International Ice Hockey Federation

Hosts finish with bronze

Goal galore in last game against Japan

Published 29.04.2016 23:15 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Hosts finish with bronze
The Polish players celebrate one of their ten goals against Japan. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Host Poland improved throughout the tournament and moved up to a bronze-medal finish after beating Japan 10-4 in front of 8,500 fans in the last game.

Poland’s goals came from nine different scorers. Only Aron Chmielewski hit the back of the net twice.

The Poles finish the event with a 3-2 record and the bronze medals. Slovenia won the tournament and will be promoted, Italy won silver and can be promoted as second team in case that two teams will be relegated from the top division (see tournament format).

“My players showed great character during the tournament because after the two losses we thought we wouldn’t reach much and people didn’t believe in us. This team has personality and I’m proud of the players,” Polish head coach Jacek Plachta said.

“I also want to thank the fans in Katowice. To hear the national anthem from so many fans is amazing and we wanted to hear it again tonight.”

Patryk Wronka opened the scoring after already 50 seconds and three minutes later Chmielewski capitalized on a rebound during a power play. Tomasz Malasinski scored with a top-shelf shot from the left face-off dot another three minutes later and Maciej Kruczek even made it 4-0 with his shot into the top-left corner. Goals from Grzegorsz Pasiut and Krystian Dziubinski followed.

With 4.7 seconds left in the first period Hiroki Ueno brought Japan onto the scoreboard on a counter-attack for the 6-1 first-period score. But if anybody had hopes the game would become closer now, the Poles destroyed those with two early second-period goals.

With 60 minutes played the score was 10-4 and Poland had outshot the winless Japanese, who will be relegated to the Division I Group B, 51-22.

Poland was already out of the race for silver and a potential ticket to the top division after Slovenia’s win over Austria. The Poles entered the last day with a mathematical chance of 4.7 per cent to earn silver but the score in the previous game was not favourable so they just went out and played their game against Japan to earn the bronze medals.

The fans thanked for the great performance and entertainment with “dziekuje” chants at the end of the game.

For Poland it’s a good ending of the second home tournament in a row after also winning bronze in Krakow last year. After starting into the tournament with two losses against the bottom-seeded teams, the event could have as well ended in a disaster for the host team but after a day off the Poles regrouped and came to life and beat top seeds Slovenia (4-1) and Austria (1-0) before closing with another win against Japan.

Had the Poles earned just one more point against Italy and Korea, they could possibly have been promoted to the top division for the first appearance since 2002. That’s something they will surely attempt to do next year after two straight bronze-medal wins.

Before that the Poles will get a glimpse of the next level of hockey. After winning the Olympic Qualification Preliminary Round group in Hungary, they will face host Belarus, Slovenia and Denmark at the Final Olympic Qualification group in Minsk from 1st to 4th September.

“I don’t know right now because my contract expireS at the end of June but we have a team that is going to play for the highest goals,” Plachta answered the question whether he will continue his job next season. “Now we have to calm down and rest because it was a stressful week for us and analyse the tournament.”