Slovakia’s last-minute surprise

Inline: Finns out; Canada, Sweden, U.S. advance

06.06.2013
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Finally a win! Slovakia scored an upset victory against Finland in the quarter-finals of the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship.

DRESDEN – Slovakia, winless in the three games before, scored an upset in the quarter-finals by defeating Finland 4-3. Team USA won against host Germany 7-4, Canada beat the Czech Republic 8-5 and Sweden steamrollered Slovenia 12-3 to advance to the semi-finals.

Top Division

Semi-Finals on Friday:
Sweden vs. Canada (16:00)
USA vs. Slovakia (18:00)

Placement Games on Friday:
Czech Republic vs. Slovenia (14:00)
Finland vs. Germany (20:00)

Quarter-Finals

USA vs. Germany 7-4 (3-1, 0-2, 2-0, 2-0) Video

Team USA made the semi-finals after defeating Germany 7-4 while the host nation remains winless after four games.

Germany offered a tight battle for the first half of the game but the Americans got it running in the last two period.

“It was a tough game. They tied it 3-3 in the second period and had the momentum, but we had a good second half of the game,” Alexander said.

“He just said we should play our game and not get frustrated. There are momentum swings in hockey,” the defenceman said when asked what coach Joe Cook told the players during the intermission.

After two-and-a-half minutes of play Germany’s Patrick Seifert surprised American goalkeeper Nick Maricic with a shot from the board side of the face-off circle, but Team USA replied with three unanswered goals in the first period.

At 4:14 Kyle Novak scored from far left during a power play. Dakota Eveland made it a 2-1 lead after a centering pass from Junior Cadiz, and Matt White made it a two-goal lead 34 seconds later.

Germany started a comeback attempt in the second period. At 4:54 Seifert cut the deficit with a slapshot from roughly 20 metres on a power play. Five minutes later Christian Wichert and Tim Brazda skated away. Wichert fed Brazda with a diagonal pass to the crease and the latter capitalized on the opportunity.

The Americans changed up a gear after the halftime break. Noe scored after a horizontal pass from Cody Kettler, and Alexander added another goal 35 seconds later after skating around a German defenceman.

After the 5-3 third-period lead the Americans sealed the win with another pair of goals in the last quarter.

Noe deked Germany’s Huba Sekesi and beat goalkeeper Maximilian Englbrecht with a high shot, and after a pass from Pat Cannone, Rafael Rodriguez added another American marker.

Sekesi scored the fourth German goal with 29 seconds left in the game.

Finland vs. Slovakia 3-4 (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 1-2) Video

Slovakia caused the biggest upset so far at the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. Just promoted to the top division and having lost all three games so far, the Slovaks defeated Finland 4-3 in the quarter-finals.

Boris Ertel became the much-celebrated hero when he ended an odd-man rush after receiving the pass from Juraj Prokop with 39 seconds left in regulation time.

“I’m very happy,” said the 29-year-old, who spent the winter with IK Aarhus of the second Danish league, while his teammates were screaming for joy on the way to the dressing room. “We won after having lost three games. We really wanted to win this game. Everybody had the passion to win this game.”

The game was not an offensive firework like some others here in Dresden. Both teams did a good defensive job to help their goaltenders. The game went back and forth and no team led by more than a goal. Slovak goalkeeper Jozef Ondrejka even had a save percentage of over 90 per cent with his 30 saves – a mark that is not reached as often as in ice hockey.

At the beginning it was the Finns who earned the lead twice. Tommi Huhtala opened the scoring at 7:19 with a shot from the left side but in the second period Prokop scored after Finnish goalkeeper Juha Taponen had blocked a distance shot.

The teams exchanged more goals in the second half of the game. 67 seconds after the intermission Jesse Saarinen skated along the left boards and beat Ondrejka on the glove side with a shot from an acute angle not too far from the corner. But again the Slovaks had the answer ready.

At 7:55 Miroslav Preisinger skated through to the net but due to interference his shot wasn’t ideal. Taponen blocked, but Peter Novajovsky was in position on the left side to tie the game at two.

