Canada back on inline throne

Beats host Finland in final; Croatia promoted


Team Canada celebrates after winning the 2015 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship. Photo: Martin Merk

TAMPERE – It was sweet revenge for Canada. After losing last year’s gold medal game to Finland, the Canadians beat the Finns on their own soil 4-2 to win the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship for the third time after 1998 and 2012. Sweden earned the bronze after beating Slovakia 5-4. Croatia beat Australia 5-4 in overtime to earn promotion to the top division where it will replace Slovenia, which lost the relegation game 5-4 to Germany.


Gold Medal Game

Finland vs. Canada 2-4 (1-1, 0-1, 0-0, 1-2) Highlights

Team Canada beat Finland 4-2 in a tight game in front of 6,678 spectators in Tampere to win the third inline gold for the country and the second in four years. It crowns a great season for Canada in IIHF competition after having won gold medals in ice hockey at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“It feels great. It’s always a dream to win with your boys and we got exactly what we want, to beat the home team in the gold medal game. Today was our night. The crowd was amazing, all the country was there. It was high intensity. It was just a pleasure to be part of,” said Dave Hammond, who scored two goals for Team Canada.

One year ago Finland beat Canada 6-2 to win its first inline hockey gold in 11 years and many players on both sides were back in Tampere to battle for the gold medals after a mostly flawless campaign of both teams in the earlier games of this year’s Inline Hockey World Championship.

“It’s indescribable how it feels to win a World Championship. Coming in we knew they’re world champions, they’re the team to beat and if we want to be world champions we had to beat them. That’s an incredible hockey team we just beat. It was far from easy, they were pressing hard and the fans were fantastic today,” said Canadian goalkeeper Brett Leggat, who had a strong game with 31 saves.

“It was busy. The first period Finland came out just flying. We knew we had to weather the storm because they were going to come out hard because of the close to 7,000 fans here. I tried my best to keep us in the game and weather the storm and we managed to storm back thankfully.”

The Finns played better in the first period and Janne Laakkonen opened the scoring after a drop pass from Marko Virtala after 77 seconds of play.

However, only two-and-a-half minutes later Hammond tied the game at one. Skating towards the crease on the left side the Finns seemed to expect the pass while Hammond shot and scored.

The Finns had more scoring opportunities in the first period but couldn’t convert their 13-5 shot advantage into more goals. Throughout the game Finland outshot Canada 33-29.

Canada became stronger in the second period and didn’t allow the Finns that many scoring chances anymore. Instead Brett Bulmer sent a shot off from the right face-off dot through traffic into the top-left corner to give Canada its first lead of the game at 7:42 of the second period.

The Finns had trouble to find back in a game that was disciplined with the first penalty call after 26 minutes of play and with a strong puck-possession game by the Canadians that at times seemed frustrating for the home team and its crowd. But it served the Canadians’ purpose as the game time was running down while the 2-1 lead for Team Canada stayed.

When Kristian Kuusela had to go to the penalty box for tripping, Hammond with a goal scored from ten metres made the challenge even bigger to the Finns with just 6:12 left in regulation time.

“We played like we wanted to play and Canada played a very good game. I’m not so disappointed about the way we played but the result is not good for us. It wasn’t good enough, Canada was better and that’s it,” Finland head coach Timo Nurmberg said.

Finland took its time-out with 5:11 left. With 4:40 left Jimi Palanto scored the goal the Finns were longing for to cut the Canadian lead with a shot from the left side after a drop pass from Kuusela.

It was short-lived hope though. One-and-a-half minutes later Brendan Baumgartner scored the 4-2 marker for Canada on a counter-attack after a horizontal pass from Adam Ross. It was his first goal of the tournament and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Finns were pushing for the remaining three minutes but didn’t overcome a strong Canadian defence anymore and had to settle for silver this time.

Bronze Medal Game

Sweden vs. Slovakia 5-4 (0-1, 2-1, 2-1, 1-1) Highlights

Sweden won its first medal since taking home silver two years ago in Dresden. Tre Kronor beat Slovakia 5-4 in the bronze medal game.

