Day 4: IIHF World Championship Div I B in Sapporo
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 19日 Saturday
Heartbreaking SO loss (2-3) for Japan in a very entertaining game that could have easily been 5-4 with many squandered chances going in both directions. Despite being outsized, outskilled, and outmuscled, the home team made it exciting with great speedy counterattacks and some almost-lucky bounces. Ukraine played their hardest so far in this tournament, so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll finally come out full force against Hungary in the decisive game for the gold medal and promotion. The atmosphere in the arena for the UKR-JPN game gradually and steadily became more intense, and it was absolutely electric during the end of regulation, OT, and the SO which went into sudden death. That was good to see from the local supporters.
Lithuania finally woke up against Estonia with a 4-1 win. Estonia’s put in a very tight spot having to win against Japan to avoid relegation.
Hungary-Croatia was a bit of a snoozer with the Hungarians just waiting for the Croat legs to tire out, then pounding the goal for the sure victory. Croats need a club team or two competing in a higher calibre league to improve their national team, as domestic competition probably just breeds complacency. The winner of HUN-UKR match, the final one in this tournament, will be for the gold medal and promotion to the top division.
SAPPORO, Japan – Hungary and Ukraine will play for promotion on Saturday as both teams won their Friday games. Lithuania is out of the danger zone after having beaten Estonia, 4-1, in their Baltic clash. “Eesti” needs a miracle to avoid relegation.
Japan – Ukraine 2-3 (0-0, 2-2, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1) SO
Brave Japan had a 2-1 lead in the second period and it looked like the team could hold on and compete with Hungary for the promotion, but it was Ukraine that came out on top. Sergei Varlamov scored the 2-2-goal with 51 seconds left of the second period and Dmytro Tsyrul scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout to guarantee the Ukrainians the opportunity.
Hungary and Ukraine will meet in the all-decisive final game on Saturday to determine which team will earn promotion to Switzerland 2009. Hungary leads Ukraine by one point prior to the game, so both teams need a win, either in regulation or in OT to gain the big prize. The one-point edge that Hungary has in the standings does not give them any real advantage under the three-point system as a tie is not possible.
Kostiantyn Kasianchuk gave Ukraine the lead with a PP-goal 42 seconds into the second frame, but Takahito Suzuki made it even four minutes later. The crowd of 1,879 fans at the Sapporo arena went into high gear when Toru Kamino gave the home favourites the lead at 6:49. The Japanese almost held the score intact until the second intermission, but Varlamov’s late goal tied the score.
Ukraine last played in the top division in 2007 in Moscow, while Hungary has not competed in any elite event since finishing 16th and last at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck.
Hungary – Croatia 3-0 (0-0, 1-0, 2-0)
Hungary remained perfect with 12 points in four games after blanking Croatia, 3-0. After a balanced and scoreless first period with 9-9 shots, it was the Hungarians who took advantage at 35:01 with a goal scored by Imre Peterdi.
Estonia – Lithuania 1-4 (0-1, 1-1, 0-2)
Lithuania, which scored once in its previous three games, netted four against Estonia. It was Lithuania’s first win of the championship (1W-3L) while Estonia dropped to last place. Their only point so far came in the overtime loss against Croatia on Wednesday.
Oh, and HUN-JPN goal highlights from Day 3 on Wednesday, including disallowed goals: