Archive for 2013 IIHF World Championships
A good piece of forechecking in the offensive zone from an experienced NHL veteran directly led to a game-winning goal by the national team captain scored barely a minute into the overtime session as resilient GERMANY edged neighboring rival FRANCE 3-2 on the final day of round robin competition at the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Finland.
Germany began the day with a reasonable chance of finishing fourth in the Helsinki group and earning a spot in the knockout round, accordingly, but Slovakia’s decisive victory over the United States soon eliminated that possibilty entirely. And the French, despite having celebrated a spectacular upset at the expense of Russia earlier in the tournament, also had no hope of a place in the playoffs going into its final contest. Nevertheless, still up for grabs at the Hartwall Arena were the bragging rights available to only one of the two neighboring countries.
Considering the Germans’ historical failure to qualify for the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Russia next season, the last match with France did appear to carry significant weight with respect to the continued employment of PAT CORTINA as the national team trainer of DEUTSCHLAND.
With a wide open net and less than two minutes having expired off the game clock, France right wing JULIEN DESROSIERS (24) of HC Rouen Dragons shoots the puck past Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP (72) of Eisbaeren Berlin on the power play during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H match at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Germany left wing ANDRE RANKEL (24) rams a French player into the boards at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres greets NHL constituent and national team colleague MARCEL GOC (57) of the Florida Panthers after the 30-year-old defenseman scored an overtime goal to defeat France 3-2 on the final day of round robin competition in Group H of the 2013 IIHF World Championships at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
IIHF World Champinships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena – attendance : 5,062
referees : Baluska (Slovakia) and Rieber (Switzerland)
GERMANY 3 – FRANCE 2 … (ot)
01:42 … FRA – Desrosiers (Besch, Y. Treille) – ppg
17:32 … GER – Ehrhoff (Ullmann, Greilinger) – ppg
34:57 … FRA – Roussel
41:24 … GER – Wolf (Hoerdler)
61:05 … GER – Ehrhoff (M. Goc)
shots-on-goal : GER 36 – FRA 29 … penalty minutes : FRA 24 – GER 4
GERMANY : Zepp – Ankert, Ehrhoff ; Baxmann, Hoerdler ; N. Goc, Mueller ; Krueger – Rankel, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Greilinger, Hager, Mauer ; Pietta
FRANCE : Huet – Manavian, Auvitu ; Bachet, Hecquefeuille ; Janil, Besch ; Moisand – Y. Treille, Meunier, Desrosiers ; Fleury, Bellemare, S. Treille ; Henderson, Roussel, Da Costa ; Ritz, Raux, Bertrand
Notes — Not surprisingly, Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF paced all of his team’s skaters by amassing 26:48 of total ice time … national team veteran CHRISTOPH ULLMANN of Adler Mannheim, the soon-to-be 30-year-old center who won six out of nine face-offs and was credited with four shots on goal against the French, led all German forwards with 19:14 total ice time.
France forward ANTHONY GUTTIG, the 24-year-old winger who began the season with Swedish second division club IK Mora and ended the campaign with third division side AIF Tranas, dressed but did not take even one single shift against Germany.
MARCUS KINK of Adler Mannheim, captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and goaltender ROB ZEPP of Eisbaeren Berlin
Deutschland-Linksaussenspieler MARCEL NOEBELS (92) von Adirondack Phantoms kontrolliert den Puck in der Naehe von der Bande … kommt der amerikanische Stuermer BOBBY BUTLER (12) von Nashville Predators an.
Steht auf. Macht schnell. Das Bully kommt in den fruehen Morgenstunden … An diesem Tag es war das Fruehstueck aus Finnland!
(Ich wohne nicht so weit von Philadelphia. Weniger als eine Stunde mit dem Auto. Sieben Stunden sind as Zeitunterschied zwischen Helsinki und die Stadt wo die Flyers der NHL laufen.)
Das amerikanische Eishockey-Mannschaft in Finnland ist bereits hellwach zu Beginn. Sie schlagen den Deutschen mit zwei Blitztore in den ersten fuenf Minuten. Immer sehr wichtig, weil Deutschland nie sehr viele Tore in einem Spiel treffen.
Deutschland haben ein paar guten Chancen waehrend einer Ueberzahl in dem zweiten Teil. Aber durch den beiden MICHAEL WOLF (Iserlohn Roosters) und PHILIPP GOGULLA (Koelner Haie) war kein Glueck gefunden. Fuer das ganze Spiel, hatte Deutschland dreizig Torschuesse aber nicht gefaehrlich waren die meisten … es ist richtig, dass mit grossen Disziplin vor dem Tor gespielt hat die USA-Verteidigung.
Doch noch, der junge deutsche Stuermer MARCEL NOEBELS (Adirondack Phantoms, zweiter Mannschaft der Philadelphia Flyers) beeindruckt mir. Noebels lief an der vierten Linie mit PATRICK HAGER (ERC Ingolstadt) und DANIEL PIETTA (Krefeld Pinguine). Einen dritten Erscheinen bei diesem Weltmeischaft-Turneir fuer den 21-Jaehrige aus Toenisvorst.
Noebels spielte gegen die Amerikaner nicht so schlecht, auf meiner Meinung. Das Tempo seiner Skating war gut und auch er war in seiner eigenen Zone verantwortlich. Die meisten der Gegner sind NHL-Profis, sondern Noebels zeigte, dass er auch spielen kann.
Weltmeisterschaft-Bericht von Deutschland-Stuermer MARCEL NOEBELS
Finnland ……………….. 8:09 auf Eis … 1 Torschoss …… keine Gegentore
Slowakei ……………….. 2:48 auf Eis … 0 Torschuesse … keine Gegentore
Vereinigten Staaten … 13:18 auf Eis … 1 Torschoss …… keine Gegentore
In a meaningful match-up with enormous playoff implications for both sides, the self-starting Americans scored two goals inside the first five minutes and left their punchless opponents to chase a game which they never really looked very much like catching as the UNITED STATES shutout GERMANY 3-0 at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.
With just two more group games to be played by his team in the preliminary round robin based at Helsinki, Germany trainer PAT CORTINA decided to rest Eisbaeren Berlin goaltender ROB ZEPP, the native Canadian who kept the scoresheet clean against both Austria and Latvia on his last two outings in Finland, and bestowed a second start at these 2013 IIHF World Championships upon DENNIS ENDRAS, the snakebitten Adler Mannheim shot-stopper who had already had the misfortune of being stationed between the Deutschland pipes during the devastating Olympic qualification loss to Italy at Bietigheim-Bissingen back in February.
