Finland, USA play for gold

GER-CRO relegation game, SLO-LAT for promotion

Bratislava  Slovakia

Teemu Lepaus scored a hat trick in Finland's overtime semi-final win against Sweden. Photo: Jan Sukup

BRATISLAVA – Team USA edged the Czech Republic 5-4 in the semi-finals and will play for gold tomorrow against Finland, which eliminated Sweden in a 6-5 overtime win. Canada beat Germany 8-3 and Slovakia won against Croatia 8-4 in the placement games to stay in the top division of the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship while Germany and Croatia will play tomorrow’s relegation game. In Division I play Slovenia beat Great Britain to reach the final against Latvia, which edged Australia. Argentina and Hungary won the placement games, Brazil and New Zealand are relegated to the regional qualification.

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Finland vs. Sweden 6-5 (2-0, 1-2, 1-1, 1-2, 1-0) OT Highlights

Finland will play for gold for the third consecutive time after beating Sweden 6-5 in overtime. It was an emotional game that went back and forth with the better ending for the Finns thanks to Sami Markkanen’s overtime goal.

Finland blew a 4-2 lead with Sweden scoring the 5-4 goal with just 5:02 left in regulation time but Teemu Lepaus’ hat trick goal tied the game and Markkanen scored two minutes into the extra period.

“It feels amazing. We’re in the finals against the USA, it’s amazing,” said Lepaus, who also gave the assist to the overtime goal after a lot of puck battles along the boards.

“It was really a lot of battling behind the net. I got the puck and didn’t see the man, it was a really lucky pass.”

The Finns added some extra drama to the game, in which they were outshot 30-25 by the Swedes, after a good beginning. Jimi Palanto opened the scoring after a side pass from Juho Joki-Erkkila at 1:48. Toward the end of the period the Finns even made it 2-0. Lepaus got free on the left side, received the puck and moved it around Swedish goaltender Robert Kinisjarvi.

The Finns continued their scoring ways in the second period. Eemeli Suomi took the puck from Rasmus Dahlberg Karlsson at centre ice and sent Lepaus for a breakaway. With 2:16 left in the period Sweden at least got the 3-1 goal after Markus Kinisjarvi’s shot from the left face-off dot. And that wasn’t all. With nine seconds left before the half-time break the Swedes made it 3-2. Jesper Kokkonen intercepted a pass in the Finnish zone and after a delayed penalty call the Swedes played 5-on-4. Eventually Linus Svedlund hammered a shot from 15 metres with Hampus Larsson being credited for the marker.

Early in the third period the Finns restored the two-goal lead. Suomi scored on a power play at 1:47. But the Swedes battled the way back with another goal at 10:22. After a shot from Svedlund had been blocked, Kokkonen found the net wide open and cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Finns tried to defend and aimed at the 5-3 goal in the fourth period but after a missed opportunity the Swedes had a fast counter-attack. Marcus Lissang sent Dahlberg Karlsson for a one-on-one with Finnish goalie Samu Arisvaara and tied the game. With seven minutes left in regulation time the game between the Nordic rivals was relaunched. And the pucks continued to bounce the Swedish way. After a couple of saved shots during a power play Marus Lissang’s goal brought Sweden the lead. But 65 seconds later the Finns tied the game at five. Petri Partanen took the puck from a Swedish player in the Finns’ offensive zone and passed it to Lepaus, who netted the puck.

A five-minute overtime had to decide about the winner. There were opportunities on both sides but the shot that went in was the one from Markkanen in his 101th national team game.

USA vs. Czech Republic 5-4 (1-2, 0-1, 2-1, 2-0) Highlights

Team USA is going to play for gold on Saturday after beating the Czech Republic 5-4. John Schiavo scored the game-winner with 5:05 left in regulation time in a match that went back and forth. The Czechs lost after a 3-1 half-time lead. The U.S. outshot the Czechs 26-17.

“It felt amazing. I knew it was still five minutes left but it was an amazing pass from Pascalli,” Schiavo said about scoring the game-winning goal. “I got it in front of me and I moved it in and there’s no better feeling than get the lead in such a tight game.”

“[The Czechs] played a great game but we just battled the whole game. Even if we were down we focused, had our passion throughout the game and the work ethic was through the roof, we won the face-offs and that’s a huge key.”

The game started well for Team USA. Shane Fox opened the scoring at 2:46 when he skated through the field of play and sent off a shot from between the face-off circles. That’s when the Czechs started to score and play efficiently in front of the net.

After a shot at the metal, Petr Kafka tied the game at 8:23. Jakub Petruzalek won the face-off and found Kafka alone on the left in the back row, who got the puck and netted it to tie the game at one. And that wasn’t it yet. With 88 seconds left in the opening frame Mikulas Zboril and Jiri Cernoch had an odd-man rush, passed each other the puck and after getting it back Zboril gave the Czechs their first lead of the game.

