Day: November 11, 2019

Sweden’s juniors lead the way in Finland

Nils Hoglander (left, with Fredrik Granberg) was Sweden’s biggest offensive threat as the team won an U20 Four Nations tournament in Finland in preparation for the World Juniors

By Andy Potts –

Sweden came out on top in the U20 Four Nations tournament played in Finland over the weekend. The Tre Kronor juniors had 2-1 wins over Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as an emphatic 6-1 victory against Russia.

That Russia game was the highlight of a generally low-scoring tournament. The teams traded first-period goals, but Sweden took control in the second thanks to two goals from Nils Hoglander. Three more unanswered strikes in the final frame secured the biggest win of the competition.

Surprisingly, though, Russia recovered to take second place thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Czechs on the final day. Two goals for Metallurg prospect Nikita Rozhkov led the way, and there were also contributions from Lokomotiv’s Grigori Denisenko and another Metallurg youngster, Pavel Dorofeyev.

Hoglander and Rozhkov were among a clutch of players to finish with three points; Rozhkov and Czech forward Jan Sir were the leading goal scorers, with three each. Sweden’s Hugo Alnefelt was the top goalie, allowing just two goals in his two appearances for a save ratio of 96.36%.

At the foot of the table, the Czechs edged third place ahead of Finland thanks to Sir’s winner 18 seconds into overtime after the teams shared a 1-1 tie in regulation.

Swiss edge a three-way tie in Slovakia

Switzerland took first place in Piestany – but only by the narrowest of margins. The four-team tournament saw the Swiss in a three-way tie with Slovakia and Germany on six points, and the Alpine nation prevailed by virtue of a two-goal margin in its victory over the host on the opening day. The other games between those nations finished 3-2, giving Switzerland the lead by a single goal in the three-way head-to-head. Norway lost all three of its games and finished last in the group.

The second period was the crucial passage in the opening game, with Switzerland building on a 3-2 lead and adding further goals from Sandro Schmid and Noah Fuss. That put the game beyond Slovakia, which could only muster a solitary reply in the third through Martin Chromiak. However, after easing past Norway 2-0, the Swiss lost 2-3 against Germany after two late goals. That meant the final game, between Slovakia and Norway, would be crucial. A Slovak win in regulation would force a three-way tie and give Switzerland the honours; any other result would see Germany take top spot by virtue of a head-to-head advantage against the Swiss. Despite an early Pontus Finstad goal putting Norway in front, Slovakia responded to win 4-1.

Switzerland’s Gian-Marco Wetter topped the tournament scoring with 4 (1+3) points, while Slovakia’s Eugen Rabcan was the pick of the goalies, allowing just one goal and stopping 95% of the shots he faced.

Encouraging signs for Belarus

Belarus took first place on home ice in Bobruisk as it warms up for next month’s U20 World Championship Division I Group A in Minsk. The host took the honours thanks to a 5-1 win over Denmark in Sunday’s decisive game. That comfortable scoreline was something of a surprise: in the earlier two games, Belarus had edged one-goal margins over Latvia (1-0) and Austria (2-1), while the Danes had scored eight goals against the same opposition.

In the tournament decider, though, Belarus made a fast start. Goals from Nikita Pyshkailo, Alexander Palchik and Yegor Buyalski opened a 3-0 lead inside 13 minutes. Denmark pulled one back through Mikkel Jensen, but nothing would stop the home team from cruising to a big win.

Head coach Dmitri Dudik admitted that he had worried for his team, especially since the game was broadcast live on Belarusian television but added that he was pleased with the way the players coped with the pressure and paid tribute to the home support. His opposite number, Olaf Eller, blamed mistakes early in the game for his team’s defeat. “We play well with the puck, but we also need to learn to play when we don’t have it,” he added.

Home success for France

France hosted a four-team tournament in Vaujany and came out on top thanks to a convincing 5-0 victory over Italy on the final day. That was enough to keep the French clear of Slovenia, despite suffering an overtime loss against Hungary on Saturday. Les Bleus had defeated Slovenia 4-2 in the opening game of the tournament. Hungary took third place, one point ahead of Italy. The Italians were unable to build on a shoot-out win over Hungary in their first game.

