VILNIUS – Kazakhstan won the first game between the three top-seeded teams in the World Championship Division I Group A and showed its ambitions in the 3-1 victory against Japan. Also Slovenia remained undefeated while Lithuania landed its first win.Australia vs. Lithuania 3-9 (0-5, 1-2, 2-2) Game sheet Photos
After two defeats, Lithuania was looking for its first win and its game against newly-promoted Australia came at the right time.
“Lietuva!” echoed around the arena and was followed by cheer when the home team scored after four minutes. A short angle distance shot from Dalius Vaiciukevicius, deflected by Sarunas Kuliesius, went into the net off the post.
Three minutes later, Sergej Ivanuskin scored on his own rebound to make it 2-0. Kuliesius added his second goal at 13:17, standing alone in front of Australia goalie Stuart Denman while being fed with a side pass from Dovydas Kulevicius. Arturas Katulis scored the 4-0 with a long shot after a back pass from behind the goal line one minute later. It was followed by Darius Lelenas, who fired the puck between the legs of Australian defenceman Andrew White.
Denman got his first start in the Australian goal after replacing Matt Ezzy in the last game but conceded five goals in the first period. Ezzy was back in net after the first intermission.
The goals continued in the nect two period as the teams combined for seven goals. After Ivanuskin’s 6-0 goal, Vladan Stransky was the first Australian scorer.
Donatas Kumeliauskas, Povilar Verenis and Arturas Katulis scored three more goals for the host while the last two were scored by Australia’s Roberto Franchini and David Upton.
For the first time the home crowd, with 6,400 fans, celebrated a win.
“We wanted to shoot as much as possible, that was our order,” Lithuania head coach Dmitrij Medvedev said and the job was well done with 60 shots. “However, I’m not happy that we conceded three goals.”
Australia and Croatia are the two winless teams left. “We finished in a high note tonight and want to continue,” Australia defenceman Robert Starke said.Slovenia vs. Croatia 4-2 (1-0, 1-2, 2-0) Game sheet Photos
Slovenia dominated the first period but couldn’t capitalize until 17:28 on its fourth power play. Tomaz Razingar scored eleven seconds into the power-play.
Croatia had a power-play to start the second stanza and Slovenian goalie Andrej Hocevar, who got the start due to an injury to veteran netminder Robert Kristan, allowed two mirror image goals.
Borna Rendulic shot from the right and Hocevar deflected the puck to the other side where Petar Trstenjak equalized at 22:31. Exactly 29 seconds later, the situation repeated just with other players on the ice. Tomislav Grozaj fired the first shot, Damir Jakovac scored on the rebound.
At 34:08, Jakob Milovanovic got the Slovenians back on track when he shot the puck past Croatia goalie Vanja Belic during a power play.
The score stayed even going into third-period action, but Slovenia quickly took the lead after just 90 seconds. Razingar skated between three Croats to defeat Belic.
Three minutes later, Mitja Robar scored the 4-2 goal during another Slovenian power play and Marcel Rodman had the chance for the fifth goal two minutes later when he hit the post. Slovenia and Kazakhstan are the teams to beat, both are undefeated. Slovene Ales Music tries to score against Croatia goalie Vanja Belic. Photo: Andrius PetruleviciusKazakhstan vs. Japan 3-1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0) Game sheet Photos
After a series of lopsided games, Kazakhstan was better prepared for the tougher games than Japan and dominated the first period. However, it took until 18:36 to score. Alexander Shin skated to Japan goalkeeper Masahito Haruna. His attempt to move the puck between Haruna’s leg was blocked, but Alexei Vorontsov took the rebound.
Two penalties against Kazakhstan late in the first woke the Asians up and they came out stronger in the second period. Japan had a two-man advantage six minutes into the period and made use of it. After a review by the video goal judge, Takeshi Saito’s equalizer at 27:32 was allowed.
The Japanese joy only lasted three minutes. During a Kazakh power play, Andrei Gavrilin restored the lead. He got the puck after a shot from Roman Savchenko rebounded from the end boards.
Japan had two more five-on-threes but the forwards were not dangerous enough in front of Alexei Kuznetsov’s net. Before Japan had the chance to pull the goalie, Kazakhstan sealed the win with the 3-1 goal at 57:03. Yevgeni Rymarev skated behind the net to defeat Haruna.
“When you don’t score in three five-on-three power plays, then you won’t win a game,” said Japan coach Mark Mahon. “But you can win the tournament with four wins. We must find our power play in 24 hours for our game against Slovenia. We won three bronze medals in a row and want to improve.”
MARTIN MERKKazakhstan’s Roman Savchenko succeeds against Japan’s Yoshinori. Photo: Andrius Petrulevicius