Friday, May 21, 2010

IHWC Quarterfinals Part 2: Germany Makes History, Russia gets Revenge

As the Quarterfinals went into Thursday Night in Mannheim and Colonge, Germany. Many German fans were happy that they were able to get back to the Quarterfinals after some poor performances in recent years (Or in some years, in DIV. 1).

But German Goaltender Dennis Endras put on the game of his life and a 2nd period goal by Philipp Gogulla helped make the difference as the Germans put a shock to the Swiss who were looking strong towards breaking through and winning a major international medal.

Russia used their superstars to get revenge from the Olympics as 2 goals in both the 2nd and 3rd periods help decide the game for Russia as they quest for a 3rd straight IHWC Gold Medal is still alive.

It will now be the Heavy favorite against the host Germans. But with Germany's home crowd and a feeling of nothing to lose, it could be an interesting game here. Could Germany pull off another huge upset and Germany making the final, or will Russia end their miracle run?


Russia 5 Canada 2 (1-0, 2-0, 2-2)

Russia VS. Canada Game Photos: www.iihf.com/channels10/iihf-world-championship-wc10/pictures/page/0/game/RUS%20-%20CAN%20%28QF%29.html

By Alan Adams

In Colonge, Germany: Russia continued its march to a third straight Gold Medal with a 5-2 triumph Quarterfinal victory over Canada on Thursday for its seventh straight win at the 2010 World Championship and its 26 straight victory. In the Semifinals, Russia will meet Germany.

"That game will be a lot of fun," said Russian captain Ilya Kovalchuk. "It's the first time ever they will be in the Semifinal and it will be fun."

The 26 game run at the World Tournament began with a Bronze Medal game in 2007 and now the Russians are two games away from keeping a promise they made when Canada humiliated them in the Quarterfinals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Kovalchuk was asked whetever the Russians can be stopped.

"We'll see. They play hard" he said.

As for Germany, he said: We'll play the home team with the crowd will be with them."

After they lost 7-3 and people questioned their character, the Russian Olympians vowed then to show the world they had more to their mettle then what they showed in Vancouver and with 14 Olympians at the worlds here in Germany, they've answered those critics.

Russia has skill and and speed and the players are listening to the coaching staff," which hasn't always been the norm in the international events.

Russia has now advanced to the medal round for the third straight world championship.

Canada, with one player in the Line up who mined Olympic Gold in Vancouver, finished seventh for its second worst showing since 1992 when they finished 8th. The 2010 Tournament marks the first semifinal that Canada has not qualified for since 2002.

"The game was an extension of the tournament," said captain Ray Whitney.

The Russians went into the game against their longtime rivals saying there was no comparison to the competition here and he best-on-best Olympic competition of three months ago.

But as history has shown, a Canada VS. Russia game at any level brings out the best and worst of each hockey super-power and the quarterfinal was another installment in their fabled way.

Goalie Chris Mason and Russia's Semyon Varlamov were called on to make spectacular saves, much to the delight of the sea of red Russian Jerseys in Laxness Arena. The fans chanted "Rossiya, Rossiya, Rossiya" throughout the game.

"They were a couple of chances that we'd like to have back, had we scored a second on those, it would have been a different game." Said Corey Perry.

It didn't take long for the bad blood between the longtime rivals to boil over and there was no shortage of hard punishing hits, faces being washed by gloves, and cheap hits being delivered by both sides. The Russians and Canadians didn't have much working on the power play chances in the first period.

The Russians executed a boatload of crisp passes and dazzled everybody with their skill but it produced only one good goal scoring chance. Evgeni Malkin tipped a point shot and Mason did the splits to rob him of a goal with five minutes left to play in the 1st period.

The best scoring chance for the Canadians had come midway through the period when Steve Stamkos got the blade of his stick on a low shot and the puck hit a surprised Varlamov in the shoulder.

The Russians took a 1-0 lead at 19:02 of the first period on a wrist shot by Maxim Afinogenov that Mason got a piece of but not enough to stop the puck from trickling into the net.

With Canada's Steve Stamkos in the penalty box for boarding, Pavel Datsyuk doubled Russia's lead at 1:34 of the 2nd period when Datsyuk showed the European Audience what people in the NHL arenas have seen him do so many times before when he lifted the puck high over Mason from the lip of the crease.

Then with Perry in the penalty box for a slash on Russian Star Alexander Ovechkin, Malkin made it 3-0 at 17:31 of the 2nd period on a shoot from between the faceoff circles that slid under Mason has he dropped to his knees in the crease in an attempt to make the save. Sergei Federov tipped a point shot for the 4-0 lead at 7:31 of the third period.

