Here’s a summary of Saturday’s IIHF Men’s World Championship games.
Switzerland vs. Slovenia 5-4 SO
Goalies: Jonas Hiller vs. Gasper Kroselj (1st period) & Matija Pintaric (2nd period – )
The game began with forward Tanner Richard checking Slovenian forward Jan Urbas flying into the Swiss bench. This was followed by a barrage of first period goals by the highly favored Swiss.
First, veteran Andres Ambuhl scored on a great backhand effort on the power play goal. Kroselj had a bit of trouble tracking the puck. 12 seconds later, Gaetan Haas made it 2-0. Vincent Praplan made a great play whilst pinned on his side in the corner to sweep the puck to the slot. Haas shot blocker side with little space between the blocker and the post.
Romain Loeffel struck next as Denis Hollnstein dropped the puck back, allowing him to rifle a wrist shot off the left post and in. Next, Simon Bodemann made it 4-0 after he potted a rebound following a great Damien Brunner scoring chance.
Slovenia returned with Pintaric in net, and the comeback ensued. It appeared that the Swiss completely let off the gas in the middle frame, and their opponents were quick to capitalize on their mistakes. Mika Verloc had his team’s best scoring chance thus far, followed by a great breakaway opportunity by captain Jan Mursak (former Detroit Red Wings prospect). Then, as he remained near the crease, he managed to succeed in the rare spin-o-rama slap shot deflection. The initial shot was taken by Andrej Tavzelj, leading to a shorthanded goal.
In the third period Ziga Jeglic, Urbas, and Robert Sabolic scored the second, third, and fourth unanswered goals to bring this game to a fantastic finish. On the 7
Switzerland took a total of eight minor penalties in the game. Urbas’s goal came on the second 5-on-3 of the third period. Sabolic also scored on the power play (8th penalty).
In the shootout, Damien Brunner (former Red Wing and New Jersey Devil) scored the only goal to win it 5-4 for Switzerland.
Players of the Game: Forward Denis Hollenstein (SUI) and defenseman Mitja Robar (SLO)
Latvia vs. Denmark 3-0
Goalies: Elvis Merzlikins vs. Sebastian Dahm
Merzlikins was outstanding in the first period as Team Latvia was outshot 18-7. However, Latvia is always a good choice for the tournament underdog/dark horse, and no team should ever count them out.
Led by NHL coach Bob Hartley (they were formerly led by NHL coach Ted Nolan from 2011-2014, including their impressive performance at the 2014 Olympics), the Latvians returned to second period and outshot the Danes by a total of 14-6. Forward Gints Meija scored in close on Dahm, after retrieving his own rebound; Dahm could not control the puck. Overall, it was a great period for Latvia, as they were able to maintain a great deal of pressure in the Danish zone.
Nikolaj Ehlers (Winnipeg) was outstanding for Denmark throughout the game, especially in the second. He earned two scoring chances and saved a potential Latvian goal with a skillful poke check.
However, in the third period, Ehlers slashed the arm of Merzlikins as the goalie left his net briefly to play the puck forward. He would immediately skate over to the netminder to offer his apology.
Early in the third, Miks Indrasis scored following a behind-the-net pass by veteran Janis Sprukts. Indrasis found twine again as Roberts Bukarts dished a perfect one-timed pass tape-to-tape.
Latvia would earn the shutout. A funny moment happened following the final buzzer. As Merzlikins jumped up to celebrate, Bukarts skated over to join the celebration, and the goalie ended up falling on him as a result.
Final shots were 35-27 in favor of the winning team.
Players of the Game: Goalie Elvis Merzlikins (LAT) and forward Frederik Storm (DEN).
Belarus vs. Czech Republic 1-6
Goalies: Kevin Lalande and Mikhail Karnaukhov vs. Pavel Francouz (CZE)
The Czechs started goalie Pavel Francouz to give starter Petr Mrazek a day off.
Past the midway mark of the opening period, Michal Birner carried the puck into the Belarus zone and pass toward the net was redirected past Lalande by Petr Vrana. Exactly one minute later, defenseman Radko Gudas (Philadelphia), an unlikely scorer, slapped a shot which deflected toward the ice by the stick of Alex Kulakov of Team Belarus. The puck then bounced past Lalande.
1:13 into the second, Alex Pavlovich made it 2-1 as he got Belarus on the board one second after a power play expired.
Roman Cervenka restored the two-goal lead for Czech Republic as he patiently waited before roofing the puck top shelf.
