Day: September 6, 2018

NZ holds early advantage in test series

By Sean Nugent – Otago Daily Times

The New Zealand Ice Blacks have drawn first blood in the three-game test series against the Australian Mighty Roos as part of the Winter Games, with a comfortable 4-2 victory thanks to some clinical finishing and outstanding goaltending by Daniel Lee.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop before the start of the game.

The Ice Blacks were aggressive from the beginning, but it was the Roos who opened the scoring after five minutes.

But that lead did not last long as the home side hit back as Dale Harrop turned the puck in after some quick link-up play in the final third.

The home side was on the front foot and took the lead moments later, going into the first break with all the momentum.

The physicality ramped up in the second period and the Roos went searching for an equaliser, but were continually denied by some sharp work from Ice Blacks goaltender Daniel Lee.

After looking strong in the first period, the men in black hardly threatened the Roos’ goal in the second, until Alexandr Polozov found some space down the left flank and picked out Ryan Strayer waiting in the centre to easily turn it in and double their lead.

The Roos did not roll over, and got one back through Patrick Nadin right before the end of the period, leaving it all to play for in the final 20 minutes.

It was end-to-end play at the start of the third period, and the Ice Blacks increased their advantage through Benjamin Gavoille to give themselves a two-goal cushion with just seven minutes to play.

The home side continued to push for a fifth goal up until the final buzzer without success, but it did not matter as it took a 1-nil lead in the series.

The New Zealanders will be wary not to become complacent as a similar situation occurred in the first game of last year’s series, only for the Roos to hit back in games two and three to spoil the party.

Game two will be played tonight and game three tomorrow evening.

World Juniors: Slovakia Junior Hockey News

By Kerry Jackson –

Heading into the 2018 World Junior Championship, the Slovakian team was thought to have “the potential to emerge as a surprise contender,” according to SB Nation, and had “as good a chance as any of the lower clubs to sneak into the medal round.”

The Slovakian s never got past the quarterfinals, where they fell 3-2 to eventual silver medalist Sweden.

Roman Durny was solid in goal in that game, giving only three on 39 shots. The Anaheim Duck draft pick (147th, 2018) is a ‘98 and eligible for the 2019 tournament coming to Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. Durny was also in goal on Dec. 28, when the Slovaks upset Team USA 3-2. He had to make 43 saves for that win.

Two other goalies likely to be on the 2019 team are Dávid Hrenák and Jakub Kostelny, both of whom were on the 2018 squad. Hrenák is property of the Los Angeles Kings and will play his second season at St. Cloud State year. Kostelny is an undrafted 1999-born player. At 5’9”, 154 pounds, Kostelny doesn’t fit the mold of a modern goalie, but he did turn in a stellar performance in the 2017 U18 World Junior Championship, where he had a goals-against average of 0.58 and save percentage of .974 in a pair of games.

Defenseman Marek Korencik, also a ‘99, is an interesting undrafted prospect who will play another season in Sweden’s junior system. The big blueliner — he’s 6’3” and weighs more than 200 pounds — played five games in last year’s WJC, but recorded no goals or assists. He’s never put up big points. Will this be his breakout year?

Forward Filip Krivosik, who scored two of the Slovakian s three goals in their win over Team USA, is another fascinating prospect. He is also a ‘99, big (6’4”, 207), and undrafted. While he’s known for physical edge and corner worker, one preview noted before the 2018 WJC that he sometimes is able to make plays with the puck.

Milos Kelemen is another big forward who might impress at the 2019 WJC. He’s an undrafted ‘99 who could crack the top six in British Columbia. If he does, he’ll be expected to contribute more than just the single point — an assist — he put up last year.

Perhaps Slovakia’s most exciting player is 1999-born Milos Roman. The forward is only 5’11” and less than 190 pounds, but he is an elite playmaker. He had two goals and no assists in the last WJC, but another year of development with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, and a bit of a “home-ice” inspiration, should lead to some far better numbers.

Slovakia opens the tournament on the day after Christmas against the U.S. The Slovakians will be wanting to show it was no fluke. They’ll have to get A+ efforts from everyone to do that.

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