Danes edge resilient Italians
by Lucas Aykroyd|17 MAY 2022
Denmark kept a step ahead of Italy with a 2-1 win in Helsinki on Tuesday at the 2022 Worlds. In the foreground, Danish veteran Frans Nielsen (#51) is pursued by Italian captain Daniel Frank (#94).
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images
It was harder than expected, but Denmark pulled off a 2-1 win over Italy in Helsinki on Tuesday. Mathias Bau led the way with a goal, including the early third-period winner, and an assist.

Nikolaj Ehlers also scored his first goal of the tournament for Denmark, which has won two of its three games thus far. The Danes finished seventh in their Olympic debut in Beijing.

Italian assistant captain Alex Petan replied with his team's lone goal. The Azzurri, who were 16th and last at the 2021 Worlds in Riga, remain pointless in Group A.

The score was tighter than the shots on goal reflected, favouring Denmark 45-14. That was a tribute to Italian netminder Andreas Bernard, who had surrendered five goals on 47 shots in the 5-2 loss to Switzerland. Danish goalie Sebastian Dahm got his second win of these Worlds. 

Denmark played without Oliver Lauridsen in the lineup. The towering 33-year-old Malmo Redhawks defenceman, the brother of Markus Lauridsen, underwent shoulder surgery in Helsinki after getting injured versus Switzerland and will not be back. Replacing Oliver Lauridsen, Morten Jensen saw his first blueline duty in the Finnish capital.
Italy vs Denmark - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
It was harder than expected, but Denmark pulled off a 2-1 win over Italy in Helsinki on Tuesday. Mathias Bau led the way with a goal, including the early third-period winner, and an assist.
ITA DEN 17 MAY 2022
The Danes were eager for a bounceback performance after getting thrashed 6-0 by Switzerland two days ago. Yet the Italians were determined not to make it a cakewalk. They skated and checked gamely despite lagging in puck possession.

"We played an okay game,"Storm said. "We need to be more effective and creative with our shots, be more effective in front of their net, but we did manage to get these two goals. Their goalie had an unreal game."

On Denmark’s second man advantage, Ehlers broke the scoreless tie at 15:54, stepping into the left faceoff circle to fool a screened Bernard with a short-side wrister. Ehlers jumped exuberantly into the glass as his teammates rushed over to congratulate him.

Italy tried to counter by getting physical on Ehlers. With captain Daniel Frank chasing the Winnipeg Jets ace down as he raced into the Italian zone, ddi Perna came across in an attempt to lower the boom Dion Phaneuf-style. However, Ehlers got up, pushed back, and shook it off.

"It was a little more physical than our previous games," said di Perna. "Emotions run high, but that's just the nature of the game."

In the second period, Italy's hopes of notching the equalizer were undercut by more penalty woes. Denmark couldn't capitalize on a 5-on-3 that lasted 27 seconds after Bernard was nabbed for tripping and Petan put the puck over the glass in his own end.

With under five minutes to play in the middle frame, defenceman Nicholas Jensen got tangled up with Italy's Peter Spornberger and fell heavily to the ice in front of Dahm. The trainer was summoned to check out the Eisbaren Berlin veteran, but he was able to skate off under his power. The Danish faithful jeered loudly when no penalty was assessed. Nicholas Jensen would return in the third period.

The longer Italy hung around, the scarier it got for Denmark. Petan finally tied it up on the power play at 19:00, beating Dahm high to the stick side from close range. The Vancouver-raised forward pumped his fist with glee.

In the third period, Bau answered back to make it 2-1 Denmark at 1:46. Nicolai Meyer fed Bau from Wayne Gretzky's old office behind the net, and the Herning Blue Fox forward beat Bernard high to the stick side. 

"I got the puck in the corner and saw Meyer behind the net," said Bau. "I tried to give him the puck and turn around quickly and get past my guy. I got open, and that was a good pass. I managed to put it in."

From here on, Dahm was good when called upon to be. On an Italian 2-on-1 break, he stared down assistant captain Luca Frigo, who unleashed a quick shot from the right faceoff circle.

Dahm got a little lucky, too, against the never-quit Italians. Di Perna hammered a slapper off the goalie's right post and then drew a penalty moments later when Meyer tripped him up in the Italian zone. But the Italians couldn't accomplish anything with their man advantage.

This was Denmark’s sixth win in seven tries against Italy at the Worlds, dating back to 2006. The lone Italian win was 4-3 in overtime on Giulio Scandella’s goal in 2012 in Stockholm. Denmark defeated Italy 2-0 in their last meeting in 2017 in Cologne on Dahm’s 16-save shutout.

Next up, Italy battles France on Wednesday, while Denmark takes on Germany.

"We're playing with more confidence and being more aggressive," di Perna said of Italy. "We're showing that we belong here and that we can take some of these teams down. I think it's starting to show on the ice."
Czechia vs Austria - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship