PARDUBICE – Canada moves on to the semi-finals after surviving a tight battle with the Czech Republic, winning 6-5 in the shootout. Team Sweden’s offence is firing on all cylinders as it moves on to the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship semi-final round with a 12-1 blowout of Slovakia. Top-ranked Team USA, the 2013 defending champions, also advanced with a 4-1 defeat of Germany. In Division I, Latvia got its first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship victory, defeating Austria 4-3 in a shootout.
Here are the semi-final matchups:
15:00 - Finland vs. Sweden
17:00 - USA vs. Canada
18:00 - Croatia vs. Australia
20:00 - Slovenia vs. Latvia
Czech Republic – Canada 5-6 SO (1-0, 2-1, 0-1, 2-3, 0-0, 0-1) Postgame
In what was the wildest game so far of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship, the quarter-final matchup between Canada and the Czech Republic ended on the stick of captain Chris Terry, who scored the game-winning shootout goal to send the Canadians back to the semi-final round and complete a dramatic third period comeback.
“Ecstatic,” said goaltender Brent Leggat. “Going in and facing a tough Czech team inside a really loud arena and coming out with a win, I couldn’t be happier.”
Down 3-2 in the final period, 2013 bronze medallists Canada were staring at an early exit from the playoff round and a trip to the placement game.
Things look more grim when Patrik Sebek scored to make it 4-2 for the Czechs, faking a slapshot to make the Canadian defender go down to block, skating around him and beating Leggat between the legs for the two-goal lead.
But the insurance goal evaporated seconds later as Team Canada captain Chris Terry got ahold of a rebound in front of the Czech net to cut the lead back down to one.
Then with just over six and a half minutes to go Canadian Brendan Baumgartner came into the Czech zone and dropped a pass back to linemate Dave Hammond open in the slot for the tying score.
That goal put all the momentum to the Canadian side, and seconds later off a rush Thomas Woods scored to give his team its first lead of the game.
Finding themselves down 5-4, the Czechs went on the power play with 4:30 remaining, and Patrik Sebek converted his second goal of the game, firing a shot from the point that was deflected in front of the net.
Neither team was able to score again in regulation or overtime, so it came down to a battle of the goalies to decide which team would advance to the semi-final round.
First up was Leggat facing Sebek, who feinted and then fired a shot glove side into the back of the net.
Woods then replied for Canada beating Salficky with a backhand deke. Leggat returned the favour on the next attempt by the Czechs, stopping Simo with a pad save. Then Chris Terry converted to put all the pressure on Czech top scorer Martin Vozdecky, who could not beat the glove of Leggat, giving Canada the shootout victory.
“Looking at the talented players on the Czech roster, we knew who was going to be shooting,” said Canada head coach Jason Stephens. “Fortunately Leggat played great and Chris and Woodsy were able to get pucks in for us.”
“We wanted to win the game in overtime and not have to take it to the shootout, unfortunately the Canadians were the luckier team today,” said goaltender Dusan Salficky.
The Czechs scored the game’s first goal at 11:45 into the first period when Vladimir Kames made a great play coming in from the left side, avoiding the diving pokecheck by Leggat and slotting it home to the delight of the home crowd.
Canada equalized during a power play in the second period. After a scoring chance from Terry, Salficky was unable to corral a loose puck in front of the net and Kyle Sheen pushed it in to tie the game.
The Czechs jumped back ahead thanks to a wristshot from Michal Simo coming into the high slot area and firing the puck straight into the top right corner with less than three minutes left in the second frame.
Then the Czechs added another a minute later, thanks to a great passing sequence between NHLer Ales Hemsky and linemates Ludek Broz and Petr Senkerik, ending with Hemsky passing back to an oncoming Senkerik in the slot area for the score.
Controversy erupted at the start of the third period, when an apparent fourth goal by the Czechs’ Michal Simo was disallowed. The referee initially ruled a goal but then determined that the puck hit the crossbar and deflected out without crossing the goal line. However upon reviewing the play after the game, the IIHF stated that a goal should have been called.
