BRATISLAVA – Last year’s finalists Canada and Finland started the 2017 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship with wins as did Team USA against host Slovakia. The last game was the tightest with a late win for the Czech Republic against Sweden. Slovenia, Australia, Hungary and Latvia started the Division I tournament victorious.
The tournament continues on Monday. All four games from the main rink will be streamed live on IIHF.com. In addition, Fanseat
will stream all eight games including the Division I match-ups from the second rink. Top Division: Sweden vs. Czech Republic 2-3 (0-0, 2-1, 0-1, 0-1)
In the tightest top-division game of the opening day the Czech Republic edged Sweden 3-2 thanks to Jiri Cernoch’s late game-winner.
For the 20-year-old Sparta Prague centre, who also represented his country on ice in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship taking home a silver medal, it was his first goal in this first game.
“It felt great to score that goal. It’s my first national team game,” Cernoch said. “It was a hard game because it’s very warm and Sweden played very well. We hung on and had luck but we need to score more often.”
Both teams had chances in a scoreless opening frame but it was the Czechs, who broke the deadlock with their goal at 1:52 of the second period. In a quick attack Petr Kafka set up Jakub Petruzalek, who opened the scoring. But just 69 seconds later the Jesper Kokkonen found the way through a tight Czech defence on the right side and tied it up for Sweden.
In the last minute of the period it came even better for the Swedes. With Czech player Jakub Strnad in the penalty box, the Swedes capitalized on the power play with Linus Svedlund’s deflected shot giving his team the first lead.
The Czechs came back into the game after the half-time break. At 7:12 of the third period they tied the game when Cernoch sent off a shot from the right side that hit the goaltender and Mikulas Zboril capitalized on the rebound.
With 30.5 seconds left in the period the Czechs had the chance to get the lead. A penalty shot was awarded to Kafka when the officials saw a throwing-the-stick infraction of Rasmus Dahlberg Karlsson next to the goal but Kafka’s shot just hit Swedish goalie Robert Kinisjarvi.
But that wasn’t it. At 4:56 of the fourth period Cernoch finished a quick forecheck with the 3-2 goal and game winner when he capitalized on a rebound after a Zboril shot. Tre Kronor just had a few minutes left to tie the game and a penalty for holding against Dahlberg Karlsson didn’t make it any easier. The Czechs, who outshot Sweden 21-10, got the tight win and the first three points. Top Division: Slovakia vs. USA 1-8 (0-1, 0-4, 1-2, 0-1)
After a disappointing ending of the last tournament Team USA wants to go far this year, very far. In their 8-1 victory against host Slovakia they underlined their golden ambitions.
945 fans came into the warm arena despite the heat wave to support their team but after ten scoreless minutes the Americans started to convert their dominance into goals when Jack Combs had his first of four markers.
“It was a good atmosphere, good fans. We’re happy to get the win since Slovakia is a very good team,” Combs said.
Team USA broke the Slovak resistance in the second period. Travis Noe scored after 57 seconds and one minute later Combs made it 3-0. A power-play goal from Matt White and another marker 24 seconds later from William Pascalli gave Team USA a five-goal lead going into the half-time intermission.
At 3:29 of the third period the home team finally got onto the scoreboard. After a right-side rush from Juraj Jurik the puck came to Peter Lichanec on the left, who made it 5-1.
A counter-attack of the same line brought the Slovaks another great scoring chance. Eventually Lichanec sent off a shot on a rebound. The puck was on its way in via the left post when Team USA goalie Gerald Kuhn blocked it and it looked inconclusive whether it crossed the line or not and the game continued with the 5-1 score – but not for long. Derrick Burnett sent a pass forward to Combs, who scored his hat trick goal being left alone in front of the Slovak net.
Two minutes later John Schiavo converted a power play for the United States’ sixth marker of the game and in the last period and with Slovak goalie Vladimir Neumann replaced by Marian Bohus, Combs scored his fourth goal of the game to lift the final score to 8-1. Team USA's Jack Combs scores one of his four goals against Slovakia. Photo: Rene Miko Top Division: Finland vs. Germany 5-2 (0-0, 1-1, 3-0, 1-1)
Last host and silver medallist Finland started with a 5-2 victory against Germany thanks to strong defence and efficient forwards. Three goals in the third period were the difference maker for the Finns.
“THe first two periods were difficult. The first game of the tournament is always tough but our best players succeeded in scoring goals and getting the assists,” said Jouni Aalto.
After a scoreless opening period it was Eemeli Suomi, who at 4:29 brought Suomi the important lead. He got the puck left from the goal and scored high past German netminder Sinisa Martinovic.
With 94 seconds left in the period Germany converted a power play with Alexander Preibisch’s marker to tie the game at one.
Finland found the winning ways after the half-time break. Teemu Lepaus scored at 6:17 of the third period but the Germans fought back. Daniel Krzizok had a good chance in front of the net but was tripped by Petri Partanen. The Germans were already cheering during a power play but the crease was moved and the no-goal decision stayed after a video review.
