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Men's Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 2018

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Japan, Ukraine score high

OQ Gr. J: Japan-Romania 7-0, Ukraine-Croatia 6-0


The Japanese players celebrate a goal in the 7-0 routing of Romania.


Japan and Ukraine scored decisive victories on the second day of play in the Men's Olympic Qualification Preliminary Round 2 Group J on Saturday at the Tsukisamu Arena in Sapporo. Japan routed Romania 7-0, while Ukraine pounded Croatia 6-0. The results set up a title match between the two winners on Sunday. The winner will advance to the Final Olympic Qualification round in early September.

Japan vs. Romania 7-0 (0-0, 5-0, 2-0)

Japan broke open a tight game with five goals in the second period as Shuhei Kuji, Yushiroh Hirano, Hiroki Ueno, Masahito Nishiwaki and Daisuke Obara all found the net.

The first period was a scoreless one that saw Japan dominate puck possession. Japan fired 16 shots on goal but could not score.

Romania managed only three shots in the opening frame.

Japan's quickness was evident as the Romanian skaters struggled to keep up with the pace of the hosts. Japan had the lone power play in the period, but was unable to take advantage of it.

Kuji broke the deadlock with 14:31 left in the second when he scored from the slot on a 3-on-1 break on a nice pass from Obara.

Romania hung tough until Hirano flipped in a shot just off the crease with 6:37 left in the frame.

The floodgates opened soon after as Ueno took a long pass and scored on a breakaway at 4:31. Nishiwaki and Obara then scored within 94 seconds and it was suddenly 5-0 as the Romanian defence became porous. Romania goalie Geller Ruczuj did his best but could not halt the onslaught.

Kuji added a second goal in the third period and Takuro Yamashita closed out the scoring with 2:37 left in the game.

Japan goalie Takuto Onoda made 14 saves and posted a shutout in his debut for the senior national team.

“I was a little bit nervous before the game. We had to win this one," said Onoda. "This gives me confidence. My performance was 100 percent tonight.”

Kuji was content with his two-goal outing in the victory.

“It was good that everybody played well tonight,” Kuji said. “In my mind I am always thinking about scoring. Tonight was good for me and the team.”

Japan coach Greg Thomson appeared pleased with the performance of his charges.

“I felt the team played a very good hockey game tonight,” said Thomson. “We didn't score any goals in the first period, but we stuck to our game plan and they came in the second.”

Thomson pointed out that this is the way it goes on occasion.

“Sometimes that's how it is in sports,” Thomson stated. “You don't get it on the first or second try, but it comes on the third. We stuck to our game plan and they started going in. You really have to concentrate in games like this.”

Romania coach Kjell Lindqvist was honest with his feeling after the defeat.

“Japan is one or two divisions better than us,” commented Lindqvist. “They are very speedy. Sometimes too speedy. It is tough for a slow team like us to be able to stop their rushes.”

Lindqvist felt his team had few decent opportunities on the night.

“We had maybe two or three good chances to score,” Lindqvist said. “Japan was too good for us. We have to accept that.”

Ukraine vs. Croatia 6-0 (3-0, 1-0, 2-0)

Goalie Eduard Zakharchenko recorded his second straight shutout as Ukraine blanked Croatia 6-0 on Saturday at the Tsukisamu Arena.

Georgi Kicha scored his first goal for the Ukrainian national team and added two assists in the victory.

Ukraine's speed and power proved too much for Croatia to handle. Ukraine fired 57 shots on goal to Croatia's 26 in the triumph.

Croatia is 0-2 after the defeat and has yet to score in the tournament.

Ukraine wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Artem Gnidenko flipped in a shot near the crease just one minute into the first period. Kicha and Yuri Petrangovsky assisted on the goal.

The game quickly moved into a fast-paced affair and Ukraine boosted their lead to 2-0 with 12:32 left in the first when Olexander Pobyedonostsev scored on a one-timer from the point. Artem Bondaryev had an assist on the play.

Petrangovsky put in a rebound of a missed shot by Kicha with 4:18 remaining and Ukraine was in command with a 3-0 advantage.

All of Ukraine's goals were scored at full strength despite the fact they had four power-play opportunities in the period.

Croatia goalie Vilim Rosandic did well to keep it at 3-0, as he stopped 19 shots in the opening frame.

Kicha scored from the slot on a power play to make it 4-0 with 15:54 left in the second period.

