Slovakia opens with a win
Slovakia opens with a win
Jurco goal at end of first period seals it
Led by Tomas Jurco and Andrej Sekera, Slovakia held on for a 4-1 win over Hungary in the opening game on the second day of the IIHF World Championships at Yubileiny Arena.
Jurco’s goal in the closing minutes of the first period would be the difference maker. After going scoreless in five games at the 2015 World Championships, Jurco's game winner was his first ever senior men's goal.
Jurco, Sekera and Martin Marincin all has two points each in the game.
Hungary was competitive in their first appearance in seven years in an IIHF top division World Championship game. Hungary made a game of it and fan support in the arena certainly helped. Hungarian fans were in attendance offering full-throated enthusiasm for their team in this opening game at Yubileiny Arena in St. Petersburg.
"It was not an easy game." Martin Reway said. "We didn’t expect that, but of course we should have played better. Especially in the third period, we focused only on the defence. It’s not a good effort, I think."
Despite being called for a tripping penalty very early on, Hungary was aggressive on the kill. Balint Magosi had a shorthanded chance but couldn’t quite tee up the puck.
Still, the Slovaks had the most quality chances in the period and were able to get on the scoreboard first.
Tomas Marcinko scored for the Slovaks at 7:07. Vladimir Dravecky sent a shot on goal that was saved but off the rebound and with the traffic in front, the puck bounced around like a ping pong ball finally landing on Marcinko’s stick for the put away.
Slovakia may have had the best chances in the period but Hungary got a few of their own.
Tomas Hrnka took an interference penalty at 12:19 when he wiped out Bence Sziranyi. The play occured as Hrnka was near the Slovak bench coming off a shift.
On the power play, Istvan Bartalis rushed the puck into the Slovak zone, behind the net looking for a wraparound. The puck rebounded off Branislav Konrad’s pads in the slot to Vilmos Gallo whose shot hit Frank Banham’s skate and in.
The Calahoo, Alberta born Banham leveled the game and further ignited the crowd. As a junior player in 1995-96 Banham scored 83 goals for his junior club the Saskatoon Blades, which was the most of any player in North America or Europe.
Jurco enjoyed a strong game, perhaps his best in his limited World Championship play. He had a scoring opportunity with five minutes remaining but Miklos Rajna was there to stop him. Two and a half minutes later, Jurco converted an Andrej Sekera slapshot with a redirection that found the back of the net.
Sekera scored off a give and go with Jurco to give Slovakia a two goal lead and it stood there until Patrik Lusnak added an empty net goal in the final two minutes with Hrnka adding an assist. The goal came with 2:17 remaining in the period.
Though they tried, Hungary could not get another goal to bring them back in the game. Rajna was admirable in goal in dealing with the skilled Slovakia attack.
For his effort on the day, Sekera was named Slovakia's best player of the game. Gallo would take those honors for Hungary.
Slovakia hopes to maintain their winning ways when they take on France tomorrow. Hungary deals with yet another challenge, also tomorrow, when they face Canada.
After the post game on ice ceremony and Slovakia left the ice, Hungary was treated to their many fans in attendance singing the national anthem. It was a demonstration of the love and respect Hungarian fans have for their team.
"Our fans do that for us whether we win or lose." said team captain Marton Vas. "It is a proud nation and I think we have their support all the time and especially the way we played tonight. They don't care about the result, they are happy to see us working hard and giving all we've got in these games."
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