Midway through the fourth period Slovakia earned the lead for the first time. Filip Novak deked a shot at the right face-off spot, then skated to the left side and scored into the almost empty net when Taponen was down.

Finland reacted and Huhtala tied the game at three with his second goal when he broke through on the left side and found the hole at the near post.

The teams were approaching overtime until Ertel’s game winner with 39 seconds left in regulation time. This time the Finns didn’t have an answer and will have to play in the placement games while the Slovaks made it to the semi-finals.

Sweden vs. Slovenia 12-3 (3-1, 4-1, 4-1, 1-0) Video

Sweden steamrollered Slovenia en route to a semi-final berth. Tre Kronor easily won the game 12-3.

The Slovenes upset Sweden only early in the game when Gregor Koblar scored the first goal with a shot into the top-left corner but Kristian Luukkonen tied it up just 47 seconds later.

Henrik Höglund scored the lead and Stefan Warg got to shoot on the right side to beat Peter Skrabelj for the 3-1 goal before the end of the first period.

“We wanted to play the same way we did against the Czechs and Germany and I think we played well,” said Warg, who had two goals and an assist in the game. “Everyone was fighting hard. We got a lead of a few goals and got it going until the end.”

The goal galore continued in the second period with a pair of unanswered Swedish goals.

Luukkonen beat Skrabelj with a shot from the face-off circle at the glove side, and Johan Erkgärds scored the fifth Swedish goal from a similar position.

At 7:18 Denis Kadic capitalized on a rebound after a Nejc Berlisk shot for the 5-2 goal but the Slovenes wouldn’t get any closer than that.

Marcus Nilsson skated through the Slovenian defence and scored the 6-2 goal, and Stefan Warg added another one on a breakaway before the halftime break.

In the third period Höglund deflected a long shot from Nilsson on a power play and two minutes later Dick Axelsson ended an odd-man rush after a pass from Daniel Brolin.

The Slovenes put Matevz Grabnar into the net for Skrabelj but also he couldn’t weather the storm.

After Berlisk had scored the third Slovenian goal with a shot in the far corner, the Swedes added three more goals from Höglund, Alexander Olsson and Brolin.

Canada vs. Czech Republic 8-5 (2-5, 3-0, 2-0, 1-0) Video

Defending champion Canada remains on path for a medal after defeating the Czech Republic 8-5. Team Canada came back from a three-goal deficit in the first period to turn things around.

Max Grassi was the most successful Canadian scorer with two goals and three assists. But after the game was already before the game since the Canadians are here for more.

“I don’t think we feel good until we win the gold medal game and have a medal around the neck,” Grassi said. “But it feels good to be on the right track. We beat a really good hockey team and got to be happy about that and focus on our next match.”

The Czechs started well into the game with two early goals. Petr Kafka scored after 51 seconds after a horizontal pass from Petr Tenkrat. Two minutes later Patrik Sebek escaped on the right side and concluded his breakaway with the 2-0 goal.

At 5:42 Grassi cut the lead with a shot from the right face-off dot through traffic in front of the Czech net. But the Czechs reacted immediately. Tenkrat scored after a drop pass from Martin Vozdecky. Three minutes later he scored again with a slap shot from ten metres.

13 seconds later Canada reacted with a goal from Adam Ross, who received a pass from behind the net, but with 81 seconds left in the period Tenkrat completed his hat trick with the 5-2 goal.

However, Canada successfully staged its comeback and tied the game before halftime. At 2:05 of the second period Brendan Baumgartner slalomed around a Czech defenceman and netted the puck on the far side. Three minutes later Fred Corbeil added a wraparound goal and with one minute left in the frame Josh Foote tied the game at five after Grassi’s diagonal pass.

Chris Terry brought Canada its first lead of the game five minutes after the halftime break with a long shot. Before the end of the period Ross got the puck behind the net from Grassi on a power play and beat Daniel Brabec, who came in for Roman Handl for the third period, for the 7-5 goal.