The United States staff, meanwhile, was disappointed with the overall performance of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender BEN BISHOP, the 26-year-old University of Maine product who had surrendered five goals to Russia and two goals (on just 17 shots) to France earlier in the tournament. Therefore, the American head coach JOE SACCO elected to get a second look at JOHN GIBSON, the 19-year-old native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who just so happened to be named the Best Goaltender at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships hosted by Russia this past winter. Gibson, who was a major factor as the United States garnered the gold medal at Ufa, spent the majority of the 2012/13 in the Canadian junior system with the Kitchener Rangers before making a solitary start for the professional Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League.
Germany defensemen JUSTIN KRUEGER (3) of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers and CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (10) of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres can do nothing as United States left wing BOBBY BUTLER (12), the former University of New Hampshire captain who was traded this past April from the New Jersey Devils to the Nashville Predators, whacks the loose puck past Deutschland Torhueter DENNIS ENDRAS (44) of Adler Mannheim on the power play early in the first period of the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Germany right wing FELIX SCHUETZ of Koelner Haie took an undisciplined penalty for slashing only a minute and a half into the game at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki and the opportunistic Americans were more than happy to accept such a gift unconditionally. After controlling the puck effectively on the power play, United States defenseman JUSTIN FAULK of the Carolina Hurricanes launched a big slapshot from straightaway center point that could only catch his teammate, effectively stationed in front of the net next to Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres, on the back of the skate. Nevertheless, it was the American left wing BOBBY BUTLER who was able to react to the loose puck first and the Nashville Predators left wing wasted no time in sweeping the little black disc past the the German goaltender.
United States captain PAUL STASTNY of the Colorado Avalanche prepares to shoot the puck past Germany goaltender DENNIS ENDRAS of Adler Mannheim, the 28-year-old veteran who spent the majority of the 2011/12 season on loan to Finnish elite league club IFK Helsinki from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, early in the first period of the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H match at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
The shell-shocked Germans were then left to look at the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline roughly two and a half minutes later after two NHL veterans who had earned silver medals for the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver combined to notch a well-deserved goal. Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman ERIK JOHNSON, the former University of Minnesota star whom the St. Louis Blues made the very first player selected at the 2006 NHL Draft, made an excellent play to pinch at the right point and then penetrate deep into the offensive zone before distributing the perfect pass to an unmarked Colorado Avalanche center PETER STASTNY, the one-time University of Denver pivot who skated with EHC Red Bull Munich (13 ga, 7 go, 18 pts) in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga during the NHL Lockout, in the slot. Endras did well to block the initial shot from Stastny but the experienced 27-year-old who has already contested 467 NHL games (135 go, 398 pts) in his career was able to collect the rebound and skillfully net his fourth goal in six games at this tournament.
Stastny, who has now represented the United States at four major international tournaments (31 ga, 15 go, 35 pts) thus far in his career, would ultimately go on to finish in second place on the 2013 IIHF World Championships scoring chart by totaling fifteen points after all ten of the Americans’ games.
Colorado Avalanche left wing AARON PALUSHAJ, the former University of Michigan product on his first-ever appearance at a major international tournament, had a glorious opportunity to put the traditionally low-scoring Germans in a difficult 3-0 hole with just over five minutes left in the opening period but lifted his backhander high and wide on the breakaway.
The Russian referee keeps a sharp eye on proceedings as the backhander from breaking United States left wing AARON PALUSHAJ (17) of the Colorado Avalanche, the 27-year-old native of Northville, Michigan, who has managed to score just three goals from 66 NHL games in his career, sails high and wide of the net guarded by Germany goaltender DENNIS ENDRAS of Adler Mannheim in the first period of the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
The Germans, as they had done in previous games at these 2013 IIHF World Championships so far, were able to regroup and go on the offensive somewhat themselves. The shots-on-goal finished even after one period at eleven for each side and would actually favor the Germans slightly (30-29) by the end of regulation time. For the most part, however, the Americans did well to force their opponents into shooting from low-percentage angles and were very diligent about clearing all rebounds in front of their teenaged netminder.
Even on the power play after Palushaj had been penalized for slashing in the second period, Germany would find no luck at all. Experienced right wing MICHAEL WOLF, the 32-year-old veteran who finished tied for third in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga with 23 goals for Iserlohn Roosters this past term, had a wonderful opportunity at the side of the net but could only strike the outside of the American net with his one-timer. Shortly thereafter, PHILIPP GOGULLA of Koelner Haie, the former Buffalo Sabres farmhand who had created the great chance for Wolf with a slick cross-ice pass, put the puck through the pads of the youthful United States goaltender Gibson but could not celebrate as the little black disc would stubbornly roll wide of the target.
A little over three and a half minutes on, the luckless Palushaj had yet another breakaway for the United States but, this time, was hacked from behind by the trailing Germany center PATRICK HAGER of ERC Ingolstadt. The Russian referees immediately signaled for a penalty shot to be awarded although, in the end, it would make no difference. Endras stood his ground and, yet again, the second round choice of the St. Louis Blues (# 44 overall) at the 2007 NHL Draft directed his attempt wide of the German net.
United States left wing AARON PALUSHAJ (17) lifts his second period penalty shot high and wide of the cage protected by Germany netminder DENNIS ENDRAS of Adler Mannheim during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H clash at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
The ambitious Hager genereated a coast-to-coast rush for the Germans on a four-on-four situation roughly eight and a half minutes into the final frame. A quick snap shot from between the circles even caught the United States backstop’s blocker just right in order to ricochet up and over the 19-year-old rookie. However, as was typical of the entire affair at the Hartwall Arena, the little black disc just would not bounce in Deutschland’s direction and was escorted from danger.
The Americans, meanwhile, hammered a final nail in the Germans’ proverbial coffin with nine and a half minutes remaining in the match. A blast from the left point by United States defenseman MATT HUNWICK of the Colorado Avalanche was successfully turned aside by Endras but Tampa Bay Lightning left wing NATE THOMPSON was still able to squeeze the puck between the legs of the Adler Mannheim goaltender. After skidding unmolested across the width of the goal crease, the little black disc was finally shot into the wide open net by lurking New Jersey Devils right wing STEPHEN GIONTA.
