Great Britain upsets Finland

Tuesday’s InLine Hockey QF: CAN-GBR, SWE-SLO, USA-FIN, CZE-GER

03.06.2012
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The British players sing their national anthem after notching their first win of the tournament against Finland. Photo: Norbert Kolb

INGOLSTADT – Newcomer Great Britain scored an upset at the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship by edging Finland 2-1. Sweden suffered its first defeat, 7-4 vs. the Czech Republic. Team USA edged Canada and Germany beat Slovenia.

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TOP DIVISION

Quarter-Finals on Tuesday:
Canada vs. Great Britain 14:00
Sweden vs. Slovenia 16:00
USA vs. Finland 18:00
Czech Republic vs. Germany 20:00

Slovenia vs. Germany 5-7 (1-3, 0-1, 1-2, 3-1)

Host nation Germany ended the preliminary round on a high note. After suffering two tight losses, the Germans defeated Slovenia 7-5. After Germany had built up a five-goal lead, the Slovenes came closer, but not close enough in the last period.

“It was important for us to win. We wanted to have the third place after we had played two games, but lost both,” said German captain Michael Wolf.

“We began well today, although we slackened off a bit in the end, that’s why they scored too many goals.”

Already after 82 seconds of play Germany made its crowd cheer for the first time when Steffen Tölzer deflected a centering pass from Stephan Daschner.

Before the goal could even be announced, Germany made it 2-0 18 seconds later after Patrick Seifert’s long distance shot.

At 2:04 the puck went in on the other side. Ales Remar scored after a horizontal pass from Dejan Zemva just after German goalkeeper Jochen Vollmer had blocked two Slovenian shots.

Midway through the first period Stefan Ortolf restored Germany’s two-goal lead with a shot from the face-off circle.

The Germans extended the lead in the two following periods with four more goals while Slovenia’s Matic Podlipnik had the 4-2 marker in between with a point shot.

Wolf scored the lone goal of the second period after receiving a pass right in front of the crease, and he restored the three-goal lead at 6:18 of the third quarter.

With 36 seconds left in the period, Daschner made it 6-2 after a pass to the crease from Patrick Buzas, and at 2:44 of the fourth Daniel Menge scored Germany’s seventh goal on a breakaway.

Slovenia came closer with two goals from Remar – who scored a hat trick – and one from Anze Kuralt, but despite the efforts in the last period, the Slovenes were not able to fully recover from the five-goal deficit.

Slovenia will play Sweden after the loss while Germany gets the Czech Republic.

“Now we play against the Czechs and we go into the game to win,” said Wolf. “It’s going to be a tight game.”

USA vs. Canada 4-2 (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 2-0)

Team USA ended the preliminary round on top of Group B after edging Canada 4-2 and will face Finland in the quarter-finals. The decision came with 3:46 left to play in regulation time.

“We competed hard, we played hard, we played smart hockey,” said USA’s Gregory Thompson. “We felt good all game. We knew we could get that last goal. We were pretty confident.”

Although the United States are more successful in inline hockey than their northern neighbours, the games between these two teams are always a heated rivalry.

“It’s a great rivalry. We know a lot of those guys over there. We’re friends off the rink, but once we step on the rink, it’s war,” Thompson said.

“They’re a great team and they always play with passion. They have some good players on the team. Hats off to Brett Leggat in the net, he’s fantastic. It’s hard to put pucks by him.”

Last year Canada took the lead in the game before eventually falling to the U.S. This time the Americans wanted to make it right from the very beginning. Thompson opened the scoring after already 18 seconds with a precise shot on the near side of the net.

With 50 seconds left in the second period, Thomas Woods scored with a shot into the top-right corner from the face-off dot on a power play.

The Americans regained the lead at 7:18 of the third period when Travis Noe scored after a diagonal pass to the crease from Jose “Junior” Cadiz. But three minutes later the Canadians capitalized on a power play with Woods’ second goal.

Team USA came out stronger for the fourth period and desperately wanted to score the next goal. At 8:14 Nathan Sigmund gained the puck in front of the Canadian net to score what eventually became the game-winning goal with less than four minutes to play. With one second left on the game clock he added his second marker into the empty net.

Czech Republic vs. Sweden 7-4 (1-0, 1-0, 3-2, 2-2)

Sweden secured first place in Group A already after two game days. Maybe it was this fact that made the Swedes too self-content at the beginning of the game and opened the doors for a Czech 7-4 win.

Martin Vozdecky and Jakub Curik each scored a pair of goals for the Czech Republic, which improved to second place right before the quarter-finals.

“It was pretty good. We had a bad start into the tournament and we’re very happy now. It was our best game,” Vozdecky said.

“We miss many players from last year who can make the difference, so we have to play more carefully this year.”

Vozdecky opened the scoring for the Czechs at 8:17 with a point shot on the power play. At 5:07 of the second period Marek Loskot deked Swedish defenceman Johan Lilja before beating goalkeeper Sebastian Idoff for the highlight-worthy 2-0 goal.