The score stayed for a while until 7:15 of the second period when American goalie Troy Redmann made a save on a Kafka shot but Patrik Sebek converted the rebound with his shot from several metres to make it a 3-1 lead for the Czechs.

Team USA came out stronger from the half-time intermission and had a metal shot and a good chance with Fox skating to the goal from the right side. Eventually Tyler Spezia broke the spell. After nice passing by his line he succeeded with his shot from the back row at 7:27. Half a minute later Jack Combs after a nice deke let go a shot between to opponents and past Czech goalie Dominik Frodl to tie the game at three. But the Czechs managed to react immediately. Zboril started a forecheck, pushed the disc past an American defenceman and beat Redmann to regain the lead.

36 seconds into the fourth periods it was again Combs who tied the game. After a long horizontal pass from Nielsson Arcibal, Combs converted it for the 4-4 marker.

The next goal was to come but this time it was the Americans who got the lead for the first time since the early minutes of the game. William Pascalli sent a vertical pass to the net to Schiavo, who beat Frodl for the 5-4 goal.

The Czechs tried to react during the last five minutes in regulation time. Patrik Sebek had a good opportunity when nobody managed to stop him but once in front of the net, his shot only hit goalie Redmann. This time the Americans didn’t give away the lead and will play for gold tomorrow night.

John Schiavo celebrates Team USA's game-winning goal against the Czech Republic. Photo: Jan Sukup

Placement Games (5-8)

Slovakia vs. Croatia 8-4 (2-1, 1-1, 2-0, 3-2) Highlights

Host Slovakia stays in the top division. After beating Croatia 8-4, the Slovaks will finish the 2017 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship in fifth place while Croatia will play the relegation game against Germany tomorrow.

Slovakia was the better team throughout the game and outshot its opponent 25-18.

Jozef Haring laid the foundation with two early goals. During a forecheck he got forgotten in front of the Slovak net at 4:35. Jakub Ruckay sent a diagonal pass to him and Haring converted for the first goal of the game. Two-and-a-half minutes later he made it a two-goal lead. But on a quick forecheck Ivan Jankovic found Domen Vedlin in front, who scored Croatia’s first goal late in the period.

At 2:28 of the second period the Slovaks restored the two-goal lead. After a Croatian giveaway during a forecheck, Juraj Jurik got the puck and had a 2-on-1 with teammate Ruckay, who scored. But Croatia didn’t give up. Fed by Fran Srketic, Matija Milicic concluded a quick forecheck with the 3-2 goal.

Slovakia started on power play after the haft-time break that ended after 33 seconds. Filip Novak sent a long shot with Jurik in front of the net disturbing the netminder. Novak was credited for the goal. Two minutes later Boris Ertel skated with the puck from the own end and his shot from nine metres went in to make it 5-2.

The Slovaks continued to control the game in the last period. Peter Lichanec scored on a power play but Domen Vedlin replied for Croatia. With 89 seconds left Jurik scored another goal with his shot straight to the net to make it 7-3. A Slovak power-play goal from Ruckay followed by Milicic scoring Croatia’s fourth goal lifted the final score to 8-4.

Slovakia's Jozef Haring scored the first two goals in his team's 8-4 win against Croatia. Photo: Jan Sukup

Canada vs. Germany 8-3 (1-0, 3-1, 2-2, 2-0) Highlights

Canada as the applicant to host the next IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship in 2019 didn’t want to get any closer to the relegation threat and beat Germany 8-3. The Canadians dominated the game, were more efficient and outshot Germany 34-17 with goals coming from eight different players.

Josh Foote opened the scoring for Canada at 7:52 of the opening frame. During a German power play he made it single-handedly on a counter-attack. Despite several German players around him he came in shooting positions and put in a wrister.

Germany got another chance on the power play in the second period and made use of it. Marco Deubler managed to get in position alone in front of the net and converted a pass from Sebastian Lachner to tie the game.

Canada reacted with a goal just 28 seconds later. Jonah Renouf skated around Ales Jirik and let go a shot that beat German goalie Sinisa Martinovic for the 2-1 lead. The next German power play created the next goal but this time it was another shorthanded one by Canada. After a German shot had bounced back from the end boards, Chris Rauckman had a breakaway and beat Martinovic for the 3-1 lead. With 1:45 left in the period Canada had another breakaway with two players. Thomas Woods passed to Rauckman, got the puck back in front of the net and made it a three-goal lead for the dethroned champion.

The third period started more hopeful for Germany. After 39 seconds Jirik scored on the power play but just a minute later Canada restored the three-goal lead. After a saved shot Nathan Renouf got the next opportunity in a static German defence and scored his team’s fifth goal. And playing a lengthy 5-on-4 during a delayed penalty call, Bulmer made it 6-2 with a shot from behind the left face-off circle.

Alexander Preibisch got into good shooting position on the left side during a forecheck to give the Germans some hope. Fed by a horizontal pass from Mathias Jeske he cut the deficit to three goals. But Canada defended the lead and extended it with two fourth-period markers from Shaun Furlong and Austin Steger.

