Finland-Canada reloaded

Inline: Rematch of last year’s final for gold


Finnland's Petri Partanen watches this puck go in for the opening goal against Slovakia. Photo: Pasi Mennander

TAMPERE – Finland and Canada again reached the gold medal game at the 2015 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship, however, both needed comeback wins against Slovakia and Sweden respectively to advance, Finland even needed a shootout after having blown a 3-0 lead. Team USA and the Czech Republic remain in the top division while Germany and Slovenia have to play in the relegation game. Australia and Croatia reached the gold medal game in Division I.



Canada vs. Sweden 6-2 (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 4-0) Highlights

Canada will challenge host Finland in the final after beating Sweden 6-2 in what was a one-goal game for most of the match.

The Canadians gave up an initial lead and had to fight back before scoring four unanswered goals in the last period to seal the win. Dave Hammond was most successful with a hat trick while Josh Foote scored two goals.

“It feels good. We came into the game to play the Finns for the gold. You always want to play the best on their barn,” Hammond said.

It was Foote, who opened the scoring at 7:18 of the opening frame after a diagonal pass to the crease from Hammond.

The game remained tight but mostly scoreless for the rest of the first and second periods and both teams missed out on several power plays.

With 1:36 left in the second period Carl Berglund sent off a shot from behind the face-off circle while two Canadians were blocking his way and found the gap in the Canadian net to tie the game.

69 seconds into the third period the Swedes scored again. Emil Bejmo skated from the left and despite two Canadian skaters and a goalie in between he managed to give Sweden the 2-1 lead with a shot from a sharp angle.

It was a short-lived lead though. 57 seconds later Hammond scored his second marker when he shot the puck from the left face-off dot to tie the game at two.

The fourth period was owned by Canada. At 3:21 Foote skated through on the right side and beat Swedish goalie Brett Leggat through a small corridor between him and the goal line from the right side of the crease. Three minutes later Hammond scored his third goal from a similar position to make it 4-2 with 5:46 left in regulation time. And two-and-a-half minutes later Brett Bulmer made it 5-2 on a breakaway.

With just a small ray of hope left the Swedes pulled their goalie with just over three minutes left in regulation time but it was to no avail. Christopher Santiago shot the puck into the empty net for his first-ever World Championship goal and the final score of 6-2.

“Now we play Finland tomorrow. It will be crowded and with a lot of energy,” Hammond was looking forward to the final game. In a rematch of last year’s final Canada will play Finland at 20:00 local time (1 PM ET).

Finland vs. Slovakia 4-3 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1, 0-2, 0-0, 1-0) SO Highlights

Like in many games at this tournament Finland earned a convincing lead but then the Slovaks fought back from a 3-0 deficit. Kristian Kuusela’s goal in the fifth shootout round and Sasu Hovi’s miraculous block save eventually led Finland to the gold medal game.

“It was a pretty exciting moment after five rounds of shots, now we can celebrate a little bit,” Kuusela said. "But we made the game hard for ourselves. Slovakia defended pretty well.”

Initially it didn’t look like a tight game, rather like business as usual for the Finns’ strong Inline Hockey World Championship campaign. Until 28 minutes of play the lions roared and built a 3-0 cushion, had a 21-6 shot advantage at halfway through the game.

At 4:51 of the opening frame Marko Virtala was left alone on the left side, skated toward the crease to beat Slovak goalie Vladimir Neumann with a high shot from a short distance.

Also the second period ended with one Finnish goal. At 3:59 Jimi Palanto beat Neumann on his glove side with a shot from the face-off dot.

Everything seemed to work well for the Finns who had their captain Jesse Saarinen back after two games. He had left the team to join his wife for the birth of their child before returning in time for the semi-final game.

Suomi remained in control of the game also early after the half-time break. At 3:58 of the third period Markus Jokinen finished a rush on the left side with the 3-0 goal.

Juraj Jurik brought Slovakia eventually on the scoreboard at 8:41 soon after a power play not only to spoil Sasu Hovi’s shutout but to start a comeback the Finnish fans spoiled with clear wins by their team hardly expected.

At 1:43 of the fourth period Peter Novajovsky skated from the right side and sent a shot off the face-off dot to beat Hovi again.

The Slovaks gained hope and were pushing for another goal while the Finns hoped for counter-attacks and were close to the fourth goal on a breakaway. However, five minutes later Tomas Mery sent of a shot from the right face-off circle to tie the game at three.

The remainder of the period ended scoreless as did the overtime period. Also in the shootout tie-breaking rounds had to decide after a 1-1 score after three shots each. In the fifth round Kuusela beat Neumann through his five-hole while Finnish goalie Hovi made a huge block save in the air in Mery’s attempt to seal Finland the win and a place in tomorrow’s gold medal game at 20:00 local time.

“Every team is a hard team at this stage as we saw today, we take whoever comes,” Kuusela said about the final on Saturday night.

Penalty Shootout:
Round 1: SVK #66 Juraj Prokop – 0-1, FIN #15 Sami Markkanen – 1-1.
Round 2: SVK #28 Miroslav Preisinger – save, FIN #7 Jimi Palanto – save.
Round 3: SVK #16 Tomas Jasko – save, FIN #27 Marko Virtala – miss.
Round 4: FIN #15 Sami Markkanen – save, SVK #66 Juraj Prokop – save.
Round 5: FIN #71 Kristian Kuusela – 2-1, SVK #26 Tomas Mery – save.