The 3-0 loss did not eliminate Deutschland from the quarterfinals at the 2013 IIHF World Championships outright, but the pointless result did mean that the Canadian-Italian trainer Cortina’s German contingent would not only have to defeat France in its final game, but also receive assistance from another nation in order to qualify for the medal round. Ironicially enough, it was the Americans, themselves, whom the Germans were counting now on. At the minimum, Cortina could still count on the fact that the United States still needed to triumph over Slovakia in order to finish on top of the Helsinki group.
Germany center PATRICK HAGER (50) of ERC Ingolstadt pushes and shoves with United States left wing STEPHEN GIONTA, the 29-year-old Boston College product who skated in all 48 games (4 go, 14 pts) for the New Jersey Devils this past NHL season, during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
IIHF World Championships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena – attendance : 11,057
referees – Bulanov (Russia) and Olenin (Russia)
UNITED STATES 3 – GERMANY 0
02:39 … USA – B. Butler (Faulk, Smith) – ppg
04:53 … USA – Stastny (Johnson)
51:27 … USA – Gionta (Thompson, Hunwick)
shots-on-goal : GER 30 – USA 29 … penalty minutes : USA 12 – GER 10
GERMANY : Endras – Ehrhoff, Hoerdler ; Ankert, Krueger ; Goc, Mueller ; Kohl – Greilinger, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Noebels, Hager, Pietta
UNITED STATES : Gibson – Carle, Faulk ; Johnson, Hunwick ; Petry, C. Butler ; McBain – Smith, Stastny, Moss ; Gionta, Thompson, Carter ; B. Butler, LeBlanc, Stapleton ; Palushaj, Bjugstad, Kristo
NOTES — As has been the case of all six of his country’s contests at these 2013 IIHF World Championships in Helsinki thus far, captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF led all Germany skaters with 24:15 of time on the ice … Eisbaeren Berlin defenseman FRANK HOERDLER was the only other German skater to exceed twenty minutes (20:38) of deployment on the ice against the Americans while NHL legionnaire MARCEL GOC of the Florida Panthers topped all of Germany’s forwards (17:38).
Germany were forced to scratch a pair of players from current Deutsche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin, defenseman JENS BAXMANN as well as club captain and left wing ANDRE RANKEL, on account of injury.
The United States formally registered center ALEX GALCHENYUK of the Montreal Canadiens with the IIHF tournament officials early in the morning on May 12, which made the 19-year-old who was the third overall player selected at the annual National Hockey League Draft in June of 2012 eligible to play against Germany later that day. Galchenyuk, whose father represented the national teams of both the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as well as Belarus, contributed two goals and eight points to the United States entry that won the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships hosted by Russia and then appeared in all 48 NHL games (9 go, 27 pts) for the Montreal Canadiens this term. Galchenyuk took part in the pre-game skate at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki but was a healthy scratch for the United States in their contest with Germany.
United States defenseman JUSTIN FAULK (Univ of Minnesota-Duluth) of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and newly-arrived Germany rearguard JUSTIN KRUEGER (Cornell Univ) spent the first half of this past 2012/13 campaign competing together as teammates on the Charlotte Checkers in the American Hockey League.
United States defenseman CHRIS BUTLER (34) of the Calgary Flames, the experienced Denver University product who skated for Swedish second division club HK Karlskrona during the NHL Lockout last fall, and Germany center PATRICK HAGER (50) of ERC Ingolstadt, the 24-year-old making his third career appearance at a major international tournament, display the respective Player-Of-The-Game awards (as voted on by the two players’ teammates) at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
United States center NICK BJUGSTAD (14), the 19th overall pick of the Florida Panthers at the 2010 National Hockey League Draft who earned a bronze medal at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, led the powerful University of Minnesota in goal-scoring during this 2012/13 NCAA campaign before appearing in all of his team’s ten games this spring at the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Scandinavia.
When it comes to the UNITED STATES’ entry at the annual IIHF World Championships, the matter is never merely a question of what National Hockey League players are available. Rather, the equation must always factor in exactly which NHLers are, indeed, willing to participate. Whereas the Europeans have traditionally always viewed national team duty as an honor, many top-shelf North American professionals have often considered major international tournaments — with the possible exception of the Winter Olympic Games — to be something more akin to an actual burden.
Not so in the case of college players, who are, traditionally speaking, always ready to step into the breach. Last season, the American entry at the annual IIHF World Championships contained no college players for the first time in seven years but this spring the United States squad led by head coach JOE SACCO featured no fewer than four skaters who spent the bulk of the 2012/13 campaign competing at the NCAA level. Sacco, of course, was a college player at Boston University before going on to skate in 738 National Hockey League games (94 go, 213 pts), himself.
Three of these four recruits actually signed professional contracts after appearing in the annual NCAA tournament with their respective college teams this spring. SCOTT BJUGSTAD from the University of Minnesota (40 ga, 21 go, 36 pts) went on to skate in 11 NHL games (1 go, 0 as) for the Florida Panthers while DREW LEBLANC from St. Cloud State (42 ga, 13 go, 50 pts), the senior center out of Hermantown, Minnesota, who was lauded as the nation’s most outstanding college hockey player this term, made two appearances for the would-be Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks at the tail end of the strike-shortened 2013 NHL regular season. DANNY KRISTO from the University of North Dakota (40 ga, 26 go, 52 pts), the senior right wing out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who was the second round choice (# 56 overall) of the Montreal Canadiens at the 2008 NHL Draft, skated nine games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American Hockey League before flying off to Finland.
JACOB TROUBA from the University of Michigan (37 ga, 12 go, 29 pts) also agreed to professional terms after the Wolverines failed to make the NCAA tournament cut for the first time in more than two decades. The 19-year-old Trouba was honored by tournament officials as the Best Defenseman while helping the United States to the gold medal at the annual IIHF World Junior Championships this past winter but did not appear in any National Hockey League games after being signed by the Winnipeg Jets in early April. Trouba, to review, was the ninth overall player taken at the 2012 NHL Draft.
