Korea – out of this league

Beats Poland to win Division IB – Australia relegated


The Korean players celebrate their 3-2 victory over host Poland that sends the team to the Division I Group A next year. Photo: Mirek Ring

KRYNICA – Korea is promoted to the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A after beating Poland in their final game of the Division I Group B. Australia is relegated to Division II after losing against Romania. The Netherlands claimed the bronze medals.

Korea silenced a partisan Polish home crowd in Krynica as they rallied back from two goals down to beat the hosts 3-2, with Hyung Joon Kim scoring the winner early on in the third period.

The Netherlands, already known as bronze medallists before, beat a toothless Lithuanian team 7-1, while Romania defeated Australia 5-3, which sends the losers down a division.

Final Ranking:
1. Korea 14 (promoted)
2. Poland 12
3. Netherlands 10
4. Romania 6
5. Lithuania 3
6. Australia 0 (relegated)

Individual Awards as selected by the Tournament Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Ian Meierdres, Netherlands
Best Defenceman: Adam Borzecki, Poland
Best Forward: Marcin Kolusz, Poland

Korea vs. Poland 3-2 (1-2, 1-0, 1-0) Photos Video

"I am proud of my players. My players are not big or strong, but they are good skaters and have a big heart,” said Hee Woo Kim, Korea’s assistant coach following his team's incredible turnaround to defeat pre-tournament favourites and hosts Poland. “Today everybody won this game for us as a team, and that is the important point."

While Poland racked up big scores that caused a lot of fuss throughout most of the tournament, Korea had diligently racked up their wins without getting too much attention. Going in to the final game, both teams were still undefeated knowing that a win would mean promotion to the Division I Group A.

In front of a packed Krynica Ice Stadium, Poland come out flying, and it came as no surprise when the hosts soon went in front after a goal from defenceman Jerzy Gabrys on a pass from Leszek Laszkiewicz.

Called "the professor" by a Romanian player earlier this week after an influential display, Laszkiewicz lived up to his nickname at 13:08 as he was the brain behind Poland's second goal when he received a Patryk Wajda pass behind the goal and fed Piotr Sarnik, who made it 2-0.

Poland continued to press and got a great chance to extend their lead when Tomasz Malasinski was one-on-one with Hyunseung Eum, who made a great save to keep Korea in the game.

"Even when we went two goals down, we were not going to give up. Instead we kept going," said Hee Woo Kim. "We believed in our team and we believed in our speed."

The Korean belief paid off, as a speedy breakaway instigated by Sangwoo Sin and Yongjun Lee saw Won Jung Kim pull one back for Korea with 2:18 left of the first period.

Then five minutes into the second period Korea stunned the crowd as they levelled the score, when Sangwoo Sin stroke after fine work by Yongjun Lee. Poland, yet not severely tested in this tournament, tried to step up a gear and go close to strike again when a fine move gave Maciej Urbanowicz an open net, but Korea netminder Hyunseung Eum reacted quickly to make a great glove save.

"I knew that this would be the deciding game and we played a good tactical game where we tried to block the play in the neutral zone to avoid Korea gaining speed," said Poland head coach Wiktor Pysz.

The third period was end-to-end stuff with chances going both ways. But with 8:21 left in the game, Poland went a goal down for the first time in the tournament as Yongjun Lee speeded down the left flank and squared a pass to the right where Hyung Joon Kim hit a onetimer that slinked in past Przemyslaw Odrobny.

Desperation struck and all of a sudden Poland looked very human. Despite winning the shots record in the final period 13-5 and pulling Odrobny out of his net towards the end, Korea battled on and held out to claim an epic victory.

For Poland, on the other hand, the question that remained was how this was able to happen? Head coach Pysz tried to give a few answers during the post-game media conference.

"We didn't create as many chances as in previous games, but we started very well, leading 2-0 and had a great chance to make it three," he said.

"The second and third goal we let in were our own mistakes. In this important game, they decided the game. If we want to go up one division we cannot make this kind of mistakes," said Pysz.

