IIHF World Championship round up - semi finals

Sunday, 15th May 2005

Tambo gives us his views on the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Group A Semi Finals and looks ahead to the Final and the Bronze Medal matches.



In an awesome game of attacking hockey, Canada just edged Russia to make the final for the third year in a row. They had to sustain heavy pressure after looking in easy street at 4-0 as the Russians finally found their game.

Russia had the first chance of the game when Brodeur made hard work of a routine shot from Datsyuk and the puck went between glove and pad but right through the crease. Canada scored on their first foray into the Russian danger zone when a long shot by Redden trickled through Sokolov’s pads at 1.38 for 1-0. The ref went upstairs to check there was no interference on the goalie by the on rushing Nash. Sokolov will have wished the referee had ruled in his favour as the goal stood. 5.46 and Canada doubled the lead with neat lead up play between Gagne and Thornton who passed left for Sheldon Souray to one time the puck past the diving Sokolov. It was 3-0 at 10.37 when Canada, on a 5 on 3 power play, scored through Heatley. Boyle passed from the point to Doan who fired quickly back to Heatley to score into the open net. Russia was not at the races, as Canada looked dangerous on every offensive play. The period ended with Canada 3-0 and in total command.

Canada continued to look the better team and at 21.40, again on a power play, Jovanovski scored with assists from Thornton and Nash. 4-0 up, Canada took their foot off the gas and allowed Russia more of the puck. Russia peppered Brodeur’s goal but he was showing why he is rated best goalie in the world by stopping everything in front of him. Pressure told on 34.22 when Yashin passed to Semin, who wristed a shot over Brodeur’s glove side for their first goal. Canada still continued with their defensive tactics and the Russians scored a moral boosting second at 39.18. Yashin shot from the circle past Brodeur.

The Canadian coach must have been flinging teacups around in the dressing room at the second break as Canada came out and played with a bit more assurance. It was still defensive but they were controlling the puck much better. Russia continued to press and at 48.27 pulled another goal back. Dany Heatley failed to clear the puck out of his own zone and Malkin passed to Ovechkin to knock the puck past the helpless Brodeur. This fired up the mostly pro Russia crowd and the Canadians were performing back to the wall miracles to keep their lead. Canada in fact had the puck in the net near the end but the score was ruled out for a rather dubious offside. Russia pulled Sokolov in the final minute but Brodeur again stood up to everything and his team advanced rather luckily to the final.

A great game of hockey with the Russians again very slow out of the traps. If they had found their game earlier it could have been a different story.



CZECH REPUBLIC 3 SWEDEN 2 ( After Overtime)

The second semi final proved to be just as exciting as the first, but for different reasons. A well-disciplined game of hockey with great match ups between the respective offence and defence saw the Czechs just edge the victory in overtime.

The opening exchanges were fairly even and there wasn’t much room for any major threat on goal. Jagr had the first chance when he worked his way from the left corner to the net but his close in shot hit a defenders skate and was kicked to safety. Sweden’s first chance fell to Pahlsson when Vokoun went walkabout, but he was unable to find the empty net as the Czech goalie scrambled back to save. Both teams were now creating plenty of chances but the goalies were up to the task. The arena went quiet when a blaster from a Swedish player struck Jaromir Jagr on the side of the head. He went down in the corner and had lengthy treatment before skating to the bench. He was to have a long enforced rest before returning late in the period. The Czechs thought they had gotten the opening goal right on the buzzer when Cajanek forced the puck past Lundqvist but the ref ruled the buzzer had gone and this was proved correct by an upstairs review. A good tactical battle here and the first period ended scoreless.

The second started much like the first with both teams playing cagey, percentage hockey. Sweden upped the tempo around the half way mark and Vokoun had to be alert to save a shot from Backman. Tre Kronor took the lead on 31.39. Norstrom sent a speculative wrister on Vokoun, who let it bounce off his pads straight onto the tape of Jonas Hoglund, who slid the puck home. Czech Republic replied at 15.03 when Cajanek skated unchecked into the Swedish zone, taking a pass from Petr Sykora to blast a beauty over Lundqvist’s glove. The period ended with 2 mins of 4 on 4 but neither side broke the deadlock.

Czech Republic took the lead on 45.16 shortly after Slegr returned to the ice after serving a minor for interference. The goal went to Martin Straka who thumped a Prospal shot in mid air past Lundqvist.

The Swedes equalised on 52.03 as the Sedin twins combined with a neat play. Henrik fed his brother Daniel with a neat back pass and the latter lifted the puck over the sprawling Vokoun. Lundqvist had to be alert for the rest of the period as the Czechs pressed for the winner. The Swedes themselves had two late chances, one when the impressive Zetterberg found himself clear on left wing but shot wide and a last chance to Backman, who had been set up right in front of goal by Daniel Sedin. He too missed and the game went to overtime.

With 4.43 of the extra 10 mins gone Dvorak took a pass from Zidlicky just inside the blue line and wristed a shot that pinged the crossbar and over the line. The Czech celebrations had to be put on hold for a while as the ref went upstairs to confirm. After what seemed ages, the ref pointed to the spot and the Czechs could now look forward to the final against Canada.

Another great game, but with different emphasis to that of the first semi. This was a good tactical battle between two evenly matched sides. Pity one had to lose.




Bronze Medal game

This could again be a very tactical game with the speed of the Russian youngsters up against a very sound Swedish defence. Just how much Saturday’s defeats will take out of both teams remains to be seen. Sweden will be both physically and mentally tired after the late game and will have to lift themselves for the early face off. My prediction ………. Win for Russia



The final I predicted and a great game in prospect between two great hockey teams with two styles of play and loads of superstar players. It’s a final to dream about. In goal you have the brilliant Martin Brodeur for Canada and backstopping for the Czechs its Tomas Vokoun, for me the goalie of the tournament. The Czechs have scorers in Jagr, Straka, Palffy and Prospal while the Canadians have the dream line of Thornton, Nash and Gagne. Put that with two capable defences and we could have a barnstormer. Canada will have to tighten up in defence if they want to win for a third year in a row. They have looked down and out on a number of occasions but seem to have that bouncebackability needed for any championship winning team. The Czechs, however, are a major threat and if they can stay out of the penalty box they can match the North Americans throughout the roster. My prediction…. Narrow win for Czech Republic or perhaps a narrow win for Canada…….. Haven’t got a clue on this one.


GB National Team News

GB were drawn with Japan, France, Hungary, Israel and the newly relegated Germany in next season’s qualifying group to join the Elite in Latvia in May 2006. The tournament will be played in Amien, France between 26th and 30th April 2006. Not a bad trip for anyone fancying a hockey week abroad. Amien is in northern France and easily accessible. GB Supporters Club will probably be running a trip, so keep an eye on the GB site for info.

That’s it for now, final report and wrap up tomorrow. Enjoy today’s hockey.


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