Features

World Championships 2011 - Day 5

Wednesday, 4th May 2011

Groups A and B finished their preliminary round with only the minor upset of France defeating Belarus to send them to the relegation round. Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Canada and Switzerland join the French in the qualifying round.

GROUP A

Germany 3-2 Slovenia (Penalty Shots)

Germany turned the clock back 81 years with this victory. The last time a German side has won three games to start the tournament was in 1930 ( one of these wins was 4-2 against Great Britain).

Slovenia started the stronger and took the lead at 4.09 when Sabolic sent the puck down the wing for Jeglic to chase. When he caught up near the hash marks, he one timed it from the corner and it took a deflection into the net. Germany ended the period the stronger but Robert Kristan was having a great game.

The second was much of the same with Germany testing Kristan at every opportunity but it was the Slovenians that got the second goal of the game. Sabolic took the puck over the red line, skated round the static German defence and sent a centring pass in front of the net for Ticar to score the easiest goal of his career by wristing the biscuit past Endras. 28.33 gone and a shock on the cards.

A 2 minute bench penalty was all the Germans needed to get back into the game. Rankel and Hospelt made the opening and Michael Wolf tipped Rankels shot into the net at 35.19. End of 2 and it is 2-1 to Slovenia despite total German domination. Germany equalised 5 minutes into the third period with a goal from Felix Schultz who slipped the puck passed a stranded Kristan for 2-2. There were a few chances for each team but the game fizzled out and went to overtime. Krueger should have given the Germans the win in extra time but he missed the net from 2 metres out. Sabolic tried his luck with a slapshot from the face off circle but Endras made a superb pad save.

In the penalty shots, the first two rounds drew a blank with both goalies making good saves. Rodman then scored for Slovenia and Reimer equalised for Germany. It was then back to the goalies and it took a further 8 shots before Frank Hordler gave Germany the extra point with a wrister past Kristan.

Russia 4-3 Slovakia

Russia just edged the hosts in a thrilling game before a sell out partisan home crowd in Bratislava.

The first period was played at a furious pace and despite having a 15-7 shot count in their favour, the hosts went in 2-1 down. Radulov opened the scoring with just 58 seconds gone, taking a drop pass from Kovalchuk to beat Halak with a wrister high stick side. It only took 30 seconds for Slovakia to reply with veteran Satan batted the puck past a very shaky Nabukov. Slovakia continued the onslaught on Nabukov and Hossa nearly beat him with an angled shot from the corner which the goalie lost completely. But it was Russia who went to the break a goal up as with less than 2 minutes left in the period Kovalchuk set up Nikulin who blasted the puck into the net.

Russia failed to increase their lead early in the second period as they drew a blank on a 5 on 3 penalty with Bartecko sitting a double minor for high sticks and Hossa found guilty of hooking. Midway through the period, the crowd went wild when Demitra took the puck over the blue line and passed to the rushing Gaborik who deked Nabukov and scored. 2 minutes later the roof came off the building when Nagy sped into the Russian zone and got off a surprise shot that was screened by defenceman Kulikov and beat Nabukov. That was it for the ex NHL star who has had a dodgy tournament and he was replaced by Barulin. Surovy went to the box on a high stick call after catching Nikulin in the face and the Russian had the last laugh with a goal set up by a superb Kovalchuk pass. End of the second 3-3.

Russia took the lead with 3.38 gone in the final period when Morozov hit a bouncing puck on the edge of the crease through the legs of the excellent Halak in the Slovak goal. Slovakia had a superb chance to go ahead just before the goal when Stumpel missed an open net while standing in the crease. They also had chances to tie the game with a 5 on 3 play with 14 minutes left but the Russian defence coped easily. Coach Hanlon pulled Halak for the last minute but the game ended with an important Russian victory.

With teams taking the points gained against qualifying teams they have already played, Germany take 6 points, Russia 3 and Slovakia 0 points into the next round where they play 3 games against the qualifying teams from Groups C and D.

Group B

Canada 4-3 Switzerland (in Overtime)

Another exciting game between these two teams with Canada edging it in overtime. Although Canada dominated the shot count in all three periods, that did not really tell the tale of the game.

In the first ten minutes, the teams traded chances with Monnet’s shot from the left and Skinner’s tip that nearly got past Genoi being the pick of them. Switzerland broke the deadlock on 12.29 when a speculative shot from Diaz beat a screened Reimer. The game went back to end to end chances with no addition to the score at the end of the period Canada upped their game in the second, creating many chances in their 24 shot period and tied the game on 31.57 with a goal from Eberle. 3.09 left in the period and Canada took the lead. The unfortunate Morris Trachsler put the puck past his own goalie but as we cannot have own goals in hockey, the goal was credited to Tavares who was the last Canadian to touch the puck. End of 2 and a 2-1 scoreline in favour of Canada.

The third was a great end to end game and the Swiss had a chance to tie the game up but Mattias Bieber missed a penalty shot after he was slashed by Phaneuf when breaking in on goal. They did get a deserved equaliser 3 minutes later whe Du Bois sent a wrister towards goal from the right point and it found its way past Reimer. There was traffic in front of the goal but the Maple Leafs goalie will want that one back. It looked like Stewart had given Canada the win on 56.46 when he grabbed a loose puck and hammered a shot behind Genoi from the low slot for 3-2. However, as in recent games between these two, Switzerland showed resilience and tied the game on 58.38 as Vauclair passed the puck from behind the goal right onto the tape of Ambuhl who quickly shot the puck past Reimer. On to overtime and with just 1.46 left, Alex Pieterangelo picked up his own rebound off the stick of a defenceman and he buried it past the unfortunate Genoi. 4-3 win for Canada but another great game between the two teams.

France 2-1 Belarus (in Overtime)

France edged this vital game with an overtime goal against a Belarus team they had never defeated.

France were far the better team in the first period against a lacklustre Belarus team who seemed to have resigned themselves to the relegation round. Midway through the period Sacha Treille deflected a point shot from Kevin Hecquefeuille for the go ahead goal. End of the period 1-0 to the underdogs.

In a goal less second period France continued to be the better team with solid forechecking all over the ice, keeping the Belarus team from creating many chances. End of 2 and still 1-0 to France.

France tried to sit on the lead in the third period and as often happens, paid the price. Cristobal Huet in the French goal had an outstanding period including a penalty shot save when he blocked Andrei Stas’ shot. Demagin had another chance to tie the game but the puck flew just over the top corner of the goal. The equalising goal when it came on 55.32 was unfortunate and not one Huet deserved to lose. A simple shot from the point went of the leg of defenceman Bachet and Demagin was in the right place at the right time to score and take the game to overtime.

The extra time did not last long as with only 46 seconds gone Kevin Hecquefeuille( yes one of my men to watch) was left all alone in the slot and sent an unstoppable shot past Andrei Mezin and an exhausted but ecstatic French team smothered Huet as they qualified for the next round.

In this group Canada take 5 points with them to the qualifying round, Switzerland take 4 and France 0 points with them as they face the qualifiers from Groups A and B.

As predicted Slovenia go to the relegation round robin and are joined by Belarus who will have to up their game or they might be an opponent for GB in next years competition.

Tambo

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World Championships 2011 - Day 5


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