Netherlands vs. Lithuania 7-1 (2-0, 1-1, 4-0)

Bronze medallists Netherlands capped off a fine tournament by cruising to a 7-1 win against hapless Lithuania. Three goals in less than three minutes early in the third period killed off any chance of a weary Lithuanian team to stage a comeback.

The Dutchmen had secured third place ahead of this game, while Lithuania had the possible threat of relegation hanging over them in case of defeat and results going against them in the second game of the day between Romania and Australia.

In a first period disrupted by a plethora of minor penalty calls, Anthony Demelline snapped up the puck and delivered it with pace to defenceeman Jan-Jaap Natte, who powered in a shot in the low far corner at 16:39. The Netherlands went ahead by two following nice work from their first line, with Mitch Bruijstein and Diederick Hagemeijer combining well together in the corner before the latter increasing the lead with a shot which goaltender Mantas Armalis should have dealt better with.

Despite Lithuania turning up the heat early in the second period, first with a three-on-one where Dutch goalie Ian Meierdres made a pointblank save, Meierdres was unable to keep the puck out a little later when Daniel Bogdziul steered in a pin-point Petras Nauseda assist from the blueline at 7:22 of the second period to bring excitement back to the game.

Fine work and a fine pass by Marco Postma found Anthony Demilinne increase the score to 3-1 at 6:50 of the third period. The final period became a procession, as the doggedly tired Lithuanians weren’t able to keep up with the Dutch.

Hagemeijer, top goal scorer for the Netherlands in this tournament, added his second for the afternoon on the power play just after four minutes into the final period. A couple of more Dutch goals were soon added and at 52:02 Kars played through Ivy van Heuvel, who raced through and scored the final goal of the game to make it 7-1 for the Netherlands.

"We got stronger and stronger as time went on in the game,” said Larry Suarez. "It's a completely different dynamic to what has been in the past. We have 23 pretty much even players now and only one Dutch-Canadian, Marcel Kars, on the team. But we still have a long way to go, no question about it. But this team definitely has an identity and a way of playing the game, and I think they should feel proud for that," said Suarez.

"People in Lithuania look at our ranking and think that we should have been doing better, but they have to remember that we have around ten players missing from our team for this tournament," said forward Sarunas Kuliesius about his team’s fifth-place finish.

Romania vs. Australia 5-3 (2-2, 1-0, 2-1)

Mission accomplished for Romania as they secured their Division I Group B slot after a hard-fought victory over a battling Australian team. Romania winning the game 5-3 means that Australia will play in the Division II Group A next year while Romania finished fourth.

Australia, who had the fate in their own hands, was forced to beat Romania with a one goal margin score of at least 7-6 or higher to stay up and send Lithuania down. In case Australia would have won the game by two goals, Romania would have been relegated.

"There was never any sense of control for either team. Games like these kill coaches, but in the end we did what we had to do," said Romania head coach Tom Skinner after leading his team to fourth place at the World Championships Division I Group B.

In a tight game where Romania outshot Australia 28-25, team captain Szabolcs Szöcs scored twice to give Romania the lead in the first period. On both occasions Australia stroke back and the score was tied after the first period.

Romania added a goal to take the lead 3-2 with 1:38 left of the second period when Yevgeny Pysarenko fired in a slapshot between the legs of Australia netminder Anthony Kimlin.

With Australia chasing the game and being desperate to score, the final period became a free-flowing open contest. Levente Zsok steered the puck into the top corner following good work from Zsombor Antal. Australia pulled one back when Scott Stephenson scored his second of the game, before defenceman Attila Goga fired in a slapshot, his fifth point in five games to move Romania up to fourth place and send Australia down a division.

"It's been a great learning experience, but very disappointing. We thought going into this game that we would have a chance to win by two goals and stay up. We did what people expected us to do at the tournament, but we weren't actually able to get any points to stay up,” said Australia's Lliam Webster.

"Losing out on Thomas Powell, who scored two goals in our first game, and then Nathan Walker for today's game was a big loss for us as a team, but hopefully they will be fit and healthy again soon," he continued.

With Ukraine taking a step down from the Division I Group A and Estonia coming up from Division II, next year's 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B will be contested between Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Lithuania and newly-promoted Estonia.


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