Same as in the other two games, Swedish coach Björn Östlund replaced starting goalie Idoff with Jonas Sparring, but the Czechs continued scoring.

95 seconds after the half-time break Curik skated away on the left side to add the third Czech goal. At 6:56 Vozdecky made it 4-0 after a two-on-one attack with Jan Besser before Kristian Luukkonen scored Sweden’s first goal of the game.

With 84 seconds left in the third quarter Anders Myrén capitalized on a power play to make it 4-2, but with 21 seconds remaining in the period Ludek Broz restored the Czech three-goal lead.

67 seconds into the fourth quarter Marcus Nilsson cut the lead again, but Curik’s point shot made it 6-3 for the Czechs before Daniel Wessner reacted with the 6-4 goal.

Sweden pulled the goalie early and with 2:44 remaining in the game, Besser scored into the empty net for the final score of 7-4.

Finland vs. Great Britain 1-2 (1-0, 0-1, 0-1, 0-0)

Newcomer Great Britain scored an upset by edging Finland 2-1. Carelessness by the Finnish team midway through the game and strong goaltending from James Tanner led Great Britain to a surprise victory over Finland only one day after having been demolished by Sweden 13-3.

Thanks to the win the Brits end up third in Group A to avoid a meeting with favourite USA in the quarter-finals, and to keep hopes for another upset alive.

“Sometimes things just work out,” said Tanner, who saved 49 out of 50 shots. “We had totally changed our fortune. We were a different team today.”

Finland had a strong start and profited from two early penalty calls against Great Britain. After a goal had been disallowed first, the Finns opened the scoring at 5:23 with a power-play goal from Teemu Suhonen.

After the Finns had dominated the first period, they were not able to keep up their pace in the second quarter. Great Britain made us of the Finnish lethargy and Alex Pearman netted the equalizer after a drop pass from Philip Hamer at 4:25.

The British even took the lead after 1:34 of play in the third period. Simon Hughes scored from the right side after Robert Shelton had passed through traffic from left.

The goal was an alarming wake-up call and Finland turned the direction to one-way hockey for the remainder of the game and had five man advantages, but Tanner – well protected by his teammates – was like a wall in his net.

“The Finns got better as the match went on,” said Tanner. “They replied and played faster and more dangerous. We are more defensive-minded rather than attacking, but we still managed to score a couple of goals.”

Finnish coach Nemo Nokkosmäki pulled his goalie and used his time-out in the last minute of regulation time, but the 1-2 score remained on the scoreboard and “God Save The Queen” was played for the first time at this tournament following Great Britain’s historic win.

DIVISION I

Quarter-Finals on Tuesday:

Croatia vs. New Zealand 13:00
Austria vs. Australia 15:00
Slovakia vs. Japan 17:00
Hungary vs. Bulgaria 19:00

Hungary vs. Austria 6-4 (0-1, 1-2, 2-0, 3-1)

Same as last year Hungary topped its preliminary-round group after defeating Austria in a tight, neighbourly clash, 6-4.

Austria built up a 3-0 lead after 16 minutes of play, but the Hungarians found the way to score soon after to earn a 4-3 lead with four unanswered goals.

The Austrians tied the game at four with 1:28 left in regulation time, but Hungary added two more goals in the last minute of play.

All goals were scored by ten different scorers.

Slovakia vs. Australia 14-4 (5-1, 5-0, 1-3, 3-0)

Slovakia won its group with a clean record after defeating Australia 14-4.

For the first six minutes Australian goalkeeper Andrew Crowther kept his net clean, but then four pucks landed in his net within only 84 seconds. He was replaced after the 6-1 first-period score, but Slovakia was able to even increase the margin.

Marcel Holovic had a hat trick for the Slovaks while Marek Horsky, Filip Novak and Juraj Prokop each scored a pair of goals.

Japan vs. New Zealand 2-3 (0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1) PS

Qualifier New Zealand won its first game of the tournament against Japan 3-2 in a penalty shootout while the Asians remain winless.

In a tight game Japan’s Takao Ushijima missed on an early penalty shot and Julian Beardman opened the scoring at 8:21. Daisuke Morita tied it up one minute into the second quarter.

In the third period Lewis Taiapa regained the lead for New Zealand on a power play, but five minutes later the Japanese capitalized on a man advantage too with Ushijima’s goal.

After a scoreless fourth period and extra time Jensen Taiapa was awarded the game-winner in a shootout.

Croatia vs. Bulgaria 15-2 (5-1, 2-0, 3-0, 5-1)

Croatia landed its second win of the tournament against qualifier Bulgaria, 15-2.

The Croats started with a lot of pressure and many shots right after the first puck drop, but the Bulgarians managed to defend their net for a couple of minutes until Marko Lovrencic started the goal galore at 4:48. Two minutes later Nikola Grahovar and Miro Smerdelj added two markers within a 29-second span en route to a lopsided victory.

Tomislav Cunko scored a hat trick; Miro Smerdelj, Nikola Grahovar, Matija Kopajtic and Tomislav Grozaj had two goals each.

MARTIN MERK
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