United States defenseman JACOB TROUBA (8) from the University of Michigan harasses Switzerland winger DENIS HOLLENTSTEIN (70) of EHC Kloten during the 2013 IIHF World Championships semifinal contest watched by an audience of 7,136 spectators at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
Not since the 1995 IIHF World Championships held in Sweden have the United States had more than four players who spent the bulk of the season in the collegiate ranks on the roster at any major international tournament. On that occasion almost two decades ago, the U.S.A. contingent iced six NCAA players including University of Vermont sophomore goaltender TIM THOMAS and University of Wisconsin senior defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI. Oddly enough, both Rafalski and Thomas began their professional careers by signing for clubs in Scandinavia but, ultimately, would to North America and experience the thrill of lifting the treasured Stanley Cup in the vaunted National Hockey League.
Along with three other collegians, Thomas would also be named to the American squad for the IIHF World Championships the very next season by incoming United States head coach RON WILSON, then in charge of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the NHL, as well. Joined there in Vienna, Austria, by the University of Minnesota pair of senior center BRIAN BONIN and sophomore defenseman MIKE CROWLEY in addition to Lake Superior State sophomore goaltender JOHN GRAHAME, the surprising U.S.A. team finished third and, in doing so, earned a medal at the annual IIHF event for the first time in 34 years. Bonin, to review, was the recipient of the 1996 Hobey Baker Memorial Award given to the nation’s most outstanding college hockey player.
Over the past twenty years, several Americans have appeared at the annual IIHF World Championships after playing NCAA college hockey that same season more than once in their careers; such repeat collegiate performers from this distinct group include center CHRIS DRURY (Boston University), defenseman MIKE MOTTAU (Boston College), right wing BRIAN GIONTA (Boston College), goaltender RYAN MILLER (Michigan State) and left wing CHRIS KREIDER (Boston College).
United States right wing CRAIG SMITH of the Nashville Predators finished third on the scoring chart for all players at this year’s IIHF World Championships by notching 14 points (4 go, 10 as) in ten games; indeed, Smith had cut his senior international teeth for the U.S.A. two years ago at the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia (7 ga, 3 go, 6 pts) after spending the entire 2010/11 campaign competing at the NCAA level on behalf of the University of Wisconsin (41 ga, 19 go, 43 pts).
United States center DREW LEBLANC (21) of the Chicago Black Hawks, shields the puck from Germany center MARCUS KINK (17) of Adler Mannheim during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H match watched by a crowd of 11,057 spectators at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
It’s actually not such a bad deal, then, an all-expenses paid trip to a progressive European capital city like Helsinki. Heck, even if the third string goaltender on the national team does not even get to make one single appearance on the ice, itself, it is still a marvelous travel experience and a phenomenal opportunity to do a little sight-seeing on the government’s dime. Such was the case for United States emergency netminder CAL HEETER of the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms at the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Finland.
A nice little reward, then, for the rookie from Ohio State University who had himself, quite literally, an up and down season in his very first year as a professional ice hockey player. Indeed, after being assigned by the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers to their top farm club in the American Hockey League, the 24-year-old native of St. Louis shuttled back and forth between the Adirondack Phantoms and the Flyers’ affiliate in the lower-tiered East Coast Hockey League, the Trenton Titans, on no fewer than eight different occasions. Oddly enough, Heeter still had more appearances for Adirondack (32 ga, 2.92 avg, .908 svpct) in the AHL this season than any of the other Phantoms goaltenders, a group which included NHL veterans BRIAN BOUCHER (16 ga, 2.57 avg, .905 svpct) and MICHAEL LEIGHTON (2 ga, 2.02 avg, .933 svpct) as well as 31-year-old career minor leaguer SCOTT MUNROE (31 ga, 2.78 avg, .913 svpct).
Ultimately, Heeter was recalled to the NHL roster by the Philadelphia Flyers on the third of April with the Adirondack Phantoms still having nine games left to play on its 2012/13 AHL schedule and, with the newly-acquired shot-stopper STEVE MASON from the Columbus Blue Jackets in tow and Heeter occupying the role of third string goaltender, the Flyers formally closed out their abbreviated 2013 campaign on April 27th.
Altogether, from the beginning of October until the end of the NHL season in late April, the Philadelphia Flyers’ utility goaltender was on the roster of the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms for 147 calendar days as compared to being on the Trenton Titans’ ECHL squad for only 30 calendar days; Heeter, who was never tabbed by any National Hockey League club and, accordingly, signed by Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent coming out of college, made eight appearances (3.18 avg, .900 svpct) with the Titans this season.
The date for the initial registration for the players to be competing at the annual IIHF World Championships arrived on the second of May with Heeter being one of three goaltenders named to the United States national team by head coach JOE SACCO. The inexperienced Adirondack Phantoms backstop always figured to come after NHLer BEN BISHOP of the Tampa Bay Lightning on the American depth chart. Less predictable before the tournament in Scandinavia began was what would be a sensational performance by 19-year-old JOHN GIBSON, the second round choice (# 39 overall) of the Anaheim Ducks at the 2011 National Hockey League Draft who spent this past season with the Kitchener Rangers in the Canadian junior hockey system.
Still, it is not like the unused Heeter was dragged all the way to Finland by USA Hockey and then forced to leave completely empty-handed or something …
CAL HEETER made ninety-four appearances between the pipes for Ohio State University over the course of his collegiate career, including an outdoor ice hockey contest in plunging temperatures against the eternal arch-rival University of Michigan at Progressive Field in Cleveland; as a freshman, Heeter played in five games for the successful Buckeyes side that qualified for the annual NCAA tournament for only the sixth time in school history.
BIG TEN hockey beckons … go PENN STATE!
A well-taken goal scored eight minutes into the second period as well as another flawless performance at the back propelled rebounding GERMANY to a 2-0 shutout triumph over successful Olympic qualifiers LATVIA in a pivotal meeting involving the bottom two teams of the Helsinki-based group at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.
The Latvia side trained by Canadian legionnaire TED NOLAN, the rugged left winger who skated 78 games (6 go, 22 pts, 105 pim) in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins before later serving as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres for two seasons in the late 1990s, was returning fourteen players from the squad that upended Germany 3-2 at the annual IIHF tournament twelve months ago. The Latvians were also entering this latest match with the Germans fresh from its first win at the 2013 IIHF World Championships, a 5-3 decision over last season’s silver medalist Slovakia. LAURIS DARZINS of Russian Kontinental Hockey League club Ak Bars Kazan, the 28-year-old left wing who had appeared at seven major international tournaments (38 ga, 11 go, 15 pts) for Latvia before missing the annual IIHF affair last season after suffering through an injury-plagued campaign, led the way with three goals against the Slovaks.
