Saturday, 14 April 2012

Five goal third period enough for Slovakia

It's now three games and three games for Slovakia 18 as they went one step closer to promotion back to the Top Division of IIHF Under 18 competition following an 8-2 victory against Slovenia in Piešťany. With this victory, Slovakia keep their three point gap over Norway, who they will face in the final game of the tournament on Tuesday. For Slovakia, Marko Daňo and Dominik Rehak scored twice, giving him six goals in the tournament so far, whilst Eduard Šimun added three assists. Matej Paulovič opened his account for the tournament, as the Färjestad junior added a goal and an assist. Arguably the most impressive statistic was that Slovakia outshot their opponents 43-9, highlight a dominance that was not put onto paper until the third period.

Unlike the last two games, Slovakia got off to a good start in this contest, and went ahead in the second minute of the game. Smart play by Šimun off the offensive zone faceoff set up Stanislav Horanský, who was left unmarked in front of the goal, and the Žilina junior had the simple task of tapping home the puck to open Slovakia's account. The teams then traded penalties, and with Martin Reway in the box for elbowing, Slovenia had a powerplay chance in the ninth minute, which they would eventually capitalise on. A horrible neutral zone pinch by Patrik Luža left the door open for Slovenia, and pass from the left circle by Jaka Podrekar went tape-to-tape to Aljaz Uduc, who slotted it past Patrik Romančík as Slovenia scored on their only shot on goal of the period. Slovakia had 12, and the period ended 1:1.

The start of the second period was a scrappy affair, and Richard Buri went to the box for a nasty boarding penalty, before Slovenia's Jure Stan was given 2+10 for a check to the head on Daniel Rzavský, who looked worst for wear after the hit, but would return. Slovakia failed to convert on the powerplay, but would eventually get on the board as the period ticked down. Slovenia couldn't clear the puck, and Slovakia worked the puck to the corner. David Griger found Marko Daňo in the slot, and the hatrick hero from the opening game of the tournament made no mistake, one-timing the puck into the top corner of Tomaz Trelc's goal. Thirty seconds later the score was 3:1, this time the goal coming from the stick of Milan Kolena, who managed to tip the puck out of mid air after a rebound from a Rzavský effort from the side of the goal. That wouldn't be it for the second period though, as soon after Slovakia were shorthanded once again, as Denis Šimek took a holding penalty. Slovenia managed to score their second powerplay goal of the net on just their fourth shot of the game, as Jaka Podrekar fired home a rebound off a point shot with just fifteen seconds remaining in the period, sending the teams into the break with the score at 3:2.

Slovakia have tended to get better as the games have gone on throughout the tournament so far, and the same can be said for this game, as they truly put Slovenia to the sword in the third period. Slovakia scored in the 45th and 47th minutes through Rzavsky and Paulovič respectively, the latter scoring after yet more strong work by Šimun off offensive zone faceoffs. The score was 5:2 with ten minutes remaining, yet Slovakia were still not done, as Daňo scored his second at 51:46, scoring at a tight angle on the powerplay, and then at 52:25, Dominik Rehak scored, being the first to the puck and tipping it over a sprawling Trelc. Rehak would also close out the scoring with 71 seconds to go, scoring after brilliant work by Patrik Koyš down the right wing. 

That would be the final result, as Slovenia simply couldn't withstand the Slovakian pressure in the third period, and now Slovakia go on to face arguably their toughest two games against France on Sunday, and then Norway on Tuesday.

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