Defenseman Radim Simek scored on the power play to make it 4-1, and star veteran Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia) made it 5-1 just two minutes later. David Pastrnak (Boston) had a breakaway and attempted to score Forsberg-style, but he was thwarted by the goalie. Quickly, Voracek followed behind and scored on the rebound.
Earlier in the third period, Simek delivered a hard, lifting hit on former NHL forward Andrei Kostitsyn.
Lalande was pulled in favor of Mikhail Karnaukhov, and he would allow the Czech’s sixth goal from Michal Kempny (Chicago).
Final shots were 45-7 in favor of Team Czech Republic.
Players of the Game: Forward Alex Pavlovich (BLR) and defenseman Radim Simek (CZE)
Slovakia vs. Italy 3-2 OT
Goalies: Julius Hudacek vs. Andreas Bernard
Michel Miklik led the scoring for Slovakia, as his goal was the only mark of the first period. The Italian goalie Bernard was way out of position on the play.
Slovakia was the far better team in the first period, but Italy was arguably the better team in the second and third.
Similar to the way Switzerland played in the second period (not quite so dramatic), Slovakia allowed Italy to take over the game.
Giovanni Morini scored only 5:06 into the middle frame, following a power play. This resulted after Slovakia’s Michal Sersen had his stick break on a clearing attempt.
In the third, Italy scored early again. This time, Luca Frigo tipped a shot from Giulio Scandella following a failed 2-on-1.
Fortunately for Team Slovakia, the game would be tied with 1:04 remaining in regulation. Libor Hudacek (younger brother of Julius) tied the game on a rebound goal. No Italian players were guarding the area near the crease, allowing for an easy shot.
In overtime, Scandella nearly ended the game on a breakaway, but his nifty forehand-backhand attempt did not pass the five-hole of Hudacek.
Going the other way, Peter Ceresnak ended the game with Slovakia’s third goal. Teammate David Skokan stood near the crease, but it was Italian forward Morini who obstructed Bernard on the play.
Players of the Game: Defenseman Michal Cajkovsky (SVK) and Andreas Bernard (ITA)
Norway vs. France 3-2
Goalies: Kars Haugen vs. Cristobal Huet
Huet, at age 41, manned the net for the hometown squad (the tournament is being played in Germany and France). It is his 12th international tournament playing for Team France.
It was a close first period, with shots nearly even and physical play aplenty.
The first goal came 5:15 into the middle frame, as Ken Andre Olimb scored from a great behind-the-net pass by older brother Mthis Olimb. This is one of two family pairings for Team Norway, as coach Petter Thoresen and forward Patrick Thoresen are father and son.
Thoresen scored near the midway mark of the period just as a 5-on-3 became a 5-on-4.
Late in the period, France’s Stephane Da Costa managed to solve Haugen during a period of 4-on-4.
Next, Thoresen scored again in the third period, while Da Costa followed ten seconds later with his second. Yes, a mere ten seconds and both players alternated scores again.
France pressured the Norwegians in the game’s final minutes, but Norway would hang on to win 3-2.
Players of the Game: Forward Patrick Thoresen (NOR) and forward Stephane Da Costa (FRA)
Germany vs. Sweden 2-7
Goalies: Thomas Greiss vs. Viktor Fasth
Coming off an upset over Team USA, the hometown Germans looked to defeat the always dangerous Swedes.
Following first period goals by Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and German forward Patrick Hager, the game was close through one period of play, despite Sweden leading 22-5 in shots.
Sweden wasted no time breaking the one-goal tie, as Victor Rask (Carolina) scored a power play goal just 23 seconds into the second period. However, this was equaled soon after by Philip Gogulla of Team Germany, as he also scored on the man-advantage.
Forward Elias Lindholm was slashed right before the German goal, and he would leave the game.
Linus Omark pulled his team ahead once again ten minutes later. Marcus Kruger (Chicago) had a great scoring chance, with Greiss robbing his close-in shot with the blocker. Omark was there for the rebound.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin (Minnesota) concluded the period by scoring with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. The one-timed goal was set up perfectly by William Nylander (Toronto).
From 9:42 to 11:59 of the third, Sweden scored three more goals (five unanswered). Gabriel Landeskog scored the first (net front effort), while Nylander (far side wrist shot) and Nylander again (backhand five-hole on a hard drive to the net) scored the others.
Greiss would be pulled in favor of Danny Aus den Birken, who would play the final eight minutes and one second of the game.
Players of the Game: Forward Patrick Hager (GER) and forward Victor Rask (SWE)
This concludes today’s coverage of Day 2 of the Men’s World Championship.
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