Germany center KAI HOSPELT (18) of Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams, the experienced NHL draft choice of the San Jose Sharks who has appeared at the last five major international tournaments(33 ga, 2 go, 11 pts) for Deutschland, and Italy’s native Canadian NATE DI CASMIRRO (12) of HC Valpellice, the former St. Cloud (Minn) State University center who spent six years in the American Hockey League skating for seven different clubs before signing with Serie A side HC Bolzano in the summer of 2008, jockey for position during the dramatic Alpen-Derbyspiel on the second day of the XXII Winter Olympic Games – Group D Qualification Tournament at the EgeTrans Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
Two power play goals scored against the general flow of traffic and sensational netminding from the backup goaltender making his first-ever start at the senior international level propelled pesky ITALY to a spectacular 2-1 overtime win over host GERMANY at the XXII Winter Olympic Games – Group D Qualification Tournament in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
As the competition’s results would have it, the two points gleaned in the overtime triumph against the Germans were still not to keep the Italians’ hopes of skating at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia alive. On the other hand, despite the enormously frustrating setback to the Alpine neighbors from the south, Germany can still qualify for the men’s ice hockey tournament at the XXII Winter Olympic Games with a ‘simple’ victory in regulation time against the tradition arch-rivals from Austria. But, to review, Germany shutout Italy 3-0 in their first game of the round roubin at the 2012 IIHF World Championships in Scandinavia only last spring and so the Azzurri, nevertheless, have plenty to be proud of from their surprising achievement in Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Germany, meanwhile, are now staring at the very real possibility of the national ice hockey team not participating at the Winter Olympic Games for the first time since 1948.
Italy defenseman ALEXANDER EGGER (13) of HC Bolzano Foxes monitors the situation as Germany center ALEXANDER BARTA (29) of Swedish elite league club BK Rogle Angelholm, the 30-year-old center who had two goals and five points in Deutschland’s Olympic opener against the Netherlands a day earlier, seeks to control a rolling puck in the corner during the XXII Winter Olympic Games – Group D Qualification Tournament contest at the crowded TransEge Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
Youthful defenseman BERNHARD EBNER of EG Duesseldorf was formally registered with IIHF officials and added to the line-up for Germany’s second Olympic qualification match by PAT CORTINA, the native Canadian of Italian heritage who is also in charge of EHC Red Bull Munich in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Ebner, the 22-year-old rearguard who is in his rookie season at the D.E.L. level, was deployed as a seventh defenseman but the Germans were dealt a blow without the services PATRICK REIMER, the Nuremberg Ice Tigers right wing who was injured in the first Olympic qualifying match against the Netherlands. It was the 29-year-old Reimer, after all, who led Germany with three goals at the 2012 IIHF World Championships in Scandinavia last spring.
By comparison, the visiting team trained by American import TOM POKEL, the former SUNY – Fredonia State defenseman who was the head coach of German 2.Bundesliga club SC Bietigheim-Bissingen Steelers for three seasons before taking charge of then-D.E.L. side Schwenninger Wild Wings in the summer of 2001, had a full compliment of twenty skaters eager and ready to skate hard against the host Germans at the brand new TransEge Arena. Italy were prepared to engage using primarily defensive tactics but wound up the beneficiaries of two power play opportunities before even nine minutes had ticked off the clock. Indeed, in this most critical Olympic qualfying contest, it would be the Italians who enjoyed the man-advantage after four of the game’s five penalties whistled by the two referees, TOM LAAKSONEN of Finland and ANDREI RADOVKIN of Russia.
The Germans had just finished killing off a power play when EHC Red Bull Munich defenseman FELIX PETERMANN was escorted to the penalty box for dealying the game at the 8:54 mark of the first period. But the Italians were able to cash in at the second attempt when native Canadian ROB SIRIANNI of HC Valpellice, the 29-year-old former Bemidji (Minn) State University right wing who scored 13 goals in 49 AHL games for the Philadelphia Phantoms to close out the 2008/09 campaign, received a creative pass from legionnaire GUILIO SCANDELLA of Swedish second division side IK Oskarshamn. A first goal of the game was exactly what underdog Italy had been hoping for, then.
