International Ice Hockey Federation

Hungary flies to Russia

Hungary flies to Russia

Magyars beat host Poland to return to top division

Published 26.04.2015 00:44 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Hungary flies to Russia
The Hungarian team poses for a team photo after reaching second place and promotion at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Hungary edged Poland 2-1 to become the second team behind Kazakhstan to earn promotion to the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Russia.

With the victory Hungary won the silver medals at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Krakow, host Poland has to settle for bronze.

“It was a great team effort to stick together until the end. It’s unbelievable. It was a good job from the goalie to the defence to the forwards. Everybody worked for the same reason and finally we did it,” Hungarian forward Daniel Koger said.

“The good thing about this team is everybody goes for the team and that’s why we are successful. Right now we just want to feel this moment every second and celebrate with the guys.”

The Hungarians almost didn’t want to leave the ice. After the game and the medal ceremony they celebrated with the fans in the stands and sang the Hungarian national anthem one more time together.

“I’ve never won anything in my career, it’s my first time to celebrate like that on the ice,” recently naturalized forward Andrew Sarauer said.

“It was a tight game. We luckily got one in the third period. It was two good goaltenders. It was a game of inches and we managed to get out on top.”

For Hungary it will be the first time in seven years in the top division but finally the wait is over for the passionate Hungarian fans.

The Hungarian men’s national team participated almost consistently at World Championships and Olympic Games between 1928 and 1939 and afterwards qualified for a top-level event only three times, at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria, at the 2009 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland, and now for the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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“I give Poland a lot of credit. They stuck to their game plan and fought to the very end and made our life difficult to reach the same goal we had,” Hungary head coach Rich Chernomaz said.

“We may not have had the best team behind Kazakhstan on paper but the players stuck to the plan from the beginning of the training camp and you could see the progression every day and the believe that developed in a very short time.”

Host Poland missed out on a miracle to earn promotion two times in two years and qualify for the top division for the first time in 14 years. The players from the host country in Krakow battled hard but considering that it was them who needed to win in regulation time to overtake Hungary, they produced too little offensively during the first two periods.

“It was a very hard game. I think Hungary was the better team and we saw it on the ice,” Polish defenceman Mateusz Rompkowski commented.

Assistant coach Torbjorn Johansson echoed the words: “It was a tough game and I thought we woke up too late. We didn’t create so good offensive action and when we did, it was too late.”

The game was open – although scoreless – for a long time, it was emotional and the atmosphere excellent with 12,632 fans at Tauron Arena Krakow including a contingent of roughly 3,000 Hungarians.

Shots were counted on both sides, a bit more for Hungary but with the best one of the first period for Poland.

Radoslaw Galant hit mask of Hungarian goalie Miklos Rajna with his shot on breakaway midway through the first period.

Also during the second period Hungary had slightly more chances but the score remained 0-0 after 40 minutes.

Things changed 90 seconds into the third period. After a blocked Frank Banham shot, Janos Hari scored on the rebound to the joy of the many Hungarian fans at the arena.

Now Poland, which needed to win in regulation time, was forced to score twice during the remainder of regulation time. Long time nothing seemed to work out, even not on the power play. After a Mateusz Rompkowski turnover Istvan Sofron even had the chance to double the gap but didn’t bring the puck behind Polish goalkeeper Przemyslaw Odrobny. Later Andrew Sarauer’s shot on a counter-attack also just hit the goalie.

Grzegorz Pasiut and with the rebound Sebastian Kowalowka had good scoring chances on the other side but Rajna in the Hungarian net had a strong night.

Coach Jacek Plachta took his time-out at 15:45 and pulled Odrobny early.

With 3:08 left in regulation time the patient Polish fans were eventually able to cheer on the game-tying goal. Pasiut got a loose puck at the right boards and sent a horizontal to Mateusz Bryk. His slapshot went in directly behind a screened Hungarian goalie Rajna.

The Poles tried everything to force the second goal but with four seconds left defenceman Bence Sziranyi sealed the win and promotion with his shot from his own zone into the empty Polish net.

“I was lucky enough to captain a team that was so disciplined, that stuck to the game plan and kept the game simple. That got us where we got to,” Hungarian captain Marton Vas said.

“I’m really proud of the boys. All the old guys tried to show the way and all the young guys got it and figured out what we have to do to have success. All the young guys did a really good job.”

For now there’s only one thing the team wants to do: Celebrate the success the country was longing for after having missed out on promotion by one place four consecutive times between 2010 and 2013.

“But I hope I will have the chance to play in Russia next year and I’m going to work hard to be on the team next year,” said Vas, the 35-year-old forward-turned-defenceman.

In Russia Hungary will aim at the first victory at a top-level event since 1939. At the last to events with the elite nations, Hungary lost all games at the 1964 Olympics (0-7) and the 2009 Worlds (0-6).

“It’s going to be a totally different world next year,” coach Chernomaz said.

“For us to be able to win a game [in the top division] we have to be perfect because we don’t have the quality other national team programs have. But if you stuck on a plan and stay disciplined you can achieve the unachievable and that’s what we did this week.”


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