Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IHWC Relegation Round Update: Kazakhstan and Italy sent down

The Relegation Round ended today with the Italians giving the Americans a tough battle as the Americans finally ended the game in OT to finish on top and 13th overall to end a disappointing tournament after finishing 4th last year.

Despite the point in the OT, it wasn't enough to keep them up in the IHWC for the 2011 Season as they needed the full 3 points to avoid relegation.

After trading goals in the first period, the desperate Italians went up 2-1 and were looking to hold on and send France down to DIV. 1, but when Ryan Potulny made it 2-2 midway through the 3rd period to tie the game. In the end, T.J. Oshie got his 4th goal of the tournament to finish with 8 points in the Relegation Round and won all 3 Relegation Games by scoring 17 goals against Kazakhstan, Italy and France.

France sent Kazakhstan down with a huge 3 goal 1st period. Even though Kazakhstan was able to stay up with them to make it 3-2. When France scored 9 minutes into the 3rd period to make it 5-2. It pretty much sunk Kazakhstan's chances of staying up for the 2011 IHWC which will be in Slovakia.

To replace Kazakhstan and Italy, it will be Austria and Slovenia who won the Division 1 Tournaments in late April. The teams will be joining Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Ukraine, Great Britain, Hungary, South Korea and Poland. Moving up from Division 2 to Division 1 for the 2010-2011 season will be Spain and Estonia who won the Division 2 Tournaments this season.

From the International Ice Hockey Federation Website: www.iihf.com

USA 3 Italy 2 (SO) (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

USA VS. Italy Game Photos: www.iihf.com/sk/channels10/iihf-world-championship-wc10/pictures/page/0/game/USA%20-%20ITA.html

By Alan Adams

From Colonge, Germany: It was one of those bittersweet moments for the United States at the IIHF World Championship on Tuesday.

T.J. Oshie scored on a wrist shot in a sudden-death shootout to give the United States a 3-2 win at the 2010 IIHF World Championships. Oshie was the seventh shooter for the Americans and he took all three shots in the Sudden Death Shootout for the USA.

The point the USA gained when the OT Buzzer sounded to end the third period and sent the game to OT guaranteed that the Americans would ne demoted to the IIHF's 2nd tier. The USA wound up in first place in the Relegation Round, while France was second.

"The hockey gods were not with us", said USA Defensemen Jack Johnson. "I'am glad we can look forward to next year. We're glad it is over but we're glad for next year."

"There was an immense amount of pressure," said Brandon Dubinsky. "I do not know if a USA Team has ever been relegated before, and none of us wanted to be part of the first one."

Italy and Kazakhstan were demoted.

"We got a good point out of a good team, that was good," said Italian forward Roland Ramoser. "I think we did a good job here, but we should have beaten France, that's where we lost the tournament."

The USA went into the game knowing the easiest way to avoid the embarrassment of being sent down was to beat the Italians and there times when the USA played so much better then in the Italian end someone might have through the ice was tilted.

The Italians sent a shock wave across the U.S. Bench at 6:49 of the third period on a goal by Stefano Margoni put Italy ahead 2-1. He took a pass at center and was in full flight when he sent a wrist shot that got past goalie Scott Clemmensen, who didn't look sharp on the play.

Italy was close to a sensation as they needed the full three points to stay in the top division. The Italians have had to beat the USA by 8 or more goals to help send the Americans to the 2nd tier of international hockey.

The Americans put on a full court press after the Italians went up 2-1 in an attempt to get the equalizer but goaltender Daniel Bellissimo was up to the challenge, and he had help from his teammates. The Italians often had all five skaters below the top of the faceoff circles in their end and not as many shots made it through the maze as the U.S. would have liked.

But there was nothing Bellissimo could do when Ryan Potulny pounced on a rebound and shoveled the puck into the net to tie the game at 11:08 of the third while the U.S. was on the power play.

American Forward David Moss was robbed of a goal on a breakaway with 44 seconds left in the third period when Bellissimo kicked out his right pad to boot a backhand shot into the corner.

Dubinsky scored his third goal and collected his ninth point of the tournament in the first period to open the scoring. The U.S. was on its second power play of the first period when Dubinsky stepped into a slap shot that beat Bellissimo high to the stick side at 11:45.

Giulio Scandella broke free of the USA Defense and scored on a breakaway with six minutes left in the 2nd period, ending the USA's shutout run at exactly 154 minutes, to tie the game at 14:00.

The Americans had shutouts over Kazakhstan and France in earlier relegation round games. The last time the U.S. won back to back games in the same year without allowing a goal in the World Championship was in 1939 with a 4-0 win over Poland and a 1-0 triumph over Czechoslovakia early on in prelim round play.

