International Ice Hockey Federation

Kazakh domination

Kazakh domination

Favourites find back after early shock

Published 24.04.2018 19:17 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Kazakh domination
Kazakhstan's Dmitri Grents tries to score against Great Britain. Photo: Laszlo Mudra
There was some upset alarm in the air again when Great Britain started with a lead but eventually Kazakhstan found back and won 6-1.

The victory puts Kazakhstan at the top of the standings as the lone team with the maximum of six points from two games. Italy, Poland, Great Britain and Hungary have three points apiece with a 1-1 record while top-seeded Slovenia is at the bottom end with zero points.

Kazakhstan outshot Great Britain 42-25 after a more balanced first period and ended Britain’s dream of a second upset victory in a row after having beaten top-seeded Slovenia on Sunday.

“Despite the score the game was very tough. Great Britain plays fast and committed hockey. It was a good game,” said Kazakh national coach Galym Mambetaliev. “What helped us is that our guys played patiently and that they started to play simpler.”

The British were the first to have scoring opportunities and it just took them two-and-a-half minutes to open the scoring. It was a hard shot from the left side that went past Henrik Karlsson, who had a shutout in his debut with Kazakhstan two nights before against Hungary. Luke Ferrara was the British player who defeated him first. And it was also the first goal for the 24-year-old from the Coventry Blaze in his first IIHF tournament for the men’s team.

However, that was it. The longer the game went, the better Kazakhstan played, the better they used their skill and the better they capitalized on their scoring opportunities.

“They are a good team. We skated very hard the first 30 minutes. I don’t think it was a 6-1 game even though it was 6-1 on the scoreboard. Maybe we did some mistakes. We seem to struggle also at junior level against Kazakhstan because they are so skilled and move fast,” Great Britain head coach Peter Russell said. “It was a skating game with a lot of skill, against Poland it will be more of a battle.”

Already in the opening frame the Kazakhs reacted to the early wake-up. Their second power play with some tic-tac-toe passing eventually led to a tied game late in the opening frame. Nikita Mikhailis brought the puck to the crease with a diagonal pass to Yaroslav Yevdokimov, who found Dmitri Grents on the left side to make it 1-1.

The second period was open for a long time until the puck went into the British net. Artemi Lakiza sent off a shot from the blueline through traffic and with screening work from Ivan Kuchin right in front of British netminder Ben Bowns that was deflected high by Anton Sagadeyev. The officials had a look on the video to make sure everything was according to the rules and eventually gave green light for the goal that was credited to Sagadeyev. And that wasn’t it. Two minutes later Roman Starchenko got the puck at the right face-off circle from Ivan Kuchin and netted it for the two-goal lead.

It was a deserved two-goal lead as the Kazakhs lifted the game during the second period and were close to another marker with a post shot late in the period in which they outshot the British 14-6.

The third period didn’t start well for the British either but there was more reason to cheer for the Kazakh fans at the arena. After Yevgeni Rymarov’s drop pass from the end boards to Roman Starchenko the latter scored his second goal of the day at 1:58. Four minutes later the puck was in the British net again. Lakiza sent the puck to the net where Mikhailis tipped it in. Then it was Alikhan Assetov’s turn who entered the British zone and beat goaltender Jackson Whistle, who had replaced Bowns just 49 seconds earlier, with a long shot.

“We started bad but then we changed our game and were more in front of the net of the opposing team. We started having more shots,” said Starchenko, who despite his two goals wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“I’m maybe 50 per cent happy. I had more chances to score and our power play was bad.”

But if the Kazakhs continue to play like in the second and third period, they will remain a strong contender for promotion. “We will win [the tournament],” Starchenko promises with a smile.

 

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