The German side trained by Canadian legionnaire PAT CORTINA arrived to face the Latvians having also just registered its first win at this year’s IIHF World Championships, a 2-0 whitewash of the very same Austrian team that had already dumped the Latvians 6-3 earlier in the tournament. With the number of Group H matches starting to dwindle rapidly, the Germany v Latvia result was guaranteed to have an enormous impact on the race to avoid the automatic relegation that accompanies finishing last in the Helsinki pool. There is no doubt that Cortina simply can not continue in his role as the national team trainer of Deutschland should the Germans fail to remain in the top tier at the annual IIHF World Championships.
Latvia captain LAURIS DARZINS (10) of Russian KHL club Ak Bars Kazan, the ninth round pick (# 268 overall) of the Nashville Predators at the 2003 National Hockey League Draft, is harassed by the German pair of center PATRICK HAGER (50) of ERC Ingolstadt and defenseman JUSTIN KRUEGER (3) from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers during the IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
As was the case in the preceding contest with Austria, the Germans were forced to skate shorthanded two players in the first period against the Latvians after right wing FELIX SCHUETZ of Koelner Haie and center PATRICK HAGER of ERC Ingolstadt were both assessed tripping penalties within three seconds of each other; Latvia’s two-man advantage on the power play lasted just over a minute, however, after right wing MARTINS CIPULIS of Czech KHL outfit HC Lev Praha was, himself, sent to the box for tripping.
The Latvians had what was, perhaps, the best chance in a wide open first twenty minutes which saw the two teams almost evenly divide the thirty shots that found their target. Left wing MIKS INDRASIS of Dynamo Riga broke away late in the period but was denied at the very last second by the outstretched leg of Germany netminder ROB ZEPP of Deutsche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin. Germany center MARCEL GOC of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers was charged with slashing on the play but the Latvians were, once again, unable to convert on the ensuing power play.
At the other end of the ice in Helsinki, meanwhile, the Latvians were getting a good game out of inexperienced goaltender KRISTERS GUDLEVSKIS of Dynamo Riga. The 20-year-old had become the third different goaltender to start between the pipes for Latvia at this 2013 IIHF World Championships when sent out by the trainer Nolan to make his debut at a major international tournament in the match with Slovakia. Gudlevskis, who spent most of this 2012/13 campaign tending the nets for HK Riga in the so-called Minor Hockey League (a developmental circuit for the Kontinental Hockey League), turned aside 14 German shots in the opening period.
Germany completely dictated the flow of traffic while putting on an outstanding display of organization and discipline on defense in the second period of play. The Latvians, who had snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses at the annual IIHF World Championships with the win over Slovakia, would be limited to a mere four shots on goal. Fittingly, it was the player on Cortina’s roster with the most career international appearances for Deutschland who shot Germany into the lead nearing the halfway point of the contest at the Hartwall Arena.
Immediately following a face-off at the right circle, winger PHILIP GOGULLA of Koelner Haie, the former Buffalo Sabres farmhand who had compiled 18 assists in 39 career games for Germany at major international tournaments heading into this year’s tournament in Finland, circled all the way around the Latvian net before finding former D.E.L. teammate CHRISTOPH ULLMANN in the slot with a perfect backhand feed. A textbook finish from the 29-year-old Adler Mannheim center who was wearing the German sweater for the 136th time in his career left Gudelskis absolutely no chance whatsoever. And so, Ullmann’s fifth goal on his 49th appearance for Deutschland at a major international tournament left the Latvians trailing at the 8:05 mark of the second period.
Latvia went on the power play for the fourth time, officially, after TORSTEN ANKERT of Koelner Haie, the 24-year-old defenseman who is appearing at his first major international tournament for Germany, was penalized for holding five and a half minutes later. But with Zepp in fine form and the entire defensive corps about to help Germany record back-to-back shutouts for the first time in 77 years, it made little difference. Thus, the Germans were able to successfully kill off a penalty for the 15th consecutive time going all the way back to the opening contest with host nation Finland.
The diminutive (5’10″ 176 lbs) Hager, who registered nine goals and 29 points in 52 D.E.L. games after transferring to ERC Ingolstadt from Krefeld Pinguine last summer, put the Latvians in a deep hole three minutes into the third period. After taking a short pass from NHL-Star defenseman CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres in center ice and steaming into the offensive zone, the enterprising, 24-year-old center promptly unleashed a wrist shot that took a slight deflection off the ankle of Latvia defenseman MARIS JASS of German D.E.L. side Hannover Scorpions and flew perfectly into the upper left hand corner of the net. Indeed, the strike marked Hager’s first ever goal for Germany at a major international event.
There would be no way back for Latvia, who remained at the bottom of Group H having taken just three points from its first five games. Aside from three more points in the standings for the Helsinki pool, Germany improved its all-time record against the Latvians to six wins against three losses with one tie. Latvia blanked the Germans in consecutive meetings at the IIHF World Championships in 1998 and 1999 but had not been shutout, themselves, by Deutschland at a major international tournament since 1938.
“I think we just stayed true to ourselves. Nothing comes easy for this team. We have to work hard at it for sixty minutes. We made a few mistakes in the first few games but I think we’ve limited them in the last two,” stated Zepp, who finished with 26 saves, after turning in his second consecutive clean sheet for Germany.
Germany netminder ROB ZEPP (72) of Eisbaeren Berlin, the native Canadian who has posted standout numbers in his first eight games (1.67 avg, .948 save pct) for Deutschland at major international tournaments, prepares to smother the puck as Adler Mannheim center and game-winning goal-scorer CHRISTOPH ULLMANN (47) diligently shileds attacking Latvia left wing MIK INDRASIS (70) of Dynamo Riga.
