World Championships 2011 - Day 8

Saturday, 7th May 2011

The qualifying round is well under way and the fans were treated to 3 fantastic games and one cake walk.

Group E

Germany 4-5 Finland (Penalty Shots)

Germany v Finland games are always full of incident normally ending in a victory for the Finns. This game was no exception albeit the score was much closer than in previous encounters.

The men from the north grabbed the lead with only 13 seconds on the clock as they caught the Germans before they could gather their thoughts. Ruutu and Koivu penetrated the offensive zone on a give and go but the latter could not reach Ruutu’s pass but the puck was deflected past Endras in the German net by Robert Dietrich. With own goals not a feature of hockey, the score was credited to Ruutu. Endras kept an attack minded Finland at bay for the rest of the period with an excellent goaltending show. Germany were also matching their opponents on the physical side with an enormous centre ice hit on Koivu by Holzer. They were rewarded for their resilience by equalising at 14.45 when Rankel dived to swat in a rebound from a Michael Wolf shot. End of the first period and 1-1 with Finland winning the shots on goal by 19-6.

The second period had a 13 minute goal fest as both teams upped the tempo and when Aaltonen went to the box on a high stick penalty after 4 minutes, Germany gained the upper hand. Although not scoring on the power play, they kept the puck in the offensive zone and on 26.28 Schutz scored when he tipped a Gogulla drive from the point through the legs of Lassila in the Finnish goal. 64 seconds later the huge German fan contingent was in great voice as their favourites doubled the lead. Hospelt sped down the left wing and dispatched a wrister which took a deflection up and over the goalie’s glove. 3-1 to Germany. Coach Jalonen immediately called a time out to give his team some much needed instruction and it certainly worked. They took the game to Germany and were rewarded on 31.39 with a freak goal. Granlund’s centering pass bounced into the net off Pesonen’s helmet. Endras continued to defy Finland until there was only 1.53 left in the period and the deserved equaliser materialised. A brilliant cross ice pass from Pesonen found the onrushing Immonen who sent the puck into a wide open net with Endras not set for the shot. Germany are a much different side this year and came back less than a minute later as Reimer sent a soft shot past Lassila on the glove side to regain the lead at 4-3.

Germany almost doubled the lead again after 8 minutes of the third period when Barta pinged the post with a neat back hand shot. Finland continued to have the upper hand and Ruutu scored his second of the game. This time it truly belonged to him as he deflected the puck off a German defender into the corner of the net. 4-4 with just less than 6 minutes to go. The last chance of the game fell to Finland when Pesonen broke through the defence at speed but could not control the puck enough to send it home and he crashed heavily into the back boards after the effort. End of regulation and the game was tied at 4-4.

Nothing of note to report in overtime and the match went to penalty shots. Finland Mikko Koivu was the hero of the hour as he scored twice to give Finland the extra point. Endras saved Immonen’s penalty and Reimer scored to give Germany the advantage after the first round. Koivu scored in round 2 and Vehanen saved from Hospelt and the teams were level once again. Both teams scored in round 3 with goals from Granlund and Wolf. Reimer missed his second effort and Koivu scored the match winner. This was Germany’s first defeat of the tournament as they continue to confound the critics.

Czech Republic 3-2 Slovakia

This was the twelfth meeting between the teams since the countries separated in 1993. The Czechs have the upper hand, having won eight of the previous eleven encounters. Slovakia have won two and one ended in a tie. This particular game was the first time they had met in a World Championship game in Slovakia and the arena was absolutely electric.

After nearly 18 minutes of end to end exciting play, Czech Republic took the lead on the powerplay. Jan Marek played the puck to the outstanding Patrik Elias on the blue line. A slap shot followed and Zidlicky managed a tip on the puck to send it past Halak.

Slovakia came out of the dressing room to a standing ovation and the steely look on their faces told everybody that they were willing to die for the cause. At 22.56, the roof came off the Orange Arena.

Stumpel won a faceoff in the Czech zone and played the puck to Visnovsky who hit a slapshot which was blocked in traffic. The puck bounced to Nagy who wristed the puck back through the traffic and into the net. The rest of the period followed the same path as the first with end to end brilliant hockey and chances for both teams to get in front. End of two periods, 1-1.