After killing the penalty, the Finns stroke back with two goals scored within a span of 15 seconds and a goalkeeper change in between by Juho Joki-Erkkila and Matias Kiiskinen. Alexander Duck gave Germany hope concluding a quick attack with the 4-2 goal but a few minutes Simo Mertanen converted a power play for the final score of 5-2 for Finland. Scoring chance for Matias Kiiskinen in front of German goalie Sinisa Martinovic. Photo: Rene Miko Top Division: Canada vs. Croatia 6-1 (3-0, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0)
Defending champion Canada opened the 2017 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship with a 6-1 win against Croatia, the promoted team that plays in the top division for the first time. Canada outshot Croatia 25-11.
“The first match of any tournament is a learning experience. Croatia played hard as the newly promoted team, that’s what we were expecting,” Team Canada goalie Brett Leggat said.
“We have some new guys who we met the first time here. It takes some time to learn the strategies but at tournaments like this you have to get better every game. What’s what we want to do and hopefully we will defend the title.”
The Croats had definitely hoped for a better start but veteran Thomas Woods opened the scoring for Canada after already 31 seconds of play. The Canadians continued to have the game under control and created more scoring opportunities. At 6:27 Josh Foote made it 2-0 for Canada and a minute later Schael Higson netted the puck from the right side.
In the second period Croatia started surviving Canada’s first power play and then had a good scoring chance on a counter attack from Niksa Trstenjak, who saw his shot saved by Leggat. But the puck only went in on the other side when Shaun Furlong made it 4-0 midway the second frame. A good chance by Tomislav Cunko on a 2-on-1 made the Croatian fans chanting again but the teams went into the half-time break with a four-goal cushion for Canada.
Croatia regrouped during the intermission and made a goalie change. It worked out with the first goal by Tomislav Cunko early in the third period to cut Canada’s lead to three goals. Late in the third period Croatia had two post shots and then the puck went in with the buzzer on the other side. But the video review showed that Woods’ shot went in after the game time.
Canada continued to dominate and finished the last period with goals from Jonah Renouf and Chris Rauckman to win the game 6-1. The Canadian players celebrate a goal in their opening-day win against Croatia. Photo: Rene Miko Division I: Great Britain vs. Latvia 4-7 (0-0, 1-3, 1-1, 2-3)
Last year Latvia was relegated to the qualification tournament. This year the Latvians had a strong start against one of the favourites in Division I play and beat Great Britain 7-4.
Great Britain had the better start. After 3 Hutchinson had missed out on a penalty shot in the first period, Ashley Jackson gave the British the lead after two minutes in the second frame. But Latvia reacted late in the period. Olafs Aploks, Sandis Zolmanis and Aleksandrs Galkins scored three goals in a span of just over two minutes to turn the game before the half-time mark.
The teams exchanged goals in the second half of the game and James Archer’s goal with 4:49 left in regulation time brought GB back within reach cutting the deficit to 4-5 but Latvia reacted with two more goals. 11 different players scored in Latvia’s 7-4 win. The Latvian players sing their national anthem after winning their first game against Great Britain. Photo: Jan Sukup Division I: Argentina vs. Hungary 1-6 (0-1, 0-2, 0-1, 1-2)
In the last Inline Hockey World Championship Argentina was the surprise team of the Division I tournament. A 4-3 shootout win against Hungary was the start of a run into the semi-finals.
This time it was a bit different. Although shots on goals were close – 16-13 in Hungary’s favours – it was mostly the Magyars who scored and Akos Kiss who was a difference maker with his hat trick.
At 5:58 Norbert Fekecs opened the scoring for Hungary. In the second Kiss netted the puck for the first time and a few minutes later Attila Orban made it a 3-0 lead. Until the 40th minute Kiss scored another pair of goals to give Hungary a five-goal lead. Sebastian Bustos scored the consolation goal for Argentina and David Szappanos made it 6-1 with a last-minute power-play marker. Hungary scored six goals against Argentina. Photo: Jan Sukup Division I: Australia vs. Brazil 7-0 (3-0, 1-0, 1-0, 2-0)
In a clash between two teams from the southern hemisphere Australia played strong against Brazil, which stages its comeback as one of the qualifiers, beating the Brazilians 7-0.
While the Brazilians had their chances too in front of a strong Michael James, it was three goals scored in the first period during four-and-a-half minutes by Adam St Clair, Matthew Anderson and Michael Haynes that pre-decided the game early.
The team from Down Under continued to score goals in each of the other periods. Six different players scored for Australia including St Clair twice. The Australian players celebrate a goal against Brazil. Photo: Jan Sukup Division I: Slovenia vs. New Zealand 12-1 (0-1, 2-0, 8-0, 2-0)
Qualifier New Zealand upset Division I top seed Slovenia in start of the tournament’s opening game with Maxim Kalushny opening the scoring for the Kiwis. It was a tight opening frame in which Slovenia outshot the New Zealanders 3-2 and it continued like that in the second stanza with the difference that the Slovenes scored. Gregor Koblar tied it up at 5:24 and five minutes later Ales Fajdiga gave Slovenia a 2-1 lead.
After the half-time break the Slovenes came out on fire. They outshot New Zealand 12-0 and scored five goals in the first three minutes of play. Eventually the favourites celebrated a 12-1 win with hat tricks from Mateuz Erman and Koblar. Scoring change for Slovenia's Mateuz Erman on New Zealand goalie Daniel Reason. Photo: Jan Sukup