Canada caught another break when Sebek went to the box for interference. On the power play Terry got his second goal of the game, off a wristshot near the point beating Salficky high glove side.
With the win Canada faces North American rivals USA. The last time the two teams played against each other was in the 2013 World Championship preliminary round, a 5-3 win for the Americans.
Sweden – Slovakia 12-1 (5-0, 2-1, 2-0, 3-0) Postgame
Marcus Nilsson scored five goals in the game, bringing his 2014 Inline total to seven, as Sweden rolled over Slovakia 12-1.
"I'm very satisfied with how we played today," said head coach Bjorn Ostlund. "We started well with five goals in the first period, Slovakia is not a bad team so I was suprised by how successful we were today."
Sweden went up by two goals in the first two minutes of the game, the first coming 34 seconds after the opening faceoff as Marcus Nilsson scored his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament. Nilsson added another on the power play less than a minute later, after Thomas Jasko was called for hooking.
Two minutes and twenty seconds later, Andreas Svensson came open down the left side, faked a slapshot and passed cross-ice to Dick Axelsson on the side of the net for the 3-0 lead. Filip Gunnarsson added another off a one-timer, and then made a drop pass for another marker giving the Swede’s a five-goal advantage just over halfway through the opening period.
The fifth goal by Sweden prompted a goalie change for Slovakia as Jozef Ondrejky stepped in for Vladimir Neumann. Slovakia got a goal back in the second period when Milan Siller found Jakub Ruckay with a pass up the ice and behind the last Swedish defender, allowing Ruckay to go top shelf to cut the lead to 5-1.
But the Swedes went back up by a goal soon after courtesy of Emil Bejmo, and seconds later Robin Sjoren added another off a one-timer on the power play to give the team a commanding 7-1 lead.
Goals from Carl Berglund, Johan Lilja, and Andreas Svensson, along two more by Nilsson rounded out the scoring as the Swedes rolled to a 10-1 victory.
They will await the results from the next three quarter-final matches before knowing which team they will face in the semi-final round.
USA – Germany 4-1 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0, 1-1) Postgame
In what was nearly an identical game to the opener played between the two teams last Sunday, the United States overcame a defensively tough Germany team 4-1, advancing to the semi-final round.
"They're a frustrating team to play," said USA head coach Joe Cook. "Every game they play is close and they are very disciplined in the box."
Matt White scored the game’s first goal for the Americans, off of a slapshot from the left circle. The Germans, who in the opening game did a great job in keeping the American offence at bay through the first three periods, were able to replicate their defensive success early on, giving up just the one goal to White.
But team discipline broke down as Germany forward Huba Sekesi drew a major penalty and ten-minute misconduct for spearing an American player at the outset of the second period.
Despite being down a man for four minutes the Germans did not give up a goal, and even though Marcel Brandt took a tripping penalty a minute after his team killed off the major, goaltender Thomas Ower held the fort as the two teams went into halftime with the U.S. holding a slim 1-0 lead.
But the Americans were able to get some insurance early in the third period, during another power play as Kyle Novak was able to jump on a loose puck to the left of the German net and flip it over a sprawled Ower for the 2-0 lead.
The States then pushed it to 3-0 with a power play goal from Travis Now, assisted by Lee. Germany finally responded early in the final period with a score by Marco Pfleger, but the Germans were not able to muster up any more offence, and Team USA added a fourth goal late for good measure to eliminate them from the playoffs.
Finland – Great Britain 7-2 (3-0, 3-1, 1-1, 0-0) Postgame
Finland defeated Great Britain by a score of 7-2, keeping its unblemished record at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship intact and setting up a match with Nordic rivals Sweden in the semi-finals.
Markus Jokinen led the way on the scoresheet, notching five points (2G+3A), and Juho Joki-Erkkila chipped in with two goals and two helpers. Jouni Aalto, Marko Virtala and Kim Stromberg rounded out the scoring.
“Winning comes first, but I was happy with the way I played,” said Jokinen. “We had a fast start to the game so it got easier from then one. We need to improve and be better in every game and if we can do this we can have a medal.”
