BIETIGHEIM-BISSINGEN – The Austrian men’s national team went one step closer to its first Olympic participation since 2002 after defeating the Netherlands 6-1. For the Dutch the Olympic dream is over after two losses.
The Austrians already earned a 5-0 lead after the first period. Thomas Koch scored two goals apiece while the other markers came from five different players including the Netherlands’ consolation goal from Mitch Brujsten.
The Dutch seemed to be too tired after last evening’s game against Germany in order to perform a similar effort against Austria. On the other side, the red team built up huge pressure from the very first face-off and capitalized on its dominance with efficient attacking.
“We knew that the Netherlands played a very physical and late game last night and so we got them on the short end,” Austria coach Manny Viveiros said. “We really wanted to come out hard and put them under pressure and we were fortunate enough to score enough goals in the first period.”
Koch started the goal galore of the first period by opening the scoring at 5:39 and Michael Raffl followed suit by capitalizing on his team’s first power-play opportunity at 8:15.
His brother Thomas Raffl scored the next one just 35 seconds later after Thomas Hundertpfund’s pass from the side boards to make it 3-0 before the ten-minute mark and forced Netherlands coach Barry Smith to use his time-out.
“It was a very tough game for us after the first period. I think they wanted to make a statement right away,” Netherlands coach Barry Smith said. “We had heavy legs. We came a little bit back in the second and third period and I’m proud of our guys the way they stuck with it.”
The direction of the game didn’t change. At 14:27 Daniel Oberkofler scored his third goal of the tournament when he skated near the face-off dot before finding a hole through the Dutch defence. Three minutes later Koch scored his second marker of the day to make it 5-0 before the first intermission.
“We came out of the locker room and played very well. We won the first period 5-0 and I think the game was decided after that,” Michael Raffl said. “We wanted to set them under pressure right away and the goals right away gave us a lot of self-confidence.”
Smith replaced goalkeeper Ian Meierdres, who had a strong game the evening before against Germany, and put in Marijn Oosterwijk. It was the second official game with the men’s national team for the 22-year-old, but after 12:41 he also had to fish the puck from the net after Matthias Trattnig’s 6-0 goal.
Luckily for Oosterwijk, it was the only goal as he prevented a more lopsided defeat with a couple of saves. The Austrians controlled the play in the last period but didn’t act with the same determination like in the beginning. The game seemed to end with a shutout for Bernhard Starkbaum but with less than two minutes left he was beaten by a shot from a short angle from Mitch Brujsten.
Austria will face Germany in the last game on Sunday and needs a victory against the host and favourite to qualify for the Sochi Olympics.