On a power play in the last period Grassi scored the 8-5 goal after a horizontal pass and forced Czech coach Petr Hemsky to take his time-out with two minutes left in regulation time. But it was too late. Canadian goalie Brett Leggat remained in strong shape during an offensive period of the Czechs in the last period and the score stayed until the final buzzer.

Division I

Semi-Finals on Friday:
Australia vs. Great Britain (17:00)
Austria vs. Hungary (19:00)

Placement Games on Friday:
Japan vs. Argentina (13:00)
Croatia vs. Bulgaria (15:00)

Quarter-Finals


Austria vs. Bulgaria 21-2 (6-0, 5-1, 2-0, 8-1)

The top-ranked team of the preliminary round, Austria, faced the team with the worst record, Bulgaria, in the quarter-finals and not surprisingly earned the biggest score of the event, 21-2.

On a positive note it can be said that it was the first time Bulgaria has scored at all. Martin Nikolov made it 7-1 and 15-2 with his goals. The 19-year-old is the second-youngest player on the team where half of the players are over 35 years of age.

The Austrians were more successful. Christian Haidinger, Christoph Draschkowitz and Patrick Fichtner each had a hat trick, Youssef Riener, Harry Lange and Lukas Draschkowitz scored two goals apiece.

Australia vs. Argentina 5-4 (2-1, 2-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0) GWS

Winless Argentina was a pesky opponent for Australia, winner of Group D, in the quarter-finals. The Australians blew a 4-2 lead at halftime but eventually defeated the South Americans in a shootout.

It looked promising in the beginning for the team from Down Under. Liam Jeffries opened the scoring after just 32 seconds of play and Shaun Wickham converted the first power play of the game for the 2-0 lead. But two minutes later the Argentines made use of their first man advantage as well. Miguel de Achaval scored the 2-1 goal.

At 2:14 of the second period Nicolas Chiaravalloti tied the game at two for Argentina, but the tie only remained for 16 seconds.

With the next attack Jeffries scored his second goal of the day and at 7:12 he made it a hat trick on a power play for the 4-2 halftime score.

The Argentines didn’t give up though. After killing a penalty, Facundo Vadra cut the Australian lead. In the fourth period they had many chances to score also thanks to three power plays but it looked like the Australians would defend the lead until Rodrigo Irisarri hit the back of the net with his power-play goal seven seconds before the end of regulation time.

After a scoreless five-minute extra period a shootout had to decide and it was Australian captain Jordan Gavin, who was credited with the game-winning goal.

Hungary vs. Croatia 9-1 (2-0, 1-0, 2-1, 4-0)

The Hungarians were masters in efficiency in their quarter-final game against Croatia. They scored nine goals out of 31 shots while the Croats had a meagre marker against Hungarian netminder Tamas Kiss, who made 29 saves.

Eight different players scored for Hungary. Defenceman Zoltan Revak netted the puck twice, the other goals came from Arnold Feil, Akos Kiss, Tamas Lencses, Norbert Fekecs, Marton Bontovics, Imre Peterdi and Balazs Bartalis.

Tomislav Grozaj scored the only goal for Croatia to make it 3-1 in the third period.

Great Britain vs. Japan 4-2 (2-0, 0-1, 2-1, 0-0)

In a tight battle Great Britain edged Japan 4-2 thanks to a good start into the game.

In the first half of the first period Matt Viney and Daniel Hutchinson scored two goals within 79 seconds and managed to defend the lead until the end of the game. But it was a tough challenge against the determined Asians.

At 3:03 of the second period Gentaro Tsuchimoto shortened the gap but 57 seconds after the next intermission Nathan Finney made it 3-1 on a power play.

Kentaro Nishinaga managed to cut the British lead again at 9:51 of the third period but less than a minute later Karl Niamatali restored the two-goal lead for Great Britain. The score of 4-2 remained until the final buzzer and sent Great Britain to the semi-finals while Japan has to battle against relegation.

Click here for the tournament website with stats, photos, videos and a live stream.

MARTIN MERK

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