John Tavares scored at 13:52 of the third period for Canada only scoring play and with Canada's empty net for an extra attacker, Malkin scored his second goal of the game at 16:56. Matt Duchene made it 5-2 with 14 seconds left in the game.

Canada ended the tournament with three straight losses.


Switzerland 0 Germany 1 (0-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Switzerland VS. Germany Game Photos: www.iihf.com/channels10/iihf-world-championship-wc10/pictures/page/0/game/SUI%20-%20GER%20%28QF%29.html

By Andrew Podnieks

In Mannheim, Germany: A quick goal from Philipp Gogulla Midway through the 2nd period and sensational goaltending from Dennis Endras was all Germany needed to beat Switzerland 1-0 to advance to the Semifinals for the first time since the current IIHF World Championship Playoff format was introduced in 1992. The Germans now play Russia in Colonge at 18:00 on Saturday Night for a place in the Gold Medal Game.

"Russia is a huge favorite, I think," said Michael Wolf. "With that lineup they have, it's almost like the Olympic Line Up. It's tough to play against them, but we'll try to play as a group again, with good goaltending, and never now."

The game was played before a raucous, sold out SAP Arena crowd of 12,500 that saw Endras stop all 41 shots he faced, some in sensational fashion. The Czechs and Swedes play the other semifinal on Saturday at 14:00.

"I think it was the biggest win of my career," said Endras. "For Germany to make the Semifinal is huge for a team, for the whole staff. The guys worked for the entire 60 minutes and it was such a great feeling tonight."

The only dark side of the night occurred when the final horn was blown when a full scale brawl almost erupted, including Swiss player Timo Helbling and German assistant coach Ernst Hofner, who both got match penalties.

The win guarantees a fourth at least a fourth place finish for the Germans. They last finished as high at the 1976 Olympics when they won a Bronze Medal in Innsbruck and at the 1953 World Championships when they also won Silver. Switzerland now finishes in fifth place, its best showing since a fourth in 1998 when they hosted the World Championship and Zurich and Basle.

Marcel Jenni was praiseworthy in defeat. "It's one of the worst losses I've ever had in my career. We controlled the play in the first period, but we couldn't find the flow we needed to beat them. The Germans deserved the win. They played well."

The first period saw both teams have only one great opportunity each to score, but after 20 minutes there was a nary a goal to be found. In the early going it was Switzerland's Paolo Duca who hit the post, and then toward the end of the period Germany had a colossal opportunity to break the game wide open.

Martin Pluss was given a five minute major and game misconduct for spearing at 15:28. the vicious little play was actually a back-swing with the tip of his stick into the groin of Christian Ehrhoff, but on the ensuing power play the Germans were able to generate few decent shots much less score. They had one other fruitless power play in the period. Coming into the game they were 16th in the tournament with just one goal in 21 chances with the extra man.

Germany showed its great weakness - lack of offense - but the Swiss didn't generate many chances either in a dull period enlivened only by the incredible fan support by the home side.

The 2nd period, however, was a vastly different story. It began with a stifling defense, but then Germany started to take over and dominate. The Swiss couldn't generate scoring chances off the rush, and the Germans skated with greater inspiration. They were rewarded halfway through the period with the game's first goal.

Alexander Sulzner took a weak shot along the left wing boards, but it was high and caught goalie Martin Gerber by surprise. He had to jump to make the chest save, but the puck dropped onto the stick of Philipp Gogulla and quickly rapped it open side of the 1-0 lead at 10:46.

The third period was predictable in that the Germans tried to protect the lead and the Swiss mounted their fiercest attack. The result was several terrific scoring chances, but Endras was sensational in the German net, stopped everything that came his way.

Of course, the Swiss attacked, the more they were vulnerable to odd-man rushes the other way, and Germany had a few quality scoring chances to get their all important 2nd goal.

The brawl erupted after a crazy series of events. As the clock wound down to zero, German Players leaped off the bench to celebrate the win, but refs pointed out there was still one second left on the clock. Order was restored, the puck dropped, and the game was over. But pushing and shoving occurred as the players left their benches. Order was restored but gave an otherwise sensational night a bit of a black eye.

"We have great team spirit," said Alexander Sulzer of the winning team. "We talked before the game against the USA Started, and we sat together. We said we were just going to play the game and keep it easy, do the little things. Enjoy the moment, go from shift to shift and, period to period and game to game."

And now they have at least one more game to play, the biggest of their lives.

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