Campioni – Italy is back

Div. 1B: NED-ROM 5-1, ITA-UKR 2-0, POL-GBR 1-2 OT

17.04.2009
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After a one year absence Italy is back among the elite after staying unbeaten in their Division 1 group . Photo: Wojtek Szabelski/freepress.pl

TORUN – After a one year absence, Italy is back among the elite nations. They capped a perfect tournament with an impressive 2-0 victory over Ukraine. Great Britain upsets Poland 2-1 after OT to win bronze. Romania is relegated after a 5-1 loss to the Netherlands. Italy - Ukraine 2-0 (0-0, 1-0, 1-0) Game sheet Photos
The game was a repeat from the game played in Riga earlier this year. Back then Italy and Ukraine met in an Olympic Qualifier with the Ukrainians coming out with a 3-2 victory. For much of the first and second period it was Ukraine, which controlled the play. The Italians ran into penalty trouble giving Ukraine numerous power-play opportunities including several extensive 5-on-3 situations. On top of that, Nicola Fontanive received a 10-minute misconduct penalty and Stefan Zisser a 5+20 game misconduct for his challenge on Yuri Navarenko. The Italian defence and goaltender Thomas Tragust guarded their goal with passion, frustrating the Ukrainian power-play units. Trevor Johnson and Luca Ansoldi sacrificed their bodies while blocking shots. Despite limping off, both were able to return to the game later on. A golden rule in hockey is that if you don’t bury your chances, the opposition will do so. With Italy enjoying a rare man advantage after 34 minutes, defenceman Michele Strazzabosco sent the puck towards Kostiantyn Simchuk. The shot seemed harmless but Ramoser had different plans. Last night’s two-goal hero against Poland deflected the puck from mid-air to send it between Simchuk’s legs and put Italy in front. The fans and the teams were in for a nailbiting third period. Italy could lean back backed by the 1-0 score while Ukraine was forced to make the play. A game the yellow-and-blue Ukrainians do not prefer to play as they depend on laser quick breakaways. It didn’t do the game any good as very few scoring chances were created in front of either net. Vadim Sakhraichuk came closest when he received a puck all alone in front of Tragust. But just as in all other situations today, the Italian netminder came out on top. It was already his third shutout of the tournament. In total Tragust turned away all 39 shots he faced as Italy were outshot 39-17. "The team in front of me played great," Tragust was quick to mention. "This was one of the best games of my career and ranks very high on my list. It's huge for Italian hockey to play at the top level." While time was running out, Ukraine received a final chance with yet another power play at 18:16. Coach Seukand took off Simchuk for an extra attacker but it backfired on the Ukrain team. Italy managed to take control of the puck and Fontanive had no problem firing his team to Germany 2010. The goal erupted the Italian player bench and when the final buzzer sounded, a pile of blue shirts filled the ice. Game-winning goal scorer Ramoser tied the goal-scoring lead with five goals as the Italian players vocally sang the Italian anthem followed by a huge applause from the fans in the Arena Torun in Poland. "I think the hockey gods and Thomas Tragust were with us today," Team Italy head coach Rick Cornacchia said afterwards. "The players hung tough and showed character. They believed in the system and executed it." Thomas Tragust was unbeatable in net for Italy stopping all 39 shots. Italy beat Ukraine 2-0 and returns to the elite level. Photo: Wojtek Szabelski/freepress.pl Poland - Great Britain 1-2 (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 0-1) OT Great Britain stunned Torun by defeating hosts Poland in overtime to win the bronze medal. Contrary to their IIHF World Ranking, Great Britain took the game to them right from the start. Ranked 29th opposed to Poland 21st, the British outworked and outshot the hosts during the first 40 minutes. Krzysztof Zborowski was given the start in net for Poland and he made a couple of athletic saves while GB had a 5-on-3 power play. Eventually, he had no chance on David Longstaff’s backhand rebound midway the second period. At that time, the score was fully reflecting the way of play and the Brits were in for upsetting the home crowd. With just 20 minutes left to play in front of their loyal home fans, Poland wanted to show up in the final period. They came out storming and tied the game on a power-play goal by Mikolaj Lopuski at 44:08. For statistics fans: It was the first goal Great Britain had to concede while a man short. They boasted a perfect penalty kill on their 20 previous occasions. The Brits weathered the Polish storm and the bronze medal was to be decided in overtime. There, it was Great Britain which was lethal with the sudden victory principle in place. 1:54 Into the overtime, Ashley Tait finished a wonderful British play slotting the puck behind Zborowski’s left to shock the home crowd. "It's a pretty good feeling silencing all these fans," goaltender Jody Lehman claimed with a big smile around his face. "We came here with one goal in our mind and we delivered." Great Britain outworked Poland and earned a surprising bronze medal. Photo: Wojtek Szabelski/freepress.pl Netherlands - Romania 5-1 (1-0, 2-0, 2-1) Game sheet Photos With the worst penalty kill of the tournament and scoreless, the Dutch knew Romania's weak points. Three power play goals gave the Netherlands a comfortable lead after two periods of play. Antony Demelinne scored with the man advantage at 18:10. His shot from the top of the face-off circle trickled through the legs of Szabolcs Molnar. When the Dutch struck twice during a 5-on-3 power play, Romania’s fate was sealed. Bjorn Willemse and Jamie Schaafsma scored a minute apart midway through the second period. Romania was limited to a handful chances but was stopped by Phil Groeneveld, who was the only goaltender to play in every game. After Jamie Schaafsma scored his fifth goal of the tournament, Tihamir Becze scored the tournament's first goal for Romania in earning him the applause of the fans. Matt Korthuis capped the scoring with a shorthanded goal for the Dutch, whose young team picked up valuable experience and succeeded in avoiding relegation. After having been promoted last year, Romania will be back in Division II next year. Photo: Wojtek Szabelski/freepress.pl

JOERI LOONEN

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