Croatia played better in the second, picking up the pace and creating a few scoring chances with 10 shots on goal. Ukraine killed off two power plays in the second.

The third period provided more of the same, as Croatia scored on goals by Roman Blagy and Bondaryev for the final margin.

Ukraine coach Olexander Savytsky thought his team played well.

We asked our wingers to make fewer mistakes in the offensive zone, commented Savytsky. "They played more active than Thursday. It was good."

Savytsky noted that getting the first goal was significant.

We scored the first goal quickly and that really helped us, Savytsky said. "We kept up the pressure after that."

Croatia coach Danijel Kolombo knew his squad was facing a tough test.

It's hard to play against a pro team with an amateur team, stated Kolombo. "They scored early in the first and after that moment we started to chase the game, which isn't good in hockey. We made four penalties (in the first period) after that and could not get back on track."

Zakharchenko gave the credit to his fellow players following the contest.

Today's game was a bit easier than yesterday, because it was the first game, said Zakharchenko. "My teammates played well in front of me. I especially want to cite the play of No. 4 [Vsevolod Tolstushko], who blocked many shots."

Kicha was pleased with his contribution in the win.

It was a great feeling to get my first points for the national team, stated Kicha. "We feel better after acclimatizing ourselves here. The team was in a good condition today.

Ukraine defeated Romania in their opening match on Thursday, while Japan downed Croatia 3-0


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Set for a showdown

OQ Gr. G: Netherlands-Italy 2-4, Great Britain-Serbia 6-2


Italian forward Kevin Devergilio scores on Dutch goalie Martijn Oosterwijk.


It’s winner takes all on Sunday night as Italy and Great Britain improved to 2-0 in this tournament. Both teams had to battle to win their games on Saturday but Italy got past the Netherlands 4-2 after the Brits downed a hard-working Serbia 6-2 in the earlier game.

Netherlands vs. Italy 2-4 (1-2, 1-1, 0-1)

Italy paid tribute to its hockey history before taking another step towards Olympic qualification with a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands on Saturday night.

The evening began with a celebration as Cortina commemorated two favourite sons. Brothers Gianfranco and Alberto da Rin were born in the town in the 1930s and became mainstays of SG Cortina and the Italian national team. Gianfranco played here in the 1956 Winter Olympics and was joined by younger brother Alberto in Innsbruck in 1964. The two were on hand for a special pre-game ceremony attended by IIHF President Rene Fasel.

There was also a minute’s silence in honour of 1956 Olympic goalie Giuliano Ferraris, who passed away last Sunday before the action got underway in breathless style.

Just 39 seconds had been played when Marco Insam put the Italians in front, wrestling in the slot and forcing the puck inside Martijn Oosterwijk’s near post. But that lead lasted just minutes as the Netherlands hit back through youngster Tom Marx to tie the scores.

The two teams traded chances but it was Italy that got back in front in the tenth minute thanks to another pair of brothers. Simon Kostner set off on a rush from centre ice, slaloming through the defence to set up Diego for the decisive touch on the slot.

The Dutch thought they’d tied the scores during a 5-on-3 power play. Kevin Bruijsten found the net when he swung at a bouncing puck but Orange boom turned to Orange bust when it was chalked out for a high stick. Furious, the Netherlands lost some focus and failed to threaten for the rest of its advantage.

But the Netherlands did make it 2-2 eight seconds into the second period. Mitch Bruijsten harried from the face-off and picked out captain Diederick Hagemeijer in space at the far post.

“It wasn’t pretty,” admitted Italy’s head coach Stefan Mair. “This is a young group and a lot of them don’t get to play that many minutes in important games for their clubs. Situations like this are a big thing to help them get better down the road and gain experience.”

That stung Italy into action and the host nation proceeded to have the better of the middle stanza. Luca Frigo should have done better when a loose pass from Jordy van Oorschot presented him with the puck and the freedom of the Italian zone.

Then Insam thought he had his second of the evening midway through the frame. His slap shot from the blue line rattled both posts but the video showed that it did not go in. Simon Kostner also hit the bar before Kevin Devergilio finally made the pressure tell, touching home a tic-tac-toe move involving Paul Zanette and Armin Helfer in the 34th minute.

“I’ve got to give Holland credit,” added Mair. “They played with a lot of grit. Playing Serbia first maybe wasn’t the best start because they didn’t really hit us. The Dutch came out and hit us hard from the start and we had to adjust because we’re not used to that physical game. But in the end, with the times we hit the crossbar, I think we deserved the win.”

