Austria 6, Netherlands 1
Nobody expected the Dutch to put up a fight against the “big dogs” Germany and Austria, and after giving up 5 goals to the Thomas Vanek-less Austrians, the expectations became reality. Thomas Koch scored his first of two goals just over five minutes into the game, followed by a Michael Raffl power-play goal three minutes later. Michael’s brother, Thomas Raffl, put the puck in the net just 35 seconds to make it 3-0 before the game even hit the 10 minute mark. A Netherlands timeout after the third goal didn’t result in any success, as Daniel Oberkofler scored his third goal in two goals just minutes after. With the time on the clock winding up, Koch would record his second goal of the period to basically put the game away with 40 minutes still left to play. Ian Meierdres, who had a strong game the evening before against Germany, was placed by 22 year old international hockey rookie Marijn Oosterwijk, who looked decent in his two periods of action. However, after 12:41 in the second, Matthias Trattnig’s goal made it 6-0 for the red, white and black birds. The highest point in the game for Netherlands was when Mitch Brujsten put the puck behind Bernhard Starkbaum to end his shutout bid, but it had little importance as Austria would win the game 6-1. Austria has a chance to make the Olympics if they manage to beat the hometown favorites, Germany (who lost to Italy in overtime), on Sunday.
Italy 2, Germany 1 (OT)
Yes, folks, Italy did actually beat Germany. It may come as a shock to, well, everybody, but the match-up was easily the most exciting of the two days so far. It all started (imagine me reading this to you like a bed time story…settle down kids!) when German defenseman Felix Petermann got a delay of game call at 8:54 in the first. With just over 30 seconds left in the man advantage, former AHL right winger Rob Sirianni scored thanks to a pass from Giulio Scandella to make it 1-0 Italy. It didn’t take long for Germany to battle back, as three minutes later, a play started by Hamburg Freezers forward Garrett Festerling resulted in a tying goal from DEL line mate Jerome Flaake. Italian game MVP Adam Dennis, a former Buffalo Sabre, was by far the most interesting player to watch, stopping 36 of the 37 shots Germany sent his way, while Dennis Endras, who played just as good, stopped 19 of the 20 shots faced before heading in to overtime. However, Nathan Di Casmirro of Italy was standing in front of the crease when the puck went straight to him and right into the back of the net to upset the German squad who was expected to come in and roll over the Italians. A German OT loss gave them an all important one point that eliminated the Italians from contention to make the 2014 Olympics, but for Germany to move on, they will have to defeat the red-hot Austrian squad who just came off of two straight wins.
France 4, Great Britain 2
France knew that if they were to make the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, they would need to lay down the hammer and pull out with the win over Great Britain, and they did exactly that. It didn’t take long before Rodney Sarich of Great Britain took an early penalty for hooking, leading to a power-play goal for France’s Laurent Meunier. The French forwards dominated the puck control aspect of the game in the second, including a play that had Sacha Treille dish the puck off to Pierre Edouard Bellemare for the one timer to put them up by two goals. Great Britain started to lose their composure, as Colin Shields took a penalty for slashing a French player way behind the play, allowing Damien Fleury to score a slap shot goal on the power-play. After getting out shot 20-8 in the opening two periods, Craig Peacock, who picked up a loose puck beside the net and jammed it in past Cristobal Huet, gave the team life as well as their first goal of the game. The momentum was finally shifting in favour of team GB, and after a Matthew Myers pass to Robert Lachowicz right in front of the French goal, the game was 3-2 heading into the third. Unfortunately for the Brits, the comeback wasn’t to be, as a mistake by British goalie Stevie Lyle left the Britain net open for Charles Bertrand to put the game away at 4-2. Great Britain will close out its tournament with a final game against the Kazakhs, while a Latvian win against Kazakhstan today would make their meeting with France tomorrow meaningless, as they would have clinched a spot thanks to a win against Great Britain yesterday.
