Monday, 13 April 2009

WDIHC - Two Games

With me being stuck at work today, I didn't get a chance to see the early game at the 2009 World Deaf Hockey Championships, but it looks like Finland is establishing itself as a dominant force in these games. According to the official scoresheet from today's early game, Russia was the home team with Finland taking the visitors' bench. It didn't take long for the Finns to score as they victimized Russian goaltender Anatoliy Potapov early and often in this game. In fact, according to official scoresheet, Finland scored seven goals on 14 shots in the first period. Needless to say, this game was out of reach before the first intermission. Finland went on to victory by a 15-1 margin, giving them a 3-0 record in the tournament. With the loss, the Russian squad fell to 1-1.

That sets up tonight's game between the Canadians and Slovaks as a chance for Canada to move into sole possession of second place at 2-0. Canada defeated the United States on Saturday afternoon by an 8-2 score for their first win. Slovakia, the newest team to the World Deaf Ice Hockey Tournament, has been defeated by both the Russians and Finns, and sits last at 0-2. Both games were blowouts to put it mildly.

The lone Russian goal today was scored by Denis Kholin who, in my view, is having himself an excellent tournament. It appears that Russian Aleksey Baburkin was given a match penalty at 12:37 of the first period for kicking or attempting to kick Finnish forward Kristian Lantto. From what I gather, Lantto was guilty of charging on the play, and Baburkin didn't appreciate the physicality that Lantto had applied towards him. No word on a suspension yet, but since this tournament isn't an IIHF-sanctioned tournament, it's possible Baburkin could return for Russia's next game.

Finland got hat tricks from both Kristian Lantto and Janne Yrjola while Jan-Erik Granvik added a pair. Finland has excellent scoring from all lines, and really looks solid as a team. The one area they really seem to excel at is their discipline. Russia was whistled for 16 minor penalties today in the game against Finland compared to only six minor penalties taken by the Finns. With Finland's aggressive, up-tempo style of game, they have really shown a great deal of discipline in not taking unnecessary penalties.

Defensively, the Finns held the Russians to a mere 14 shots while peppering the Russian goal with 46 shots. If there is one team who consistently gets pucks to the net, it's Finland. It has clearly helped them put pucks in the net, and they are winning games convincingly. Their goal differential is a ridiculous +55 as they have scored 58 goals in three games while only giving up three goals. Of course, I needn't remind you that 37 of those goals were against Slovakia.

As we look ahead to Canada-Slovakia, it is reported that Jason Plumb - the Canadian forward assessed a game misconduct for charging against the Americans - will play in the game tonight. Again, this is a non-IIHF tournament, so the rules here are slightly different. Otherwise, there are no roster changes reported by either side, meaning all players are healthy for both teams.

I don't have my camera with me tonight, but it's probably best that I don't. Slovakia is back on the ice as the designated home team, so they're wearing white. Canada is the visiting team, and they've taken to the ice in black-and-red.

Now, if you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know exactly how much I abhor black jerseys.

I'll be honest here: Canada does not even look like a Canadian team. Which is disappointing. They look a lot like the Carolina Hurricanes' alternate jerseys except there is a lot less gray. And in another jersey misconduct, the numbers and lettering are red-on-gray. From this distance, if they had names on the back instead of "Canada", I wouldn't be able to read any of the names. And I'm only sitting about 50-feet away. White outlines, people. If you're doing red font on black jersey, you need the contrast of a white outline. Like these guys. At least Carolina got that part right.

Back to the hockey, I expect another blowout against Slovakia. It needs to be said that Canada only has to score more than 19 goals against Slovakia to have them keep pace with the Russians, but I'm hoping this game doesn't get out of hand like the Finland-Slovakia game did. No one seemed interested after the first period, and that's not very good when trying to attract fans to the game.

There appears to be about 200 people in the stands - good for a weekday night in the round-robin. There are still quite a few Canadian hockey jerseys visible, and that's good for the game as the Canadian crowds are showing up to support the "home" team.

Here are your first period highlights!