The win means that Finland will once again face Sweden, the team they defeated 7-4 on the first day of the competition. Kari Lothander had a hat trick in that game, including two back-to-back in the fourth period that allowed the Finns to pull away from the Swedes and win the game.
Despite the fact that both teams represent a historic rivalry in both ice and inline, there didn’t seem to be much animosity between the two when speaking to the Finns after the game against Great Britain.
“I like them,” said head coach Timo Nurmberg. “They play a good game and we like to play good games. We have to play like we did in the first game. It’s going to be a great battle.”
As for Great Britain the team is still searching for its first top division win, and will be looking to avoid relegation when it plays against the Czech Republic on Friday.
Austria – Latvia 3-4 SO (1-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)
Give the Latvians credit, they sure know how to win when it counts.
After going winless and being outscored 20:8 in the preliminary round of the country’s first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship tournament, Latvia came back from a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals in the second and third periods, only to see Austria pull the goalie late in the game and get the tying goal 3-3.
Neither team was able to solve things in overtime, so Latvia came through in the shootout, pulling off a stunning upset for a team that is playing in its first Inline worlds. Arturs Batraks scored two goals and Rustams Begovs had the shootout winner.
“Our team is made up largely of ice hockey guys,” said team leader Ansis Rudzats. “As the tournament has gone along we’ve gotten some help to adjust ourselves more to the inline game."
"Yesterday we practised for two hours on breakouts, power plays, and penalty kills, and in the morning practice we worked on sharpening the tactics that we learned. I think it is coming together now at the right time for our team.”
With the win Latvia secures a trip to the semi-final round, where things get decidedly more difficult as the team faces off against Division I top seed Slovenia. In the preliminary round game between the two teams, the Latvians clawed back from a 4-1 deficit to get to within a goal of tying the game in the third period, only to have Slovenia outscore them 5-1 the rest of the way en route to a 9-4 victory.
Croatia – Japan 5-2 (2-0, 0-1, 2-0, 1-1)
Croatia moves on to the Division I semi-final round at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship thanks to a 5-2 victory over Japan.
Marko Tadic and Ivan Jankovic opened the scoring in the first period as Croatia jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Gentaro Tsuchimoto cut the lead to 2-1 in the second, but the Croats answered with three straight goals from Fran Srketic, Jan Novotny, and Niksa Trstenjak to put the game out of reach for the Japanese.
Croatia, which finished in second place behind Slovenia in Group C, will face Australia. Japan will play against Hungary in one of the two placement games on Friday.
Hungary – Australia 1-3 (0-1, 0-0, 0-1, 1-1)
Australia is off to the semi-final round after dropping Hungary 3-1 in the Division I quarter-final game.
Todd Cameron, Christopher Brophy, and Jordan Gavin each had a goal as the Aussies built up a 3-0 lead. Goaltender Michael James made 29 saves and didn’t give up a goal to the Hungarians until late in the fourth period.
Hungary will join Japan in the placement round, while Australia advances to the semi-finals. It is another chance for the Australians to get a medal after finishing in fourth or fifth place the last three tournaments.
Slovenia – Brazil 7-1 (0-0, 1-0, 3-1, 3-0)
Slovenia took awhile to get its offence going but eventually took care of business, defeating Brazil 7-1 to advance to the semi-final round where it will face surprise quarter-final winners Latvia.
Going into the second half up by one goal, the Slovenian offence kicked into high gear as forward Nejc Sotlar scored his second of the game and Gregor Krivic added another as Slovenia moved up 3-0. Brazil’s Jose Guilardi scored to trim the lead to 3-1, but Domen Vedlin, Rok Simsic, and Matic Kralj scored to put the game away for Slovenia.
The win keeps Slovenia’s promotion hopes alive, while Brazil will have to contend with Austria, which had its own medal hopes derailed following a 4-3 upset by Latvia in a shootout. It could be that Latvia’s win will affect the Brazilians for the worst too, as they draw a team that shut them out 8-0 in their opening game.