IIHF World Championships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena – attendance : 9,199
referees – Croft (United States) and Reiber (Switzerland)
GERMANY 2 – LATVIA 0
28:05 … GER – Ullmann (Gogulla, Wolf)
43:05 … GER – Hager (Ehrhoff, N. Goc)
shots-on-goal : GER 34 – LAT 26 … penalty minutes : LAT 33 – GER 8
GERMANY : Zepp – Ankert, Ehrhoff ; N. Goc, Mueller ; Baxmann, Hoerdler ; Krueger – Rankel, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Greilinger, Hager, Mauer ; Pietta
LATVIA : Gudlevskis – Sotnieks, Redlihs ; Freiburgs, Kulda ; M. Jass, Andersons – Darzins, Sprukts, Cipulis ; Indrasis, Dzerins, Meija ; Kenins, Berzins, Jekimovs ; Sirokovs, Pavlovs, Stals ; K. Jass
NOTES — Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF totaled 27:22 of ice time while new arrival JUSTIN KRUEGER of the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, operating in the role as the ‘seventh’ defenseman for Deutschland, was the third-most utilized blueliner by trainer PAT CORTINA having logged 15:05 of ice time. Eisbaeren Berlin defender FRANK HOERDLER, who was chosen as the player of the game for Germany, skated 18:35 in the contest with Latvia. NHL legionnaire MARCEL GOC led all German forwards with 16:38 of ice time, exactly four seconds more than Adler Mannheim left wing YANNIC SEIDENBERG.
Germany last recorded back-to-back shutouts at a major international event by defeating Alpine neighbors Italy (3-0) and Switzerland (2-0) at the IV Winter Olympic Games held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.
Latvia center ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS, the first round selection (# 14 overall) of the Buffalo Sabres at the 2012 NHL Draft who spent his entire rookie professional season skating for the Rochester Americans (60 ga, 6 go, 17 pts) in the AHL, sat out his one-game suspension earned a for butt-ending incident in the preceding contest against Slovakia.
Germany center MARCEL GOC (57), the experienced 29-year-old veteran who totaled nine goals and 19 points in 42 National Hockey League games for the Florida Panthers this season, shields the puck from Austria center DAVID SCHULLER (45) of AC Klagenfurt during border battle that was the IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Faultless penalty-killing and a late second period goal scored following a sensational solo rush from center ice allowed previously winless GERMANY to post a 2-0 shutout victory over traditional Alpine arch-rival AUSTRIA in a critical Group H contest at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.
Austria trainer EMANUEL VIVEIROS, the well-traveled native Canadian who skated 29 National Hockey League games for the Minnesota North Stars before embarking on a long career in Europe, made very few changes to the squad that punched its ticket to the XXII Winter Olympic Games by winning the Group E Qualification Tournament held in Germany just a few short months ago. Indeed, fifteen of the very same Austrian skaters as well as the stubborn starting goaltender who had collectively held out for the necessary draw at the end of regulation time against Deutschland at the EgeTrans Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen also returned to face-off with the Germans in Helsinki. Furthermore, adding scoring power to the Oesterreich side was none other than THOMAS VANEK, the star left wing who totaled 20 goals and 41 points in 38 NHL games for the Buffalo Sabres this season.
Meanwhile, Deutschland trainer PAT CORTINA, in direct contrast, replaced eleven of the twenty German skaters who could only triumph against the Austrians in Bietigheim-Bissingen after extra time had been played; freshly arrived in Finland from North America and ready for to make his debut at his year’s IIHF World Championships opposite Oesterreich at the Hartwall Arena was Germany national team veteran JUSTIN KRUEGER, the 26-year-old defenseman from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
Austria star left wing THOMAS VANEK (26), the 29-year-old University of Minnesota product who has scored 250 goals in 585 career games skating for the Buffalo Sabres in the vanunted National Hockey League, is shadowed by Germany defenseman JENS BAXMANN (15) of Detusche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin during the IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Unlike the pivotal Olympic qualifier at Bietigheim-Bissingen where the Germans decisively outshot the Austrians 35-19 in regulation time, the opening period at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki was a wide-open, back-and-forth affair with both teams combining to generate an almost evenly divided twenty-six shots.
Oesterreich had the best opportunity of the opening period when the Germans saw left wing YANNIC SEIDENBERG of Adler Mannheim and NHL-Star CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres both sitting in the penalty box at the same time. The Austrian captain THOMAS KOCH of AC Klagenfurt had a glorious chance at the right side of the net near the end of the two-man advantage but Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP stretched out his left leg just in the nick of time. The NHL goal-shark Vanek took his chance with the rebound but was denied by the native Canadian who has now won five Deutsche Eishockey Liga titles in six seasons with Eisbaeren Berlin.
Austria started the second period on the power play after veteran Germany center CHRISTOPH ULLMANN of Adler Mannheim was assessed a slashing minor at the 20:00 mark of the match. The impotent Austrians also skated with the man-advantage for a fourth time in succession after Germany defenseman FRANK HOERDLER of Eisbaeren Berlin was caught hooking with little more than four minutes having expired in the second session. But Zepp, who was starting no less than his third international contest for Germany against the neighboring arch-rivals from Austria on this 2012/13 campaign, was not about to concede on this day.
It was a fine way for the resilient German netminder to rebound from his own personal debacle in the preceding IIHF World Championships contest against Slovakia, to be certain.
Germany center PATRICK HAGER (50) of ERC Ingolstadt, the 24-year-old former Rosenheim Star Bulls and Krefeld Pinguine attacker who notched the game-winning goal for Deutschland against Oesterreich at the Albert Schultz Halle in Vienna this past September in the third period of the so-called “Jubilaeum Laenderspiel” staged in conjunction with the 100th anniversary celebration of the Austrian Ice Hockey Federation.
It was not until center DAVID SCHULLER of AC Klagenfurt was sent to the penalty box for holding just one minute past the halfway point of this Group H match at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki that the Austrians, themselves, were finally forced to skate shorthanded.
Germany’s new captain Ehrhoff put three of his game-high four shots on target in the second period but was denied each time by in-form Austria goaltender BERNHARD STARKBAUM of Swedish Elitserien club Mo Do Ornskoldsvik; as for Deutschland center MARCUS KINK, it was his third shot of the contest which proved to be the charm that broke a German scoring drought against stingy Austria at the annual IIHF World Championships that had been approaching a full decade, itself.
The 28-year-old Adler Mannheim attacker picked up a loose puck in center ice and breezed past one player in the netural zone. After crossing the blue line, the ambitious Kink knifed right through two Austria defenders and burst in on net all alone. A simple wrist shot was all it took for Germany to break the scoreless deadlock precisely at the 17:00 mark of the second period.