“We’re of course satisfied. We’re a very young team with many young guys so we are pretty happy with what we have reached here,” said Victor Backman. The 24-year-old, who most recently played ice hockey for Herning in the top Danish league, scored two goals en route to Tre Kronor’s win over a pesky Slovak team.

The Swedes know how to medal at the Inline Hockey Worlds while Slovakia was aiming at its first medal since silver at home in Bratislava in 2008. Like in the last few games the Slovaks were the underdogs with fewer scoring opportunities but they fought hard and were dangerous once they managed to shoot.

It took some time but with 71 seconds left in the first period Tomas Jasko’s shot from the right face-off circle opened the scoring.

It became even better for the Slovaks early in the second period when at 3:00 Juraj Jurik made it 2-0 by capitalizing on his own rebound after a blocked distance shot. But 19 seconds later Backman replied for the Swedes after outskating Adam Simonic on the right side to beat Vladimir Neumann from the right. And at 8:27 Emil Bejmo beat Neumann with a flat shot from the face-off circle to make it 2-2 before the half-time break.

At 6:57 of the third period Backman scored his second goal of the day to give Sweden the lead for the first time and three minutes later Andreas Svensson made it 4-2 on a power-play goal from the right face-off circle.

Again the game went back and forth and 19 seconds after the fourth Swedish goal Jurik had little opposition to skate straight to the crease and beat Ludvig Engsund for the 4-3 goal.

Slovakia still had its chances to tie the game again but with 2:42 left in regulation time Andreas Jensen was right in front of the crease to score on a rebound after a blocked Svensson shot to extend the lead to 5-3.

The Slovaks were unlucky in the dying minutes of the game for which they pulled the goalie. Miroslav Preisinger’s penalty for a high-sticking infraction against Backman didn’t exactly help but with 3.5 seconds left Tomas Jasko at least scored the 5-4 goal but that one came too late to change the outcome of the game. It was the Swedes who were awarded the bronze medals.

Relegation Game for 7th Place

Germany vs. Slovenia 5-4 (1-2, 1-0, 2-1, 1-1) Highlights

Slovenia has to go back to the Division I in inline hockey. Germany won the relegation game against the Slovenes 5-4 and finished the 2015 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship in seventh place.

Horka Sekesi opened the scoring already at 1:54. He got a loose puck right in front of the net after the Slovenes had blocked Soren Sturm from shooting. At 7:37 Jure Sotlar tied it up with an extra attacker on the field during a delayed penalty call and a shot from the left face-off dot. And after a long shot almost from the red line one minute later Rok Jakopic made it 2-1.

On a German attack at 8:30 of the second period Daniel Krzizok scored on a rebound to tie the game at two just after the Slovenes hadn’t capitalized on a power play and a lengthy 5-on-4 during a delayed penalty call. And at 3:20 of the third period Christian Poetzel gave Germany the lead. At 6:38 Poetzel scored again when he capitalized on a rebound during a power play, but Slovenia reacted immediately with a Simon Zerdin goal to cut the German lead to 4-3.

With a shot from centre ice Sturm restored the two-goal lead for Germany at 1:56 of the fourth period in what would eventually become the game-winning goal.

Slovenia tried to react and with 3:21 left in regulation time Sotlar made use of confusion in the German defence to cut the deficit to one goal and enable Slovenia to battle for a tie in the dying minutes of the game. But the 5-4 score stayed until the final buzzer.


Gold Medal Game

Croatia vs. Australia 5-4 (1-1, 0-1, 3-1, 0-1, 1-0) OT Highlights

Croatia will for the first time play in the top division of the Inline Hockey World Championship after beating Australia 5-4 in the gold medal game of the Division I competition thanks to Igor Jacmenjak’s game winner eight seconds into overtime.

The 35-year-old, who also played in 15 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship events, also contributed two assists to the win in a game that went back and forth.

“It’s not possible to tell you the feelings. It’s a big thing for Croatian inline hockey. We are so young in this sport, we just played five years in this division and next year we will play in the top division,” Jacmenjak said.

“We just came here and thought maybe to play for a bronze medal like last year but during the tournament and when we saw that Argentina beat Latvia we knew that everything was possible here.”

For the fifth year in a row only one place separated these two nations in the final standings just that this time they played for Division I gold and promotion to the top division. For Australia it was the second time in a row they played in the final and again only the silver medals were left for the team from Down Under.

