World Championships 2011 - Day 10

Monday, 9th May 2011

Sunday saw the penultimate games in the qualifying groups and the last two matches in the relegation round robin.

Group E

Czech Republic 3-2 Russia

Sunday night was hockey night in Slovakia as the big two met for the 14th time in World Championship history. The game count is tied at 6 wins all and one tie. Not only that, the win/loss column has alternated almost every game. The last encounter was the final last year in Germany when the Czechs won 2-1. History dictates Russia should have won this one, but the Red Machine is stuttering and Bykhov must surely be fearing the sack should they not take the gold medal back to Moscow this time.

Russia took the lead on 14.01 on a delayed penalty. With the referee’s arm upright, Martin Skoula hit a shot from the blue line which Barulin padded out. Jakub Voracek was in the right place at the right time to back hand the puck into the net. 2 minutes later and the lead had been doubled when Plekanec carried the puck into the Russian zone and dropped the perfect pass to Jaromir Jagr and wristed the puck past Barulin and it was 2-0. The Czechs had the better of the first period and went to the locker room with a two goal lead.

Halfway through the second period, the Russian answer to the Incredible Hulk went on a “hit anything that moves” couple of minutes. Yevgeni Artyukhin, 1.96 mtr and 112kg creamed three Czech players in the same shift, only two of whom actually had the puck. The huge forward only picked up an interference call for his late check on Michalek. The Czech player tried to play on but had to leave the game later. Ironically it was the Russians who scored the only goal of the period on the powerplay after Plekanec was sitting out 2 minutes for slashing. Atyushov sent a neat wrister from the blue line that Pavelec did well to save, but the rebound landed nicely for Tereshenko to slam it straight back and into the net for 2-1. As the period was ending, Artuykhin hit Rachunek at the top of the faceoff circle, sending the Czech D man flying with a cut head. The Czechs were incensed that no call was made by the Swiss referee. End of the second and it was a tight 2-1 game in favour of the Czech Republic.

With 3.27 gone in the third period Ilya Nikulin threw himself on the ice to stop a Tomas Plekanec breakaway but as his stick left his hand, a penalty shot was given. Plekanec went backhand then forehand then pushed the puck under Barulin to restore the 2 goal lead for the Czechs. The Z line then decided to turn up and Zinoviev sent Kalinin off on a skate to the net and he sent the puck across the crease for the rushing Zaripov to tap in for 3-2 at 15.04.

Handbags came out at 56.37 and Radulov ( Russia) and Voracek ( Czech) sat out a minor roughing penalty. The Czechs were pinned in their own zone for the last 2 mlinutes but even with the extra skater for the last 45 seconds, Russia could not score and Czech Republic held out for the win and top Group E with one game to go. Finland, Germany and Russia have also qualified for the quarter finals and Denmark and hosts Slovakia meet for pride on Monday night before going on their summer holidays.

Group F

Sweden 2-0 Switzerland

I suppose it had to happen at some stage. A boring game that I should have washed the dishes while it was on instead of watching. Not bad really considering it was game 40 on the schedule. Surprising really considering the Swiss really had to win the game to keep their quarter final dream alive. Periods one and two were goal less and notable only for the 8 minor penalties awarded. Switzerland spent almost half of the first period short handed and although Sweden pressed on each of the four consecutive penalties, Genoni in the Swiss goal held firm denying any clear cut chances.

Mikael Backlund broke the stalemate on 47.47 when he crossed the Swiss blue line on the left wing and let rip with a shot that screamed into the top left hand corner of Genoni’s goal.

The same player added an empty net goal with 32 seconds left. That too was in keeping with the game. Julien Sprunger threw his stick to knock the puck away from Backlund as he came in on the empty net and an automatic goal was awarded. Final score 2-0 to Sweden in a game that not many people will remember tomorrow morning. Victor Fasth in the Swedish net may well remember his 31 shot shut out which was his tournament leading third.

With one game remaining in group F, Canada, Sweden and USA move on to the quarter finals with Norway joining them barring a major upset in Monday’s games.

Group G

Slovenia 1-7 Belarus

Belarus got off to a quick start in this vital relegation battle when, at 6.02 Demagin fired a shot from the left faceoff circle past a screened Robert Kristan in the Slovenian net. 1.21 later, Belarus doubled the lead when Kostitsyn took the puck behind the net, came out in front and threw a shot inside the left post.2-0.

Belarus had a two man advantage early in the second period and made it 3-0 when Stepanov slammed a loose puck past Kristan on 28.21. Slovenia then pulled a goal back at 31.51 as Sabolic fired a shot from the right past Mezin. Belarus restored their 3 goal advantage with 4.08 left in the period as Mikhalyov converted a sweet backhand pass on ther rush from Ugarov. The period ended with Belarus 5-1 up after a Kostitsyn blast from centre point beat Kristan high on the blocker side. That was it for the over worked Kristan and Hocevar replaced him for the final 20 minutes of the tournament for Slovenia.

Two third period goals from Mikhalyov wrapped up a 7-1 victory for Belarus to retain their Elite status and Slovenia return to Division 1 for next season.

Latvia 4-1 Austria

Austria had only scored 6 goals up to the start of tonight’s game and their wretched form in front of goal continued.

Although Austria seemed to have more of a purpose to their play it was Latvia that went to the first break with a 2-0 lead.

The first goal was unlucky for Austria when Meija hit a routine shot from the right wing that Weinhandl stopped then kicked the rebound right to Bukarts who was waiting to smack the biscuit back into the goal. 5.01 gone and 1-0 Latvia. The second came on 13.30 when Mikelis Redlihs poked a loose puck into the net with a melee of players all round the crease. Austria had a fair bit of possession till the end of the period but nothing of any quality or skill around the goal.

Latvia dominated all phases of the second period and surprisingly only scored a single goal. Peintner was sitting in the Austrian penalty box when Saulietis slapped the puck from the top of the left faceoff circle that whizzed past Weinhandl. 3-0 at 22.57.

Weindhandl saved a penalty shot from Martins Cipulis early in the third period but Latvia made it 4-0 at 48.47 on the powerplay. Saulietis marked for the second time in the game with a one timer. Thomas Raffl denied Masalskis the shut out with a powerplay goal in the final minute. Final score 4-1 to Latvia and they will play in the Elite group in Finland and Sweden next year. Austria will play in Division 1 where they are likely to meet Great Britain. Trip to Austria anyone?

Six games left before the quarter final knockout stage is played on Wednesday with teams jockeying for position in the groups. Switzerland must beat the USA to have any chance of making the knockout round and then only if Norway slip up against France.

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World Championships 2011 - Day 10

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