The third period saw the Netherlands absorbing more pressure as Italy’s extra pace began to tell. But the home offence was having to work hard for its opportunities and it wasn’t until the 52nd minute that Italy finally got some breathing space. The impressive Diego Kostner wrestled for the puck down on the boards and fed Luca Frigo for a wrist shot that flashed upstairs to make it 4-2.

Great Britain vs. Serbia 6-2 (2-1, 2-1, 2-0)

GB’s Colin Shields became his country’s second-highest goal scorer in the modern era with a goal in a 6-2 victory over Serbia. He took his tally to 34, and two in this competition, moving to within six goals of British hockey legend Tony Hand. Gerry Davey, a star of the British team of the ’30s and ’40s, holds the all-time record with 43 goals in 45 games.

“When I was growing up Tony was a legend in his own right, someone who we all look up to and who did a lot of great things for British hockey,” Shields said. “I’m still a few behind him but this is a proud moment.

“I’ve had a lot of years on the national team and played with some great players. A lot of good guys have passed me pucks and this is something to remember.”

But while the Brits go forward to a win-or-bust showdown against Italy tomorrow there was also much for Serbia to celebrate after a big improvement on Thursday’s 0-8 reverse against the host nation.

The Balkan nation generated far more offence than it managed in game one and it wasn’t until an extended 5-on-3 power play late in the second period that Britain finally earned the comfort of a two-goal lead.

GB shaded the first period after Shields opened the scoring in the fifth minute. The Belfast Giant circled off the left-hand boards and found open ice in front of goal as he fired past Arsenije Rankovic from between the hatchings.

But Serbia had learned from its opening day experience and tied the scores five minutes later. The goal came from a defensive error – GB turned over the puck on its blue line – and Andrej Zwick quickly fed Nenad Rakovic for his country’s first goal here in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

That gave the Serbs a visible boost in confidence and the White Eagles began to produce far more offence than it managed against the host nation. By the first intermission Marko Kovacevic’s team had produced twice as many shots as it managed in the whole of its first game.

However, it was unable to get on the scoreboard again and GB found a way back in front thanks to Matty Davies’ first ever international goal. Robert Lachowicz was the architect, skating across the deep slot to pull the defence out of position before a well-weighted backhand pass picked out Davies with a clear look at the net for the finish.

That didn’t deter the outsider, though. Serbia began on the front foot in the middle session and GB quickly ran into penalty trouble. Mark Garside and Stephen Lee were cooling their heels in the sin bin when Uros Bjelogrlic forced the puck home at the far post to tie the scores once again.

“It was a tough game,” Shields added. “We knew that they would come out hard, their goalie came up with some big saves and blocked a lot of shots but we knew if we kept getting the puck to the net, kept making our plays, we would get the rewards.

“Maybe we tried to over-complicate things at times – it was a scrappy game – but we got the win.”

Shields helped to put GB back in front, getting an assist as David Phillips’ shot from the point was tipped in by Jonathan Boxill for his first goal for his country, but it wasn’t until Serbia ran into penalty trouble of its own that the British gained that two-goal lead. Lee thumped a shot against the post and it flashed out for Dave Clarke to sweep low past Stefan Ilic’s desperate attempt to clear on the line.

The third period produced fewer opportunities until a power-play goal from Clarke, finishing from close range off Craig Peacock’s pass, and a short-handed solo effort from Lachowicz made the final score 6-2.

For Serbia a second defeat was no disgrace. Recently-appointed head coach Marko Kovacevic admitted before the tournament that his team’s main goal was to acquit itself well and make progress towards its World Championship campaign in Spain later this year.

“We won’t face teams like this so often so it’s nice to see players who are on a different level than us,” Kovacevic said. “Maybe we can pick up some stuff that we see and use it ourselves.

“Don’t get me wrong – we’re all athletes, we all want to win every game, but we understand that the main goal of our season comes in April and that’s what we’re working for here. We know what we want to see in these games and if we can do what we agree in the dressing room that’s a success for us.”


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Fukufuji leads Japan triumph

Goalie has huge impact in victory over Ukraine


Japanese goalie Yutaka Fukufuji celebrates with the winners' plate.


Stellar play from goalie Yutaka Fukufuji helped Japan edge Ukraine 2-1 in a tough battle on the final day of play in the Men's Olympic Qualification Preliminary Round 2 Group J on Sunday at the Tsukisamu Arena in Sapporo. The victory advances the Japanese men’s national team to the next round of qualifying in September where it will try to make the Olympics for the first time since hosting the 1998 Nagano Games.

