World Championships - Monday games

Tuesday, 16th May 2006

It’s decision day in the relegation round as Slovenia take on Italy needing a win and Kazakhstan v Italy where even a win for the Kazaks might not keep them in Pool A


The game started at a furious pace and Italy were sure they had got the first goal after 2:12. John Parco pushed a puck towards goal and the whole team had their arms up. After review the video referee concluded the puck had not crossed the line. Things got even worse for the Italians when Krajc hit a slapshot from the blueline which beat Muzzatti hands down. Timed at 5:01. . There were no more goals in the period but end to end play had this reporter on the edge of his seat.

With 2 minutes gone in the second period, the impressive Kranjc found the even more impressive Kopitar with a sublime pass. His shot went under Muzzatti for 2-0. Kopitar was running the show and Slovenia were having their best period of the competition and on a delayed penalty kept the puck and set himself up in Gretzky’s office( or is it Tony Hands’s office) behind the goal and fed the puck to Kontrec who fired high over Muzzatti. 3-0 timed at 25:25. Italy changed their goalie and Muzzatti who had played every minute so far was replaced by Tragust at 25:37. Italy finally got the goal their approach play deserved. 24:35 gone and Ansoldi directed a pass from Parco into the net. 3-1 and the Italians were fired up.
That was it for the 2nd and all to play for in the 3rd.

Italy came out hard and strong in the 3rd sensing the Slovenians were tiring. Kranjc gave the puck away centre ice and Ansoldi broke clear to beat Kristan stick side at 45:00 to make it 3-2. Italy now only 1 goal away from preserving their status, went at Slovenia with a passion and got the game tying goal at 18:31. Strazzabosco picked the puck on the blue line and scored with a superb wrister. Brilliant comeback from Italy as the period ended with the score 3-3. You must feel for the brilliant Kristan in the Slovenian goal but Italian guts and endeavour got them the point they needed to send Slovenia into Pool B due to Kazakhstan losing to Denmark.


With Denmark only needing a tie to remain in Pool A , the first 10 minutes of the period was boring to say the least.
On 13:27 and the Danish first powerplay of the game it was 1-0 to Denmark. Peter Regin dropped a pass to Kjaergaard who wristed a shot past a screened goalie for 1-0. That was all for the 1st period 1-0 to Denmark.

Denmark went 2-0 up at 34:17 as Hansen wristed a shot from the blueline that surprised the goalie. Two minutes later at 36:46 Kazakhstan brought themselves back into the game. A powerplay goal , Spridonov fed Pupkov from behind the net who one timed it from the face off circle past Hirsch. No more scoring in the second and a tight game goes to the final 20 minutes.

The third was end to end with Kazakhstan getting more and more frantic and they got themselves into penalty trouble as a result. Jesper Damgaard scored the goal that put Denmark out of reach on a 5 on 3 powerplay at 57:26. Assists by Green and Nielsen. Kazakhstan did score late on with 20 seconds left through Argokov but it was too late to save themselves from relegation.

The evening games were to sort out the pecking order in the groups with Russia playing Sweden and Canada v Finland.


Russia started Sokolov who only arrived yesterday to join the team. The game was blistering from the start with Ovechkin and Malkin causing mayhem in the Swedish rear ranks. Malkin had two chances on the first shift of the game. Sweden gave up a penalty and on the delayed action Ovechkin slid the puck into the net for an early lead at 1:22. The hockey was hard, fast and furious and Sweden equalised on 7:33. Jonsoon passed to Samuelsson who one timed a bullet from the top of the circle. 1-1. Russia regained the lead, again on the powerplay at 11:28. Zhukov hit one from the point and it cannoned off Holmqvist’s glove and hit the post but fell right on to the tape of Miknov who hit it into the net. That was it for the scoring in the first. End of the period and 2-1 to Russia.

If you thought the first was good, the second started in exactly the same vein and after only 14 seconds, Sweden were level. Samuelsson got his second of the game with a wrister above the despairing glove of Sokolov.
It was all Sweden and Russia had to dig deep on their own blue line to keep the Tre Krone out. 22:58 and the yellow perils took the lead. A Holberg shot was stopped by Sokolov but he lost the puck and Jonsson reacted to scoop it in to the net. One wonders if the decision to play Sokolov was the right one. Now it was Russia’s turn to press and nearly equalised as Malkin broke free, but Holqvist was up to it. Sweden then hit some penalty trouble and killed off a long 5 on 3 and a 5 on 4. The period ended with both teams going at it hammer and tongs. Brilliant game of hockey. End of 2nd Sweden 3 Russia 2.

The third period was all Russia and Sweden had the superb Holmqvist to thank for keeping the lead. That was until 56:47 when Russia deservedly equalised. Another element of luck in this one. Arkhipov cleared the puck along the boards and it bounced off the dashers to Mikhnov at the side of the net. Holmqvist was already moving and left a gap of inches at the post and Mikhnov found the gap for the equaliser. That was it for the scoring and the game finished 3-3.

A brilliant advert for hockey and without a doubt the best game seen at the Championships for years.


The game started slowly with both teams feeling each other out. On 5:36, the competitions most penalised player, Tuomo Ruutu, the guy who broke Jagr’s hand at the Olympics, picked up another 2 mins. 22 seconds into the powerplay, Bergeron slipped a backhand wraparound through Niitymaki’s legs for a 1-0 scoreline to Canada. Canada should have doubled their lead on 15 mins as a rebound off a Richards shot fell to Hamhuis. Niitymaki threw himself across the crease to block the resultant shot. Finland had a powerplay around the 16 minute mark but they looked very disorganised, Jeff Carter managed to get a shot off , short handed that pinged the crossbar and at 16:57 he picked off the puck in the neutral zone and stopped at the left circle. He then let a rocket go towards the goal and Niitymaki, screened by Aki Berg never even saw it. 2-0 Canada.
Finland got backing the game at 18:03 when Denis made a hash of a simple shot from right point and the puck got through his pads and into the net. End of an interesting 1st period 2-1 to Canada.

Canada increased their lead on 26:33 with Jeff Carter’s second short handed goal of the evening. Lehtonen gave the puck up on the Canadian blueline and Carter was off like a whippet and shot underneath Niitymaki’s glove and into the net. Problems for Finland 5 minutes later when Niitymaki had to go off with a leg injury. He stretched out left to stop a shot from Metropolit and obviously pulled something. He was helped off the ice and back up Norrena took his place between the pipes.
Finland pressed for the remainder of the period but could not get at Denis in the Canada goal. End of 2nd 3-1 Canada.

Finland continued to take the game to Canada early in the third and Nummelin hit the post and Denis blanked Jokinen from point blank range. Constant pressure finally told and with Hamhuis in the box on a tripping minor, Finland made it 3-2. Nummelin let a wrister go from the face off circle that found its way through traffic and Denis and into the net. Timed at 48:48. Finland were on top but the superg Bergeron, Boyes, Crosby line put the game beyond the Finns at 51:36. Bergeron dug the puck loose behind the net, passed to Crosby who centred for Boyes to score with ease. That was all the scoring and Canada ran out winners 4-2. Great game and nothing between the teams.

The day ended with Kazakhstan and Slovenia dropping to Pool B for next year and the quarter finals not yet sorted. 6 of the 8 are known and the last spot will be between Belarus, Switzerland and Slovakia

More tomorrow as the qualifying round draws to a close.


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