An underdogs’ day

Inline: Finland-Slovakia, Canada-Sweden in semis


Carl Berglund with a scoring chance for Sweden. Photo: Carita Lohtander

TAMPERE – After a mediocre preliminary round Sweden upset Team USA with a 5-2 win as did Slovakia with a 4-3 victory against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals of the 2015 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship. Slovenia almost upset Canada but blew a 4-0 lead as Canada won 6-5. Unbeaten host Finland advanced to the semi-finals in a 6-3 win over Germany. In Division I play Argentina scored an upset with a 5-4 win over Latvia. Australia, Croatia and Great Britain also won their quarter-final games.


Games on Friday, 10th July

Finland vs. Slovakia 18:00
Canada vs. Sweden 20:00

Placement Games:
Czech Republic vs. Germany 14:00
USA vs. Slovenia 16:00

All games will be streamed live. Times are local (EET).

Canada vs. Slovenia 6-5 (0-3, 0-1, 5-0, 1-1) Highlights

In arguably one of the craziest playoff games in Inline Hockey World Championship history Canada came back from a 4-0 deficit to beat Slovenia 6-5.

Until the 28th minute the Slovenes were leading by four goals before the Canadians found back to their game with five unanswered goals. The Slovenes tied it but Thomas Woods scored the game-winning goal with 89 seconds left. Canada outshot Slovenia 32-27.

“It’s still rollercoaster emotions for me and the team. The second half of the game shows the character of our team,” Woods said.

But how could Canada play so bad in the beginning and walk straight into the Slovenes’ trap again and again?

“I can’t put one reason for what went wrong. We were not mentally in it. We didn’t have the warrior mentality,” Woods said about the beginning of the game.

Already after a little more than ten minutes the Slovenes built up a three-goal cushion.

A great, long diagonal pass from Nejc Berlisk to the crease was picked up by Jure Sotlar for the underdog’s first goal at 5:47. Three-and-a-half minutes later Sotlar scored again when deking Canadian netminder Brett Leggat to beat him on the left side.

At 10:07 Ales Remar was stopped from behind by Brett Bulmer and was awarded a penalty shot he converted with a precise shot for the 3-0 goal. Slovenia continued scoring in the second frame. At 3:16 Rok Jakopic capitalized on the rebound after an initial shot from Kleman Sodrznik to make it even 4-0.

It’s a score that hardly allows a comeback, however, the Canadians have in the past shown their ability to score many goals and in the half-time break the players made it clear that they didn’t give up the game.

Eventually Dave Hammond scored Canada’s first goal with a power-play marker at 3:24 of the third period with a precise shot from between the face-off circles. Adam Ross added a shorthanded goal following a shot from Josh Foote two minutes later and with the next shift Foote scored the 4-3 goal himself on a breakaway to force Slovenian head coach Ales Fajdiga to use his time-out. But it was to no avail since Adam Ross scored on a power play at 7:01 to tie the game at four.

The Canadian scoring machine stayed on and at 8:43 Kyle Henderson capitalized on a rebound after a Foote shot to give his team the lead for the first time.

But despite the momentum swing the Slovenes didn’t surrender. At 5:12 of the fourth period Mateuz Erman tied the game at five on a power play and both teams had chances to go ahead with a sixth marker in the last minutes of regulation time.

With 89 seconds left it was Woods who scored the game winner for the Canadian side. Although he fell down at the right face-off dot, none of the two Slovenes were able to take away the puck. So Woods stood up, took the disc, skated to the goal and beat Tomaz Trelc with a high shot for the 6-5 goal.

Leggat made a great glove save with 3.2 seconds left before the Canadians celebrated their win. But they did it quietly both on the field and in the dressing room first having to digest the rollercoaster game and learn from the positives and negatives before tomorrow’s semi-final against Sweden.

Finland vs. Germany 6-3 (3-2, 2-0, 0-0, 1-1) Highlights

Host Finland continued its undefeated streak with a 6-3 victory over Germany in the quarter-finals. After a thrilling start the Finns took control of the game with two goals in the second period while managing to keep the Germans away from their zone for most of the second half of the game.

“We had a great game. We were patient and kept the puck with us very well,” Lasse Lappalainen said.

“We’re in the semi-finals, playing for the medals sounds good. I hope a lot of fans will be at the rink tomorrow.”

Jimi Palanto opened the scoring for Finland at 3:29 with a slap shot from 18 metres into the top-right corner. Two minutes later Markus Jokinen concluded a two-on-one with Lappalainen by beating German netminder Thomas Ower through his five-hole.

Germany reacted with Soren Sturm’s goal after a great diagonal pass to the crease from Max Schmidle only 82 seconds later and a few shifts later Schmidle scored himself to capitalize on a power play for the 2-2 goal.

