt Waller to put in the 5-2 shorthanded goal with 24 seconds left in the game.
Great Britain and Brazil will face-off in the key game tomorrow, playing for first place in the group and the right to play in Thursday’s cross-over game. Japan will try to avoid a last-place group finish in its game against Argentina. Both squads have a regulation loss and a shootout loss.
Slovakia – Australia 10-4 (3-2, 1-2, 3-0, 3-0)
Thanks to a strong second-half, Slovakia stayed perfect at this year’s championship with a 10-4 win against Australia.
The game wasn’t as easy as the score would indicate as the Aussies kept things close against the Slovaks in the first half, skating to a 4-4 deadlock. But six unanswered goals from Slovakia sealed the win in a second half surge.
Australia never gave up the fight, but Slovakia was simply stronger and wore down the feisty Down Under team. It wasn’t until Martin Cunderlik scored the go-ahead 5-4 goal at the 29:12 mark that it looked like Slovakia would pull ahead to the win. After that goal the flood gates opened, including two late goals from Roman Simunek, who was the only Slovak to score twice.
Australia will close its preliminary round group against Croatia, while Slovakia faces Hungary. With two wins in two games, Slovakia is in pole position to win the group and play in Thursday’s cross-over game for a chance to return to the top division.
Day Two Fun Fact: So just what are the biggest differences between Inline and ice hockey, besides the lack of ice, of course? Inline is played in four quarters, which are 12 minutes each – there is a halftime of 10 minutes. The players wear basically no protective gear and instead have long pants that act as a barrier against the puck. With almost no protective equipment, there is no checking, and little body contact, allowed. Inline games also tend to be higher scoring than its ice counterpart, with an average game having around 12 total goals. There is also no blueline in Inline hockey.
One of the biggest differences in the format of the championship is that the only way to promote to the next division is through a cross-over game after the preliminary round, where the lowest two teams from the top division play the top two teams from Division I. This year’s cross-over games will be played on Thursday. Unlike in past seasons, the Division I gold medal winner will not move up to the top division.