VILNIUS – Three other clashes between favourites and underdogs ended with clear scores in Vilnius. Japan beat Australia 7-1, Kazakhstan defeated Croatia 6-1, and Slovenia won against Lithuania, 8-2. For the teams it was like a replay of the first game day.Slovenia vs. Lithuania 8-2 (0-0, 4-0, 4-2) Game sheet Photos
Lithuania was the team that came closest to an upset at the 2009 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A on home ice in Vilnius when they were a challenger for Slovenia for 25 minutes, but the Slovenes eventually won 8-2 after they had struggled in a scoreless beginning.
The Lithuanians wanted to show something in front of their home crowd and had more shots on goal in the first (10-5) and second (14-12) period but they hadn’t scored after 40 minutes.
Lithuania had the biggest chances to gain the lead with a couple of shots during a power play in the 18th minute. In the middle period, Tadas Kumeliauskas had another good chance when his rebound during a power play went wide of the net.
The Slovenes were more efficient. They had their second power play of the game in the middle stanza and finished it with the 1-0 goal at 24:47. Jakob Milovanovic slid to the right in front of Lithuania goalie Ernestas Kielius to beat him with a high shot.
Rok Ticar began a counter-attack three minutes later and passed from the end boards to Matej Hocevar, who scored the second goal. And it became even worse for the valiant but unsuccessful Lithuanians. Mitja Sivic also made use of the third Slovenian power play when he deflected a shot from Tomaz Razingar into the net.
Lithuania came close to their first goal when Arnoldas Bosas hit the post but two minutes later, at 38:42, Mitja Robar netted another power-play goal for the 4-0 score after two periods.
The Lithuanians had a quick start into the third period as Darius Lelenas escaped along the boards to feed Arturas Katulis, whose 4-1 goal 33 seconds into the last period brought back the hope and atmosphere into the arena. But three minutes later, David Rodman’s power-play goal silenced the crowd again.
Sivic, let alone in front of goalie Kielius, scored his second goal again three minutes later and also Razingar joined the goal scorers at 51:39. Bosas with the second Lithuanian marker and Andrej Hebar were the last scorers in this high-scoring game.
“They had many power-play opportunities at the beginning but we came back,” Slovenia head coach John Harrington said. “The special teams were really a key part in tonight’s game. Five power-play goal, that’s perfect.”Kazakhstan vs. Croatia 6-1 (3-0, 2-0, 0-0) Game sheet Photos
Kazakhstan and Croatia participated in another lopsided game with different happiness after the game. Kazakhstan showed another superior performance while the Croats were still far away from gaining their first points.
It took some minutes until the Kazakh machine was on but then they didn’t let Croatia a chance. Andrei Samokhvalov opened the scoring at 7:06 after he had got a pass from the blue line from Maxim Belyayev. 38 seconds later, Yevgeni Rymarev had a slalom run around Croatian back Luka Novosel to score the 2-0 goal.
Four minutes after the second marker, it was already 3-0 for the Kazakhs. Sergei Yakovenko tried to defeat Croatian goalie Vanja Belic, who blocked the puck but couldn’t catch it. Andrei Gavrilin was on the spot to score.
Kazakhstan held the pressure also in the middle period. Defenceman Yevgeni Mazunin entered the scoring list with a shot from the blue line at 25:06. 11 seconds into a box play, Roman Starchenko scored the 5-0 goal at 32:41.
Mato Mladjenovic scored the lone Croatian goal during another power play but Starchenko’s second goal restored the five-goal margin after two periods. The 6-1 score remained after a scoreless third period.Andrei Gavrilin scores the third Kazakh goal against Croatia. Photo: Andrius Petrulevicius
Japan vs. Australia 7-1 (3-0, 3-1, 1-0) Game sheet Photos
A 21-3 shots advantage for Japan after the first period was a sign for things to come as the Japanese crushed Australia, 7-1. A shot from Shuhei Kuji found the way into the cage after five minutes. From the 12th minute, Japan was constantly on the power-play, but Australia goalie Matt Ezzy did a good job defending his net until 18:51 when Takeshi Sato beat him from an acute angle. One minute later, Sho Sato made it 3-0.
Japan continued to dominate in the middle period. Daisuke Obara got off a clean shot between two Australia defencemen for the 4-0 goal. After Masahito Nishiwaki made it 5-0 midway through the game, backup goalie Stuart Denman came in but after just six minutes, he had to fish out the puck after Takeshi Sato’s second goal.
However, there was good news for the Aussies. At 37:28, they scored their historic first goal at the Division I level. Japan netminder Hisashi Ishikawa blocked a shot and the two following rebounds, but the fourth shot was too much as Jarred Seymour was the first Australian to appear on the jumbotron.
“It was exciting. We didn’t have many opportunities, so every shot counts,” the towering defenceman said. “To play here is a new step for us but we have a good coach. We hope we will continue to learn and to surprise the people.”
There’s still some room for improvement after the game which ended with Makoto Kawashima’s 7-1 goal.
MARTIN MERKJapan’s Takeshi Saito (vs. Australia d-man David Huxley) scored two goals and added an assist. Photo: Andrius Petrulevicius