Features

World Champioinships 2008: Day Eleven

Tuesday, 13th May 2008

Today is the last day of the qualification rounds and the quarter final matchups will be known after the 5 games have been completed.

Group F

USA took on Norway looking to bounce back after last nights war against Finland.

USA dominated the game from the first face off and Norway struggled to keep pace with the fast moving Americans. Brandon Dubinsky scored his first ever World Championship goal with 11.12 gone. A minute later Dustin brown hit a wrister over Pal Grotnes to make it 2-0 and Norway already looked out of it. Patrick Kane scored the third USA goal from a pass by Zach Parise with 57 seconds left in the period.

Dubinsky scored his second and USA’s fourth with 6 minutes gone in the second period when the Norwegian goalie could not hold a Ballard slapshot and he was in the right spot to tap the puck into the net. Norway got a 5 on 3 advantage three minutes later and Mats Trygg reduced the arrears. The comeback did not last long as USA scored 2 goals in a minute through Martin and Parise to give them a comfortable 6-1 lead.

Brown and Kessel scored early goals in the third to make it 8-1 and that was enough for Pal Grotnes and he was replaced by Ruben Smith. The eighth goal by Kessel was one of the best seen so far in the tournament when Kane broke inside and did a spin o rama and a blind pass to Kessel who one timed it past Smith. Dubinsky got his hat trick with 9 minutes left to end the scoring at 9-1.

With this victory USA confirmed third place in the group and wait to play the loser of the Canada v Finland game later in the day. Norway must wait until the very last round robin game Latvia v Germany. A point in regulation for Latvia will see Norway eliminated and they will all be German fans for the night as a German win in regulation will see Norway make the quarter finals.

Second game of the day in the group was the duel for top dog status going into the semi finals. Canada, fresh after a day off and Finland trying to get some strength into their legs after a gruelling game yesterday against USA. Finland were without Oli Jokinen and Salmela after their misconduct in that game. This was a game for the purists as end to end hockey was the order of the day in the first period. Canada’s top line put their mark on the game after just 33 seconds. Nash crossed the blue line, passed to Getzlaf who strolled past the defence and lifted the puck high over Backstrom’s glove for the go ahead goal. Finland equalised in strange circumstances. Shorthanded, Finland dumped the puck in the direction of Leclaire to make a line change. Leclaire came out quickly and passed to Heatley on centre ice, but he lost control and Antii Pihlstrom skated down the wing as Leclaire struggled to get back in his goal. Pihlstrom shot before he could get set and the puck went between his legs and into the net. Four minutes later Canada went ahead again, also shorthanded. A superb give and go between Doan and Kunitz, the latter playing his captain in down the middle and beat Backstrom with a superb deke and shot from an impossible angle.

End of the period and 2-1 to Canada.

The North Americans played the second period with tight defence and breakaway plays. On one such break at the midway point, Heatley scored with a backhand after superb play between Getzlaf and Nash. Sharp made it 4-1 with Canada’s second short handed goal of the game as he flew down the wing to bury the rubber past Backstrom with 38.12 on the clock.

The third period was much like the second and after some great forechecking all over the ice by Doan and Toews, ended with captain Canada hitting a scud missile high past Backstrom. Finland rallied and goals from Pihlstrom and Ruutu reduced the deficit to 5-3 but Canada had the last word with top scorer Dany Heatley’s second of the game. Final score 6-3 to Canada and they finish top of the group with Finland second and USA third. After criticising the officials for the handling of the USA/Finland game, I must say the opposite of the two Swedes who controlled this game. They let the game flow, picked up the penalties as necessary and the game was a treat for both players and fans.

The final qualifying place would be decided in the late game between Latvia and Germany. Latvia could pip Norway to the quarters with a point in regulation, Germany only had pride to play for.

Knowing defeat was out of the question, Latvia came out all guns blazing and took the game to Germany from the outset. They took the lead after 5 mins when Karsums’ wraparound was saved by Patzold but the rebound fell to veteren Vasiljevs who scooped the puckinto the net. Despite being outshot 17-8 in the period, Germany made their eighth shot count with John Tripp all over Masalskis in front of the crease and Schmidt sent in a shot that Maskalis never saw. 1-1 end of the period.

5.48 into the second period, Latvia went ahead for the second time in the game. Redilhs drove the net and shot at Patzold. The nettie saved but the puck squirmed out from underneath his pads and Redhils picked up the puck on the way through to tap itinto the empty net. Back came Germany and the equalised on 27.23 when Michael Wolf scored with a half hit shot that came of Masalskis’ glove and into the net. Back came Latvia and their noisy fans erupted with 31.39 on the clock. A loose puck was picked up by Nizivils who fanned on the shot. The shot was so bad, it fooled the defenceand Karsums scored in the confusion. End of the period 3-2 to Latvia and they were 20 minutes away from the quarter finals.