Japan vs. Ukraine 2-1 (0-0, 0-0, 2-1)

It was clear from the outset that this would be speed vs. power and that's exactly what it was. Ukraine played a very physical game from the outset, while Japan raced around their larger opponents. The game was a tight one until the third period when winger Kenta Takagi knocked in a rebound with 13:41 left.

Veteran centre Daisuke Obara made it 2-0 for Japan when he scored on a one-timer from the point past Ukraine goalie Eduard Zakharchenko on the glove side with 7:56 remaining.

The two-goal advantage was short lived, however, as Ukraine answered back on a shot by Yuri Petrangovsky past Japan goalie Yutaka Fukufuji on the stick side with 5:24.

The final five minutes were tense as the hosts tried to hang on with Ukraine applying huge pressure. Japan prevailed in the end, but it was not easy.

Fukufuji made 32 saves in the win and received profuse praise from both coaches afterward.

Japan coach Greg Thomson was relieved after the victory.

“I think both teams battled very hard until the end,” said Thomson. “It could have gone either way. We got some timely goals in the third period. Playing aggressive and smart is the right way to play. We have to use our speed. That is one of our biggest assets.”

Thomson cited Fukufuji's play as being a huge part of the result for Japan.

“Fukufuji was unreal today,” Thomson stated. “We played good hockey over all three games.”

Fukufuji said his performance was all in a day's work.

“It was a tight game. We expected that and our defence played well,” Fukufuji said. “The goal they got was deflected by one of their players to the scorer. They are big and have skills. We scored on a couple of chances and that was the difference.”

Zakharchenko, who had shutouts in the first two games, stopped 28 shots in the loss.

The first period ended scoreless despite both teams having multiple power play chances. Japan killed off three power plays, while Ukraine stopped two.

Ukraine's Volodomyr Aleksyuk was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing and with 3:11 left in the first.

Ukraine had 12 shots on goal in the period, while Japan mustered nine.

In the second period Ukraine had four power-play opportunities but was unable to convert any of them into a goal as the pace of play picked up.

Ukraine got off 10 shots on goal in the second, while Japan had just seven.

Petrangovsky said he was ready when his chance came.

“I took a pass from my teammate (Artem Gnidenko) and put it in,” Petrangovsky commented on his goal. “It is a play we have used in practice many times.”

Petrangovsky felt the Japan team utilized their strengths in the triumph.

“They are fast and have several skill players,” Petrangovsky said. “There were no surprises. We have gone against them before in the World Championships. They just played their game.”

Ukraine coach Olexander Savystky was not down despite the loss.

“We are building a new team,” Savystky commented. “This was the first tournament for many players. We are proud of both the veterans and young players.”

Savystky summed up the difference in the game in concise fashion.

“Modern hockey today is a game of mistakes and today we made one more,” Savystky said. “Today the goalie is 80-90 per cent of the game. Fukufuji played more than very well.”

Romania 1 Croatia 4 (0-1, 1-2, 0-1)

Croatia defeated Romania 4-1 on Sunday at the Tsukisamu Arena in Sapporo. Both teams entered the contest with 0-2 records, having lost their games against Japan and Ukraine.

Croatia goalie Mate Tomljenovic made 24 saves in the victory.

Croatia set the pace in the first period, attacking relentlessly and taking 20 shots on goal against Romania's Attila Adorjan. Dominic Kanaet gave Croatia the lead with 13:01 left in the opening period when he flipped in a backhander directly in front of the goal.

Romania squandered a good chance to score when they had a two-man advantage on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:57 left in the period but came up empty. They had just seven shots on goal in the first.

The game opened up in the second period with both teams playing more fluidly. Romania equalized with 13:30 left in the second when Zsolt Molnar fired in a shot past Tomljenovic from the slot.

Croatia retook the lead with 8:52 left on a slapshot by Luca Mikulic from the slot.

The Croats boosted their lead to 3-1 on a spinning shot by Mario Novak in front of the net with 51 seconds remaining in the second.

The final period was a wide open affair with both teams being aggressive but unable to find the net until near the end of the frame.

Romania called a time-out with 2:49 left and pulled Adorjan, but could not capitalize with the extra attacker.

Croatia closed out the scoring when Marko Sakic fired the puck into the empty net with 1:07 left.

