INNSBRUCK, Austria – Kazakhstan opened the World Championship Division I Group A with a 6-3 win against the Netherlands. Poland was successful in a shootout against Team UK while Austria had its highest win for 14 years against Korea.Korea – Austria 0-8 (0-3, 0-4, 0-1)
While all eyes were on Thomas Vanek, the NHL star whose paycheck might be higher than the other players of both teams are totalling, it were to other abroad-playing Austrians who were responsible for the lead and game-winning goal after 108 seconds. Oliver Setzinger, who plays for Switzerland’s SCL Tigers from Langnau, assisted to the goal from Christoph Brander, the winger of Germany’s Hamburg Freezers. Also the Koreans, apart from their screeching fans, must have been frozen when they saw their chances for points going away at 4:27, when Roland Kaspitz extended the score to 2-0. Veteran forward Dieter Kalt, the son of the same-named president of the Austrian association, scored the 3-0 in power play. 18-2 shots after 20 minutes – the speedy Asians didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.
And Vanek, the 24-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger? He hasn’t twinkled yet but added two assists to Thomas Koch’s 4-0 and Oliver Setzinger’s 7-0. Korea changed goalkeepers after Thomas Raffl’s 5-0: Hyun Seung Eum came for Ho Seung Son. He allowed a third goal by Martin Oraze at 40:52 and could keep the score at 8-0 for the rest of the game.
Even though the Austrians started to settle back from the second period, the from Division II coming South Koreans seemed overstrained against the hosts and favourite which was relegated from the top division last year in Russia. For Austria, it was the highest victory since the 10-0 win over Great Britain in the 1994 World Championship in Bolzano, Italy.Click here for the game's photo gallery.Great Britain – Poland 1-2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1) PS
Brits and Poles are frequent partners on the Division I level and their head-to-head game are always close affairs and this one on Innsbruck ice was no exception.
The tight-fought encounter went to overtime and shootout where finally Poland prevailed. Krzysztof Zapala was the only player out of six who managed to score. Polish keeper Rafal Radziszewski saved all three British attempts. Zapala’s game winner was a nice backhand move which gave Poland two points, although the red-and-whites were budgeting with three.
In the beginning, very little pointed towards anything else than a clear Polish regular-time win but the game saw a momentum swing midway through it.
Grzegorz Pasiut’s shot from the point deflected off Maciej Urbanowicz’s stick at the 15-minute mark of the first period for a well-motivated Polish lead as Team UK were outshot 13-4 in the opening 20 minutes. Greg Chambers made the many travelling British fans happy when he came in from left and shot the puck high into the short side of goalie Radziszewski. If the first period was all Poland, there was no doubt that the second stanza saw the roles reversed.
Radziszewski made some excellent saves in the last part of the game, including the four-on-four, five-minute overtime where the Brits enjoyed a power-play. At the end, he left the ice as the winning goalkeeper.
Penalty shootout: Greg Chambers – save, Jaroslaw Rozanski – save; David Clarke – save, Krzysztof Zapala 0-1; David Longstaff – save.The Brits could stop Poland only until the penalty shootout. Photo: puckfans.atClick here for the game's photo gallery.Netherlands – Kazakhstan 3-6 (1-3, 1-0, 1-3)
While the former “elite nation” Kazakhstan is a strong candidate for promotion, the Netherlands were the underdog in the game. Nevertheless, the Dutch tried hard to compete. After a comfortable 2-0 lead by the Kazakhs after just ten minutes thanks to goals from Alexey Savchenko and Ilya Solarev, the favourite seemed to feel too convinced about the win. Jamie Schaafsma lowered the handicap with a 5-against-3 power play goal at 13:31 but Maxim Belyayev answered with another goal with two players more on the ice – it was 3-1 after the first period.
The Kazakhs had the chance to secure the win in the middle period. The Dutch took four penalties within six minutes while Kazakhstan had five skaters on the ice all the time. But those plenty of power play situations remained unused while Jamie Schaafsma scored his second goals afterwards. Netherlands goalie Phil Groeneveld had a great performance and the chance to become the hero of the game until the 42nd minute, when the Kazakhs found their luck in the offence. Lev Krutokhvostov extended the lead to 5-2 with two goals within slightly more than three minutes. Bjorn Willemse’s third Dutch goal at 47:31 didn’t help more than to have an empty net situation in the final two minutes which resulted to the final score of 6-3 with Alexey Vyatkin hitting the empty net.Nothing doing for Netherland’s goalie Phil Groeneveld when Maxim Belyalev scored the 3-1 for Kazakhstan. Photo: puckfans.atClick here for the game's photo gallery.Click here for scores and statistics.