INGOLSTADT, Germany - The semi-final picture is complete at the Inline Hockey World Championship. In the top division, Sweden and Germany will face-off along with the United States against Finland. In Division I, the four teams still in the medal hunt are Hungary, Great Britain, Austria and Brazil. Tomorrow's match-ups can be found at the bottom of the page.
Sweden – Slovenia 7-3 (1-1, 2-0, 3-1, 1-1)
Sweden’s hope to go for three consecutive gold medals at the Inline Hockey World Championship is still alive after a 7-3 quarterfinal win against Slovenia. It is Sweden’s eighth straight appearance in the semi-finals.
Slovenia put up a good fight early, but Sweden surged ahead with a three-goal, third quarter to take the win.
Slovenia had a strong first half, but couldn’t score on a few key power plays, allowing the Swedes to take a 3-1 lead into the break. The teams were tied at one at the end of the first quarter and it wasn’t until Dick Axelsson scored at the 17:08 mark that Sweden restored its one-goal lead. The momentum took a big swing when Sweden was awarded a penalty shot with three seconds left in the half and Daniel Wessner easily put in the 3-1 goal with a wrist shot.
Slovenia got the 3-2 goal to open the second half, but Sweden was patiently waiting for its opening which came in the form of a Slovenia penalty 4:04 into the half. Mattias Luukkonen scored on the ensuing power-play, opening the floodgates for his teammates to pour in another three goals in less than six minutes to take a commanding 7-2 lead.
The surge completely deflated the Slovenians, who lost their fight in the second half, allowing Sweden to cruise to the semi-final berth.
United States – Slovakia 6-2 (1-2, 0-0, 3-0, 2-0)
The United States stayed in the hunt to win its first Inline Hockey medal in two years after dispatching Slovakia, 6-2, in today’s quarterfinal.
The game was closer than the Americans would have liked. It wasn’t until they erupted with three goals in one minute that they were able to pull away from the persistent Slovaks. Nathan Sigmund, Steven Olesky and Charles Yoder struck in the surge, swinging the game from the 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 advantage in the blink of an eye.
The United States controlled the first half, but the puck was not bouncing its way. Slovakia jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with the goals coming 10 seconds apart at the 3:39 mark. It took six minutes and a power-play chance for the Americans to respond and cut the lead in half. The U.S. had multiple chances to tie the game, hitting the post three times and out-shooting the Slovaks 20-10, but the puck would not cooperate.
It was much of the same to open the second half until the trio of goals relaxed the U.S. bench a bit. Two late insurance goals from James Beilsten and Patrick Lee made it a 6-2 final. The Slovaks had just seven shots in their scoreless second half. Jozef Ondrejka was outstanding in net for the Slovaks, frustrating the U.S. offense and finishing the game with 32 saves.
Finland – Czech Republic – 4-3 (0-1, 0-1, 2-0, 1-1, 1-0)
Finland is back into the medal round at the Inline Hockey World Championship after earning a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Czech Republic.
Last year, Finland finished an all-time low sixth place, a major disappointment for the traditional medal nation. This year, after a slow start to the championship, many wondered if Finnish had lost its winning touch. But the Finns proved that all is well after steadily improving through the event and battling to the win today.
It was a role reversal for the teams as Finland won the game on the strength of three power-play goals, including the game winner from Camilo Meitinnen just 14 seconds into overtime. The Czechs, with the one of the strongest power plays of the event, netted all their goals with equal strength.
It was a low-scoring affair, with the Czechs only getting on the board in the last minute of the first quarter. Ludek Broz doubled the Czech lead four minutes into the second quarter, while Finland was showing few signs of life with minimal scoring chances.
The second half was a whole new ballgame when Finland’s power play at last found its voice. Mikko Liukkonen scored 14 seconds into the half and Kari Lohtander tied the game at two six minutes later.
The Finland goals did more than even the score, it also evened the action on the floor as the Finns showed the spark they were lacking in the first half. Jiri Polansky put in his second goal of the game for the Czechs at the 42:09 mark, but Finland had a quick answer when Aki Tuominen sent the game to overtime with the 3-3 marker setting up the overtime heroics
Finland will meet the Americans in the semi-final game, while the Czechs face-off against Slovakia in the placement game tomorrow.
Germany – Canada 8-3 (2-0, 1-0, 4-1, 1-2)
Germany continued to plow through the competition at the Inline Hockey World Championship, earning a berth in the semi-finals after dominating Canada in a 8-3 win. The Germans are the only team with a perfect 12 points in four games.
Once again, the arena in Ingolstadt was packed as the vocal 3,600 fans inspired the German team through to the win. When Vitalij Aab scored 5:35 into the game the arena erupted. Five minutes later a Patrcik Reimer goal doubled the lead and doubled the frenzy as the fans sang through the break between quarters.
Canada was a little rattled by the hostile crowd and took awhile to settle into a rhythm. Just as Canada was starting to get its footing, Henrik Holscher struck with the 3-0 goal. In total, Germany out-shot Canada 23-11 in the dominant half.
Michael Drury woke up the Canadians with a power-play goal to open the second half, but unfortunately for the Canadians it also wok up the German offense, which responded with a four-goal frenzy to build a 7-1 lead. Thomas Greilinger opened the spurt, prompting Canada to pull goaltender Kevin St. Pierre for Christopher Wills. But Germany's Michael Wolf welcomed Wills to the game 21 seconds later. Aab and Reimer put their second goals before the Canadians could catch their breath at the break between quarters.
