Saturday, April 16, 2011

Excitement in Day 3

Press Release

It was a day of close calls for Canada and Russia, who fought off spirited campaigns from Team Finland and the host nation Germany to stay undefeated. Russia had to go to a shootout to take care of the Germans, while Canada relied on a three-goal outburst in the third period to nip the Finns 5-4.

Germany vs. Russia 4-5 (0-3, 3-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

CRIMMITSCHAU – Fresh off their surprising 4-1 win over Switzerland on Friday, the Germans had to reload and prepare themselves for a much tougher test against Team Russia. Prior to the start of the tournament, it was thought that the Germans would be destined for relegation round play after moving into the top division this year. Though they had another large crowd behind them for this game, it was no secret that a win against one of the best hockey nations in the world would be a tall order.

The game began as expected, with Russia jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, leaving people to think that the Germans would not be able to put up much of a fight. Russian forward Roman Konkov opened the scoring for his team, finding the back of the net six minutes in the game, and again three minutes later. Forward Maxim Shalunov then scored on a penalty shot to leave the Germans down by three scores.

But things took an interesting turn in the second period, courtesy of several penalties on behalf of the Russians. After Nickolas Latta scored on the power play to cut into the Russian lead, a 20-minute game misconduct was called on Nikita Nesterov for a vicious cross check. The Germans saw the opportunity and pounced on it, as Alexander Ackermann buried Germany’s second goal on the man advantage. Another game misconduct was later called on Russia’s Maxim Grigorenko, and German forward Dominik Daxelberger made the opposition pay by with the tying goal just before the end of the second frame.

With the arena in Crimmittschau rocking going into the third period, Russia’s Anton Saveliev put his team back on the right track with a marker on the man advantage. However Germany would not be denied another comeback. Lars Grozinger scored the equalizer to send the game into overtime and earn Germany at least a point.

No score in overtime meant a shootout, although Germany had the Russians on the ropes with a power play goal in the final minute. Although Russia came out on top with Nikita Kucherov’s game winning goal, full credit was given to the Germans, who were cheered by 4, 060 spectators as they left the ice to prepare for a their last preliminary round matchup against Slovakia on Tuesday.

Canada vs. Finland 5-4 (1-0, 1-2, 3-2)

DRESDEN – Game 2 for Finland and Canada began with a clash of the physical style favoured by both teams. Lots of hitting and talking went on between the players, and some of the fastest skaters on the ice were the referees, who moved quickly to break up disputes between whistles.

While Finland was able to push back against the physical Canadians, they were unable to do so without taking the game’s first penalty, an undisciplined cross checking call on forward Teemu Henritius. Canada made them pay immediately, scoring the game’s first goal twelve seconds into the power play. Team Canada’s Mark McNeill shot the puck on the Finns’ net, creating a jam in front of the net until the puck landed on the blade of Eric Locke, who shot it between the legs of goaltender Samu Perhonen for his second goal of the tournament.

Despite allowing the early goal Finland didn’t stop pushing. In the second period, the Finns were short handed and had a chance for a good breakout. They didn’t convert, but managed to draw a holding penalty from Canada. Soon after, top Finnish player Joel Armia came on the receiving end of a pair of beautiful passes from teammates Toni Kallela and Miro Altoonen to tie the game.

The goal seemed to steady the Finns, and from the goalie out they began to make more plays. Perhonen posted a few great saves to keep the game level and allowing his forwards to lean more on Canadaian goaltender Malcolm Subban. Armia and Kallela returned to the attack once more, Armia taking the puck in and making a back pass to Kallela in the Canadian zone. Kallela then found an open Ollii Maata at the point. With no one around him, Maata picked his spot and fired a wristshot past the glove of Subban.

With the momentum all the way to the side of Team Finland, Canada’s top defender Ryan Murphy managed to calm his team down with a goal in the final moments of the period, leaving things level going into the 3rd frame.

Unfortunately for Finland, while their top line of Armia, Kallela and Markus Granlund continued to create problems in the Canada, their defence produced a series of miscues that led to three unanswered goals for the Red and White. After Armia scored his second goal on a power play a minute into the period, Canada’s Cody Ceci lofted a pass out of the Canadian zone. Mark Scheifele pounced on the loose puck, outskated two Finnish defenders and beat Perhonen with the forehand for the tying score.

Soon after, Nick Cousins and Colin Smith each added a marker, and though Ollii Maata scored to make the Canadians sweat out the final two minutes, it was not enough to keep Finland from falling to 1-1 in the preliminary round.


(Nathan can be reached at

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