International Ice Hockey Federation

Italy’s forza!

Italy’s forza!

Azzurri first team to beat Kazakhstan

Published 15.08.2018 07:31 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Italy’s forza!
GANDER Markus, MIKHAILIS Nikita, LAKIZA Artemi - Photo: Laszlo Mudra - HIIHF
Italy started the game strong and didn’t allow Kazakhstan to come back. The Azzurri now lead the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A.

A strong first period with a 2-0 lead and strong play from goalie Andreas Bernard and the defence were key in Italy’s 3-0 win over Kazakhstan, the only team that had been undefeated after two games for each team.

“The key to our success was team spirit and focus. It didn’t have a lot to do with coaching but how they played smart when they had the puck and when they didn’t have the puck. Kazakhstan is a very good and well coached team and from our side it was just a matter of working together,” said Clayton Beddoes, the head coach of new tournament leader Italy. The Italians are now 2-1 after wins against Poland and Kazakhstan and a loss to host Hungary.

“In three games we played very good hockey for what we’re able to do. Ever since I’ve been with Team Italy the passion is always there every night.”

It was a clash of two classic “elevator nations”. Teams that often earn promotion to the top level but don’t perform well enough at the elite level to stay there. A clash that Kazakhstan won recently in Division I play with a 3-0 score line in 2015 and 2013. This time Italy won with the score.

“It was an important win. If you look at the standings, it’s very tight, one game will make the difference in this tournament and now we’re back with six points and in first place and hope that the other teams will play for us,” said goaltender Andreas Bernard, who earned his shoutout with 29 saves as Italy outshot Kazakhstan 40-29.

“I’m happy with the performance. The team defended well, the penalty kill was superb, they maybe had three, four shots and maybe one difficult situation for me.”

While Kazakhstan had the edge after two days of play as the only undefeated team, it was the Italians who started strong into the game. They outshot Kazakhstan 16-6 in the first period and opened the scoring already after five minutes when sending a lot of shots on the Kazakh net. After a shot from Sean McMonagle it was Peter Hochkofler who succeeded with the second rebound. It was the first goal for the rookie playing for the men’s national team.

As if this were not enough damage, the Azzurri made it 2-0 four minutes later. Marco Insam skated behind the net and sent a pass to the crease where Diego Kostner beat Kazakhstan goalie Henrik Karlsson on his second attempt.

The second period didn’t start promising for Kazakhstan either. While they didn’t succeed with their shots, McMonagle netted the puck with a shot from the blueline at 5:26 to make it 3-0.

Kazakhstan tried to come back and had several consecutive power plays in the third period but didn’t manage to overcome the strong Italian defence and the 3-0 score stayed.

The Kazakhs will now have to regroup to make their dream of promotion back to the elite nations come true in this tight group where everything is possible.

“We had not much rest, we lost concentration in the beginning and conceded two fast goals. We didn’t play well on the power play,” Kazakh head coach Galym Mambetaliev said about the game. “We need to get rest to prepare for our next game and that we can show our game.”

His team will get more rest this time and play Slovenia on Friday while Italy will have a game against Great Britain the same day.


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