Belarus B wins in Ukraine

While Belarus U20s were winning on home ice, the Minsky Zubry were representing the country at a four-team tournament in Ukraine. The team, effectively the Dynamo Minsk juniors, won all three games in Brovary. First it defeated Poland 3-2, then it edged Lithuania 2-1. In the final game of the competition, the Belarusians came from 0-2 down to beat the host nation 3-2 and complete a perfect record. The Poles took second place, helped by a 5-1 win over Ukraine. An opening shootout win over Lithuania kept the host nation off the foot of the table.

Division I countries test for April

Slovenia and France both played at the tournament in Liepaja and will meet again at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Slovenia

By Henrik Manninen –

Most of the teams that will compete in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A took part in the November international break to test their players and systems.

Belarus and Norway back on top

In the Baltic coastal town of Liepaja, Latvia hosted a four-team tournament with games against Belarus, France and Slovenia.

In what became a fiercely competitive contest, Belarus occupied last place ahead of the final round of games. Having earlier defeated France 4-2 and then lost to Slovenia, Belarus still had a chance to climb up to top spot by beating the hosts in the final game of the tournament.

Mikhail Stefanovich led the way with scoring a hat trick against as Belarus surged three goals up. Despite Latvia replying thanks to Miks Indrasis and 20-year-old Sandis Smons, Belarus held out for a fine win 3-2.

Meanwhile in the outskirts of Norway’s capital Oslo, the hosts took on Austria and Denmark. Norway finished top of the standings with 11 out of 24 players on their roster played for a domestic club.

Emphatically outshooting Austria 31-12, Norway came back from a goal down to win 3-1. In their Nordic encounter against Denmark, all six goals in the game were scored in the middle frame as Norway prevailed 4-2 in front of 1,908 onlookers in Lorenskog.

Hungary victorious

Despite opening with a defeat, Hungary sneaked past Italy on the final day to finish top in Poland´s Gdansk. 

Csanad Erdely had put Hungary 3-1 up in the final frame against Italy, before the top-seeds got into gear as the Magyars lost in overtime to a Marko Insam goal. 

But Jarmo Tolvanen’s Hungary bounced straight back in their next game to beat Japan 3-2 before silencing the home crowd in Gdansk as Poland was blanked 2-0 in their final game. Hungary could celebrate top spot after Japan outpaced a lacklustre Italy 4-1 for the morale-boosting victory for Hungary’s youthful roster. 

Poland and Japan met in Gdansk and will meet again in April when Poland will host the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Katowice

Poland, which will host the Division IB in Katowice in less than half a year, finished in third place by beating Division IB rival Japan 3-2.

In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Latvia B beat Ukraine 3-2 in the final to win the Baltic Challenge Cup. Estonia, Kazakhstan U20, Latvia B, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine took part.

Latvia B, with a roster solely made up of players from their domestic championship, had first beaten Kazakhstan 5-2 and Romania 5-3 to win a place in the final against Ukraine. In the match for top spot, Maris Dilevka scored a brace for Latvia B and also had an assist for Karlis Ozolins´ goal.

Deutschland Cup success for Switzerland

Pius Suter was the scoring leader for the Swiss at the Deutschland Cup

By Henrik Manninen –

In a season culminating with hosting the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland got its international season off to a winning start in dramatic fashion. The Alp nation claimed their third win in Deutschland Cup with previous top place finishes arriving in 2001 and 2007.

Heading into the final round of games, Germany clung on to hopes of getting their hands on their first Deutschland Cup title since 2015. In the final game, they first needed Switzerland to slip up against Russia’s second team, before gunning for glory against Slovakia in the final game of the tournament played in Krefeld.

Switzerland’s young team had first convincingly seen off Slovakia 5-2 in their opener as seven newcomers were fielded. Against Germany, they silenced an enthusiastic home crowd of 6,217, when tournament top scorer Pius Suter netted the game-winning 4-3 goal with one second remaining of overtime. Against Russia B, Alessio Bertaggia’s power-play goal with 13:48 left of the third period appeared to put the Swiss back in control, but Ivan Igumnov tied the game at 3-3 with less than three minutes of regular time play. Artyom Galimov then scored the winning penalty shot for last season’s Deutschland Cup winners Russia B, who eventually had to settle for third place.