Latvia 3, Kazakhstan 2
Latvia’s chances of qualifying for their fourth straight Olympic qualification look positive after defeating second-place Kazakhstan 3-2. Latvia took an early lead, starting with Juris Stals scoring with a no-look backhand coming off a rebound from a point shot by defenseman Arvids Rekis. Less than a minute later Robert Jekimovs lost the handle on the puck during a wraparound attempt, but his teammate Mikelis Redlihs got his stick on the puck and giving Latvia their second goal in only a matter of three minutes. Kazakhstan pulled goaltender established goaltender Vitali Kolesnik in favour of Vitali Yeremeyev, a ninth round pick in 1994 by the New York Rangers. The change in pace was a step in the right direction for the Kazakh’s, and later in the period defenceman Kevin Dallman got the puck and skated hard for the Latvian net. His shot was stopped by Edgars Masalkis, but Dmitri Upper was able to rush in and get to the puck in time to put in the Latvia net. With 7:00 remaining in the second period, and Latvian forward Aleksandrs Nizivijs in the box for the second time in the period, Roman Starchenko faked out Yeremeyev in front of the net before wristing it top corner to tie the game up at two. A giveaway in the slot by Kazakhstan defenceman Kevin Dallman during the third period was forced by Janis Sprukts, and after a bit of passing, Lauris Darzins, sniped the game winning goal home for Latvia. The 2-0 Latvians take on France on Sunday, where a win or overtime loss will be enough for the team to reach the Winter Olympics for the fourth straight time.
Belarus 6, Ukraine 0
They weren’t expected to make the Olympics in Sochi, and after losing 6-0 to Belarus, they were officially eliminated from contention. It was clear that from the start that the Belarus squad, filled with players from the KHL, had the advantage being ranked 7 positions ahead of their competitors. Only 1;26 into the game, Andrei Filichkin pinched in and one-timed Alexei Ugarov’s perfect cross ice pass for the first goal of the game. Konstantin Koltsov, who due to a weak performance in their game yesterday was demoted to the third line, looked solid, stick handling the puck from his zone before flipping the rubber disk past Evgeny Napnenko. It only took a minute and half until Koltsov assisted on the 3-0 goal, by Andrei Stepanov, who blasted the puck over Napnenko’s left shoulder. Alexei Kalyuzhny, Artyom Senkevich and Dmitri Meleshko ran up the score to 6-0 as Ukraine didn’t even put up a fight. A win against Denmark on Sunday will give Belarus a birth in the 2014 Olympics, where hopefully they will have NHL help such as the Kostitsyn brothers and Mikhail Grabovski.
Slovenia 2, Denmark 1
Slovenia came in as the third-ranked out of four teams in Group F, but they will go out as champions after two big upsets against Belarus and Denmark. After defeating host Denmark 2-1 in a thriller today, it doesn’t matter what happens on Sunday, Slovenia will join Slovakia, the United States and host Russia in Group A of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Despite the loss, Denmark goalkeeper Frederik Andersen was great for the Danes, and if it wasn’t for him, Slovenia could have taken the game in only the first few minutes of the game. Denmark had difficulties to get things going offensively, just like in yesterday’s meeting with the Ukrainian warriors in yellow and blue. The Slovenian’s started the scoring during the second period when David Rodman walked in from the left and almost effortlessly flipped a backhander over Anderson who looked slow on the play. A silent Danish crowd would find something to cheer about only 43 seconds later whne Nicklas Jensen sent it to Nichlas Hardt who blasted it high past Robert Kristan to tie the game at 1. Morten Green failed to capitalize on a great scoring chance for Denmark, and as a result, Slovenia went down the ice, leading to Rodman’s second goal of the game and third of the tournament to give Slovenia a 2-1 lead. Despite Denmark leading the way in shots (26-18), Slovenia had the more dangerous scoring oppurtunies and as a result, pulled out on top in a tight game. Slovenia will participate in the Men’s Hockey portion of the Olympics for the very first time in their history, while the Danes, who would have boasted multiple NHLer’s on their roster if they in fact made it, will sit out the 2014 games.
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