A big shootout victory for the Austrians have kept their slim hopes of staying in the top division alive, taking down Germany 3-2 after a thrilling 65 minutes of action.
Austria has spent much of their tournament worried about relegation, and with two games remaining on their schedule, everything becomes a must win. Their best chance of winning was against Germany today, as unlike the Canadians that they’ll see tomorrow, Germany has already been eliminated from quarter-final contention.
Early on, Austria’s urgency was obvious. While the shots were only 4-3 after ten minutes of play, Dennis Endras was lucky to be make some of the stops he did after getting screened in front. The Austrians did a solid job at crashing the net, making it hard for Endras to really track the puck around the crease, but Endras was able to get in front of everything thrown near him early on.
The Germans would get the best scoring chance of the period, however. Seconds after killing a penalty of their own, Tobias Rieder would jet from jis zone and beat the Austrian defenders to go in all alone on Bernhard Starkbaum, missing the shot after getting slashed on the play. Surprisingly, considering the tournament has been filled with penalty shot chances, the refs decided it would be worthy of a two minute penalty instead, a chance that went unrewarded.
Austria’s power-play has been quite atrocious all tournament long. After failing to generate much during their man advantage in the first, the team were given their 16th power-play of the tournament in the second, unable to score on that either. Austria has yet to score on any of their power-plays, and with no NHL stars to help score during important moments, it was something that was really hurting them down the stretch.
With over five minutes to go in the second, the World Championships finally had its first goal of the day. Endras had started to look really confident in the net, making some nice stops on tough Austrian chances during the second period. Unfortunately, his shutout bid came to a close after Thomas Raffl took a blast that went straight through Endras’ five-hole and in for the 1-0 goal.
The Germans weren’t ready to allow the Austrians to go so easily. After Austria struggled to clear the puck from their own zone, Daniel Pietta poked the puck to Michael Wolf, who blew it over the glove of Bernhard Starkbaum to tie the game up at one with 16 minutes left to play in the third.
With five minutes to go in the period, the Austrians got the very important second goal of the game. With just about everybody standing in front of Endras, Rafael Rotter tipped in a point shot from Florian Mühlstein to grab the late 2-1 lead.
Think the game was over just yet? Think again. With two minutes remaining in regulation, Patrick Reimer’s point shot went soaring past a screened Starkbaum, tying the game up at two with time running out. The goal surely put a dagger in the heart for many Austrian fans, as the team would be eliminated from quarter-final contention after being unable to grab the three points needed to stay alive.
With the game tied, the exciting matchup would head to a shootout. The Germans were glad to get a goal from Rieder on Germany’s second shot, but goals from Dominique Heinrich and Konstantin Komárek meant that Germany would finish the tournament with a loss, while giving some hope to Austrians heading into their final game.
Austria now has five points, which could save them if Latvia and France don’t win their final games. For France, the team still has two games left, with Sweden on deck for later today and a final match against Latvia tomorrow. France has three points, so if they win today in 60 minutes, and Austria loses to the Canadians tomorrow, France will stay alive. If Latvia beats France, and France doesn’t get a point, the French will go down. An overtime win by France would work out in Latvia’s favour as well, as they both have the tiebreaker over Austria, which would then result in Austria going down to Division IA.
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