BRATISLAVA – Team USA surprised last year’s bronze winner Germany with a 9-3 win at the 2008 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship while silver medallist Finland lost to the Czechs. Title-holder Sweden had a smooth start by beating hosts Slovakia 5-0. Canada celebrated its comeback with a lopsided 13-2 win over New Zealand.
Top Division, Group A, Austria vs. Slovenia 1-8 (0-2, 1-0, 0-2, 0-4)
After the tight loss to Slovakia in the opening game, Austria was also defeated on day two, 1-8 vs. Slovenia. Jaka Zupanc brought the lead at 1:17 and Rok Bavdaz made it 2-0 for Slovenia before the first buzzer. Austria had hopes to come back in the second period when Harry Lange scored a power play goal but at the end, it was a lopsided 8-1 win for Slovenia. Zupanc and Bavdaz both scored two goals.
Top Division, Group A, Slovakia vs. Sweden 0-5 (0-0, 0-2, 0-2, 0-1)
Host Slovakia lost to defending champion Sweden after the successful opener against Austria. The title-holder won its first game 5-0.
Slovakia defied during the first period but Sweden had two goals early in the second by Andreas Svensson and Kristian Luukkonen and the game continued in this direction. Johan Olsson, Linus Klasen and Ludvig Rantanen were the other of the five different goal scorers. 12 players entered the scoring list while Dennis Karlsson had a shutout.
Top Division, Group B, Germany vs. USA 3-9 (1-2, 1-3, 1-1, 0-3)
Team USA, last year only sixth-placed, surprised 2007 bronze medal winners Germany with a 9-3 win. Defenceman James Beilstein was the player of the game with three goals including the two most important ones. Beilstein scored the first goal of the game at 2:23 and just 12 seconds after serving a minor penalty. Michael Wolf equalised one minute later but at 7:13, it was again Beilstein who found the net with a shorthander.
Dan Comrie and two-goal scorer Kyle Gouge extended the lead before Steffen Tolzer, as Wolf an ice hockey pro from the German top league DEL, made it 4-2. At 22:39, it was again Beilstein who destroyed the German hopes. The game ended 9-3 for the Americans.
"This was a great start for our team," said Team USA head coach Darren Turcotte. "We have a lot of new players and a very young team, so the win helps us settle in and hopefully we will continue getting better as the tournament goes on."
Top Division, Group B, Czech Rep. vs. Finland 4-2 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1, 1-1)
Another surprise in group B happened in the late game when the Czech Republic beat last year’s silver medal winner Finland 4-2. Jiri Polansky, Petr Tenkrat and Pavel Strycek gained a 3-0 lead for the Czechs until 29:05. Aki Tuominen and Tuomas Valosaari decreased the lead with their goals in the third and fourth period but the Finns didn’t find the net for a third time. Polansky scored his second goal with an empty-netter at 47:42.
Division I, Group C, Australia vs. Great Britain 7-11 (1-4, 1-2, 3-1, 2-4)
Australia got the lead by Daniel Pedersen at 3:33 but Great Britain got the points in a spectacular 11-7 victory. 14 Wightman equalised at 4:00 while Mark William Thomas, Alex Pearman (who both netted three) and John Dolan let the first period end 4-1 in favour of the Brits. Pearman added two goals in the second and everything seemed to be clear when the score was 6-2 at halftime. It came out that it won’t be an easy win for Great Britain. Three goals by Jordan Gavin made it 7-5 after three periods and Pedersen scored the 7-6 goal at 36:20. It was the wake-up call and the Brits scored four consecutive goals to secure the win.
Division I, Group C, Bulgaria vs. Brazil 2-13 (0-2, 1-2, 0-5, 1-4)
Bulgaria was a simple task for Brazil as the South Americans won 13-2. Bruno Gomes found the net after only 83 seconds and after two overlapping powerplays for the Brazilians, he scored again in the first period and had totally five goals. Pedro Raposo and Leandro Silva had two goals each. Bulgaria had no chance against the Brazilian magicians despite of the 2-1 goal by Plamen Veselinov which was answered quickly by loads of goals.
Division I, Group D, Hungary vs. Japan 5-6 (1-2, 2-1, 0-1, 2-1, 0-1) OT
Japan surprised better-seeded Hungary with a 6-5 overtime win. The Japanese went into lead four times: 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 but Hungary never gave up and had Marton Vas, an ice hockey pro from France’s Briancon, who scored four goals including the first lead for the Magyars, 5-4 while two minutes remaining in the fourth period. The 28-year old seemed to become the hero but while the Japanese pulled their goalkeeper Shingo Imagawa, Yoshinori Ishioka equalised three seconds before the Hungarians could celebrate a three-point win. At the end, it was the Japanese who could celebrate as Yutaka Ono scored the sudden-death goal 94 seconds into overtime.
Division I, Group D, Canada vs. New Zealand 13-2 (7-0, 2-0, 0-1, 4-1)
Canada celebrated its InLine World Championships comeback with a lopsided 13-2 win over New Zealand. After a clear 7-0 verdict after the first period, there was no doubt while the Canadians belong to the favourites to play the qualification game to the top division. After two more goals, the Kiwi goalie Benjamin Manu was replaced by Khord Kopu who had a clean record in the third period but the game ended with a clear win by the inline maple leafs. Jonathan Spady was the best goal scorer (3) while Johnathon Clewlow had the most points (2+5=7).
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