Kink’s third career goal for Deutschland at a major international tournament ended a negative streak for Germany of having not scored a goal against Austria at the annual IIHF World Championships for an astonishing 140 minutes and 50 seconds. That, to put things in perspective further, is the equivalent of two complete games plus just a little over another entire period. Germany national team veteran ALEXANDER BARTA, the teammate of the Austrian netminder Starkbaum with Swedish side Mo Do Ornskoldsvik this past season who was among those dropped by the trainer Cortina after the Olympic qualification disaster, was the last player to score a goal for Deutschland against Oesterreich at the IIHF World Championships (in the first period of the 2-2 draw with the Austrians at the 2005 edition in Vienna).
Germany’s work was not done, however, as Zepp, himself, picked up two minutes for tripping with only six seconds to play until the second intermission. But Cortina’s charges were successfully able to kill off that penalty as well as the holding infraction that was whistled on Koelner Haie right wing FELIX SCHUETZ roughly eight minutes into the third period. In fact, the Germans did not just shut down the opposing power play but, indeed, short-circuited the entire Austrian attack throughout virtually the whole final frame.
There would be no repeat of events in Bietigheim-Bissingen, where the Germans, in a fateful third period of play, had tragically failed to protect what had already been gained. Clearly having learned that painful lesson, Germany went on to dominate possession while outshooting Austria 11-3 in the last twenty minutes at the Hartwall Arena. There was one last power play to be dealt with after Germany defenseman TORSTEN ANKERT of Koelner Haie, the 24-year-old rearguard who is appearing at a major international tournament for the very first time ever, was boxed for interference at the 58:28 mark of the match.
Not surprisingly, the Oesterreich trainer Viveiros used the occasion to exchange the goaltender Starkbaum with an extra attacker in order to provide the trailing Austrians with what amounted to another two-man advantage on the power play. The NHL star Vanek had one last big chance and boomed a slapshot shot from the left face-off circle but the Buffalo Sabres winger was denied by the determined Zepp, who originally spent four years playing professional hockey in North America but passed almost all of that time with the Florida Everblades in the lower level East Coast Hockey League.
Kink was awarded his second goal of the game after stealing the puck from Vanek in the neutral zone just outside the Austrian blue line. The influential native of Duesseldorf, who netted only 11 goals after 67 games in all competitions this term for Adler Mannheim, missed his attempt at the wide open net but had been ruthlessly chopped down in the process by the obviously frustrated defenseman THOMAS POCK, the 31-year-old University of Massachusetts – Amherst product who skated this past season with the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League. It was an open and shut case for a penalty shot, which was, with Oesterreich having already pulled its goaltender, simply awarded to the Germany center by the match referees.
Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP (72) of Deutsche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin focuses on the puck with lethal Austria star left wing THOMAS VANEK (26) of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres lurking on the doorstep during the Alpine border battle that was the IIHF World Championships Group H tussle at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
IIHF World Championships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena – attendance : 6,820
referees : Bulanov (Russia) and Croft (United States)
GERMANY 2 – AUSTRIA 0
37:00 … GER – Kink (unassisted)
59:51 … GER – Kink (unassisted) – shg, eng
shots-on-goal : GER 35 – AUT 27 … penalty minutes : GER 16 – AUT 10
GERMANY : Zepp – Ehrhoff, Ankert; Baxmann, Hoerdler ; N. Goc, Mueller ; Krueger – Rankel, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Pietta, Hager, Mauer ; Greilinger
AUSTRIA : Starkbaum – Pock, Lakos ; Unterluggauer, F. Iberer ; Schumnig, Lukas ; Altmann – Vanek, Koch, Latusa ; Welser, Schuller, Kristler ; Raffl, Hundertpfund, Herburger ; Peintner, Oberkofler, Baumgartner ; M. Iberer
NOTES — Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF led all skaters with 26:08 of ice time while his constituent in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres, Austria left wing THOMAS VANEK, was the next most utilized on either side with 23:13 of ice time … Germany defenseman FRANK HOERDLER of Eisbaeren Berlin logged 19:18 of ice time while NHL legionnaire MARCEL GOC of the Florida Panthers, with 16:50 of ice time, skated the most among all Deutschland forwards.
“It’s definitely nice to beat Austria. It’s never easy. They did find a way to steal the Olympics from us. So it’s not really much revenge, because they’re still going to the Olympics,” stated Germany national team right wing JOHN TRIPP of Koelner Haie, the 36-year-old NHL veteran who represented Deutschland at the Winter Olympic Games hosted by his native Canada in 2010.
Germany goal-scoring hero MARCUS KINK of Adler Mannheim along with left wing MICHAEL RAFFL of Swedish second division club IF Leksands, the developing 24-year-old who led Austria with five shots on target in the contest, were selected as the Players of the Game.
Slovakia defenseman VLADIMIR MIHALIK (56) of HC Slovan Bratislava, the first round selection (# 30 overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2005 National Hockey League Draft who only ever skated 15 NHL games over the course of four seasons of professional hockey in North America before returning to Europe, and veteran Germany left wing MICHAEL WOLF of Islerlohn Roosters battle for position in front of the net during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
A pair of third period goals from a debutant player once considered not even good enough by the New York Rangers to sustain a regular place with the American Hockey League affiliate rallied defending silver medalist SLOVAKIA to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over hard-luck GERMANY in Group H play at this year’s IIHF World Championships.
The result was a most frustrating loss for the Germans, who came into the Helsinki clash having beaten Slovakia in eight out of twelve all-time contests at major international tournaments including the last three meetings on the trot. Trainer PAT CORTINA’s side did do yeoman’s work at both ends of the ice for long stretches of time, however, two of the goals conceded by Germany were given away rather cheaply. Still, on the whole, the Germans were a bit unlucky to not get at least something from the game and now find themselves having earned just one of nine possible points in the Group H standings.
In the wake of Germany’s failure to qualify for the men’s ice hockey tournament at the XXII Winter Olympic Games to be held in Russia next winter, both Cortina and current Deutsche Eishockey Bund president UWE HARNOS remain under a white-hot spotlight at this year’s annual IIHF affair. Some German supporters who found their way to Finland feel that the root cause of the national ice hockey team’s problems may not entirely rest with the trainer. Just outside Germany’s VIP box at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki was prominently hung a large banner that read, “harNOs WAY”.
Germany winger MICHAEL WOLF (16) of Iserlohn Roosters had already scored 42 goals on 123 appearances in all international matches for Deutschland in his career prior to the start of this year’s IIHF World Championships.
