Czech Republic – Canada 4-0 (0-0, 0-0, 2-0, 2-0)
Thanks to a 4-0 shutout win against Canada, the Czech Republic secured its place in the playoff round and will enter Friday’s game as the second seed coming out of its preliminary round group.
The Czech Republic came to life in the second half, netting all of its four goals in the second stanza. The Czechs had plenty of chances in the first half, out-shooting Canada nearly four-to-one. But Canada’s Brett Leggat held his ground and stonewalled the numerous Czech shots allowing his team to go into the break with the 0-0 deadlock despite being badly out-played.
Ales Jirik finally solved Leggat in the second half, netting two goals in the third quarter to give the Czechs a 2-0 lead. With the Canadians showing no offensive spark, the goals seemed more than enough for the win, but Ladislav Vlcek and Patrik Sebek each put a goal in for good measure for the 4-0 win. Roman Handl earned the shutout in net for the Czechs, facing 22 shots.
The win secures second place for the Czech in the group. The Czechs will face third-place Slovenia from the other group. Meanwhile, Canada finishes in third place in the group and will take on Finland, which finished in second place in Group A.
Slovenia – Austria 9-2 (2-1, 2-1, 1-0, 4-1)
Austria ran out of magic today against Slovenia, suffering a 9-2 loss. The defeat means the Austrians finish in last place in their preliminary round group and must play tomorrow’s cross-over game against Slovakia. The winner of that cross-over game will play the rest of the championship among the elite teams, while the loser will go to Division I.
Today’s result created a three-way tie between Slovenia, Austria and Finland in the preliminary round standings and Austria came out on the short end of the tie break as both Finland and Slovenia had the edge with goal differential.
Austria was clearly drained after its big win against Finland yesterday and had problems keeping up with the fresher Slovenians. Slovenia slowly chipped away at the Austrian defense, putting in two goals in the first quarter followed by another pair of goals late in the second quarter to take a convincing 4-1 lead at the break.
Dejan Zemva and Rok Ticar scored the second quarter goals, which came exactly one minute apart and proved to be the key to breaking Austria’s chances. Ticar was also a key this spring in helping Slovenia earn the promotion to the top division in ice hockey after leading his team to the Division I title.
Slovenia took advantage of Austrian penalty trouble in the second half to make it a lopsided 9-2 final. Four of the five second-half Slovenian goals were scored with the extra man as Austria was too tired to put up much resistance. Only Saso Rasjar’s late game goal was scored at equal strength.
A lot will be on the line in tomorrow’s cross-over game as it was Austria and Slovakia that switched places last year after Austria won the Division I gold, while Slovakia finished in eighth-place and was relegated from the top level. This year, the promotion and relegation is determined only by the cross-over game, making tomorrow’s game the most important of the event for both teams.
United States – Germany 10-5 (1-0, 5-0, 2-3, 2-2)
The U.S. earned the top spot in its preliminary round group after an easy 10-5 win against Germany. The Germans finished the group at the other end of the spectrum, going winless in three games. They must now win the cross-over game against Great Britain tomorrow to stay in the top division.
After the preliminary round, the U.S. and Sweden look to be the teams to beat at this years Inline Worlds as both cruised through their groups without a scratch. Germany’s last-place finish is a major set back for the nation that has taken home bronze the last three seasons.
It was clear today that USA was the better team as they owned a 6-0 lead at the half before easing up after the break. Patrick Maroon was the only double goal-getter in the first-half flurry, netting back-to-back goals coming less than 30 seconds apart for the 3-0 lead. From there, USA cruised, forcing the Germans to pull Jochen Vollmer for Thomas Owen at the half.
Owen fared a little better at slowing the American attack, but the damage was done as even a quick trio of goals by the Germans couldn’t even put a dent in the U.S. lead. Kyle Kraemer completed his hat trick in the fourth quarter, leading all U.S. scorers with four goals in the easy 10-5 win.
Sweden – Finland 8-9 (2-3, 2-0, 3-2, 1-3, 0-0, 0-1)
Despite the fact that Finland has struggled in this year’s Inline Worlds, top medal contender Sweden still had a tough time putting away their fiercest rival. In the end, Sweden was able to breath out a sigh of relief as they sealed first place in the group despite a 9-8 overtime loss.
It was Finland’s best performance at this year’s championship as they strung together a solid 48 minutes of hockey. Sweden had its hands full with the persistent Finnish team that was bent on ending the preliminary round on a good note. Finland needed three points to take over first place in the group, but still got a huge boost in confidence with today's performance.
The start of the game was much like the shootout at the OK Corral with both teams firing in goals at a startling pace. When the dust settled at the end of the first quarter, the teams had combined for five goals with Finland owning a 3-2 lead. Santtu Viljakainen scored twice in the offensive onslaught.
Sweden was without starting goaltender Daniel Karlsson, who was sick and was replaced by Markus Dahlbom. Dahlbom had a rough outing in the first half, surrendering three goals on nine shots.
The tug of war continued in the second half as Finland reclaimed the lead with two solid power-play goals in the first 2:16 of the half. But Sweden replied with three straight goals to open up its largest lead of the game, a 7-5 advantage. Marcus Weinstock scored twice in the Swedish surge.
But the lead was short-lived as Finland came back with the a trio of goals in the fourth quarter to even things up yet again, this time an 8-8 stalemate. Finland had a power-play in the waning moments of the game, but couldn’t get the important regulation win, which would have lifted the Finns into first place in the group. Toni Makiaho gave the Finns the moral victory with the power-play goal in the waning moments of overtime.
