Czechs win in Moscow
Czechs win in Moscow
Successful start for new Swiss coach
The Channel One Cup was the first international tournament in Moscow’s new Ice Palace, which will serve as primary venue of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
For the Russian national team, however, it was a tournament to forget. For the first time in history it took last place at the event after losing on the last day 4-2 to the Czech Republic, which claimed the tournament win thanks to the victory and Finland’s 2-1 shootout loss against Sweden in the Sunday evening game when the Czechs were already on the way to the airport.
“Today we played well and scored more than the Russians, that's why we won,” said Czech coach Vladimir Vujtek. “We performed well in front of the net. That was a key element for us.”
On the last day all four teams still had the chance to win the tournament. After the Czechs’ 4-2 win over Russia, however, Finland remained the only other team in contention but needed a regulation time win against Sweden. The Finns lost and the trophy was given to the Czechs while Sweden moved up to second place.
“We started the Channel One Cup very well and won against Russia,” said Swedish coach Par Marts after last game. “The match with the Czechs was really awful, so I’m happy that we dealt with our problems and won against Finns. Now we must focus on the World Championship.”
The Finns had a good start on Thursday in a game against the Czech Republic that was played before 16,257 in last year’s World Championship venue in Prague. Kari Jalonen’s squad won 3-0 but then fell 8-1 to Russia – a record score in the Euro Hockey Tour.
The Czechs did it better. They recovered from the home-ice loss, travelled to Moscow and beat Sweden 3-1 and Russia 4-2. Finland on the other hand didn’t manage to rebound after the high loss to Russia.
Russia finished the event with its only win being the 8-1 victory over Finland. The Russians played their games in front of sell-out crowds of up to 12,194 spectators at the Ice Palace.
“Today we did not work well, we didn’t recover for this match,” Russian national coach Oleg Znarok said after the last game. “Before the World Championship we will have one month to work on the physical condition. I hope it will help us. But we must have won against the Czechs in any condition. I’m not satisfied with the discipline of our players. At the World Championships this can be crucial.”
Best Goaltender: Viktor Fasth, Sweden
Best Defenceman: Juuso Hietanen, Finland
Best Forward: Tomas Vincour, Czech Republic
Successful start for Patrick Fischer
A few weeks after replacing Glen Hanlon with Patrick Fischer as coach, the Swiss national team started with two tight victories against Norway, 2-1, and Slovakia, 3-2 in shootout, to win the Arosa Challenge on home ice in the mountain resort of Arosa.
The Swiss had to battle hard though. Against Norway they took the lead by storm with two first-period goals from the third and fourth lines scored by Reto Schappi and Reto Suri, however, they didn’t manage to continue with that tempo. With 7:47 left in regulation time Patrick Thoresen deflected a puck into the Swiss net but Norway didn’t manage to tie the game in the dying minutes.
Slovakia, which travelled to Arosa with a young team, beat Belarus 4-1 to set up a final with Switzerland and had a good start with Andrej Kudma’s opening marker on a rebound at 9:21 of the second period. Switzerland replied immediately with goals from Kevin Romy and Lino Martschini. Pavol Skalicky tied it up for Slovakia in the third period but in the shootout it was Marc Wieser who scored the tournament-winning goal in his first-ever game for the men’s national team.
“Winning a tournament does us well and gives us tail wind. For me personally what was important was the players’ approach. They have many games with their clubs now but gave everything and battled in every shift. It was a great atmosphere in the locker room,” coach Fischer said.
Belarus recovered from the opening-day loss and dominated Norway in a 5-1 victory for third place. Artyom Demkov and Geoff Platt each scored a pair of goals.
Kazakhstan wins in Katowice
Kazakhstan, which was promoted to the top division and will play in Moscow for the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, won the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Katowice, Poland. The Kazakhs were already known as tournament winner after two of three days beating France 4-2 and Poland 3-1. In the last game that didn't matter anymore for the Kazakhs they lost 5-3 to Italy.
Poland, which will host the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Katowice next April, finished in second place. Like in last spring’s Division I tournament the Poles didn’t manage to beat Kazakhstan but they blanked Italy 2-0 and won the last game against France 3-2 thanks to Grzegorz Pasiut’s game-winning goal with 72 seconds left in the game to earn claim second place.
Italy finished in third place while France, the other top division nation, was last with the only win coming in overtime against Italy.
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