Features

World Championships 2008: Day Seven

Friday, 9th May 2008

With the round robin now complete the qualifying teams move into the qualification round. This consists of 2 groups ( Group E and Group F) where the participants will play against teams they have not yet played in the competition. Group E has Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Belarus and Denmark. Group F is made up of Canada, USA, Finland, Norway, Latvia and Germany. The teams take forward points won against the teams they have already played in their groups and the top four in each group qualify for the knockout stages.

GROUP E

Sweden and Denmark opened up the group on Wednesday afternoon with the Swedes determined to get back to top form after their defeat from Switzerland. Sweden were hurting from severe criticism in their homeland press and took control of the game early on. Jonsson led his team from all over the ice and skated in from the right wing, bamboozling 2 Danish defenders, rounded Peter Hirsch in the Danish net and tipped in the first goal at 8.47. Sweden doubled their lead with 4 minutes left in the period with a Nilson slapshot from the point. End of 1st 2-0 Sweden.

Sweden continued with much of the same in the second period and Martensson beat Hirsch with a wrister on 35.35. The game was over as a contest just 1 minute later as Stralman scored unassisted to make it 4-0. 4-0 to Sweden after 2 periods. After less than 4 minutes of the third period, Sweden had scored 3 more goals and ended Peter Hirsch’s evening with back up goalie Galbraith finishing the game. Sweden’s three goals came f rom Backstrom, Martensson and Wallin. Martensson scored his second and Sweden’s eighth with 10 minutes left and the scoring was completed when Kasper Degn broke Henry Lundqvists quest for a shut out in his first game as he tipped in a pass from Lassen. Final score 8-1 and Sweden are back.

Czech republic faced the dogged Switzerland in the second game in the group and their awesome forward power came to the fore as a second period blitz paved the way for a comfortable 5-0 win. It took until 19.06 for the Czechs to break through a well structured Swiss defence as Rolinek robbed Bezina in the neutral zone, passed to Erat who skated in and lifted a wrister over Martin Gerber’s glove. The second period was much of a muchness with the Czechs dominating and the Swiss holding a high line. On 34.44, my player of the tournament so far, Patrik Elias set up Maple Leaf’s Tomas Kaberle to one time a scorcher from the hash marks for 2-0. With just over 4 minutes left in the second period Elias worked his way out of the corner to roof a spectacular effort past Gerber from a ridiculous angle and as the period ended, Fleischmann made it 4-0 as he crashed the net forcing the puck off Vauclair’s glove into the net. End of 2nd 4-0 to Czech Republic. The Czechs finished off the scoring in the thire with a late goal from Jiri Novotny. A set back for Switzerland as the Czechs announce their intentions as the competition heats up.

GROUP F

Canada played Norway to open Group F and were expected to run away with the points. Pal Grotnes had other ideas though as the Norwegian backstopper saved an incredible 51 out of 53 shots in the game. Norway came into this game with damage limitation on their minds and lined up along the centre line to break down the Canadian forward play. Green raised the roof in the building on 9.32 with a powerplay goal. Burns took a shot that cannoned off the back boards right on to Greens stick. He waited for Grotnes to move and wristed the puck over the glove for 1-0. Canada outshot the Norwegians 14-3 in the first but still had not put the game away.

Canada totally dominated the second period and had 4 consecutive powerplays and still could not find a way past the brilliant Grotnes. Then, Norway silenced the crowd with a short handed breakaway as Mads Hansen pokechecked Duncan Keith on the defensive blueline and skated in alone on goal. He deked Leclaire and swept the puck into the empty net for 1-1. The period ended with Canada leading the shot count 34-10 but with a score of 1-1.

Canada had an early 5 on 3 powerplay in the third and made plenty of chances but could not find the killer goal. Then Canada had to endure a string of 5 consecutive penalties and a shock was a possibility. Norway, however could not find a way through a resolute Canada PK and a major chance had gone.

Finally with just under 4 minutes left Rick Nash skated coast to coast on the powerplay, cut in on goal and edged the puck just inside the far post to give Canada the lead. That proved to be the winning goal and although Canada probably deserved the win after outshooting Norway 53-16, one could not help feeling sorry for Norway and especially Pal Grotnes.

Game 2 in the group saw USA and Germany provide a classic encounter. USA jumped out of the traps and scored on their first foray into the German zone when Martin fed Parise who zipped a pearler past Patzold in the German goal. That was after just 26 seconds. O’Sullivan made it 2-0 after 2.10 and a third goal shocked the Germans just 42 seconds later as Wisniewski hit a backhand into the net. Coach Uwe Krupp called time out to try and settle his troops as USA had scored 3 goals in 5 shots after only 2.52 of the game. Whatever he said worked as the Germans stormed back into the match with two goals. Michael Hackert scored a wraparound goal past a stranded Anderson and a one timer from Schmidt beat the USA goalie to make it 3-2. The period ended with USA winning 3-2 and outshooting Germany 13-4.

The teams traded shots and goals in the second period. Pominville hit a powerplay goal on a 5 on 3 advantage at 26.52 as a Kane slapshot rebounded to Pomiville who reacted quickly to score. At the game’s midpoint Florian Busch scored to reduce the deficit and the period ended with a score of 4-3 to USA.

Michael Bakos equalised for Germany at 44.55 with a huge slapshot from the point. The USA coach then changed goalies, bringing in the experienced Robert Esch for the remainder of the game. The game turned a bit chippy and a few strange calls from the referee put Germany on the backfoot.

It was the American’s turn to call a time out and Zach Parise got his second of the night to give USA a 5-4 lead. Germany had a powerplay of their own with just over a minute left and pulled the goalie for the extra man advantage. However, it backfired this time and Dustin Brown scored an empty netter from the half way line to finish the scoring at 6-4 to USA. An excellent game and USA take the points. Germany will take heart from their first period fightback but if they are to qualify, they must tighten up on the blueline.

Friday will see two games in the qualifying round and the first games in the relegation group between Slovakia and Slovenia and France and Italy.

More tomorrow

Jim "Tambo" Piper

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2008 IIHF World Championships logo

Day 7 of the 2008 World Championships and the qualification round has started.


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