Czech Republic showed why they are World Champions in the third period by settling the game in a devastating three minute spell to silence 80 per cent of the crowd. With 1.06 gone in the third the Czechs won a faceoff in the Slovak zone. Elias dropped the puck to Havlat who just pushed it in front of the net and caught Halak by surprise and the puck hit his glove and bounced into the net. Tragedy for one of the best goalies of the tournament so far. On the very next shift Havlat sent a wrister to the net. Halak saved but the puck landed on Elias’s blade and he managed to jam it into the net.

Slovakia were down but not out and with 2.32 remaining, made it a one goal game as Surovy picked up a loose puck and slammed it past Pavelec for 3-2. Despite pulling the goalie for the last 80 seconds, the champions held fast for the victory.

The results mean that 3 of the 4 qualifying places are filled with Czech Republic, Germany and Russia through to the quarter finals. Finland are likely to take the fourth slot with Slovakia and Denmark with a mountain to climb.

Group F

CANADA 4-3 USA (Penalty Shots)

North American rivals Canada and USA served up another classic encounter in front of a sell out crowd and the game started at the expected furious pace. Captain Marc Methot had the crowd on their feet when he creamed Kevin Shattenkirk into the plex in the corner. It took the American a few moments to get up but skated off to the bench unaided. 18 seconds later, retribution occurred when Komisarek nailed Burns but had to take a roughing penalty. The tone was set for the game but neither team could find a way to score in the first 20 minutes.

USA opened the scoring on 24.13 when Mike Komisarek hit a weak shot from the right point that found its way past Reimer. Definitely one the goalie would like back. The scores were level 3 minutes later. Brent Burns gained the slot and stretched for a Pietrangelo pass. As he hit the ice he made contact with the puck and sent it behind Conklin to score. The Americans regained the league on 13.47. Chris Stewart turned the puck over to Wheeler on the USA blue line just as Jack Johnson exited the penalty box. Wheeler saw him and sent the puck into the space for Johnson to cut across Reimer and backhanded the puck through his legs. End of 2 periods and 2-1 to USA.

Canada tied the game for the second time at 43.27. Gragnanin pushed the puck from the left to Tavares lurking in front and he swatted the puck towards the goal. Conklin got some of it but it bounced in front of a lot of traffic and it was Tavares who got their first to knock it in. Three quick penalties around the 45 minute mark gave Canada a 4 on 3 advantage and Jason Spezza took a pass from Tavares and hammered the biscuit past Conklin for 3-2. Half way through the period USA tied the game yet again. Wheeler found Stepan in front of the net and he whipped the puck past Reimer for 3-3.

Canada had the better of the extra 5 minutes but were unable to find a game winning goal. On to penalty shots and Reimer, who had not had the best game of his career, came into his own and saved two American shots. Jack Johnson’s shot was saved by Reimer, Eberle scored and Wheeler missed, leaving the glory for Rick Nash to score and give Canada the extra point.

Sweden 4-0 France

This game was men against boys as a bigger, faster, stronger and more skilful Swedish team swept France aside with 3 goals in the first period. They took the lead on 4.34 after at least a minute of cycling the puck, pulling the French defence apart and Fernholm found Nilsson wide open and he buried the puck past Huet. The Tre Krone doubled the lead midway through the period.

Larsson’s shot from the point hit a defenceman’s leg and bounced past the unfortunate French goalie. Magnus Paajarvi muscled his way to the net and shot. Although Huet got to it, the rebound fell nicely for Berglund who quickly returned the puck with interest and into the net. Huet’s frustration was there for all to see as he shot the puck over the glass and was very fortunate not to pick up a penalty from the referee. Despite losing three goals, Huet stood between France and absolute demolition. Strangely enough, the French coach pulled him in favour of Lhenry for the second period.

No goals in the second as Sweden pulled France all over the place and had 20 shots on target which Lhenry kept out.

Kronnwall scored a lovely goal early in the third, coming out of the corner, deking Besch out of his kit and roofing a backhand shot past Lhenry for 4-0. All in all a comprehensive win for Sweden who hit 58 shots on goal and Fasth had a 29 shot shut out.

Group F is still wide open with all teams still in with a chance of qualification, however it would take a minor miracle for France to make the knockout stage.

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World Championships 2011 - Day 8

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