But all was not yet for the Swiss. Following the game first from the stands and later at the airport, they needed Slovakia to get a point of Germany in their closing game.

Germany´s Andreas Eder scored a brace to put the hosts in front with a two-goal cushion before the home fans watched with disbelief as Slovakia rallied back with Filip Krivosik’s tying the game to push the game into overtime. With any chance of Germany tournament victory now gone, Peter Zuzin piled on the misery scoring for the Slovaks 2:08 into overtime to win 3-2.


Karjala win for Czechs

Jakub Krejcik scored the Czechs’ game-winning goal against Finland

By Henrik Manninen –

Three teams were in contention for top spot ahead of the final round of matches of the Karjala Tournament played in Helsinki. The Czechs were leading the pack with five points. Finland was breathing down their neck with four points while Russia had two points on board.

In the end, it was Milos Riha’s men who were worthy winners as they went undefeated throughout the tournament. The Czechs set the tone with a fine 3-1 opening day win against Sweden. Penalty shots downed the Finns 3-2 in their second game before blanking Russia 3-0 to claim their second Karjala Tournament win.

In their decider against Russia it was influential team captain Jan Kovar who put the Czechs ahead at 10:32. Lukas Sedlak scored his first international goal to double the lead with 8:56 left of the final frame before Andrej Nestrasil finished off the scoring 15 seconds before the end.

In their Karjala Tournament opener, the Czechs got off to a flying start in Swedish city Leksand where they took on Tre Kronor. Winning the shots 17-6 in a second period, Dmitrij Jaskin broke the deadlock assisted by the immense Jakub Krejcik after 24:48.

Despite Sweden’s Mikael Wikstrand tying the game in front of a crowd of 5,078, Kovar got the Czechs back into the lead on the power play, before Michal Repik hit the nail in the coffin with an empty netter.

Moving across the Baltic Sea to Finland, the Czechs continued their winning streak in Helsinki against reigning World Champions. The Czechs showed great determination when coming twice from behind with Tomas Filippi tying the game with around a minute left of ordinary time with Marek Langhamer pulled from the net. With the winner of the tight contest decided by penalty shots, it was Karpat Oulu’s blueliner Krejcik, who became the unexpected hero when converting for the Czechs.

Finland had opened the Karjala Tournament in jubilant mood, first with a banner raised to the rafters celebrating its World Championship win in May before defeating Russia thanks to Harri Pesonen’s 5-4 winner. Leijonat finished second in the competition following a morale-boosting final day win against neighbours Sweden, 2-1. Mikko Lehtonen opened the scoring in the first period, before Teemu Turunen fed Miro Aaltonen to convert on the powerplay in the second frame.

Russia finished third under new head coach Alexei Kudashov, while another assistant coach stepping up to the role as head coach, Johan Garpenlov will have to wait for his first win as Sweden finished fourth with a paltry point.

Chinese Taipei into second round of Beijing 2022 Olympic ice hockey qualification

Kyrgyzstan progressed to the second round of pre-qualifying

Chinese Taipei booked their place in the second round of pre-qualification for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic ice hockey tournament by topping their group in China.

Victories in their first two matches at the TUS Ice and Snow Park in Sanya saw Chinese Taipei move to the brink of advancing.

Chinese Taipei secured first place in Group O by recording a hard fought 7-5 win over Hong Kong.

Thailand finished as runners-up by overcoming Kuwait 11-1.

Chinese Taipei will now participate in Group L next month in the second stage of pre-qualification.

They will join Mexico, the Netherlands and hosts Spain in Barcelona.

Kyrgyzstan will also compete in the second round after winning Group N in Luxembourg.

Victory over the host nation ensured Kyrgyzstan of progression with a match to spare.

Kyrgyzstan recorded a third straight win when they overcame winless Bosnia and Herzegovina 15-3 today, while United Arab Emirates finished second after edging Luxembourg 5-4.

Kyrgyzstan will immediately turn their attentions to preparing for the second stage of qualification next month.

They will go up against Iceland, Israel and hosts Romania in Brasov.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey will contest the third group in Sisak.

The winners of the three qualification groups will advance to the penultimate stage of qualification to Beijing 2022.

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