Italy, Estonia and Slovakia take victories during day 3 in the WFCQ EUR2 in Slovenia.
Hosts of the EUR2 Qualifications, Slovenia, have a relatively young team at this tournament and their enthusiasm showed in this game against Slovakia, but in the end the experience of the Slovakians was too much and they took the two points in a hard-fought 9-5 win.
Slovakia got their scoring off to a very fast start when Lukas Rezanina made the first of his three goals of the game after just one minute. When Slovenia received the first powerplay opportunity of the game, they took just 12 seconds to make their first goal and the scores were 1-1. Another quick goal and Slovenia were in front. By the end of the first period it was the home country that had, somewhat surprisingly, a 3-2 lead.
Whatever the Slovakian coaches said in the period break, it had a clear effect on the players and it was one-way traffic in the second period. Peter Klapita and Marian Zemen both scored their first goals of this tournament, while Marek Bulko scored two goals, and by the end of the period Slovakia had taken a 6-3 lead.
Slovenia did not give up though and the game was fast and exciting in the last period. Both teams moved the ball from one end to the other, both trying to pressure their opposition into mistakes. Miha Pustavrh scored his first international goal to bring Slovenia within two goals of Slovakia, but the visitors were able to regain the momentum in the game and steadily increased their lead to finally take the game 9-5.
Slovenia: Miran Likar
Slovakia: Lukas Rezanina
NETHERLANDS v ITALY
The Netherlands and Italy were both looking for their first win at the 2012 WFC Qualifications and, if not for an undisciplined second period, the Netherlands might have been in with a chance, but in the end Italy triumphed with an 8-4 victory.
With over half of their team playing in Switzerland, the Italians were by far the more experienced of the two teams, but they began cautiously, dropping back to the halfway line to defend. As the game progressed they steadily increased the pressure on the Dutch players and turned this pressure into three goals by the end of the first period, two of them going to Remy Horn.
In the next period, the Netherlands´ players and coaches became increasingly frustrated with the physical play from the Italians and they began to question many of the referee´s decisions and make poor tackles. Their lack of discipline meant they played short handed for more than half of the second period. The Italians scored two goals from their powerplay advantage, the best of them being the 33:02 goal by Diego Casagrande who scored from a lovely pass combination with Amedeo Mangia. To the credit of the Netherlands, they strongly defended a 5 minute penalty and Niek Hovius scored their first goal near the end of the period.
The Netherlands looked like a different team in the last period. Kerry Murphy scored after just 20 seconds, and they played with much more control and discipline. The Italians returned to their passive defensive play which allowed the Dutch to have much more possession of the ball. If the Netherlands had been able to play like this throughout the game, the result may have been quite different, but it was the strength of the Italians that was victorious in the end and they deserved their first win of the tournament.
Netherlands: Niek Hovius
Italy: Remy Horn
ESTONIA v SERBIA
In the first game on Day 3 of EUR2 Qualifications in Podcetrtek, Slovenia, Estonia took on Serbia and were again dominant in their control of the game and the scoreboard.
Estonia have yet to be really challenged in this tournament and although Serbia have surprised some teams with their strong physical play and much improved skills, they were no match for the experienced Estonian players. Serbia began the game with a very passive defence and it seemed that their aim for this game was simply to minimise the number of goals that Estonia were to score, and therefore improve their chances of competing for the ´Best 3rd team´ qualification spot.
The passive Serbian defence made the game quite easy for the Estonians. Estonia was able to maintain possession near the Serbian goal and with their good technical skills were able to pass the ball around and patiently wait for the scoring opportunities to appear. Mario Paulus began the scoring for Estonia at 16:29, scoring his first international goal for the adult team and managed a second goal at 41:30. Six other players shared the other 8 goals for Estonia.
Serbia had not shown great discipline in their two previous games and they were heavily penalised again today. However, the Estonian powerplay was not able to convert any of their extra player advantages, with Serbia showing solid defence when they were playing short-handed. Their goalkeeper, Peter Novakovic, played well and worked hard for the entire game to minimise the goal scoring of the Estonians.
Estonia have games ahead of them where they will have to perform at their best to achieve the same results of their first three games, and Serbia will be hoping to take some points from their next games, still with the 3rd, or even 2nd, qualification spot in mind.
Estonia: Oskar Salm
Serbia: Peter Novakovic
Find more information about the tournament here.