The Germans showed they don’t want to make it easy for the Finns but the home team managed to react quickly with a marker from Marko Virtala after Janne Laakkonen’s centring pass. At 3:05 of the second period Lappalainen added the 4-2 goal shortly before the expiration of a Finnish power play.

With 9.7 seconds left before the half-time break and the local crowd screaming “maali” to demand a goal Kristian Kuusela made it 5-2 after a drop pass from behind the goal line from Palanto.

The Germans changed goalkeepers for the third period and for a long time Jochen Vollmer was able to keep his net clean. In the second half of the game the action was limited to a cautious Finnish puck-possession play in the opponent’s zone and a German team that didn’t make the impression of being much of a threat for the Finns anymore.

Petri Partanen after a 360-degree turn in the offensive zone scored the 6-2 goal at 6:34 of the fourth period and Daniel Menge scored Germany’s third goal with 48.3 seconds left after a nice deke against Mikko Pukka and on his second shot after a save from Juha Taponen.

Czech Republic vs. Slovakia 3-4 (1-1, 1-1, 0-2, 1-0) Highlights

Slovakia won its first Inline Hockey World Championship game since 2008 against the Czech Republic and moves on to the semi-finals after the 4-3 victory. Already in 2008 it was a quarter-final win against the big brothers, 6-5 in overtime on home soil in Bratislava.

In the last six years Slovakia only finished better than the Czechs one time in 2013 when they also reach the semi-finals after a 4-3 over Finland.

The Czechs had the better start and earned the lead when on a breakaway David Hrazdira sent a high pass back to Filip Kutak, who opened the scoring at 8:30.

The Czechs outshot the Slovaks 12-4 in the first period but didn’t manage to end it with a lead. With one minute left Roman Simunek scored a shorthanded goal after a horizontal pass from Jakub Ruckay. His shot hit Czech goalie Ondrej Haloda on his upper body and from there went into the net.

At 3:59 Slovakia was in front for the first time. Ruckay sent a diagonal pass from left to the right side of the crease where Boris Ertel scored into the empty net.

“We are very happy because it’s a big game between the Czech Republic and Slovakia and a big win,” Ruckay said and was also happy about his great passes that led to two goals.

“I’m happy because it’s my first points here. I’m the oldest guy here on our team so I have to do it with passes,” he said with a smile.

But the Czechs tied the game at two five minutes later when after some passes through the Slovak box play line Patrik Sebek scored with a shot from the left side. It was a well-deserved tie for the Czechs going into the half-time break after having outshot the Slovaks 22-10.

However, the Slovak team showed another time that they shouldn’t be counted out. 23 seconds into the third period with a power play taken over from the previous frame, Tomas Jasko scored with a shot from ten metres from between the face-off circles. And two minutes later Juraj Jurik skated into the Czech zone and sent off a laser of a shot into the top-right corner for the 4-2 lead forcing Czech head coach Jan Besser to call for a time-out and replacing goalie Haolda by Ondrej Jirkuv, who quickly got some work after a penalty call against Martin Vozdecky.

The Czechs had to react and had three power plays during the rest of the period but didn’t manage to overcome the Slovak defence.

With 3:52 left in the fourth period Michal Simo eventually managed to beat Neumann after a horizontal pass from Sebek. The 4-3 marker now forced Slovak coach Imrich Antal to use his time-out and prepare his team for a battle to defend the one-goal lead. The Czechs had another power play and pulled their goalie but to no avail. The Slovak bench broke out in cheering when the game clock counted down to 0:00 and the 4-3 victory became a fact.

USA vs. Sweden 2-5 (0-0, 1-3, 1-0, 0-2) Highlights

Team USA outshot Tre Kronor 33-18 but it wasn’t enough. An efficient Swedish offence and a strong goaltender Ludvig Engsund, who had 31 saves, helped Sweden upset the Americans in the quarter-finals. Despite a rejuvenated team the Swedes reached the semi-finals for the third time in a row while the Americans missed the semis for only the second time in the last eight years.

“It was a new game. We had nothing to lose,” Engsund described the Swedes’ feeling following the quarter-final win hinting the tough 9-1 loss to Finland in the last preliminary-round game before joining the Swedish dressing room covered by loud celebration.

In short the first half of the game and in particular the beginning can be described by an American team that had more chances but the Swedes had the better opportunities and capitalized on them.

After a scoreless opening fame Derrick Burnett gave Team USA the lead after a drop pass from Matt White but three-and-half-minutes later the Swedes tied the game when Andreas Jensen in front of the crease diverted a quick side pass from Victor Backman.

At 8:44 Markus Kinisjarvi gained the lead for Sweden when he fast-tracked the American defence and beat goalie Troy Redmann from the left side. With 12 seconds left before the half-time break Rasmus Dahlberg Karlsson scored the 3-1 goal with a distance shot from the face-off circle.