Kazakhstan 3 France 5 (2-3, 0-1, 1-1)

Kazakhstan VS. France Game Photos: www.iihf.com/channels10/iihf-world-championship-wc10/pictures/page/0/game/KAZ%20-%20FRA.html

By Lucas Aykroyd

From Mannheim, Germany: France kept its place in the World Championship, relegating Kazakhstan with a 5-3 win on Tuesday Afternoon. The French will be back for 2011 with the U.S.A, while it's farewell to Kazakhstan and Italy.

With the conclusion of the Relegation Round, the Americans finish in 13th place, while France is 14th, Italy 15th and Kazakhstan finishes last in 16th place. The U.S. and France will play in the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia, taking place in between April 29 and May 15, 2011.

Five different players scored for France, which got two power play goals to double it's overall tournament output. Laurent Gras tallied the eventual winner with 6:17 left in the first period.

French goalie Fabrice Lherny earned the biggest win of the tournament versus Kazakh starter Vitali Yeremeyev, as Kazakhstan out-shot France 38-22.

"We had just one goal today and that was to win," said Lhenry. "It wasn't a pretty game, and we scored a couple of garbage goals, but they went in. The most important thing with the victory, and now we stay in the top pool for next year."

With 7485 spectators on hand, the upper decks at the SAP Arena were packed with local school children, who enthusiastically cheered, jerred and banged their noisemakers through the game. The noise level was actually higher then at some earlier games involving bigger name teams, and the Kazakhs and French fed off the energy from the start.

"It was fun playing with all those screaming kids," said French Forward Stephane Da Costa. "It was different."

Just over four minutes in, on a rush into Kazakhstan's zone, French forward Yorick Treille slid heavily into the end boards and injured his left leg, which twisted awkwardly. He lay crumpled on the ice in obvious pain until attendants carried him off a stretcher. He was then transported to a hospital.

High pitched screams of the delighted greeted France's opening goal on the power-play at 8:39. Sacha Treille, from behind the goal line, snared the puck at Yeremeyev's right post and managed to bounce it off the net-minder's leg.

Kazakhstan responded two minutes later when Dmitri Dudarev won a faeoff in the French end, put a shot off Lehenry that bounced high, and then whacked it out of the air inn the midst of a crease scrum. It was the Metallurg Novokuznetzk forwards team leading fourth goal of the tournament. The French jumped back into a 2-1 lead at 12:19 when Captain Laurent Meunier capitalized on a turnover in Kazakh territory, stick handled his way down to the middle, and put the puck past Yeremeyev on his forehand.

At 13:43, Laurent Gras made it 3-1 France when he barged out of the corner, cut to the net and squeezed a shot through the Kazakh's goalie Roman Starchenko backhanded a shot home from a rebound from Maxim Semenov's point shot.

During an early second period Kazakh power play, Lhenry preserved France's lead with such clutch saves. And midway through the game, his teammates repaid him for his efforts during a power play of their own, as Baptiste Amar beat Yeremeyev through traffic with a center point shot to put France up 4-2.

The French extended their lead to 5-2 at 8:42 of the third period, as a rushing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's shot from the left faceoff circle tipped off Roman Savchenko's stick and through the goalie. Vadim Krasnoslobtsev scored for Kazakhstan with 6:42 remaining, converting a rebound high over Lhenry's glove to make it 5-3. But that was as close as the former Soviet republic would get.

"We're about the same level as they are, so we just tried to play well defensively, and we had a pretty good game," explained by Stephane Da Costa. "In the end, we played harder. We hit more, and we know they don't like that."

France has retained its spot in the Top Division for the 3rd straight year. Kazakhstan can make its return no earlier then the 2012 Worlds, co-hosted by Finland and Sweden.

Italy and Kazakhstan will play in the World Championship Division 1 Tournament in April 2011. Unless something big changes, the applicants for the two tournaments will by Budapest, Hungary and Kyiv, Ukraine.

Final Relegation Round Standings

1. U.S.A. 2-1-0-0 8 PTS 17-2

2. France 2-0-0-1 6 PTS 7-8

3. Italy 1-0-1-1 4 PTS 5-6

4. Kazakhstan 0-0-0-3 0 PTS 4-17

USA & France will keep their spots for the 2011 IHWC in Slovakia

Italy and Kazakhstan have been sent down to the 2011 IHWC Division 1 Tournament.

Relegation Round Schedule

5/15: USA 10 Kazakhstan 0 (4-0, 5-0, 1-0)

5/15: Italy 1 France 2 (0-1, 0-0, 1-1)

5/16: France 0 USA 4 (0-0, 0-2, 0-2)

5/16: Italy 2 Kazakhstan 1 (0-0, 0-0, 2-1)

5/18: USA 3 Italy 2 (SO) (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

5/18: Kazakhstan 3 France 5 (2-3, 0-1, 1-1)

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