Features

World Championships 2008: Day Ten

Monday, 12th May 2008

The quarterfinal picture started to emerge after today’s game in the championship.

GROUP F

Latvia took a big step to a surprise place in the quarter finals when they played Norway in the first game of the day.

Latvia struck first with 11.34 gone with Sprukts and Cipulis attacking on a two on one situation. Sprukts took the puck over the blue and in on goal and passed squarely to Cipulis who easily beat Pal Grotnes. The lead lasted only 82 second as Bastiansen controlled the puck just inside the blue-line and passed to Holos at the point. His slap-shot was redirected by Spets for the equaliser. Latvia went to the first break with a 2-1 lead when,at 17.22 Vasiljevs cut in from the left to shoot passed the startled goalie.

Latvia went two goals up with two and a half minutes gone in the second. Redilhs surprised Grotnes with a shot from a ridiculous angle. Although Latvia controlled the rest of the period, they were unable to add to their goal tally. End of 2nd 3-1 to Latvia.

Norway made a spirited attempt to get back in contention in the third but Latvia defended well and controlled the puck in their own end. With the Norwegian goalie pulled for the extra man, Darzins added an empty netter to give Latvia a 4-1 win. Definitely Latvia’s best game of the tournament so far and they go into their last game with Germany, knowing a win will almost guarantee them a quarter final place.

The second game of the day in GROUP F proved to be one of the best and certainly one of the most controversial in the tournament so far.

In a tight first period Finland out-shot USA 8-4 and should have scored early on as they swarmed round the USA crease. However the only talking point was the ejection of Oli Jokinen for a dreadful check from behind on Gleason. After the penalty was assessed the rest of the period ended with no further problems and a 0-0 scoreline.

The pattern of the second period was laid down after just 51 seconds as Brown and Niemi went to the box on roughing minors. Just seconds after the Jokinen major ended Tom Gilbert put USA in the lead. Gilbert drifted in from the point to pick up a loose puck and send it home for 1-0. The free flowing hockey both teams are renowned for went out the window for the rest of the period as no less than 9 minor penalties were assessed by the referees. USA went 2-0 up in the last minute of the period when Kessel scored on the powerplay as an accurate shot went high far side on Backstrom. End of the second 2-0 to USA but very little hockey to talk about.

Finland pulled a “goal” back after 2.21 of the third period on a 5 on 3 powerplay. Ville Koistinen took a pass from Saku Koivu to the left of Robert Esche and the puck somehow ended in the net. The goal went to the video review referee who gave the score. However, TV replays showed clearly that the puck went through the side of the goal net into the goal and not by the regulation front door. The game changed on this play alone and the Finns dominated from here on in. Robert Esche stood on his head, coming up with a couple of unbelievable saves. There was 9.16 left in the period when Selanne tied the game as he waited patiently for the pass from Saku Koivu to direct the puck into the empty net.

Finland definitely had the momentum and with 3.50 left in the game he was Johnny on the spot to convert a Ruutu pass for the game winning goal. USA lost the plot a bit here and Burish was thrown out for butt ending after the goal was scored. This took away any chance USA had of mounting a challenge in the last 3 minutes. At the final whistle Dustin Brown checked a Finnish player to the head and was given 2 plus 10. Selanne took exception and picked up 4 minutes for roughing. Players steamed off the bench to take part in the mêlée and Green of USA and Niemi of Finland were given 2 plus 2 plus game for leaving the bench and roughing. Backes and Samela had a good stand up fight in mid ice while everything else was going on and they both got 5 plus game. A horrible end to the game and a total of 206 minutes of penalties dished out by two Russian referees who IMHO were not up to the task in this game. Finland will be without Jokinen and Salmela and USA will be without Backes for Monday’s games.

These two teams might meet in the quarter finals and it will need far better referees than the two on show in this game. Canada now top the group with 12 points and Finland second with 11. The two teams meet Monday afternoon to decide top seed in the group. USA are third with 6 points and face Norway who have 4. USA should be too good for Norway and take their place in the quarters. Latvia can then sneak in the back door with a win against Germany.

GROUP E

Switzerland blew Denmark away in the first game in Group E. Two goals in the first period from Ambuhl and Jeannin within 3 minutes set the foundation for a big win.

In the second , Denmark could not cope with the Swiss attack and goals from Reichert, Paterlini and Dipietro gave them a 5-0 lead at the end of the second period.

Furrer extended the lead to 6 early in the third before Denmark rallied a little to score two of their own through Madsen and Staal. The revival was short lived as Forster completed the scoring with just under 4 minutes left. Final score Switzerland 7 Denmark 2, taking the Eidgenossen safely through to the quarterfinals. Denmark are no 0 and 4 in the qualifiers as they struggle in the group.

Sweden looked good against the Czech Republic in the final game of the day and won a tight, competitive, entertaining game 5-3. After a scoreless first period, the teams traded 2 goals each in the second. Sweden’s scorers were Strahlman and Nilson with Elias and Kotalik replying for the Czechs.

Sweden took the lead early in the third through Weinhandle but were pegged back again as Fleischmann equalised with 10 minutes left in the game. Hornqvist put the Swedes ahead for the fourth time in the game with 5 minutes left and this time they hung on, scoring a empty netter at the death through Nilson. Final score 5-3 to Sweden and a deserved 3 points for the Tre Krone. This leaves Russia on top with 10 points and Switzerland second with 9. These two meet on Monday. Sweden and the Czech Republic also have 9 points with Belarus and Denmark out of contention.

Late News

The IIHF formally acknowledged after the Finland v USA game that Koistinen’s shot had, indeed entered the side of the net and should not have counted, and the video-goal judge will not be working for the rest of the tournament.

The disciplinary committee will meet on Tuesday to decide if any further supplementary action is needed on the players who were given match penalties.

So, an interesting day and the prospect of another high drama one tomorrow as the groups wind up with their final games.

More tomorrow

Jim "Tambo" Piper

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2008 IIHF World Championships logo

Reports from all the games in the 10th day if play in the 2008 World Championships


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