Placement Games

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

After losing to Sweden in the quarter-finals Team USA reacted with a 5-2 win over Slovenia to secure its top-division spot.

Unlike yesterday against Canada, the Slovenes weren’t able to start the game with a firework of goals. Derrick Burnett already opened the scoring for Team USA after 95 seconds of play but at 4:40 Anze Lonear tied it for Slovenia.

Five minutes later Cody Kettler regained the lead for the Americans, who outshot Slovenia 25-15 during the game.

Travis Noe with a power-play goal on a high shot from the face-off circle extended the lead for the Americans to 3-1 at 9:14 of the second period.

After the half-time break the Americans continued to be in control of the game and added two more markers from David Makowski and Tyler Spezia to seal the win. Slovenia’s 5-2 goal from Ales Remar with 16 seconds left in regulation time was too little and too late.

Team USA finishes the 2015 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship in fifth place while Slovenia will battle against relegation tomorrow in the seventh-place game against Germany at 12:00 local time (11:00 CET).

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

The Czech Republic stays in the top division after beating Germany 4-1. The Czechs dominated and clearly outshot their opponent 49-18.

Still, it needs some patience until the Czechs succeeded in the offensive skill that matters most: scoring. After a scoreless opening period the Czechs succeeded at 8:26 of the second period with Pavel Strycek’s shot from 20 metres.

At 8:54 of the third period Germany managed to tie the game. Max Schmidle skated from the right side all the way to the left side around the Czech crease to score over goalie Ondrej Haloda with a shot from close to the goal line.

In the fourth period the Czechs had their best period and granted the Germans almost no scoring opportunities while Martin Vozdecy, Patrik Sebek and Strycek with his second marker netted three goals for the Czech 4-1 win.

The Czechs will end the tournament in sixth place while the Germans will have to play the relegation game against Slovenia tomorrow at 11:00 local time (10:00 CET).



Croatia vs. Argentina 7-0 (1-0, 2-0, 2-0, 2-0)

Argentina has been the surprise team of the last two game days at the Division I tournament in Tampere but saw its streak come to an end in Croatia’s 7-0 win, the same result like in the group stage.

The Croats remain in good shape and haven’t lost a game since starting with a 5-1 defeat to Hungary.

Mario Novak opened the scoring at 7:17 of a first period in which most action happened in Croatia’s offensive zone. After Agustin Chiaravalloti had missed out on a penalty shot in the second period the Croats extended the lead to 3-0 and added four more markers in the second half of the game.

Novak and Igor Jacmenjak scored a pair of goals each, the other markers came from Domen Vedlin, Ivan Jankovic and Matija Kopajtic.

Croatia will take on Australia in the gold medal game that will be played at the main rink tomorrow at 15:00 local time (14:00 CET, 22:00 AEST).

Great Britain vs. Australia 4-7 (2-0, 2-3, 0-2, 0-2)

Great Britain will not battle for a return to the top division on the last day of competition. Instead Australia will play in the gold medal game for the second year in a row after beating the British 7-4.

It was a tight game with the better start for Great Britain thanks to three unanswered goals from Dan Hutchinson, Sam Jones and Rob Shelton. But unfortunately for the British they have been good at this tournament in not maintaining such margins and it was no different against Australia just that the team from Down Under succeeded in its comeback attempt.

Twenty seconds after the third British marker early in the second period Liam Jeffries replied with the first Australian goal and at 5:13 Brenton Fitzgerald scored on the power play to make it 3-2. Ben Lowe replied for Great Britain but 2:39 before the half-time break Adam St Clair cut the British lead to just one goal.

Australia won the game in the second half of the game with four unanswered goals. Jonathon Bremner tied the game at four at 2:50 of the third period and St Clair’s second goal gave Australia the lead.

The Australians didn’t allow Great Britain to come back and added two more markers from Liam McKay and Sean Jones in the fourth period to seal their place in the Division I final while Great Britain will have to play for the bronze medals.

Placement Games

Latvia vs. Bulgaria 14-0 (2-0, 1-0, 4-0, 7-0)

Like in the preliminary round Latvia had little trouble defeating Bulgaria and blanked the Bulgarians 14-0.

The Bulgarians managed to keep the net clean for over nine minutes when Roberts Lipsbergs opened the goal galore. Aleksandrs Galkins and Aleksandrs Kercs each scored a hat trick, Roberts Lipsbergs and Viesturs Cimermanis each had a pair of goals.

With the win Latvia reached the fifth-place game where they will battle for survival in Division I against Hungary tomorrow at 12:00 local time (11:00 CET). The loser of that game as well as Austria and Bulgaria will be relegated to the European qualification tournament in 2016.

Hungary vs. Austria 7-1 (1-1, 2-0, 0-0, 4-0)

Austria opened the scoring with its only scoring chance of the first period thanks to Andre Niec’s goal but Hungary was too strong and improved its offensive production by the end of the game to beat Austria 7-1.

Six different players scored for Hungary. Vilmos Gallo, who was credited with the game-winning goal, had two goals while Attila Rafaj, Istvan Terbocs, Akos Kiss, Balazs Bartalis and Szilard Sandor each scored one goal.

With this result Austria is relegated from the Division I and will have to play in the European qualification tournament next year. Hungary will play for survival in the fifth-place game against Latvia tomorrow at 12:00 local time (11:00 CET).

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