Sweden and Finland both have tomorrow off before the quarterfinals begin on Friday. Sweden will enter as the top seed from its group and will take on the winner of the Germany vs. Great Britain cross over game. Finland will face Canada.
Japan – Argentina 5-3 (1-0, 3-0, 1-1, 0-2)
Japan picked up its first win at this year’s Inline World Championship with a 5-3 win against Argentina. Despite gutsy performances in its last two outings, Argentina is still winless at this year’s event and will now shift its attention to avoiding relegation.
Japan seemingly had the game well in hand, owning a strong 4-0 lead at the half. Three of the goals came in a five-minute span just before the break, giving Japan the boost it needed heading into the second half.
But like in yesterday’s game against Brazil, Argentina staged a second-half comeback and gave their opponent a run for their money. The comeback started modestly enough as Argentina notched just one goal in the third quarter when Miguel de Achaval struck on the opening face-off. Japan restored the four-goal lead 22 seconds later, but it would be the last time that the Japanese would find the back of the net.
Sebastian Bustos and de Achaval put in late-game goals to pull Argentina to within two. But, despite a late-game power-play Argentina could pull no closer than the 5-3 final.
Japan finishes the group in third place and will play the second-place team from Group C, Hungary, in Friday’s quarterfinal. Meanwhile, Argentina, despite its close games, finishes the group in last place and will play the loser of the cross-over game between Slovakia and Austria.
Australia – Croatia 3-7 (0-3, 2-0, 1-0, 0-4)
Croatia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Division I tournament, earning its first win at this Inline Hockey World Championship with a 7-3 win against Australia.
The win proved to be the difference between a third or fourth-place finish in the group as the Croatians bumped Australia bumped down to last place.
The Aussies have been one of the stronger teams at this year’s championship, while newly-promoted Croatia was winless entering today’s game.
Australia is one of the hardest-fighting teams at this year’s championship, so it came as a shock when the team took a 3-0 deficit against Croatia in the first quarter. The Croatian goals came in a 1:22 span and left the Australians dumbfounded. It took nearly 10 minutes for the Australians to respond to the Croatian surge when Jordan Gavin put in a quick two goals coming 32 seconds apart to pull the Aussies to within one.
Daniel Pedersen tied the game at three with a power-play goal to open the second half scoring as it looked like the Aussies were on the road to a comeback. But Croatia had other ideas erupting with four goals in the fourth quarter to take the 7-3 win. It was truly a team effort by Croatia, which had seven different players score in the win.
Australia now has a long road ahead to the medal podium as their last-place finish means they will have to take on the team that returns to division I from the cross-over game in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Great Britain – Brazil 5-0 (1-0, 1-0, 2-0, 1-0)
With a 5-0 win against Brazil, Great Britain earned first place in its preliminary round group and the right to play in tomorrow’s cross-over game against Germany. The winner of the cross-over game will play the remainder the championship at the elite level.
In past years, Great Britain has come dangerously close to winning the cross-over game, suffering one and two goal losses.
With first place on the line today between Brazil and Great Britain, both teams played a conservative game with neither wanting to make a mistake that could cost them the top spot in the group. Kurt Waller and Tom Avery created the only first period offense as Britain snuck ahead to the 2-0 lead by the half.
The second half was much of the same, as Brazil couldn’t generate any offense, while Great Britain clung to its lead. Great Britain’s Daniel Hutchinson scored twice in the second half to give his team a little breathing space, but they didn’t let out the sigh of relief until the final second ticked off the clock in the eventual 5-0 win.
The loss gives Brazil and second-place finish in the group. The Brazilians will take on third-place Croatia from the other group in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Slovakia – Hungary 4-5 (1-1, 1-0, 0-3, 2-0, 0-1)
Szilard Sandor won the battle with a dramatic overtime goal with 24 seconds left, giving Hungary a 5-4 overtime win against Slovakia. But Sandor’s Hungarian team lost the war as Slovakia’s one point was enough for them to hang onto first place in the group and earn a berth to the cross-over game.
Slovakia was relegated last year after finishing in last place in the elite division and was eager to make the return to the top eight nations. But Hungary’s strong second half performance nearly ended the dreams that the Slovakians had of moving up.
Everyone expected Slovakia to be the team to beat in Division I, and until they met Hungary, they looked poised to prove the people right. In the first half of the game, Slovakia struggled to get the puck through the tight Hungarian defense and had to settle for a slim 2-1 lead. Hungary scored three unanswered goals in the third quarter to take a convincing 4-2 lead. But a pair of fourth-quarter goals pulled Hungary even and set up the overtime heroics.
Akos Kiss scored twice for the Hungarians and was the only player to get more than one goal.
Hungary will take on Japan in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Day Three Fun Fact: It can be tough fitting 16 teams into one arena for any given event. For the Inline Hockey World Championship, the organizers have had to get very creative in their locker room allocations – despite the beautiful Farjestad building. One such show of creativity is the referee locker room, which is actually a VIP Lounge inside the arena. The refs have a best view of the game in the posh settings and even have their very own sauna. The only problems were finding someplace with enough privacy to change for the game, and making their way through the stands with their roller blades.
Germany vs. Great Britain
Austria vs. Slovakia
Quarterfinal games (top division)
Finland vs. Canada
Czech Republic vs. Slovenia
United States vs. winner Austria/Slovakia
Sweden vs. winner Germany/Great Britain
Quarterfinal games (Division I)
Hungary vs. Japan
Brazil vs. Croatia
Loser Germany/Great Britain vs. Australia
Loser Austria/Slovakia vs. Argentina