World Championships 2011 - Day 4

Tuesday, 3rd May 2011

Second games for Groups C and D with USA taking on Norway and Sweden play Austria in Group C with Czech Republic facing Denmark and Latvia up against Finland in Group D

Group C

USA 4-2 Norway

Norway started faster than USA and had the first chance of the game on 3.42 when Skroder hit the crossbar on the powerplay as Gaustad sat out a 2 minute roughing penalty. The referee went to the video to look at the incident and it came back no goal. A second video referral happened at 8.09 and this time the goal was allowed and Norway had a 1-0 lead. Great effort by Olimb to jamb the puck through Montoya’s pads. Norway shocked USA with a second goal 73 seconds later. USA on the powerplay played a loose pass cross ice and Bastiansen raced through all alone and sent a sweet shot past Montoya before he could react. Norway had the better of a poor USA side for most of the period and despite being outshot 11-7, have a comfortable 2-0 lead.

USA dominated the period but the 20 shots on goal were mostly easy for Haugen. Shannon had a good chance with 6.23 left in the period but his shot was held comfortably by the safe glove of the Norwegian goalie. 2.18 to go in the period and Haugen again held a good shot from Cam Fowler. End of the period and although USA were well on top, Norway looked composed and played the perfect game so far.

America came out like a train in the third and took the game to the Norwegians and after 45 seconds Fowler hit a slapshot from the left point and onto the mask of Hauger who recovered to drop on the loose puck. With 1.16 gone in the third period, USA pressure told as they broke out of the defensive zone with Shannon carrying the puck. He passed left to Kreider who sent the puck right across the crease for the waiting Nick Palmieri to score his first goal of the tournament. 2-1 and Norway are on the rack. Norway complained that Palmieri kicked the puck in the net but the video ref did not agree and the goal stood. USA stood the game on its head with the equalising goal on 45minutes. After constant pressure deep in the offensive zone, Porter worked the puck on the blue line and passed to Stapleton who sent the puck across the crease for the unmarked Skille to jab the biscuit home to tie the game at 2-2. This is a totally different USA team in the first 5 minutes of the third period and Norway look shell shocked and need something to get them back into this game or there is only going to be one winner. On 52.03 Ole Kristian Tollefsen came in very late and high on an American forward and went to the bin on a charging minor. 1.41 later USA took the lead with another tic tac toe goal. Shattenkirk worked the puck along the blue line and passed to Ryan Shannon who sent it to Palmieri on the left and a quick release found its way under Haugen’s pads and into the net for the go ahead goal. On the next play, Tollefsen creamed Mark Stuart at centre ice with a superb hit which rattled Stuarts cage and he hobbled to the bench. Another penalty to USA with 2.51 left resulted in a 4th goal when Craig Smith scored, assisted by Stepan and Johnson. In the end USA just outworked Norway for a vital win.

Sweden 3-0 Austria

Sweden got themselves a first win over Austria and went second in the group. In a dull game, Sweden scored the only goal with 21 seconds left in the period. Loui Eriksson passed through the slot where Persson had a wide open net and sent the puck home. Persson bagged a second in the second period by redirecting a Petrasek shot from the point. The second period was as dull as the first and I am sure half the crowd were asleep. Sweden were just too strong and physical for Austria and scored again in the third period. Petrasek again shot from the point and Weinhandl kickekd the puck straight onto the stick of Paajarvi who snapped in the rebound. Austria now play Norway for a place in the second round with the loser going to the relegation fight.

Group D

Czech Republic 6-0 Denmark

The Czech Republic strengthened their roster with the addition of Tomas Plekanec and Zbynek Michalek and both players made their debuts in this seasons competition. The Czechs just strolled through this game with a 6-0 victory to totally outclass the hapless Danes. I predicted in my preview that Denmark would struggle and they have proved me correct with another big defeat. Frolik scored the first goal on 2.29 as he deked the goalie to fire home high on the stick side. Denmark had a chance on 5 minutes to get back into the game with a 5 on 3 powerplay but Pavelec stopped Nielsen’s rocket shot and had nothing else to do in the penalty kill or indeed in the rest of the period.