It was surely not what the Americans had in mind who in the past seven years had missed the semi-finals only once in Ingolstadt 2012.

At 4:27 Team USA cut the deficit to one goal. Nielsson Arcibal was credited for the marker after a shot from White through traffic was diverted.

The Americans were pushing for the third goal and clearly outshot the Swedes in the second half of the game but the Swedish defence was strong and allowed the Americans only one power play.

“It was disappointing to lose like that especially after the start into the game,” Arcibal said.

While the American efforts were fruitless, Emil Beijmo and Marcus Lissang scored two goals into the empty net in the dying minutes of the game when the Americans pulled goalie Redmann.

The Swedes now have to wait to know their opponent for tomorrow. A re-match with Finland is possible if the favourites win in the other games.


Games on Friday, 10th July

Great Britain vs. Australia 17:00
Croatia vs. Argentina 19:00

Placement Games:
Hungary vs. Austria 13:00
Latvia vs. Bulgaria 15:00

All games will be streamed live. Times are local (EET).

Latvia vs. Argentina 4-5 (0-1, 1-0, 1-4, 2-0)

Also the Division I tournament has its upset. Latvia, which performed in the preliminary round like a candidate for promotion, surprisingly lost to Argentina in the quarter-finals. The South Americans built on their great performance against Hungary to beat Latvia 5-4 with Hernan Insua Shanly scoring a hat trick, Rodrigo Irisarri netting a pair of goals and a fine 35-save performance from goaltender Lucas Marcolongo.

Irisarri opened the scoring coming from the penalty bench at 10:43 of the opening frame but with three seconds left in the second period Rudolfs Maslovskis tied the game for Latvia.

The third period brought the change of fortunes for Argentina. Insua Shanly scored 72 seconds into the period before Irisarri added a power-play marker and Insua Shanly netted another goal while Argentina was playing shorthanded. To Aleksandrs Kercs’ 4-2 goal the Argentines reacted with the hat trick marker and eventual game-winning goal from Insua Shanly.

Latvia tried everything to come back, changed the goalie and scored two more goals in the fourth period. Miks Lipsbergs made it 5-3 and with the goalie pulled early Artjoms Ogorodnikovs scored the 5-4 marker with 99 seconds left on the game clock but the score stayed until the final buzzer causing a huge celebration by the Argentines, who have never before performed as well as this year in the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship.

Croatia vs. Bulgaria 23-0 (6-0, 4-0, 7-0, 6-0)

Whether it was at equal strength, power play or box play, the Croats scored one goal after another for the highest score of this tournament, a 23-0 quarter-final blanking of winless Bulgaria.

Bulgaria changed goalkeepers three times and 13 different Croatian players scored goals, most often Niksa Trstenjak with four and Ivan Jankovic with three. Jan Novotny, Marko Tadic, Domen Vedlin, Borna Silovic and Mario Cunko each scored a pair of goals.

Great Britain vs. Hungary 7-5 (0-0, 3-1, 2-0, 2-4)

Great Britain reached the semi-finals of the Division I competition after edging Hungary 7-5.

In a tight encounter Great Britain changed the flow of the game with three unanswered goals in the second period, two from Rob Shelton and one from Ben Lowe. One-and-a-half minutes later Hungary’s Akos Kiss netted the puck for the 3-1 half-time score.

The British extended the lead with two third-period goals from Sam Jones and Joseph Ganley but despite the 5-1 lead the game got new excitement in the end when Hungary worked hard and almost successfully on a miracle during the last seven minutes of regulation time.

First Attila Rafaj scored the longed for second goal on a power play, then Vilmos Gallo added two more markers to make it 5-4. Dan Hutchinson reacted with goal number six for Great Britain but in the next shift Szilard Sandor made it 6-5 with 2:40 to go in regulation time – still enough to work on the game-tying goal.

However, the Hungarians didn’t manage to score again and with 17 seconds left Lowe sealed the win with his second goal for the final score of 7-5.

Australia vs. Austria 6-3 (2-0, 0-2, 2-1, 2-0)

After a strong preliminary round the Australians confirmed their good shape in the quarter-finals and reached the semis in a 6-3 victory over Austria. The team from Down Under outshot Austria 13-3 in the opening frame and earned a 2-0 lead with goals from Brenton Fitzgerald and Lee Turner, but Austria fought back and tied the game at two after goals scored by Harry Lange and Andre Niec.

Australia regained the lead in the second period with unanswered goals from Antony Collins and Sean Jones before Daniel Obersteiner netted the 4-3 marker for Austria to keep the score in reach.

However, the Australians extended the lead early in the fourth period with goals from Michael Haynes and Jonathon Bremner for the final score of 6-3.

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