Adorjan stopped 37 shots in the loss.

Croatia coach Danijel Kolombo was happy to end the competition with a win.

“This was a great tournament for us,” stated Kolombo. “All three games were good. We knew we could play against Romania and compete against the other two even though they are a level higher than us.”

Kolombo said his squad did what they came for in Sapporo.

“We accomplished all of our plans,” commented Kolombo. “The players have played many games this season so fatigue is an issue. But I'm happy with how hard they played.”

Romania coach Kjell Lindqvist did not hide his disappointment after his team's third straight defeat.

“With this roster we only scored one goal in three games. That isn't good enough,” said Lindqvist. “After two tough games we had no power today. Our penalty-killing was good, but that was about it.”

Lindqvist admitted that his side was in a tough situation.

“The team is tired and we are missing key players,” he noted. “But we have to battle better.”


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Sweet revenge

Poland advances after rare win vs. Hungary


The Polish team poses for a group photo after edging Hungary 1-0 in shootout.


Ten month ago Hungary won 2-1 on Poland’s ice in Krakow in a game for promotion to the top division. Today Poland avenged the loss and beat Hungary 1-0 in shootout in Budapest to advance to the Final Olympic Qualification.

Click here for a video with the game-winning goal, celebration and post-game interviews.

It was the first win for Poland against Hungary in 13 years in an IIHF-sanctioned game. Krzysztof Zapala scored the game-winning goal while all three Hungarian shooters missed the net.

“It was a very balanced game but we played well and battled hard and I was happy to score with my shot,” Zapala said.

Przemyslaw Odrobny was the other hero for Poland with a 38-save shutout as Hungary outshot the Poles 38-27.

“I’m pretty excited like all the team. It was a hard game for 65 minutes. It was war on ice. We beat them on their own ice like they did last year in Krakow, so it’s 1-1,” Odrobny said. “Both goalies faced a lot of shots, there were many fans at the arena, so it was very hot on the ice.”

It was hot for the fans either. Like ten months earlier the 9,000 spectators at the sold-out Laszlo Papp Sportarena saw a tense game with strong goaltending and disciplined play on both sides that remained exciting until the very end.

Although these two countries haven’t played each other that much in recent years, the clash has a long history in which Poland was ranked better between 1938 and 2006 while Hungary overtook the Poles in the World Championship program in 2007 and hadn’t lost to Poland in IIHF play since 2003 until this day.

The first minutes of the game belonged to the home team. After 30 seconds the Hungarian fans’ breath caught. Istvan Sofron was on a breakaway but Odrobny made a stick save to prevent an early goal. Odrobny remained in the spotlight as Hungary created the scoring chances and was awarded the first power play, although without the desired outcome. Only after more than six minutes did Poland have its first real chance with a long shot from Krystian Dziubinski.

The first period ended with 11-4 shots on goal in Hungary’s favour but the game remained scoreless as the Poles became defensively more stable and started creating more chances.

The second period was more balanced with the biggest chance coming after 11 minutes when Andras Benk had two shots right in front of Odrobny. But the 30-year-old netminder, who plays his first season abroad with Morzine-Avoriaz of the French Ligue Magnus, also mastered this situation.

On the other side Mateusz Bepierszcz had a great chance late in the middle frame with a shot while turning around but the puck went a few centimetres wide the net.

In the third frame Mikolaj Lopuski had the biggest opportunity for Poland to gain the lead after nine minutes of play when he got a loose puck in front of the net but he didn’t capitalize.

The Hungarians had more penalties which offered chances for the visiting team. At 15:39 only a huge block prevented Lopuski from scoring a late goal.

The Hungarians put more pressure on the Polish net in the dying minute of regulation time after a time-out. In overtime they had the chance to play 4-on-3 with Lopuski in the sin bin for slashing while Poland had two good shots after killing the penalty, however, the goaltenders kept the 0-0 score on the board and a shootout had to decide.

“The game was very evenly matched. We got off to a very good start. We got a lot of pucks to the net. They played well defensively, there were no blatant 1-0 opportunities,” Hungary coach Rich Chernomaz said.

“We had our chances in overtime on the power play but we didn’t succeed. I’m very proud of our players, all of them. The one thing that hurt us a bit tonight is that we were missing two defencemen in [Balazs] Goz and [Bence] Sziranyi so we had to play with six defenceman for the majority of the game.”