The Germans got off to an uncharacteristically fast start against Slovakia at the Hartwall Arena and found themselves ahead with only a little over four minutes having expired off the game clock. Adler Mannheim defenseman NIKOLAI GOC floated a rising shot from the left point that veteran Iserlohn Roosters winger MICHAEL WOLF skillfully deflected down and through the legs of Slovakia netminder RASTISLAV STANA from Russian Kontinental Hockey League club CSKA Moscow. The diminutive but experienced Wolf was able to score his 10th career goal for Germany at major international tournaments despite being cross-checked in the back by Slovakia defenseman MAREK DALOGA of Czech Extraliga club HC Pardubice.
TOMAS SUROVY of HC Lev Pravda, a Prague-based representative from the Czech Republic in the Russian-dominated Kontinental Hockey League, had an excellent chance to haul Slovakia level a little over six minutes into second period after receiving a smart cross-ice pass but the 31-year-old right wing who once skated 126 National Hockey League games (27 go, 59 pts) over the course of four years in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, had his shot slam off the near post with the German netminder already beaten.
The Slovakians were actually held off the scoreboard by the Germans for more than half the contest in Helsinki before defenseman MICHAEL SERSEN of HC Slovan Bratislava, the fifth round (# 130 overall) pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2004 NHL Draft who is appearing at the annual IIF World Championships for a third year in succession, launched a long, routine shot from the right point that Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP of Deutsche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin saved but did not control.
On hand in the slot to snap up the inviting rebound for Slovakia was a hustling MARIO BLIZNAK of HC Slovan Bratislava, the 26-year-old center who skated six NHL games (1 go, 0 as) over parts of two seasons for the Vancouver Canucks before signing with HC Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic Extraliga at the start of the 2011/12 campaign.
Germany regained the lead just three minutes into the third and final period after Adler Mannheim center MARCUS KINK took a pass from veteran right wing JOHN TRIPP of Kolener Haie in the neutral ice and sped into the Slovakia defensive zone; faced with a one-on-one situation opposite NHL defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA of the Buffalo Sabres, the 28-year-old forward who serves as captain of his club team in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, went to the backhand and produced a surprising shot that the Slovak netminder Stana got a piece of but could not keep out.
The seasoned 33-year-old who once made six appearances (3.13 avg, .890 save pct) in the vaunted National Hockey League for the Washington Capitals during the 2003/04 campaign, would not be beaten again, however, and went on to finish with 30 saves in the Group H match against Germany.
Stana, a two-time Olympian who has now been on the roster of Slovakia at twelve major international tournaments in his career, was recalled for the first time since the 2010 IIHF World Champinships held in Germany and had only played 14 games (2.75 avg) in his career at major international events heading into this year’s annual IIHF affair in Scandinavia.
Germany’s advantage did not last for long as Slovakia promptly went on the counterattack. Pinching in from the left point, defenseman VLADIMIR MIHALIK of HC Slovan Bratislava carried along the boards and swung around behind the net before sending a perfect pass out into the slot. Ready and waiting was TOMAS ZABORSKY of Russian KHL club Avangard Omsk, the 26-year-old left wing who was chosen in the fifth round (# 137 overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers, who then shot past the German netminder Zepp first time to bring the Slovaks level at the 45:41 mark.
The Slovaks were buzzing in the offensive zone again when disaster befell the Germans with a little over seven minutes to go in the Group H game in Helsinki. Zepp, the 31-year-old native Canadian who spent two seasons with Finnish elite league outfit Saipa Lappeenranta before transferring to Eisbaeren Berlin in the summer of 2007, sought to smother the puck but made a complete mess of his attempt. Although Germany center MARCEL GOC was in the immediate vicinity, the NHL-Crack with the Florida Panthers was caught very much by surprise and, thus, unable to lend any assistnace.
Zaborsky, meanwhile, was more than happy to accept the gracious opportunity and merely backhanded underneath the unfortunate Zepp in order to notch his third goal for Slovakia at this year’s IIHF World Championships.
The Germans created their share of chances down the stretch (while also shooting a puck off the iron) but were unable to solve the in-form Slovakia netminder Stana and fell for the third consecutive time at the Hartwall Arena in Finland. Deutschland captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres, who spent the first half of this season skating in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga for the Krefeld Pinguine (32 ga, 8 go, 26 pts) while the NHL’s Lockout situation went unresolved, promised the results from Helsinki would improve. “We’re going to keep chipping away and sooner or later the pucks will go in.”
Germany right wing JOHN TRIPP (21) of Koelner Haie, the 36-year-old National Hockey League veteran who has now appeared in more than 100 international matches for Deutschland in his long and well-traveled career, is thwarted by Slovakia netminder RASTISLAV STANA (31) of Russian club CSKA Moscow during the 2013 IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
IIHF World Championships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena : attendance 5,078
referees : Frano (Czech Republic) and Rieber (Switzerland)
SLOVAKIA 3 – GERMANY 2
04:01 … GER – Wolf (N. Goc, Gogulla)
33:30 … SVK – Bliznak (Sersen)
43:01 … GER – Kink (Tripp, Kohl)
45:41 … SVK – Zaborsky (Mihalik, Kukumberg)
52:46 … SVK – Zaborsky (Miklik, Kukumberg)
shots-on-goal : SVK 33 GER 32 … penalty minutes : SVK 4 GER 2
SLOVAKIA : Stana – Mezei, Sekera ; Daloga, Sersen ; Vydareny, Jurcina ; Mihalik – Radivojevic, Bliznak, Kopecky ; Hudacek, Stumpel, Satan ; Zaborsky, Kukumberg, Miklik ; Bartek, Olvecky, Surovy
GERMANY : Zepp – Ehrhoff, Hoerdler ; N. Goc, Mueller, Baxmann, Ankert ; Kohl – Rankel, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Noebels, Hager, Mauer ; Greilinger
Notes — Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF totaled 29:20 of ice time while making his 80th career appearance in the national team uniform … Eisbaeren Berlin skipper ANDRE RANKEL, who was appearing in his 70th international contest on behalf of Deutschland, was the next most prominent player having skated one second more than twenty minutes for the Germans.
Adler Mannheim left wing YANNIC SEIDENBERG was chosen as Player of the Game for the Germans while defenseman MICHAEL SERSEN of HC Slovan Bratislava won similar honors for Slovakia.