Germany upped the pace in the third period and Latvia surprisingly lost their composure. Germany equalised with 8 mins gone in the third as Busch tried to scrape the puck one handed under Masalskis and Schubert was on the spot to stroke the puck home. Yannic Seidenberg silenced the large Latvian fan presence when he gave Germany the lead as he sent the puck past Masalskis with 10 minutes left in the game.

Christoph Ullman added a fifth two minutes later and the Latvia dream was over. The turned a bit nasty as Latvia increased the physical side of the game and were duly penalised for this. Germany stood up to them and several players on both sides picked up roughing penalties. Huge disappointment for Latvia who now go home and Norway head for a quarter final match up with favourites Canada.

Group E

Russia closed out their qualifying campaign with a match against surprise package Switzerland.

The red machine, unbeaten so far in the competition opened the scoring on 15.21 as Kalinin stole in on the blind side to convert a Zaripov pass from the face off circle.

Two minutes later Russia were on the powerplay and it took them just 4 seconds of the man advantage to double their lead. Kovalchuk hit a hammer of a shot from the blueline that Ovechkin tipped under the crossbar to make it 2-0. One minute later captain Sushinsky scored a superb third goal as he deked Forster inside out then roofed a belter past Hiller to end the period with a 3-0 scoreline in Russia’s favour.

Not a lot to report in a dull second period other than a Fedorov goal midway through the period to make it 4-0. Switzerland got themselves back into the game after just 32 seconds of the third period on their first powerplay of the game. Raffaele Sannitz deflected a Forster shot past the screened netminder. With 45.30 gone Russia went to sleep on a powerplay of their ownas Vauclair broke out and snapped a wrister over Nabakov’s glove to make it 4-2. With 4 minutes left and on the powerplay, Switzerland pulled the goalie for the extra skater and pinned Russia in their own zone. Sushinsky intercepted the puck on the Swiss blueline and fired the puck into the empty net for 5-2 with 2.35 left in the game. Switzerland got the final goal of the game with 1.35 left in the game as Lemm beat Nabokov upstairs and right to end the game 5-3 to Russia. Russia top the group with this victory with the Czech Republic second, Sweden third and Switzerland the fourth and final qualifier.

The final game of the group was a nailbiter as Belarus took on Denmark.

Although nothing at stake in this Championships, the result could have a bearing on Olympic qualification rounds later this year.

The first period ws nip and tuck and although Belarus controlled the puck, Denmark trapped high in the neutral zone and waited for chances. Playing this way, Denmark only created 2 shots on goal in the whole period. Belarus were much more adventurous and created 13 chances. Galbraith stood tall in the Danish goal and the period ended 0-0.

Denmark took the lead at 21.19 on the powerplay. Morten Green gained control on the blueline and shot goalwards. Koval made the save but Kim Staal was in position to strike home the rebound. Denmark had the chance to double the lead at the half way point in the game as Hansen was tripped as he was about to shoot at goal. The resultant penalty shot was well saved by Koval as he blanked Kim Staal. There was no further scoring in the period and a score of 1-0 to Denmark slightly flattered the Danes.

Belarus pummelled Denmark in the third period but found Galbraith almost unbeatable. One save from Ugarov had the player holding his head in his hands in disbelief. With just over 4 minutes left in the game, Belarus got the breakthrough as Grabovsky went round the net and found Ugarov in the slot and his wrister was too strong for the outstanding Danish goalie. Just like a bus, you wait for ages then two come along. Same here as 90 seconds later Belarus went ahead as a slapshot from Meleshko beat Galbraith on his stickside. Denmark pulled Galbraith with 66 seconds left and they got a lucky bounce off a face off as the puck bounced to Regin who shot past Koval to tie the game. Denmark pulled Galbraith again with 15 seconds left to try and win the game in regulation but to no avail.

Into OT and Regin was again the hero as his wraparound beat Koval after 2.11 in the extra period. A win for Denmark, another hard luck story for Belarus and the tournament was over for both teams.

QUARTER FINALS

Tuesday is a rest day and the quarterfinals will be played on Wednesday.

First up is Czech Republic v Sweden followed by Canada v Norway. Russia v Switzerland is next and the day wraps up with what could be the most explosive game of the four, USA v Finland.

See you Wednesday although Carl might need a spell checker for the report if Rangers win the cup in Manchester.

Jim "Tambo" Piper

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Day 11 is the last day before the quarter-finals.


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