After Marton Vas missed with the first shot, Zapala decided the first round for Poland. Both Andrew Sarauer for Hungary and Aron Chmielewski for Poland didn’t score in the second round and when Frank Banham hit the metal from a sharp angle the Poles’ victory was sealed.

Estonia-Lithuania 4-1 (3-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Estonia finished the Olympic Qualification on a high by beating Lithuania 4-1 after having suffered to high losses.

Andrei Makrov with a pair of goals and Villem-Henrik Koitmaa with 55 saves were the heroes for the Estonians in their first win in 16 years against Lithuania.

The Lithuanians had won the last five games in the Baltic clash, most recently 6-1 and 12-3 at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in 2015 and 2013 but missing out on some national team mainstays such as Tadas Kumeliaskas from TPS Turku or Nerijus Alisauskas, busy in the Russian VHL, seemed to prove costly.

“It’s pretty amazing. Before the game I was thinking of our game in Donetsk three years ago where I got five goals from nine shots,” Koitmaa said after the game when told that the last win happened in 2000, also in the Olympic Qualification.

“Everything went great for us. I had some easy saves in the beginning. That helped to relax. Before the game we were really focused to win and the team looked confident. Despite some stupid penalties we managed to win the game.”

Estonia was outshot 56-26 but was sharper when it mattered in front of the net and defended an early led well.

Estonia had a great start and capitalized on its first two shots of the game. After 43 seconds of play Andrei Makrov opened the scoring and two minutes later Filipp Shvarogin capitalized on a man advantage for the early 2-0 lead.

Lithuania improved and dominated the rest of the period. At 13:24 they were eventually rewarded when Danielius Nomanovas scored on a rebound during a power play. But two-and-a-half minutes later the goal song “Welcome to Estonia” was back as Deniss Konyshev restored the two-goal lead.

Lithuania wasn’t able to build up the same pressure in the second period. The game remained scoreless for a while and Emilijus Krakauskas missing out on a breakaway was the best chance for the team in red. Four power plays didn’t help the team either as it didn’t capitalized on its chances while Makrov added a second marker on a power play at 3:59 of the third period for the final score of 4-1 for Estonia.

“We had a lot of chances but the Estonian team was the cleverer team. They capitalized on their chances, they had two goals on power play, we just one,” Lithuania coach Bernd Haake said.

“We worked hard but it was not enough. You need to work hard and play smart. In our next game in Zagreb we have to do that because our first game will be against Estonia.”


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Italy advances

Beats Great Britain 6-2 in decisive game


The Italian players celebrate a first-period goal against Great Britain.


Italy’s new-look team booked itself a trip to Norway for the Final Olympic Qualification after a first period full of pace and power proved too much for Great Britain in the decisive game. Earlier the Netherlands took third place in Group G with a 7-3 victory over Serbia.

Italy vs. Great Britain 6-2 (3-0, 1-1, 2-1)

On paper it looked like a clash between Italian speed and British character. The host nation had used its pacey offence to great effect in the first two games, while GB showed plenty of grit to see it through some awkward moments.

But on the ice, the Italians found all the answers after cashing in on a 2+2 penalty against Colin Peacock early in the game. That power play brought two goals for the squadra azzurra. Christian Borgatello opened the scoring when his slapshot deflected off a British stick and deceived Ben Bowns. Two minutes later Anton Bernard doubled the lead, muscling his way to the loose puck as the goalie sprawled on his crease to block Alexander Egger’s shot.

GB forced its way back into the game early in the third but when SG Cortina defenceman Alexander Gellert made it 5-2 with 12 minutes to play the outcome was settled.

Gellert’s goal was greeted by a huge roar from his home fans and he was thrilled by the experience of representing his country on home ice.

“I feel really lucky to be able to play here with this great support from the fans,” he said. “Thanks to the GB fans as well – they really got some electricity into the building.”

After Italy took that early advantage, Britain had to take more risks to generate offence and find a way back into the game. That led to a more open encounter with both teams enjoying odd man rushes in a sometimes breathless passage of play. Simon Kostner, whose rush created a goal for his brother in yesterday’s win over the Netherlands, went one better in the 16th minute here, slicing through the defence before lashing an unstoppable shot past Bowns from close range to make it 3-0 at the first intermission.

“We can’t make any excuses,” GB head coach Pete Russell said. “The team that played the better hockey won the game and won the tournament. That early power play killed us, it killed the game.”

