Italy and Great Britain remain perfect, await final showdown

Italy and Great Britain remain perfect, await final showdown

13 Feb 2016Lucas Bradelj»
 

On Day Two of the Olympic Pre-Qualfication tournament in Cortina, Italy, both the host nation and Great Britain celebrated their second win. They will play a real final on Sunday evening to determine a spot in the next round, whereas the Netherlands and Serbia will battle for third place.

 
 
 
 

Serbia vs Great Britain

The Serbians coming from an 8:0 loss against host nation Italy challenged Great Britain in the afternoon game. The British took advantage of their role as favourite gaining the lead after four minutes thanks to Collin Shield’s marker. The Serbians though showed that they did not want to get shut out of the rink again, as Nenan Rakovic surprised British goalkeeper Steven Lyle on the five-hole. The Brits would find the lead again in the initial frame with Matthew Davies’ goal, but they could not be happy outshooting the Baltics only 12-8.

Led by an excellent Arsenlje Rankovic in net, the Serbians even tied the game again in the 27th minute. This time it was Uros Bjelogrlic to score the equalizer on the two-men-advantage. Great Britain would though find a response, outshooting Serbia 24-4 in the frame and gaining a two-goal lead. Jonathan Boxill and David Clarke made it 4-2 after 40 minutes of play.

The numerous British fans arrived in the historic and beautiful opera-like arena of Cortina could celebrate two more goals in the final period. A power play marker by Clarke and a short hander by Robert Lachowicz would seal the final 6-2 result. Nevertheless, it was an inspiring performance by Serbia against a skill wise superior opponent.

Netherlands vs Italy

The Dutch, coming from a bitter 6-5 loss to Great Britain, needed three points to stay in contention for the tournament win. The Italians knew that it would not get as easy as in the opening game against Serbia, in which they outshot their opponent 70-4.

Prior to the start of the game, a celebration was hold to honour two Italian hockey legends of the 1960s and 1970s. Number 4 and 11, worn for years by Gianfranco and Alberto Da Rin, were raised to the roof of the Olympic stadium of Cortina. No Italian national team players will ever wear any of those two numbers again.

Italy did not waste lots of time and Marco Insam scored the first goal of the evening after only 39 seconds. The Netherlands responded exactly two minutes later to tie the game with Tom Marx, who put the puck through the five-hole of Thomas Tragust. Diego Kostner, member of Swiss top league team Lugano, tipped in Simon Kostner’s shot to give Italy the 2-1 lead. The ‘Oranje’ almost tied the game up in the initial frame, but their goal on the 5-on-3 power play was waved off because of a high stick.

Diederick Hagemeijer caught the Italian defence sleeping just 8 seconds into the second period to tie the game again. Italy dominated the play on the ice, but both Marco Insam and Luca Frigo only hit iron. In the 29th minute Kevin DeVergilio found the lead again for the blue-and-white.

Also in the final period, Italy was the dominating team. Luca Frigo ensured the 4-2 victory for the hosts with a power play marker. Overall, it was not a particularly impressive showcase by Italy, but the pesky Dutch team certainly also deserves some credit for a hardworking performance.

On Sunday afternoon, the Netherlands and Serbia will face off to play for third place in the group. At 20.45 CET Italy and Great Britain will then battle for promotion to the Final Olympic Qualification tournament.

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