World Championships 2011 - Semi Finals

Saturday, 14th May 2011

Sweden 5-2 Czech Republic

The Czechs were hot favourites for this match but only if the real Czech Republic turned up to play. They did, but not for the middle period. The second period belonged to the Tre Krone and they earned their place in the final with an astonishing performance.

The first period was... boring. Two teams playing the same system and neither gaining the upper hand. The period had very few moments of note and no penalties. This was testament to the system both teams played, neither crashing the net and all shots on goal came from outside the face off dots. One of those few chances fell to Roman Cervenka who quickly snapped off a shot in the slot and Fasth had to make ground to shoulder the puck to safety. A few moments later, just after the half way point of the period, Novotny let off a wrister that was engorged by Fasth’s stomach. Shots on were 14-9 in the Czech’s favour but none of them really troubled the goalies.

If the first period was boring, the second was a hockey fest. Sweden played like world beaters and despite going a goal down after just 46 seconds, they had Czech Republic on the back foot for the vast majority of the period. Milan Michalek set off down the right wing and backhanded a pass from the corner to the front of the net. Patrik Elias was there, cutting in from the other wing and the pass bounced off Fasth’s stick, bounced off his stick and over the goalie’s blocker for 1-0. Sweden then had to go to plan B and open up with a bit of aggression. Tre Krone almost tied the game a couple of minutes later when Thornberg got free in the slot and fired straight at Pavelec. The first penalty of the night went to Cervenka for hooking and Sweden made his team pay the price. Partrik Berglund hit a fine shot from the point that went through traffic and past Pavelec to tie the game at 1-1. The Czechs hit back hard and Zidlicky threw a pass up the middle to Elias on the Swedish blue line but his shot went well over the net. The rest of the period was dominated by Sweden and Niklas Persson was the trailing man on an odd man rush and his shot went over Pavelec’s shoulder for 2-1 at 35.10.

With Elias in the box for roughing, Sweden were awarded a penalty shot. With the Czech goal under severe pressure Karel Rachunek, in the crease, smothered the puck with his hand. Louis Eriksson tried a Forsberg type one handed deke but sent the puck wide of the post. A fascinating second period ended with Sweden leading 2-1. Once again I have an issue with the shot counting which gave Sweden a 26-10 advantage in the period.

The game was over at 48.07 when Ericsson and Backlund broke out on a two on 1. Backlund waited for Zidlicky to commit and slid the puck to Ericsson to sweep it into the empty net. The Czechs had to gamble to save the game and gave up a fourth goal on 52.29 when Kruger scrambled the puck into the net from the edge of the crease. Elias gave Czech Republic a glimmer of hope with a goal at 54.32 but Sweden kept their cool and finished the scoring with an empty netter from Backlund with 47 seconds left. A surprise result, yes, but also a fully deserved victory for a Swedish side that is capable of beating anybody if they can repeat their second period performance of today. They will no doubt have a couple of beers and watch the second semi final between Finland and Russia.

Finland 3-0 Russia

What a result for Finland. They didn’t just beat them, they totally dominated and crushed them. Poor, poor performance from Russia who have rode their luck throughout the tournament and it ran out tonight.

Once again, just like most of the games in the knockout stage, the first period was spent with both teams feeling each other out. No penalties and a 9-7 shot count in favour of Finland was all there was to say.

Finland took the lead in spectacular style after 25.13. Nineteen year old Mikael Granlund beat Kalinin and Kulikov behind the Russian net and picked up the puck with his stick blade, cut around the net and scooped it in high past Barulin. He had obviously been watching Sidney Crosby and earlier Mike Legg make exactly the same move. The kid from HIFK Helsinki is a up an coming world star and we will be hearing more of him in the coming years. Barulin looked totally shocked and everybody just waited for the video review to see if it was a high stick. To be honest, it was a close call but the video ref gave the goal. Russia were unlucky not to equalise a few minutes later when hitting the crossbar and right at the end of the period, Zinoviev should have scored off a Kovalchuk pass but Vehanen reacted first and smothered the puck. End of the 2nd period and a shock was on the cards as Finland led 1-0 over the misfiring Red Machine.

The Finns made it 2-0 on 47.40 . Lajunen rushed into the opposition zone and smacked the puck off the back boards, picked up the rebounding puck and backhanded it home from an impossible angle. Jarkko Immonen scored a third goal at 49.15. With Kovalchuk in the box on a slashing minor, he took a lovely pass from man of the moment Granlund from behind the goal line and nicked it inside Barulin’s left post for 3-0 and a place in the final. Russia allegedly outshot Finland 17-6 in the third and had a last chance to ruin Vehanen’s shutout with a 4 minute powerplay due to Vaananen’s high stick penalty for cutting Afinogenov’s lip. They never really looked like scoring and “Suomi” were through to meet their neighbours Sweden in Sunday’s final. Russia will look to medal for the fifth consecutive championship against last year’s winners Czech Republic.

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World Championships 2011 - Semi Finals

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