Austria beats neighbour
Stays in run for 1st place after win vs. Italy
Austria was the better team for two periods and went up 4-0 after 46 minutes of play while Italy’s two goals came too late. Andreas Kristler scored the first two goals for Austria.
“We can be very happy with the win against Italy. It was a great team performance from the first to fourth line. Everybody finished the hits, blocked shots and luckily we also scored the necessary goals,” Kristler said. “The Italians are a good team but I think we fought more and won the one-on-one battles.”
Interestingly these two teams faced each other in an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship event for the first time since the 2000 Worlds in Russia when Italy, with Armin Helfer on the roster, blanked Austria 3-0. Since then ways didn’t cross mostly due to the fact that the countries were playing in different divisions while regularly moving going up and down between the first and second tier of play.
The game was a relaunch of a neighbouring clash and some of the players know each other latest since Italy’s strongest club team Bolzano Foxes joined the Austrian EBEL in 2014. 10 players from the Italian national team and head coach Stefan Mair also share the language with Austria as German-speaking South Tyroleans.
Austria had the better start into the game and was rewarded with a goal at 12:21 of the opening period. Kristler deflected Fabio Hofer’s shot from the blueline into the Italian net.
Midway through the second period it was again Kristler, who scored for Austria. Hofer conquered the puck at the side boards and the two Austrians battled in front of the net to get the puck past the Italian defence in the crease. The Italians blocked two attempts but third time was a charm for the Kristler and his Austrian teammates.
With 50 seconds left in the middle frame Konstantin Komarek made it 3-0 with a shot from behind the right face-off dot during Austria’s first power play that ended after just 19 seconds.
The Austrians continued to be the better team in the beginning of the third period and at 6:16 Stefan Bacher made it 4-0 with a slap shot that beat Italian goalie Andreas Bernard high.
Italy’s reaction with goals from Andreas Egger and Armin Helfer came too late to become a game-changing moment.
“It’s very easy, the team that scores more often wins. It’s one game. Everything can happen. We were ready and fought but they won. It wasn’t our best game and that’s it,” Italy forward Joachim Ramoser said.
“There are two more games and even if we can probably not get promoted we are still battling for a medal.”
With the win Austria remains in contention for first place before the next games against host Poland and unbeaten rival Slovenia while for Italy will play Japan and Korea to secure their place in the Division I Group A and play for a medal.