The Brits needed to seize the initiative at the start of the second period but failed to create much on a power play carried over from the first session. And, not for the first time, a lack of discipline cost GB – as against Serbia on Saturday – Russell’s team found itself with three men in the bin for a time as the midway point approached. Italy failed to add to its lead at that stage, but was able to eat up the clock and protect its advantage with ease as tempers began to bubble on the ice.

And just as yet another British penalty wound down the Italians got a fourth from another Borgatello slapshot, this time from the point. Britain then got on the scoresheet at last with a well-worked power play goal: Stephen Lee opened up a shooting lane for David Philips from the top of the circle and Ashley Tait poked it in from the slot under pressure from a defenceman.

The third period began with GB pushing hard for a way back into the game and Dave Clarke’s power play marker offered exactly that. Clarke loomed over Andreas Bernard in the Italian goal and got the vital touch on Ben O’Connor’s shot to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes to play.

That reawakened the Barmy Army as the away fans began to believe in a fairy-tale fightback but they were soon drowned out by the loudest roar of the night as Gellert made it 5-2.

“It’s mission accomplished but it wasn’t easy at all,” Gellert added. “We came here knowing we were favourite but every team put up a good fight.”

With Italy in control GB gambled on withdrawing goalie Bowns for the last minute but Italy capitalized as Anton Bernard broke and presented Joachim Ramoser with a simple goal to wrap up the win.

For Gellert and Italy that means progress towards the Olympic Games – and also progress towards a strong showing in World Championship Group I Group A in April.

“We learned a lot here,” he said. “We can’t take any team for granted and we have to stick to our style, stick to our systems, but it was a great experience for our younger players and even for older guys like me.

“International hockey is that bit quicker so it’s always good experience.”

Serbia vs. Netherlands 3-7 (0-2, 2-2, 1-3)

The battle for third place also served as a dress rehearsal for this year’s Division IIA action in Spain – and both teams will have positives and negatives to take into their meeting in Jaca on 9th April.

The Netherlands celebrated a first victory in this competition, and impressive defenceman Mike Dalhuisen felt that it was the least his team’s efforts deserved.

“I thought overall we were surprisingly good considering we only had one practice coming into the tournament we hung in there against Great Britain and, to be honest, I thought we should have beaten them,” he said. “Then we were a little better against Italy but they are a good team.”

The Dutch, relegated on home ice in Eindhoven last year, made a confident start as Mitch Bruijsten scored twice in the first half. Bruijsten moved on to 3+2=5 for the tournament, while Dalhuisen – one of the players added to the roster since the last worlds – picked up his fifth assist.

But Serbia struck back in the middle session, tying the scores on goals from Mirko Djumic and Nemanja Vucurevic by the halfway stage. With Marko Kovacevic’s men targeting a promotion push in April, this was good news against the likely favourite for the tournament in Spain.

The Netherlands regrouped, though, and rebuilt that two-goal lead late in the middle frame. Nardo Nagtzaam added a power play goal to his pair of first period assists before the impressive Dalhuisen – possibly the pick of the Dutch roster in this competition – potted his first goal in Cortina to make it 4-2.

That revival seemed to deflate Serbia and the Dutch offence was dominant in the final session, outshooting the Serbs 15-0 in the first 10 minutes without adding to the score. Then, as the pace seemed to be dropping, a short-handed goal from Dimitrije Filipovic brought the score back to 4-3 with five minutes to play.

That stung the Netherlands into life. Dalhuisen, Rainier Staats and Kevin Bruijsten found the net in the closing moments to give the final result a more emphatic look.

But for Dalhuisen it’s impossible to read too much into this game ahead of April. “I think we’ll have a totally different team for that tournament,” he said. “The Tilburg guys will be in their play-off – hopefully for them but not hopefully for the national team. We will have to keep going like we did here. It wasn’t easy to get up for this game, both teams knew it was a meaningless game, but it’s never meaningless when you win.”


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21 minutes ago, vlad said:

Disaster for Romania :(


but in other hand Romania reached this february a historic success in ice hockey. your player won youth olympic gold medal :)


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16 hours ago, hckosice said:


but in other hand Romania reached this february a historic success in ice hockey. your player won youth olympic gold medal :)


That's a small consolation ...

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On 24.3.2016 at 14:45, Canada4thewin said:

Wow I didn't know that South Korea played hockey


This is nice:yes

They must know something about ice hockey, since they're going to face Team Canada in the olympics :d

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