Canada was flying around the German net. A clear 8-3 win confirmed the Canadians’ place in the top division. Photo: Jan Sukup



Latvia vs. Australia 3-1 (0-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Coming into the semi-finals with four wins, Latvia had its toughest challenge with Australia. The team from Down Under outshot Latvia 26-23 but didn’t manage to get onto the scoreboard until the last period.

After a scoreless opening period, Arturs Batraks opened the scoring for Latvia at 2:45 of the second period. Australia made its life difficult with three penalties taken within seven minutes. The third time the Latvians capitalized on it with Sanis Zolmanis’ 2-0 goal at 2:03 of the third period.

Australia started to create more offensive action but struggled in front of Latvian netminder Kristaps Kruze. Eventually Cameron Todd brought Australia on the scoreboard with the 2-1 goal at 4:42 of the fourth period. That gave the Australians over five minutes to battle for the game-tying goal but it didn’t work out. Rustams Begovs sealed the win for the Latvians with his shot into the empty net eight seconds before the end.

Latvian forward Olafs Aploks flies over Australian goaltender Michael James. Photo: Rene Miko

Slovenia vs. Great Britain 7-4 (2-1, 2-2, 1-0, 2-1)

After four wins top seed Slovenia faced some adversity in the semi-final clash with Great Britain but ended up winning 7-4 and battling for a return to the top division tomorrow.

Slovenia opened the scoring with a Miha Logar goal after 52 seconds to play. At 10:23 James Archer tied it up but just ten seconds later Miha Brus scored for Slovenia.

It was a pattern that would continue throughout the game. Slovenia was a step ahead but the British always found back into the game. When Ales Fajdiga gave Slovenia a 3-1 lead with his power-play marker at 5:08 of the second period, the British replied with a goal from Nathan Finney and a minute later Sam Jones tied the game at three.

Slovenia found the lead again at 9:45 with a Saso Rajsar goal and in the third period Matevz Erman scored on a man advantage to make it 5-3. The British tried to come back and at 7:32 of the fourth period they eventually succeeded with a goal from Yoshua Yeardley.

Looking for the game-tying goal in the last minutes of regulation time, the British pulled their goalie but didn’t succeed. Jure Sotlar and Miha Logar scored two empty-net goals for Slovenia instead.

Slovenian forward Saso Rajsar lets go a shot on Great Britain goalie Miles Finney. Photo: Rene Miko

Placement Games (5-8)

Hungary vs. New Zealand 5-3 (1-1, 1-2, 0-0, 3-0)

Hungary will play for fifth place and direction qualification for the Division I in 2019 against Argentina after coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat New Zealand 5-3. The Kiwis will have to go back to the regional qualification for 2018.

New Zealand outshot Hungary 27-23 and had a good start into the game until a breakdown in the last period.

Liam Shields opened the scoring for New Zealand at 4:52 but five-and-a-half minutes later Hungary converted the first power play of the game with Vilmos Gallo’s goal.

In the second period New Zealand regained the lead after 56 seconds through Julian Beardman and at 3:53 Jaan Turia made it a 3-1 lead for the Kiwis. Hungary came back within one goal through a power-play marker from Arnold Feil.

After a scoreless third period the Hungarians changed goalies and staged their great comeback with 6-1 shots on goal in the last frame. Feil tied the game at 2:33 and at 7:27 Tamas Lancses scored what would become the game-winning goal. And empty-net goal from Akos Kiss with 27 seconds left in regulation time made it a 5-3 win for Hungary.

Arnold Feil scored two goals in Hungary’s 5-3 win against New Zealand. Photo: Rene Miko

Argentina vs. Brazil 5-4 (2-1, 1-2, 1-0, 1-1)

Argentina edged Brazil 5-4 in a South American clash and keeps hopes alive to stay in the Division I in tomorrow’s game for fifth place. Brazil finishes the event winless and is relegated to next year’s regional qualification events.

The Argentines outshot Brazil 28-16 but had to battle hard until the end to win against their northern rivals. Rodrigo Irisarri and Sebastian Echevarria each scored a pair of goals for Argentina.

Echevarria opened the scoring at 3:05 but just 40 seconds later Luiz Almeida Filho tied it up. Argentina regained the lead at 8:50 with a goal from Juan MacArdle but Rafael Christiani scored for Brazil in the second period and a goal from Caua Guzman at 9:07 gave Brazil its first lead of the game. Echevarria tied the game at three two minutes before the half-time mark.

Like in previous games Brazil didn’t manage to keep the score for 48 minutes although it remained tight until the end. Irisarri gave Argentina the lead at 2:33 of the third period but 23 seconds into the fourth period Jose Guilardi tied the game at four on a power play.

Irisarri scored again for Argentina five minutes later but this time the lead stayed. Brazil pulled the goalie in the end but didn’t generate enough quality chances to come back again.

The Argentine players celebrate a goal in their 5-4 win against neighbouring rival Brazil. Photo: Rene Miko





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