International Ice Hockey Federation

Slovaks rally to down Danes

Slovaks rally to down Danes

Solensky keys Slovakia's comeback with pair

Published 14.04.2016 19:31 GMT-4 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Slovaks rally to down Danes
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA - APRIL 14: Slovakia's Samuel Bucek #23 skates with the puck while Denmark's Casper Mortensen #18 defends during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Slovakia allowed three goals in 56 seconds in the first period, but bounced back to defeat Denmark 5-4 in Thursday's second game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Milos Roman got the unassisted third-period winner, and captain Samuel Solensky scored twice for Slovakia, Jakub Lacka added a goal and an assist, and Samuel Bucek had a single. Adam Ruzicka had two assists.

"We knew we must win this game," said Bucek. "We were the favorites in this game. But we started off slowly. Denmark played very well and scored on their shots."

Nikolaj Krag tallied a goal and an assist, and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup and Magnus Molge also scored for Denmark.

Slovakia outshot Denmark 33-16.

The newly promoted Danes are hoping to keep their place in the top division. They finished eighth in 2004, but have come 10th and last at every other top-division U18 they’ve played since then (2005, 2008, 2012, 2014).

Slovakia's goal is to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish. The Slovaks have finished one spot higher than the previous year at each of their last three World U18 Championships.

While reduced scoring is a concern for some people in NHL circles, clearly no such problem exists in international U18 hockey.

Especially in the first period, these Group B teams were scoring at a rate that would put 1986 to shame, and glove saves were not in abundance.

Lacka opened the scoring for Slovakia at 2:43 with a power-play one-timer from the left faceoff circle.

Then the Danes suddenly and briefly opened the floodgates.

Just 42 seconds later, Schmidt-Svejstrup tied it up when he snared the puck above the hash marks and teed up a wicked wrist shot past Slovak starter David Hrenak.

Denmark grabbed a 2-1 lead 33 seconds later. On the left side, Molge slipped past defenceman Martin Krempasky and curled in to roof one past the goalie’s glove.

When Krag stretched Denmark’s lead to two 23 seconds after that, the Slovaks, sensing that this game was spiralling out of control, called their timeout to regroup and pulled Hrenak in favor of David Durny.

The move bore fruit. Solensky danced into the slot and whizzed a backhander along the ice past Krog’s left skate just 34 seconds later.

Slovakia made it 3-3 at 10:59. Bucek stickhandled past Danish defenders in the left faceoff circle and zinged one high to the glove side.

At 17:45, Slovakia took a 4-3 lead when Solensky zapped one through Krog’s five-hole on a nice set-up from the goal line by Adam Ruzicka.

"He played good," said Bucek of Solenskky. "His line was very good. He got a lot of passes, played physical and was strong on the puck."

Reflecting Slovakia’s dominance after the goaltending change, the Danes wound up with three first-period goals on just four shots. They wouldn't get another one until past the four-minute mark of the second period.

"We got a timeout and our coach talked about how we must be better on defence," said Bucek. "We did a great job. We got three goals in a row, so it was very good for us."

Denmark made its own goalie swap to start the second period, but while Mads-Emil Gransoe played well, it wouldn't turn the tide ultimately.

The Danes got the 4-4 equalizer on the power play at 5:51 of the second. From the left faceoff circle, Blichfeldt lasered a perfect short-side shot over Durny's glove.

Ruzicka hit the post on a mid-game breakaway.

In the third period, the play was more tentative. Roman finally broke the deadlock at 8:11 when he waltzed into the middle of the ice with Danish defenders backing up and scored on a high glove-side wrister.

"The third period, I think, was our best," said Slovak coach Martin Struzinski. "We were satisfied with our game, at least a little bit."

The Danes had no reply, despite pulling Gransoe for the extra attacker with a minute to go.

Denmark’s next game is Friday against Canada, while the Slovaks will wait till Saturday to take on Finland.

"Of course, Canada is one of the best teams in the world," said Krag. "We just need to go out and skate and try to get some pucks to the net."


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