World Championships 2011 - Day 6

Thursday, 5th May 2011

The final day of the preliminary round went off with only one minor shock. Denmark scraped past Latvia to qualify for the next round, sending the shocked Latvians to the relegation bun fight. As expected Norway had far too much for Austria and booked their place with the big boys. Sweden and Czech Republic top their groups as we head to the qualifying round.

Group C

Austria 0-5 Norway

Norway opened the scoring 6.26 into this vital group game and this set the tone for the rest of the game. Bastiansen took the puck into the Austrian zone down the right and waited for the rushing Koivu . The pass was sublime and gave Koivu the simplest of tasks to score. 9.31 gone and Austria had a mountain as big as the Alps to climb as the Polar Bears doubled their lead. Bastiansen again from the right side sent the puck cross ice to Spetz who centred for Olimb to finish. The game was over a minute later when Holos made it 3-0.

Not a lot happening in the second as the crestfallen Austrians never really competed and with 19 seconds left Spets scored on the powerplay to make it 4-0. Once again Bastiansen set up the goal from behind the net and got the puck to Spets for the score.

Bastiansen got the goal he richly deserved on 49.51 when he picked up a bouncing puck on the edge of the crease to score past Austrian goalie Penker. Not surprisingly Bastiansen with 1+3 in the game got the man of the match award. Interesting fact on the game: Norway were awarded a penalty shot in the third period which was missed by Fredriksen. So far in the tournament there have been seven penalty shots in normal play and only one has been scored.

Sweden 6-2 USA

Sweden again gave USA a comprehensive lesson in finishing in the final group game in Kosice. In an entertaining game, a three goal blast coupled with a nightmare second period for USA goalie Montoya, sent the Tre Krone to the second round with six points.

In a superb first period, where the teams exchanged scoring chances, it took until 17.31 for someone to beat the goalie. That person was Bergland as Martin Thornberg picked off defenceman Mark Stuart’s attempt to clear the puck around the boards and passed quickly to Bergland who was all alone at the top of the face off circle. Bergland hit a ripper past Montoya to put the Swedes ahead. The lead lasted only 72 seconds when USA tied the game on the powerplay. Stepan took the puck down the left wing into the offensive zone and made a beaut of a pass to Fowler who was rushing the net and the latter sent the puck past Fasth for 1-1.

Only one team turned up in the second period and more importantly, only one goalie, as Montoya had a period to forget. With 23.17 on the clock, Montoya tried to play the puck out from behind the net and only succeeded in backhanding it to Tedenby who immediately pushed the biscuit to the front of the empty net for Kruger to score. Another howler by the USA goalie gave the Swedes a two goal advantage after Sjogren crashed the net and his shot dropped off Montoya’s glove and just made it over the goal line. The nightmare for USA continued when a pass from Paajarvi was deflected by a d man to Montoya. The already despairing goalie bobbled the puck and Bergland struck to push it past him for 4-1. End of the period and a comfortable lead to take into the third.

USA managed a goal midway through the third when Blake Wheeler scored but Jimmie Ericsson netted a fifth for Sweden late on with a wrist shot that Montoya would like back. Jack Johnson took a cross checking penalty late on, born of frustration, and Petrasek punished USA with a 6th goal for the rampant Swedes.

A good game to watch and the tale of two goalies, one who had a competent match with 30 saves, and one who will have nightmares for some time.

The results meant Sweden top the group and take 4 points through to the qualifying round, USA finish second and take 3 with them. Norway are the third qualifier and take 2 points with them. Austria head for the relegation round.

Group D

Finland 1-2 Czech Republic

Finland and the Czech Republic is a match up I eagerly await every championship. Games between these two always serve up chances galore and coupled with old fashioned rough and tumble, the spectator always gets a great game.

This game was no exception and the first period was two teams at war and the whole stanza was littered with penalties. It ended with some handbags as Koivu made a late cross check which the Czech players took exception to and it ended with Jan Marek taking a 2 plus 10. The period ended scoreless but a penalty count of 16-10 in favour of the Czechs. Every powerplay gave up chances without reward, even a short 5 on 3 in favour of Czech Republic failed to open the scoring.

Eventually a powerplay had to work and it was the Czechs who used the extra man to their advantage. At 24.24 Elias played the puck to Rachunek who passed to Zidlicky in the corner. He held up play until Michalek broke free to receive the perfect pass and one-timed a ripper past Vehanen. The period was then taken over by both goalies who made some outstanding saves to keep the score at 1-0 Czech Republic at the end of 40 minutes.