Denmark collapsed in the second period by losing 4 goals in 4 minutes. Marek Zidlicky found Michalek to hit a back hand between Galbraith’s pads. Less than 2 minutes later Michalek scored again with a tap in from Patrik Elias. Just over a minute later Frolik had an easy tip in after a fluffed shot from Caslava fooled the goalie and 13 seconds later Plekanec just skated in on the missing Danish defence to send the puck past the stranded Galbraith. It could have been worse with 2 minutes left in the period after Elias was hauled down by Jensen but a over elaborate penalty shot was missed and the period ended with the Czechs out of sight at 5-0. Only one goal in the third when Petr Prucha took a lovely pass from Frolik behind the net to beat Galbraith for the 6th time. Final score 6-0 and that flattered Denmark who now must pick themselves up for a vital relegation match, probably against Latvia and on this showing will be in the relegation round and as predicted will find it very difficult to retain their elite status.

Latvia 2-3 Finland (After penalties)

Finland made the better start to the game, immediately forcing Latvia on the back foot. The teams traded early minor penalties but Latvia were made to pay for their next transgression as Finland scored on the powerplay at 13.54. Latvian captain Herberts Vasiljevs was sent to the penalty box for a silly slash on a Finnish opponent and 46 seconds later a lovely move down the ice by Ossi Vaananen found Jyrki Valivaara, who passed in front of the crease to Jarkko Immonen who was all alone at the back post to tap the puck past the flailing Masalskis. Finland ended the period well on top and kept Latvia on the back foot for most of the period. End of the first 1-0 to Finland.

Finland continued to have the upper hand for the early part of the second period but Latvia were growing in confidence and caused problems on breakaway plays. Topi Jaakola went to the box for holding at 33.36 and Latvia equalised. Dzerins held the puck low on the right and passed to Mikelis Redlihs who found his brother Krisjanis free at centre ice just inside the blue line. The big defender let rip with an unstoppable shot that hit the net, sending the goalie’s water bottle six feet in the air. An absolutely fantastic goal to make the score 1-1. Latvia were now having the better of the play as the shocked Finns tried to regroup. Chances fell at either end. Redlihs went one on one but was stoned by the Finnish keeper. With 2.42 left Salmela hit the post and Ankipans did the same at the other end but the period finished 1-1.

Finland went for an early penalty after a Latvian player did a Christian Ronaldo impression which fooled the referee and Valivaara was sent to the box for interference. On 42.12 Pulacs found himself in space and sent a shot wide which came off the back boards. The puck was sent back into play by Cipulis and Latvian captain Vasiljevs poked the puck through a defenders legs and through the five hole of the Finnish goalie. 2-1 to Latvia and a shock is on the cards. 11 minutes to go and it is all Finland but Masalskis is standing on his head and having the game of his life. On 51.50 Redlihs was penalised for interference. The only person in the stadium who thought it was a penalty was the referee. Finland pressed and with half of the penalty gone, got a deserved equaliser. Jarkko Immonen played the puck down the left and slid a pass to Granlund who found Niko Kapanen free at the back post to tap the puck into the empty net.2-2 with 7.09 left in the game. Anybodies game to win now. Plenty of chances for Finland as they throw the kitchen sink at Latvia but Masalskis has had a world class match to keep Finland at bay. End of the third 2-2 and overtime beckons.

Overtime and Finland create two chances in the first 40 seconds, Masalskis saving one and the other hitting the post. Both chances fell to Altonen. 3.22 left and Sotniak is penalised for high sticks and Finland will be on the powerplay. They pepper the Latvian goal but Masalskis is still keeping everything out. Game ends 2-2 and Masalskis has a 32 save outstanding game and it will be difficult to bet against him in penalty shots.

Well what do I know. Immonen and Koivu score for Finland and Nizivijs and Darzins miss for Latvia, giving Finland the extra point.

The results from the last two nights have settled a few things. Germany win Group A with Russia and Slovakia playing each other for second place. All three qualify for the second round with Slovenia going to the relegation round. Canada play Switzerland to decide the winners of Group B with both already qualified for the second round. France play Belarus with the winner going to the second round and the loser to the relegation round. In Group C USA play Sweden to decide the group with both already through to the next round. Norway play Austria to decide third place. Austria need to win by 2 goals in regulation to pip the Norwegians for a second round place. In Group D, Czech Republic play Finland to decide who tops the group with both already qualified for the second round and Latvia play France in a match to decide who goes to the second round and who drops to the relegation round.

That’s it, a great night of hockey again.


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World Championships 2011 - Day 4

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