There was neither a clear favourite nor a clearly better team and both had some minutes of lead during the match. Croatia had the first goal of the game when Marko Tadic deflected a vertical pass from Jan Novotny at 1:42. But with 3.6 seconds left in the first period Steve Best sent off a perfect shot to the top-left corner from behind the face-off circle to tie the game.

Croatia missed out on two power plays during the second period but at 8:48 it was Australia who for the first time gained the lead. Jordan Gavin scored after a long pass to the crease from Liam Jeffries. 54 seconds later the Australians were cheering again on an alleged goal, however, the puck went from the left to the right post and bounced back from there without having even touched the goal line, therefore the 2-1 score remained after a short video review.

Croatia came out hot from the half-time break and after 71 seconds Ivan Jankovic tied the game at two for Croatia. However, at 4:20 Sean Jones scored with a precise shot from between the face-off circles to beat Mate Tomljevonic high but 30 seconds later Matija Milicic tied the game at three

With 77 seconds left in the third period Domen Vedlin scored for Croatia after a side pass in front of the crease from Jacmenjak to give the Croats the lead but after 55 seconds of play in the fourth period the Australians reacted with a goal from Adam St Clair after a distance shot from behind the left face-off circle to tie the game again.

Overtime had to decide and the decision came just as the extra period started. After the opening face-off Jacmenjak took the puck, skated to the Australian goal, deked defenceman Antony Collins and then goalie Michael James to score the 5-4 goal after just eight seconds for a bench-clearing celebration and singing of the goal song by the Croatian players before celebrating with the gold medals and the trophy.

Bronze Medal Game

Great Britain vs. Argentina 3-2 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0, 0-1) Highlights

Great Britain missed the return to the top division but as a consolation earned the bronze medals of the Division I competition after beating Argentina 3-2. For the Argentines the fourth-place finish is still the best since the Inline Hockey World Championship has been played with 16 teams in two divisions starting in 2002.

Sam Jones opened the scoring at 3:54 after a long horizontal pass from Karl Niamatali and early in the second period Great Britain made it 2-0 with a similar goal. After a great diagonal pass to the crease from Nathan Finney, Niamatali was alone in front of Argentine goalie Lucas Marcolongo to beat him for the second goal, but 12 seconds later Rodrigo Irisarri brought Argentina on the scoreboard with the 2-1 goal.

Although Argentina became stronger, it was the British who hit the back of the net again after the half-time break. James Archer ended a two-on-one with the 3-1 goal for Great Britain.

But the game was far from over yet. At 1:17 of the fourth period the group of Argentine fans on the tribune went wild when Hernan Insua Shanly scored his team’s second marker on a power play.

Argentina had a power play and played with an extra attacker and the goalie pulled for the last two minutes of the game but the British defence withstood the Argentine storm to earn the bronze medals.

Relegation Game for 5th Place

Latvia vs. Hungary 3-4 (0-2, 1-0, 1-0, 1-2)

After an unbeaten preliminary round campaign, Latvia ends up empty-handed after the surprising quarter-final defeat against Argentina and now a 4-3 loss in the relegation game to Hungary. Hungary thus stays in Division I with a fifth-place finish while Latvia, Austria and Bulgaria will be relegated to the qualification tournaments to battle for a return in 2017.

Imre Pederdi, who also played in nine IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship events, was the hero with two goals including the game winner with 27 seconds left in regulation time.

Although Latvia had twice as many shots in the first period it was the Hungarians who opened the scoring with goals from Peterdi and Vilmos Gallo scored in a span of 25 seconds in the fifth minute of play.

However, the Latvians managed to react. Early in the second period Tomass Zeile brought Latvia on the scoreboard and late in the third period Aleksandrs Kercs tied the game with a penalty shot.

The game went back and forth in the decisive fourth period. At 3:09 Akos Kiss regained the lead for Hungary but with 2:04 left in regulation time and the goalie pulled Aleksandrs Galkins tied it again.

With just 27 seconds to go is was Peterdi who scored his second goal of the day for the 4-3 game winner to secure Hungary a spot in the next Inline Hockey World Championship.

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