International Ice Hockey Federation

Kazakhs come back

Kazakhs come back

Fourth straight win earns ticket to 2016 Worlds

Published 23.04.2015 23:46 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Kazakhs come back
The Kazakh player are all smile after earning the tournament win and promotion in Krakow. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Kazakhstan returns to the top division for the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship after the fourth win in the fourth game, 3-2 against host Poland.

Roman Starchenko was Kazakhstan’s man of the match. He scored the 2-1 goal and after Poland had tied it was him, who scored the game-winning goal with less than five minutes to go in regulation time.

“It was a difficult game with individual mistakes that led to the goals. After the first period the coach made some changes and they turned out well,” Starchenko summarized. “Unfortunately we lost Polishuk due to a knee injury and had to change lines. It was a hard-fought win.”

Thanks to the result Kazakhstan won the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A already before the last round on Saturday no matter of the outcome of the last game against Italy.

Host Poland and Hungary will battle for second place in the tournament and to determine the other team promoted to the 2016 Worlds in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. Hungary needs a victory against Poland or at least one point from an overtime/shootout loss to defend second place while host Poland needs a regulation-time win to overtake the Hungarians on the last day.

“It was a good game. We were a little bit lucky but we accept the luck and are happy,” Kazakhstan head coach Andrei Nazarov said.

Asked about the reason why Kazakhstan was so strong during most of the tournament he replied with a smile “good coaching” before adding: “The guys play well and they do what they are asked for and I’m happy they listen to me.”

Already from the beginning of the game it was clear that the time of easy wins was over for Kazakhstan as the Polish host team came out determined, physical and with the clear task to avoid mistakes the Kazakhs proved to capitalize on with ease in their first three games of the tournament.

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The Poles did their job well and prevented the Kazakhs from scored while having a 10-7 shot advantage in the first period.

“It was a tough game. We played the best team of the tournament. We were fighting hard for the 60 minutes,” Poland assistant coach Torbjorn Johansson said. “We were not able to create the amount of scoring chances we needed and when you do tiny mistakes you get punished.”

The Kazakhs eventually scored their goal midway through the second period. Defenceman Roman Savchenko hammered the puck into the net on a power play that was close to expire.

The Poles had their best opportunity a few minutes later when they were playing 5-on-3 late in the period and Bartlomiej Pociecha converted the power play for the game-tying goal at 15:33.

However, Starchenko regained the lead for Kazakhstan on a fast counter-attack only 83 seconds later.

The Poles tied the game again in the third period. Marcin Kolusz got the puck before the blueline from Mateusz Bryk and did a fantastic job. He deked Savchenko and Mikhail Panshin, skated between the duo and then brought the puck around Kazakh goalie Pavel Poluektov to beat him for the 2-2 goal.

“We were a little tired after back-to-back games but we’re happy we won but we still have one game to go,” Kazakhstan defenceman Kevin Dallman said.

“We played well here, we had a good coach and the experience from the last couple of years definitely helped.”

The dream of a Polish upset was again alive after the goal for the partisan Polish crowd of 9,067 fans at Tauron Arena Krakow but with 4:34 left Starchenko scored his second goal of the night with a shot from the left side that went in at the near goal post.

This time it was too late for the Poles to react. Kazakhstan won the game, the tournament and their tickets to Russia for next year. It was the fourth consecutive time Kazakhstan won a Division I tournament to earn promotion after 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Next year Andrei Nazarov’s team hopes to stay at the top division for the first time since three consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2006.


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