  • Goaltender Tyler Plett will get the start for Canada, and Jon Kuchta heads to the blue ice for the Slovaks. Kuchta has been one of the highlights for me in this tournament. Despite his team giving up 58 goals thus far, Kuchta has played hard for every minute he has been in net.
  • #19 Robert Palicka is called for interference with 18:00 to go, sending Canada to the powerplay. So far, Slovakia is playing pretty well despite being overmatched by the Canadian skill.
  • A cross-crease pass by #25 Scott Savard gets lost in the feet of #17 Mark Howitt. Both players shake their heads as the puck is moved back out to the point, and the game remains scoreless.
  • At 15:42, Canada breaks the stalemate. #29 Brett McLaren puts Canada up just after the powerplay expires. Canada leads 1-0.
  • With 13:45 remaining, #2 Casey O'Brien's shot from the high slot finds its way through three players and past Kuchta. Canada leads 2-0.
  • Canada continues to pressure the Slovaks within their own zone. The difference between the Canadian offensive pressure and Finnish offensive pressure is that Canada is using everyone on the ice. Pucks are being passed back to the point, and they are cycling well along the endboards. If Canada is looking ahead to their game against Russia on Wednesday, they are certainly working on the finer points of their game.
  • With 10:28 remaining, Kuchta covers a puck that #14 Cole Pearson takes a swipe at. He'll spend two minutes or less in the penalty box.
  • With 9:17 left in the first, #7 Steve Devine rips a slapshot home from the right hash marks while shorthanded. Canada leads 3-0.
  • 8:36 remaining, and #11 Jason Plumb is sent in on a breakaway. He makes no mistake as he buries it low blocker-side on Kuchta. Canada leads 4-0.
  • The 7:47 mark sees #17 add to Canada's lead as he fires home a great pass from #25 Scott Savard. Savard set up in behind the net and fed #17 in a Gretzky-Kurri-esque goal. Canada leads 5-0.
  • #15 Dawson Friesen adds to Canada's lead at 7:32 as he drives to the net and fires a puck past Kuchta. Canada leads 6-0.
  • At the 6:10 mark, #91 Maros Sagula finds himself open behind the Canadian defenceman, but just can't corral the pass. Had he been able to get to that puck, he would have had two steps on the Canadian blueliners from the center ice line for a possible breakaway.
  • Kuchta's glovehand has been sharp tonight. He's taken a couple of goals away from Canada with a quick hand. Again, I am thoroughly impressed by Kuchta's "never say die" attitude in net.
  • With 3:01 remaining, Canada strikes on the powerplay. #13 Jason Veilieux chips in his first of the game from the right-side of the net. Canada leads 7-0.
  • With 53 seconds remaining, Canada takes a tripping penalty. #5 David Garbacz is sent to the box, and Slovakia will have a powerplay that carries over to the second period if they don't score first.
  • Canada strikes again with 24 seconds left on a goal-mouth scramble. #15 Dawson Friesen has his second of the game, and Canada's second shorthanded marker of the game. Canada leads 8-0.
With the first twenty minutes in the books, Canada has really controlled the puck well. Slovakia has played well thus far, but is simply overmatched by Canada's skill. That being said, the Slovaks have nothing to hang their heads about as they played a solid, disciplined style of hockey in the first period. Goaltender Jon Kuchta has been steady despite the score against him, and has made a number of key saves.