Italy defenseman ARMIN HOFER (9) of HC Val Pusteria Wolves has a look into the back of the net as Germany center GARRETT FESTERLING of Hamburg Freezers raises his stick high into the air after the host nation equalized in the first period of the XXII Winter Olympic Games – Group D Qualification Tournament contest at the TransEge Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
To its enormous credit, the Germans retaliated quickly and did not let the energized Italians gain still even more confidence. A wicked wrist shot from the right face-off circle by right wing JEROME FLAAKE of Hamburg Freezers, the fifth round selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2008 National Hockey League Draft, found the back of the net to level the score at the 13:29 mark. And then the tournament host slowly started to stamp its authority on the contest and fire an ever-increasing number of shots at Italy’s native Canadian goaltender ADAM DENNIS, the 28-year-old from Serie A side HC Alleghe who was making his first career appearance at the senior international level in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
Germany held possession of the puck for long periods and decisively outshot the Italians 23-10 over the final forty minutes of play in Baden-Wuerttemberg but the Buffalo Sabres’ sixth round pick at the 2005 NHL Draft, who spent two seasons with the Rochester Americans (81 ga, 3.25 avg, .895 svpct) and another with the Portland Pirates (19 ga, 2.76 avg, .903 svpct) in the AHL before heading off to Europe in the summer of 2009, was not to surrender another goal in front of the nervous and tense audience of 4,517 spectators at the not quite sold-out TransEgge Arena.
Towards the end of regulation time in this Olympic-sized defensive struggle, the partisan Germans fans in the fixed seats at the newest ice hockey rink in the 2.Bundesliga rose in unison with those in the standing-room-only sections and attempted to will their team to victory by making as much noise as possible. But it was not to be. The unshakable Dennis, who, coincidentally, made seven appearances (3.36 avg, .908 svpct) in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga for Koelner Haie at the start of the 2010/11 season before transferring to his current club in Italy, finished with 36 saves to bring off a scintilating international debut for the Azzurri.
A referee’s decision stepped to the forefront in overtime when Petermann, the 28-year-old defenseman who skated in three contests (0 go, 0 pts) for Germany at the 2007 IIHF World Championships in Russia, was banished to the penalty box for a second time in the pivotal Olympic qualifier with Italy. Operating in a four-on-three situation with plenty of open ice to work with, it would only take the Azzurri nine seconds to complete the startling upset. A sharp centering pass from Sirriani swiftly found HC Valpellice teammate NATE DI CASMIRRO unmarked in front and, although the one-timer was flubbed, it was still good enough to beat Germany goaltender DENNIS ENDRAS of Adler Mannheim from close range.
A dejected Germany were left with but a single point and everything to do in their third and final Olympic qualification match with the unblemished Austrians in order to earn the right to continue on the Road To Russia …
Italy center NATE DI CASMIRRO (12) of HC Valpellice, the 34-year-old native of Ontario who skated in 401 AHL games (66 go, 183 pts) and has also turned out for clubs in Sweden as well as in Austria over the course of his journeyman’s career, slips the puck past Germany goaltender DENNIS ENDRAS of Adler Mannheim to net an improbable overtime winner during the memorable XXII Winter Olympic Games – Group D Qualification Tournament Alpen-Derbyspiel watched by the vocal crowd of 4,517 Zuschauer at the TransEge Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen.
XXII Winter Olympic Games
Qualification Tournament – Group D
ITALY 2 – GERMANY 1 (ot)
10:15 … ITA – Sirianni (Scandella) – ppg
13:29 … GER – Flaake (Festerling)
penalties – Goc GER (slashing) 6:53, Petermann GER (delay of game) 8:54, Schuetz GER (holding) 16:07, Johnson ITA (interference) 19:07
2nd pd – no scoring
penalties – Pietta GER (slashing) 26:51
3rd pd – no scoring
penalties – none
62:19 … ITA – di Casmirro (Johnson, Sirriani) – ppg
penalties – Petermann GER (holding) 62:10
ITALY ………… 21 = 10 + 5 + 5 + 1
GERMANY …… 37 = 13 + 13 + 10 + 1
ITALY ………… Adam DENNIS – (HC Alleghe)
GERMANY …… Jerome FLAAKE – (Hamburg Freezers)
ITALY : Dennis – Borgatello, Egger ; Johnson, Helfer ; Plastino, de Marchi ; Hofer, Willeit – Bernard, Insam, Gander ; Scandella, di Casmirro, Sirriani ; Iori, Scelfo, Rocco ; Ianonne, Fontanive, Kostner
GERMANY : Endras – Baxmann, Braun ; Goc, Mo. Mueller ; Kohl, Petermann ; Ebner – Gogulla, Barta, M. Wolf ; Ma. Mueller, Hospelt, Rankel ; Kink, Schuetz, Pietta ; D. Wolf, Festerling, Flaake
attendance – 4,517
Referees : Tom LAAKSONEN (Finland), Alexei RAVODIN (Russia)