Finland were on the back foot early in the period after Tuomo Ruutu took a boarding minor with only 33 seconds gone. Finland held fast on the penalty kill but lost a killer second goal just seconds after Ruutu came back on the ice. Jagr was first to pounce on a rebound of a Cervenka shot to give the Czechs a two goal lead. Finland pressed hard in the latter stages of the period but Pavelec was putting in a man of the match performance as he kept everything out. Finland did score 20 seconds from the end with the extra skater on the ice. Anssi Salmela’s slapshot found its way through traffic to deny Pavelec a deserved shut out.

Another close exciting tie between the teams that mean Czech Republic go through with a perfect 3 and 0 record and take 6 points with them to the next round with Finland also going through and taking 3 points.

Denmark 3-2 Latvia (Penalty Shots)

Denmark played the game of their lives to make it to the qualifying round and blow my prediction right out of the water. They opened the scoring at 1.43 with a rising one timed slapshot by Mads Christensen. The first 10 minutes were fast and furious with end to end play. The teams settled down after that and the period ended 1-0 but with little else to report.

The Danes should have gone in front early in the second when Green cut across the crease and would have lifted the puck home if he was not hooked by Cipulus. Thought there might have been a penalty shot case in this one. Latvia equalised on 23.03 as the aforementioned Cipulus got back in the coach’s good books, scoring with a neat tip in of a Cibulski shot from the point. Denmark regained the lead on 28.27. Christiansen hit his second goal of the game took the puck to a retreating Latvian defence and cut into the slot to fire a screened belter past Masalskis. End to end stuff continued and Latvia equalised for the second time at 35.14. Nzivijs played a backhand pass to Jakob Redlihs who hammered the puck to a wide open net with Masalskis still not set after the pass wrong footed him. End of the second and 2-2 with all to play for.

Latvia dominated the third period but could not find a way past the excellent Andersen in the Danish goal. But for Mads Christiansen’s great performance, he would have got my man of the match award, especially for his world class save with less than two minutes left to deny a one timer from Cipulis. On to overtime and nothing to report. A shoot out would determine the fate of both clubs.

The goalies denied Green and Nizivijs respectively as they did in rounds two and three to Madsen and Jakobsen for Denmark and Vasiljevs and Dzerins for Latvia. Nizivijs missed his penalty in round for and Mads Christiansen was awarded the freedom of Denmark when he slotted home the winner.

Denmark go to the qualifying round but with no points carried over and Latvia go to the relegation round for the third time, however they have survived on the two occasions they have played in this round.

End of the Preliminary Round

That completes the preliminary round and only two shocks according to my predictions, those being Denmark beating Latvia and France doing the same to Belarus. I suppose Germany topping their group over Russia and Slovakia. So, on to the qualifying round and just to clarify for anybody confused by it all:

Teams for the qualification round play three games against opponents from the other group . Each team carries forward the points and goals earned in the two preliminary round games played against the qualification round opponents. This in effect means the qualification round has played two rounds already, hence the table has results on it before todays games. The relegation round starts Thursday with the four bottom teams from the preliminary round playing each other with the top two retaining their A status and the bottom two dropping to Division 1 and a possible meeting with GB next season.

BRATISLAVA/KOSICE – The last Preliminary Round decisions were made tonight to complete the picture for the Qualification Round and the Relegation Round, starting on Thursday in Bratislava and Kosice.

The Preliminary Round finished with some upsets. Denmark (vs. Latvia) and France (vs. Belarus) advanced to the Qualification Round after defeating their higher-seeded opponents. And who would have expected Germany to win Group A ahead of Russia and Slovakia?

Thursday begins with two Relegation Round match-ups at 16:15, Slovenia vs. Latvia in Bratislava and Belarus vs. Austria in Kosice.

Teams for the Qualification Round stay at their venues and play three games against opponents from the other group in the same arena. Each team carries over the points and goals earned in the two Preliminary Round games played against the Qualification Round opponents.

The Qualification Round starts on Thursday at 20:15 when Russia plays Denmark in Bratislava, while Switzerland faces Norway in Kosice.

Friday will be the day of great rivalries. Canada and the United States will battle it out at 16:15 in Kosice while the most anticipated match-up so far in Bratislava, Czech Republic vs. Slovakia, will be played at 20:15.


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World Championships 2011 - Day 6

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