The second period draws near. On with the game!
  • With 18:39 left in the second, Canada strikes again. #19 Mike Merriman hammers a puck from the top of the left faceoff circle over Kuchta's shoulder as he drops to his knees. Canada leads 9-0.
  • #4 Jon Lobodzinski adds to Canada's lead at 00:00 of the second with his first of the game. Canada leads 10-0.
  • Canada strikes again at 14:50. #19 Mike Merriman cleans up in front of the net as he bats home a loose puck. Canada leads 11-0.
  • With 12:07 left, Slovakia goes down two men as #66 Martin Simon is called for tripping behind the net. Canada will have a five-on-three advantage for 52 seconds.
  • #19 Mike Merriman picks up another goal from his favorite spot on the ice. With 11:35 remaining, Merriman rips home a slapshot from the left faceoff circle just inside the post. Canada leads 12-0.
  • Canada finishes off its powerplay with another goal at the 11:06 mark. #19 Mike Merriman pots his fourth of the game. Canada leads 13-0.
  • With 10:44 remaining, Canada notches another goal. #12 David Garbacz scores on a pass from his brother, #5 David Garbacz. Canada leads 14-0.
  • The 9:05 mark sees #16 throw a vicious hit on Slovakia's Martin Zizka. Both hands came up and into Zizka's face, sending him hard to the ice. Somehow, there's no penalty call on the play, considering it was a textbook case of roughing.
  • With 7:38 remaining, Mike Merriman is making a run at the record books. He stepped out from behind the net and slid a backhand home through the five-hole of Kuchta. Canada leads 15-0.
  • The 7:15 mark sees Canada increase its lead. #25 Scott Savard pots his first of the game. Canada leads 16-0.
  • 10 seconds later, Canada adds their 17th goal. #15 Dawson Friesen completes the hat trick. Canada leads 17-0.
  • Standing all alone in front of the net, #12 Chris Garbacz slams a puck home between Kuchta's pads at the 6:18 mark. Canada leads 18-0.
  • #14 Cole Pearson converts a slick pass from #4 Jon Lobodzonski to add to Canada's lead at the 5:28 mark. Canada leads 19-0.
  • #88 Patrik Sromota got absolutely crushed by Canada's #7 Steve Devine with 4:44 to go. He's slow to get to his feet, but skates off under his own power. He doesn't appear to be too pleased with Devine, however, as he shakes off Devine's apology. The Slovakian coach, Ladislav Hlavaty, is irate on the bench, giving the officials a tongue-lashing like I haven't seen yet in this tournament. I would assume he's unhappy about there being no penalty on the hit, but it looks like his complaint is going nowhere with the referee. Kuchta is also on the bench, and Branislav Puskac is heading towards the net. A goaltending change?
  • Kuchta is now standing by the door to the bench fully-dressed. Maybe he had an equipment issue? At the 2:39 mark, he is returning to the net and Puskac is heading back towards the bench.
With one period to play, the game has changed slightly. Slovakia, playing their third game in four days, looks a little fatigued while chasing the Canadian skaters. Canada, on the other hand, isn't pumping goals by Kuchta like another team did. Canada is working on making hard, crisp passes and smart decisions. When they have, the puck has found the back of the net. The game isn't in doubt by any means, but it will be interesting to see what the final score is. My only hope is that Canada doesnt run up the score on Slovakia like Finland did.

Third period action is about to get underway!
  • 1:40 into the third period, and I don't think Canadian goaltender Tyler Plett has faced a shot yet. None that I can remember, that is.
  • The 17:12 mark sees #5 David Garbacz score Canada's first goal of the third period with a shot from inside the left circle. Canada leads 20-0.
  • 15:09 remaining, and Canada strikes again. #7 Steve Devine adds to Canada's total. Canada leads 21-0.
  • 14:51 has Canada on the board again as #14 Cole Pearson chips in a goal from the top of the crease. Canada leads 22-0.
  • The 13:05 mark sees #3 Jalen Harris score his first of the game from in front of the net. Canada leads 23-0.
  • #12 Chris Garbacz adds another Canadian goal at the 9:53 mark. His goal from the slot builds on an insurmountable lead. Canada leads 24-0.
  • #2 Casey O'Brien looks like he's plaing shinny out there as he goes blueline to goal line before tucking the puck inside the left post at 9:17. Canada leads 25-0.
  • Jalen Harris jumps all over a loose puck in the slot for his second of the game. Canada leads 26-0.
  • With 5:24 remaining, #13 Jason Veilieux receives a pass as he cruises into the slot with no one between him and Kuchta. A quick wrist shot over Kuchta's blocker sends the faceoff back to center ice. Canada leads 27-0.
  • 50 seconds later, #3 Jalen Harris picks up another goal. Canada leads 28-0.
  • The 2:26 mark sees #21 Terry Maloney pockets his first of the night on a clear breakaway from the blueline in. Canada leads 29-0.
  • In what is a completely unnecessary thing to do, #2 Casey O'Brien skates into the high slot and unloads a slapshot that beats Kuchta's glovehand at 1:11. Canada leads 30-0.
Game, set, and match sees Canada take this one by three touchdowns and three field goals. Again, I'm not a fan of running up the score, and seeing O'Brien launch that slapshot when up 29-0 just doesn't sit well with me. Canada improves to 2-0, while Slovakia falls to 0-3.

Player Of The Game - Slovakia: #9 Robert Knapec.
Player Of The Game - Canada: #17 Mark Howitt.

There are no games scheduled tomorrow, and both games on Wednesday take place during the day. Of course, I'll be working, so I won't be at those games. I will, however, return for the Russia-United States game on Thursday evening. I'll also have a recap from the Finland-Canada showdown that will determine who wins the round robin.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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