International Ice Hockey Federation

Italy squeaks by Poland

Italy squeaks by Poland

Brave hosts open tournament with loss

Published 19.04.2015 23:35 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Italy squeaks by Poland
Big traffic in front of the Polish net as Polish defenceman Patryk Wajda pushes Italian forward Markus Gander. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Top-seeded Italy had trouble in a nervous game against host Poland but the Azzurri got what they wanted, three points to start the tournament.

Anton Bernard scored the game-winning goal while Italy was playing shorthanded during a middle frame in which Poland proved to be strong opposition.

“It was a tough match. We started well but in the second period we had difficulties with penalties but we played well later on and I’m glad we won,” Bernard said.

The countries have had very few encounters in IIHF men’s championships in the past. When Poland hosted the Division I in Torun in 2009, Italy won 4-2. In 2004, another time Poland hosted a Division I event, in Gdansk, the Italians won 4-0. And in 2002, when both teams played in the top division in Sweden, it was the Poles who won, 5-1.

The Italians had the better start and when Brian Ihnacak escaped at the blueline at 13:49 of the first period he beat Polish goalkeeper Rafal Radziszewski with a high shot.

The best Polish chance came with four seconds left in the period when Leszek Laszkiewicz tried to shuffle the puck over the line on a power play.

The Poles also didn’t capitalize on the penalty when they started the second period on a power play but they managed to tie the game as they improved in the middle frame. At 6:22 Grzegorz Pasiut hit the back of the net after a drop pass close to the crease from Sebastian Kowalowka.

The Poles even got the chance to gain the lead when Markus Gander was assesses a penalty for slashing but the score remained tied.

During another Polish power play, however, it was the Italians who succeeded. Anton Bernard got the puck on a giveaway of Polish defenceman Rafal Dutka and passed it to Joachim Ramoser. The latter saw his shot blocked but Bernard was at the right spot to capitalize on the rebound for the 2-1 lead at 13:34 of the middle frame.

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“It was a tough game. We did too many mistakes especially when Italy scored the second goal. That was the biggest problem,” Polish coach Jacek Plachta said. “It’s our first game and we will have to fight in our other games.”

The Poles failed staging a comeback as Italy came out stronger for the third period. To make things worse, goalkeeper Rafal Radziszewski lost his nerves when Gander fell over him after being hit from behind by Patryk Wajda. The goalie was assessed a match penalty for charging, had to be replaced and will also miss tomorrow’s game.

Cheered on by over 9,456 fans at Tauron Arena Krakow, the Poles took a time-out and pulled the goalie for the last attempts to tie the game after the major penalty had expired but the Italians defended the tight score until the final buzzer.

“It was a tough situation us. We played three [exhibition] games against Poland this year and lost three times. We go a new way with younger players and less double citizens,” Italy coach Stefan Mair said.

“We didn’t play a good second period despite scoring the shorthander. We took too many penalties. But the way we played the first and third period we deserved to win the game.”

Italy will play Ukraine on Monday while Poland will face Japan in the evening game.


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