Belarus Relegated as Austria’s Power Play Comes Alive

Belarus Relegated as Austria’s Power Play Comes Alive

Steven Ellis12 May 2018Steven Ellis»
 

After a 14-year stint in the top division of the World Hockey Championships, Belarus will be sent down to Division IA for the 2019 tournament after losing 4-0 to Austria on Saturday afternoon in Denmark.

 
 
 
 

After a 14-year stint in the top division of the World Hockey Championships, Belarus will be sent down to Division IA for the 2019 tournament after losing 4-0 to Austria on Saturday afternoon in Denmark.

Belarus had been playing with the world's biggest hockey championships since 2005, and haven't played in Division I since the creation of the A and B system. Their game on Saturday started off poorly at 4:14 when Canadian-born blueliner Layne Viveiros scored his first World Championship goal in 13 tries when his point shot banked off Belarusian defenceman Dimitrij Korobov, sneaking past goaltender Mikhail Karnaukhov to make it 1-0.

Austrian goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum, who has made a name for himself during this tournament, was huge again, making 22 saves by the middle of the second period. Belarus needed to do everything they could to find the back of the net, but Konstantin Komarek put a dent in their chances when the Austrian's wrist shot beat Karnaukhov's right arm, doubling Austria's lead at the halfway point of the game.

While Karnaukhov's performance at the tournament had been well below what the team was hoping for, his night came to an end early, despite it not really being his fault. Michael Raffl would make it 3-0 on a power play opportunity, tipping in a shot from Komarek in front of the net to extend their lead even further at 14:38. Karnaukhov was removed in favour of Vitali Trus, who would make a couple of big stops early into his stint in the crease.

Things continued to get worse for Belarus. With 19:36 done in the second, Austria scored their third straight power play goal when Stefan Ulmer's pass landed on Dominic Zwerger's stick, who sent a hard wrist shot over Trus to make it 4-0, putting an end to Belarus' run in the top tournament.

It's been a quick fall for Belarus, who, with the likes of Kevin Lalande in net and Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn on offence, made the quarter-finals in 2014 and 2015. Belarus is on pace to finish the tournament without a win for the first time ever, with a game against Slovakia finishing things off on Tuesday. For Austria, they will stay in the top group in consecutive years for the first time since 2005, the end of an eight-year run against the top teams. They are also the first team to get promoted and stay up in the top tournament since France did so in 2008, with the French staying up ever since.

In the other afternoon game in Denmark, the tournament hosts came out on top of South Korea 2-1, with the Koreans getting sent back to Division IA after earning their first-ever promotion to the top tournament, and just months after making their Olympic debut on home ice as well.

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