Thursday, 12 April 2012

Three goal second period leads Slovaks over Japan

They looked unconvincing at times, and even went behind, but Slovakia 18 eventually ran out 4-1 victors over Japan 18 in the second game of the Division 1A World Championships in Piešťany. Whilst the Slovaks were the superior team, the Japanese put up a brave fight, but ultimately the Slovaks had too much for them to handle, scoirng three times in thirteen second period minutes to seal the win, which leaves them clear leaders in the group after Norway lost to Italy in the afternoon game.

The first period was littered with penalties, as both teams cut ruts to the penalty box. The Japanese seemed to catch the Slovaks sleeping in the first few minutes, as Richard Sabol made a fine sprawling save in the opening minute of the game. Despite this, Slovakia started to get into the game as the minutes ticked down in the first period, firing 12 shots on Akira Sasaki in the Japanese goal, but none of them found the net.

As they did in the opening frame, the Japanese started the second period the better team, and they managed to take the lead in the second minute. After the Slovaks cleared the puck following a period of sustained Japanese pressure, a sloppy piece of play gave the guests a 2 on 1 chance, which was expertly converted by Yuri Terao, faking a shot before cutting inside and sniping it over Sabol's shoulder. However, this seemed to be the wake up call that the home side needed, and they finally began to convert their chances. A brilliant stretch pass by defenceman Tomáš Rusina, sent in hatrick hero from yesterday Marko Daňo in alone on goal, and he made no mistake, switching to his backhand and finding the goal, only 52 seconds after Terao had made it 0:1. Compared to the first period, there were very few penalties in the second period, but Slovakia had the better of the play. Their dominance was rewarded with a second goal in the 34th minute as Daňo turned provider, and after a good bit of work in the neutral zone, set up Mário Lunter, who scored on his backhand to give the Slovaks the lead. The wheels were truly in motion now, as two minutes later Slovakia scored their third. A lovely pass from Milan Kolena set up Martin Reway in the slot, and the Sparta Praha prospect made no mistake, finding the top corner perfectly with a snapshot. 

The Slovaks lead 3:1 after two periods, but once again began the third period on the back foot. However, they were given a powerplay chance early in the period, and after failing to convert in the first period, they made no mistake on their first chance in the final period, as Reway scored his second of the game. Reway was the first to react from a rebound off a Daňo point shot, and his backhand found the twine, giving Reway his second goal of the night, whilst Daňo got his third point of the game, giving him seven overall in the tournament so far. Sabol was only forced to make 13 saves in the game, whilst the Slovaks managed to get 48 on the Japanese, who swapped Sasaki for Yuichiro Sato halfway through the third period.

Another positive result for Bokroš' men, who now have a day off before facing Slovenia on Saturday.

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