Drury got on the board again for Canada to open the fourth quarter, but the goal was academic as there was nothing the Canadians could do to in the last 12 minutes to avoid the loss.
Germany has won bronze the last two seasons, but if their performance thus far is any indication, they could be moving up the podium this season as they have morphed into the team to beat at this year’s championship.
Australia – Hungary 4-5 (0-0, 1-0, 1-2, 2-3)
After missing the medal round for the first time in seven years last season, Hungary is back in the semi-finals at the Division I Inline Hockey World Championship after coming from behind to beat Australia, 5-4.
Hungary didn’t hold a lead until Gergely Bobras scored with 5:15 left in regulation. Arnold Feil followed up with the eventual game-winner 30 seconds later. The duo were the go-to guys for Hungary. Feil had a hat trick in the win, while Bobras finished the game with a goal and three assists.
The first half was the lowest scoring of this championship as Australia held a slim 1-0 lead at the half thanks to a wrist shot by Peter Matus midway through the second quarter.
Feil netted a pair of goals in the third quarter. His first goal was the 1-1 equalizer and his second tally was the answer to Stuart Collins’ goal, tying the game at two.
Collins struck again for Australia 2:58 into the fourth quarter to restore the one-goal Australia lead, but again Hungary had the answer when Szilard Sandor scored on the power play two minutes later. Sandor also had four points for Hungary in the win.
Hungary’s first lead came with just over five minutes left in regulation on another extra-man effort. The 5-3 insurance marker came 30 seconds later. Matus put in another goal for Australia to make it a one-goal game again, but it would be as close as the Aussies would come in their bid to reclaim the lead as the clock ran out for the team from down under.
For Australia the loss ends a two-year run of playing in the semi-finals, while on the Hungarian side the win is redemption for both a slow start to this year’s championship and last year’s all-time low 14th-place finish.
Great Britain – Japan 5-2 (0-0, 2-0, 0-1, 3-1)
Great Britain skated into the Division I semi-finals after earning a 5-2 win against Japan. Philip Hamer paced Great Britain with three goals in the key win.
Great Britain controlled the tempo of the game, but was held scoreless until Hamer scored on an odd-man rush 13:36 into action. Richard Walsh doubled the lead with a slap shot on a five-on-four delayed penalty goal. Japan’s chances were few and far between in the first half as the speedy team met its match.
Japan had a better start to the second half, scoring the lone goal of the third quarter 3:06 into action on a power play. But a pair of rapid-fire goals from Daniel Hutchinson and Hamer killed any Japanese hopes of staging the upset as the 4-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left was more than Japan could hope to overcome in the defensive duel. Yuji Kochiba and Hamer scored for each side in the waning minutes of the game, bringing the final to 5-2.
Great Britain took the silver medal last year, losing against Canada in the gold medal game. The nation is on the hunt for its second straight medal entering the semi-finals tomorrow. Japan will face South Africa tomorrow with big stakes on the line. The loser will be relegated and will not return to next year’s Inline World Championship.
Austria – South Africa 8-2 (2-0, 4-0, 0-2, 2-0)
Austria easily won its quarterfinal game against South Africa with a lopsided 8-2 win. The victory sends the Austrians into the semi-finals where they will meet Hungary.
It is Austria’s first time at the Division I level and more important to the Alpine nation than the potential gold medal is the chance to get promoted back to the top division as the first-place finisher from Division I.
South Africa had just four shots in the first half as Austria controlled virtually every aspect of the game. In the first period, Harry Lange opened the scoring 7:07 into action and less than two minutes later it was 2-0. The lead grew rapidly in the second quarter. Lange had an astounding four assists on the four second quarter goals as it was a 6-0 lead by the end of the 24 minutes.
South Africa had a good third period, putting in two goals. But the markers did little to put a dent in Austrian momentum. Stefan Ulmer got Austria back on track 47 seconds into the fourth quarter and one last shorthanded goal from Raphael Herburger brought the final to 8-2.
South Africa will play its last game of the championship tomorrow in the placement meeting against Japan. It South Africa loses that game, they will not return to the 2010 event in Sweden and will have to go through a qualification process to return.
Brazil – Chinese Taipei 10-0 (0-0, 0-5, 0-4, 1-0)
Brazil easily skated into the Division I semi-finals after crushing Chiense Taipei, 10-0. Brazil will meet Great Britain in the tomorrow’s game, while winless Taipei will hope to avoid relegation with a miracle win against Australia in the placement game.
Taipei has played with a big heart this entire championship, but the fatigue is starting to become clear as the best the outmatched nation could muster today against Brazil was a scoreless first quarter for both teams.
Brazil ended the stalemate 2:41 into the second quarter when Pedro Andrade scored. The goal woke Brazil up as another four goals followed in just under a seven-minute span, making it 5-0 at the half.
During the break both teams switched out their goaltenders, but for Chinese Taipei, the move did little to slow the Brazilians, who put in another four third-quarter goals, including a shorthanded effort by Diego Araujo. Andrade put in his second goal to bring Brazil into double digits 19 seconds into the fourth quarter.
For Chinese Taipei, the chances of playing at next year’s Inline championship look bleak as they take on a strong Australian squad in tomorrow’s placement game.
Top Division Semi-Final Games:
Sweden vs. Germany
United States vs. Finland
Top Division Placement Games:
Slovenia vs. Czech Republic
Slovakia vs. Canada
Division I Semi-Final Games:
Brazil vs. Great Britain
Austria vs. Hungary
Division I Placement Games:
Japan vs. South Africa
Australia vs. Chinese Taipei